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.
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.
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.
At Havwoods we carry two ranges of solid wood flooring: Junckers and our own Gold Leaf range. Gold Leaf products are sourced from a variety of mills, all of whom work to a very exact tolerance to ensure minimal on-site sanding; Junckers is a highly respected Danish flooring producer and is the only solid wood flooring which we are prepared to specify for use over underfloor heating.
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.
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.
Exterior cladding is becoming increasingly popular for finishing the outside of both domestic and commercial buildings and it can transform the appearance as well as being an effective method of increasing both sound and thermal insulation. Depending upon the material it may also provide some protection from the elements. Timber makes highly attractive cladding and some species such as oak, chestnut, western red cedar and larch are particularly suitable given their natural resistance to decay; it does, however, require a regular maintenance programme. Composite cladding provides an extremely low maintenance alternative, requiring nothing but an occasional was to remove grime. Trekker composite cladding from Havwoods is an excellent insulator, will not shrink or warp and is highly resistant to rot and insects.
At Havwoods we are passionate about wood but we will also acknowledge its shortcomings and one area where wood simply doesn’t perform well is decking. Exposed to the elements wood can rot, splinter and warp and avoiding such problems requires a regular maintenance programme using lacquer or oil. Even worse is the growth of algae, which makes walking treacherous and creates real health and safety issues in public areas. On principal we will not sell wood decking, Instead we offer two different types of composite material decking boards. Both are extremely attractive, require no special tools for fitting, and are essentially maintenance-free. Furthermore, they do not promote algae growth which means that they are highly anti-slip, even in the wet, and so are ideal for commercial or public use.
Indoor sports floors are all about shock absorbing qualities: ball bounce, resilience and friction are the key factors which determine both performance and safety. If the floor is too soft, the ball rebound will be too slow. If it is too hard those using the floor will be exposed to injury due to fatigue: indeed, around one third of all indoor sports injuries can be related to the properties of the floor.
Junckers are world-renowned experts in sports flooring, offering this highly specialized product for much of their 80-year history. Over the years they have gained unrivalled technical expertise in designing and supplying solutions to suit individual and multipurpose sports and dance floors at all levels and they have installed in excess of 20 million square metres of sports flooring throughout the world. Such is their knowledge and expertise that Junckers are represented on the European committee responsible for setting the recognized standards for sports flooring.
The performance of any sports floor is dependent upon both the construction of the sub structure and the flooring itself and as well as the interaction between the two. Solid hardwood is the choice of athletes because it provides area rather than point elasticity. All Junckers sports floors are of 20mm solid hardwood with timbers especially chosen for their tensile strength, straight grain structure and optimum area elasticity, ensuring the maximum freedom of movement. A choice of timber grades and sub-structures ensures the optimum flooring for everything from dance and general purpose sports floors to squash courts, and all at a choice of performance levels – all are designed to enable athletes to train longer and play harder without fear of injury. Furthermore, a Junckers sports floor provides a healthy indoor climate – they are certified to Danish Indoor Climate Certification rules and are the only solid hardwood floors to conform to the British Allergy Foundation specifications.