Flooring Types Explained
In recent decades, just as modern finishing techniques have dramatically reduced the need to use exotic timbers to achieve certain shades and textures, modern lacquers and oils ensure a level of durability which allows them to be specified even in high footfall locations.
Durability limitations are due, not to technology, but to the cellular nature of wood itself. Indeed, wood floors coated with aluminium oxide lacquers were found to achieve quite amazing abrasion resistance in laboratory conditions, but proved unsuitable for practical use – the lacquer proved to be harder and more inflexible than the wood underneath which resulted in a surface with a tendency to shatter on impact or go white when scratched. But our reproduction engineered planks provide a solution.
These are produced by recreating our favourite floors on perfectly prepared High Density Fibre Planks. These engineered wood planks are considerably harder than hardwood, are totally consistent in their level of hardness, and, unlike wood in it’s natural state, are not cellular in nature. This means that they will not compress on impact and so can be successfully finished with the very latest aluminium oxide technology. The result is a beautiful, warm, matt lacquered 14mm bevelled plank which is installed as a floating floor, exhibits excellent acoustic and slip-resistant properties, and is virtually impossible to accidentally scratch, mark or dent.
An engineered board is, quite simply, a timber board which consists of more than one layer. By placing each layer so that the grain runs perpendicularly it becomes virtually impossible for the timber to swell or shrink with changes in humidity and so it dramatically increases its stability. The top layer of an engineered board (the lamella) is solid wood, usually hardwood, and may be anything from 2 to 6mm thick; the thickest wear layers are equivalent to those on solid timber boards and obviously the thicker the surface layer the more times it can be sanded and refinished to remove the ravages of wear. The lamella is securely bonded to one or two further layers – this may be a multi-layered plywood or a sandwich with either a softwood or hardwood core.
Engineered boards should not be confused with laminate or veneer. Laminate uses an image of wood on its surface whilst veneer uses only a very thin layer of wood over a core of some type of composite wood product, usually fibreboard.
Engineered timber is now the most common type of wood flooring used globally. Not only are they more stable than solid planks but they also offer alternative, easier methods of installation. Furthermore the technology has enabled the production of much wider boards as well as the application of an enormous variety of really interesting finishes, reducing the demand for exotic species since their rich colours can now be simulated with the use of oils, heat and pressure.
A solid wood floor is floor laid with planks or battens which have been milled from a single piece of timber, usually a hardwood. Since wood is hydroscopic (it acquires and loses moisture from the ambient conditions around it) this potential instability effectively limits the length and width of the boards. Solid hardwood flooring is usually cheaper than engineered timbers and damaged areas can be sanded down and refinished repeatedly, the number of timbers being limited only by the thickness of wood above the tongue. Solid hardwood floors were originally used for structural purposes, being installed perpendicular to the wooden support beams of a building (the joists or bearers) and solid construction timber is still often used for sports floors as well as most traditional wood blocks, mosaics and parquetry.
Reclaimed wood is currently generating immense interest, no doubt a combination of its intensely interesting appearance and ecologically sound credentials. But traditional sources of reclaimed timber can be a risky specification since supplies are often unreliable and the lack of uniformity makes installation a lengthier, and therefore costlier process, as well as contributing to high levels of wastage.
Havwoods’ reclaimed timbers are sourced from a variety of specialist mills and include both solid and engineered products, none of which suffer such problems. All are planed, profiled and sanded using 21st Century production techniques so that they may confidently specified for any residential or commercial application.
Virtually all of Havwoods’ products may be used to clad walls and ceilings, however just a few are designed specifically and solely for this purpose. Vertical is our interesting collection of timber produced specifically for cladding purposes and includes a mix of solid and engineered wood products as well as a show-stopping collection of interlocking panels.
It is rare to find a solid plank wider than 140mm since the bigger the plank the greater the propensity of movement caused by changes in humidity. The advent of engineered planks has made widths of 180mm quite normal, but at Havwoods we are only happy to offer exceptionally stable planks at widths in excess of 200mm.
Parquet encompasses all the geometrical pattern flooring types including herringbone, chevrons, mosaics as well as specific patterns like Versailles. Patterned flooring is undergoing something of a renaissance, herringbone and chevron proving particularly popular, with oversized blocks adding a contemporary twist to a traditional look. Until very recently most parquetry blocks were of unfinished solid timber, modern mosaics and end grain blocks are now available as mesh or board backed panels, making a once complex installation remarkably simple. Furthermore, at Havwoods a huge number of engineered herringbone and chevron blocks are available, now adding the benefit of an enormous variety of choice in shade and finish.
Wood veneer planks are very like engineered planks but often use a thin layer of real wood bonded to an HDF (High Density Fibre) core instead of to ply.
HDF is compressed wood. It is considerably harder than hardwood, is totally consistent in its degree of hardness, and, unlike wood in its natural state, is not cellular in nature. This means that it will not compress on impact and is thus less likely to indent. It also means that it can be finished with an extremely hard lacquer without fear of the lacquer shattering.