Hardwood flooring has changed profoundly in recent years. These changes in floorboard technology, color and texture mean that hardwood can fit a greater number of interiors than ever before. Here’s our visual recap to the latest trends in hardwood flooring.
Individuals are often concerned that their decision to fit natural hardwood will lead to the demise of natural habitat. In truth, thanks to organisation such as the FSC (FSC Forest Stewardship Council U.S.), hardwoods from trusted vendors are sourced from sustainable forests where trees are consumed based on a rigorous and controlled quota and new trees are planted instead. This process is called managed sourcing. Your vendor of choice will be able to share the origin of the hardwood.
One of the main changes in recent years is the suitability of hardwood flooring in all areas of the interior, even in wet or warm areas. This is thanks to new floorboard technology that uses natural hardwood and artificial materials combined. Therefore your options vary between the traditional ‘solid’ type, to the newer ‘engineered’ alternative.
Solid Hardwood – Each floorboard is made from whole (hence ‘solid’) hardwood. It suits most interiors whether residential or commercial in nature, but for wet or warm areas. In such areas natural wood will get out of shape due to expansion and contraction.
Engineered Hardwood – Each floorboard is made from solid wood (again), but only in the form of a top layer. The core of the floorboard below this layer is made from artificial materials. Contrary to solid hardwood, you can fit the engineered type across the entire project, even in the kitchen and bathroom areas that are traditionally considered off limits to natural wood.
Most hardwoods are of a brownish creamy shade in their natural state. However these colors don’t always sit well with the color scheme you have in mind. Therefore it is possible nowadays to source hardwood floors in a wide array of untraditional colors, from dark to light and even bold colors in between. Here are some examples:
The texture of the floorboards is comprised of the finish and grade. Hardwood floorboards are covered in a thin layer of translucent chemical often called the finish or coating. It serves to protect the wood from minor damage, but also has an impact on the visual appearance of the floorboard. Grade on the other hand, will determine the consistency of natural features such as sapwood, knots and color variation in the floorboard.
Finish – Options vary between oil based and lacquered based liquids. Oil is the more rugged of the two and will often result in a slight matt finish. On the other hand, lacquer is quicker to wear, but very importantly, it will make the floorboard waterproof for use in the bathroom and kitchen areas. Depending on the number of coats, it can result in a somewhat glossy look.
Grade – Natural hardwood features sapwood, grain markings, knots and color changes. Floorboards that contain minimal amount of these natural features with a uniform look are of the higher grades, typically the ‘select’ and ‘prime’ grades. Floorboards that contain plenty of these features e.g. random sapwood, knots and frequent color variations are of the lower grades such as ‘country’ and ‘rustic’ grades.
Note that grade is merely a visual indication and there isn’t a connection to quality in any shape or form. Simply a question of the right grade to suit the right interior.
If you are considering fitting hardwood floors and you found these considerations overwhelming, it is often a good idea to consult with an interior designer.
Thanks for reading.