There can be little doubt that hardwood flooring brings a great deal of warmth to any building. In a home, such floors provide a superb feel underfoot whether you are using it in a kitchen, a lounge or a hallway. Hardwood floor comes in very many different forms, however. Some people who are used to carpets and vinyl flooring are not sure what style will suit their home best. Of course, it largely comes down to the sort of interior décor you already have in your home. That said, sometimes people choose their flooring and then make the rest of the decorative elements in a room match it. It is entirely down to personal preference.
Of course, as well as affording a very natural look in a home, hardwood floors are easier to maintain than other options. Deep pile carpets may be great at trapping particles of dirt and things like pet hair, for instance, but they can be very difficult to remove stains from. In the main, flooring that is constructed from wood just requires a wipe over to bring it back to its former glory. You can get away with most spillages on a wooden floor so long as you react before they dry out.
At BIY, our home renovation projects will often include an element of interior design. What do our experts have to say about hardwood flooring and what advice should newcomers to this type of material be able to glean from their know-how?
Old-fashioned hardwood floors that might have been installed at any point during the nineteenth century in Irish homes tended to be very dark in colour. This was sometimes down to the dark tone of the tropical hardwoods that used to be widely used for flooring systems, such as teak. Since these woods tend to be much less common nowadays, it is much more straightforward to opt for a lighter look to a wooden floor.
Of course, many homeowners won't want to go so light in tone that their floor resembles a pine barn. After all, that would defeat the object of a high-quality hardwood flooring system because it is simply easier to install a softwood if that is the look you are going for. Nevertheless, hardwoods come in many tones today that will offer an airier feel and reflect more natural sunlight back upwards. Honey hues and trendy pale greys are in abundance nowadays.
Bear in mind that you can stain the wood you end up choosing to give it a greater uniformity of colour. For certain floors, it is better to have a little variation in tone which reflects the natural qualities of wood. If you go for a darker tone, then this will tend to work best in places that get trodden on a lot, such as a porch or a passageway. Open-plan and day rooms are more often found decked out with lighter hues but bear in mind that these don't hide marks so well.
This is a big question and some people agonise over it. The truth is, however, that there is very little about high-quality engineered hardwood not to recommend it these days. So long as you don't skimp engineered hardwood which offers a really fantastic look. It is processed so that the amount of wood from the tree that it has come from is maximised with less wastage.
This means that when it is installed it pushes against itself with the natural fibres of the wood, helping it to keep solidly in place for decades. Solid hardwood often does not shift around but you get a greater sense of assurance from the best engineered hardwood products around. The fact is that this can happen, however, especially where the floor sits over hot water pipes or an underfloor heating system. Furthermore, engineered options often provide a greater level of thermal insulation, although – in fairness – this factor varies from product to product.
Remember that a wooden floor is not all about its look. The appearance of a top-notch hardwood flooring installation may be very appealing but you also need to consider how it will feel underfoot. It is the sensory experience of hardwood that many people who buy it are after. Walnut may have a deep tonal quality but it is surprisingly comfortable to walk over, for example. You could opt for oak, which is relatively soft, too, but it is never quite as delicate underfoot as walnut. Other hardwoods which feel good to the touch are things like cherry, ash and maple. Each has an individual grain which offers them a slightly different feel when you tread on them. In the end, it will come down to the response you have to each of these different woods and the size of your budget.
Interestingly, bamboo is increasingly used as an alternative to hardwood flooring panels. Although this material is not a hardwood – bamboo is a type of grass – it feels very much like one. What's more, sustainable bamboo offers something of a feel that resembles the sort of tropical woods that for environmental reasons are no longer widely used. So, if you want a feel of something lustrous, then you might opt for a hardwood which isn't a hardwood at all!
Want to discuss a renovation project which will involve remodelling and some new interior design ideas? Have you got more questions about hardwood flooring? If so, then feel free to contact us at BIY today!