Wood flooring: Understanding the Options
The world of wood flooring can be quite difficult to navigate. There seem to be endless options and a lot of contradictory information out there. More and more companies are choosing wood for their office spaces, retail premises and hospitality venues. What are the options and what’s best for your commercial space?
Types of Wood Flooring
Solid Wood Flooring
First of all, there is solid wood, the gold standard. A good solid wood floor will set you back a pretty penny and needs care and attention. If you have a room that suffers from fluctuations in temperature or humidity, avoid solid wood as it will expand and shrink. Solid wood flooring is best left to the period domestic property, the country house hotel or ye olde pub. If that’s your intention and want a more cost-effective solution check out reclaimed wood flooring – you’ll be recycling too.
Bamboo flooring is a relatively recent addition and it’s pretty good. It provides a sustainable solution that has several advantages over solid wood, including water resistance, durability and cost (in most cases). You won’t be able to achieve the rustic Tudor mansion look but if you want an attractive wood floor it’s certainly worth investigating. Check out this article from the Bamboo Flooring Company 10 things to consider when buying bamboo flooring for more information on this versatile material.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood provides a cheaper alternative to solid wood. It consists of a real wood layer of between 3mm and 7mm (veneer of up to 15mm is available) with a plywood-like base. There are some really stunning engineered wood boards available and unless you’re restoring a period property we’d suggest you consider this impressive alternative to solid wood.
Laminate flooring still conjures up those weird shiny bendy light ‘wood’ laminates of the nineties. It’s moved on dramatically and laminate is a great solution in so many situations. It’s (generally) the cheapest way of creating the wood floor effect. Laminate is a fibreboard or sometimes melamine resin with a photographic ‘laminate’ on top. In commercial settings, it’s relatively unusual to use laminate and most of the time it makes sense to go for LVF instead which is harder wearing.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF)
LVF is often confused with laminate but rather than consisting of layers, LVF is solid plastic. It is the most resilient to water damage, so is the go-to ‘wood’ flooring for toilets, bar areas, foyers etc. Similarly to laminate, the quality of finish has improved consistently and companies like Amitico and Karndean offer top LVF for domestic and commercial use.
Commercial vs Domestic
Before you invest in ‘commercial’ quality flooring at an elevated price, remember that the difference is durability. Does your premises have a high volume of traffic? Compare for instance a private art gallery with a city-centre pub. Your solicitor’s office or spa reception may be fine with good domestic grade flooring whereas any restaurant, high street retailer or school hall certainly needs commercial-grade flooring. Some flooring, advertised as domestic, is incredibly hard-wearing and equally, some described as commercial is not really up to par. Employ an experienced interior designer (get in touch!) or read brand reviews carefully. Check out the warranty details closely as this will give you a good idea of the longevity you can expect. Make sure your project is included within the warranty and if the supplier doesn’t offer a warranty, be warned. As with everything in life, bargains can turn out to be expensive especially when you consider installation costs…
Installation & Maintenance
When pricing up a wood floor, remember the installation costs. Installing flooring varies dramatically in price and often surpasses the cost of the flooring material. For genuine parquet blocks, you will want to double the average installation cost per metre at least. Solid wood floors are installed very differently from the click and connect engineered and laminates so when you’re looking for quotes you must specify.
Maintaining wood flooring also varies. Solid and engineered wood floors involve considerably more work, depending on the style you have. If you want a battered rustic look then your only concern is maintaining the floor with lacquer or oil. For more refined floors you need to be very careful of water spills that can stain, damage from heels and furniture, even UV light. Check out this article before you decide to go for solid wood – How to Maintain Solid Wood Flooring. The same applies to engineered floors. For this reason, the vast majority of commercial premises choose LVF, which can be wiped down, is generally stain-resistant and won’t be scratched in the same way. However, if damage does happen it can be more difficult to deal with. One of the advantages of real wood is that you can sand it down to reveal a perfect, flaw-free surface. Laminate and LVF will need to be replaced if it’s damaged.
Wood flooring gives a great feel in so many locations and it’s definitely worth considering. The quality of LVF is constantly improving and wood flooring is pretty much timeless. If you are redesigning your commercial premises please get in touch.