What do I put on the floor? (pt. 2)
Last week we discussed the selection of floor tiles for your home. Another popular choice for your floor is wood. For any number of reasons, wood has been the most popular floor covering over the years. The most obvious reason is that wood responds to changes in temperature much better than tiles, making it a finish that feels warm when it is cold and cool when it is warm. It is also easier to repair and refinish, making it more economical over time.
There are three basic choices available to the homeowner. The most basic is solid wood.
Solid wood is normally available in planks fora tongue and groove installation. While normally installed unfinished, there are pre-finished planks available. Popular finishing begins with the choice of a stain that gives the floor its color, then the wearing finish of some form of varnish or lacquer. The final finish must also be appropriate for its use, hence the choice of either a gloss finish or a matt finish.
This ideal plank flooring in self-supporting thicknesses requires lots of time and effort and exposes the interior to odors and even carcinogens, so versions of wood flooring that are prefinished and meant to be installed on top of a structural floor, and are therefore thinner and easier to install.
Laminate flooring is not wood flooring. It is a manufactured substrate with a wood finish printed on the surface. It is thin but dimensionally stable. As a result, it is popular in areas where the look of wood is beneficial, like show-rooms and display areas. But laminate flooring, because it is a thin product installed without nails, sometimes “floats”, making the surface uneven.
Engineered wood is actually real wood. It is a thin layer of wood fixed to a stable substrate. Like laminate flooring, it is meant to be installed on a structural base, although it is often thicker than laminate. The major advantage of engineered wood (besides ease of installation) is its use in damp locations. Unlike real wood planks, which warp and swell in damp locations, engineered wood is stable in damp conditions, making it a more versatile flooring.
Types of wood
The floor takes a lot of wear and tear. So the choice of the type of wood to be used is important. Obviously, the best choice is a hard-wood. The hardwoods recommended are oak, maple or cherry. Next best are bamboo, walnut and mahogany. Wood made from sustainable sources should be requested.
Wood flooring is still popular, and for the best reasons. The new, easier to install laminate or engineered wood make it easier to get the old traditional flooring at lower prices.
- Patrick Rahming & Associates is a full service design firm providing architectural, planning and design services throughout The Bahamas and the northern Caribbean. Visit its website at www.pradesigns.com and like its Facebook page. The firm’s mission is to help its clients turn their design problems into completed projects through a process of guided decision-making, responsible environmental advice and expert project administration.