Guide to Wood Flooring for Architects

Guide to wood flooring for architectsWood is a very common material used for the interiors of homes and public or commercial spaces too. Mainly in the form of wood flooring, wood can also be often seen used for furniture and other decorative or functional elements of the interior. At first glance, wood does not appear to be a complicated material. However, when it comes to wood, there are hundreds of choices you can pick from in terms of colour, finish, texture, thickness, size, etc. and this is when the complication may come into play.

For example, it is pretty easy even for the non-professional eyes to spot and make the difference between good quality wood and poor quality wood. However, when it comes to choosing the right wood for a particular wooden floor in a particular interior, architects definitely need to consider a lot of aspects in order to make sure they are making the best choice. Every architect should first consider the role the floor will play in the overall design of the space. So what has to be considered by a professional architect when choosing a wooden floor for a particular project?

Determining Plank Width

Not too long ago, the most commonly used wood floor plank width used to be the two-to-three-inch strips you could spot almost anywhere. However, this is not the case anymore, main thanks to the amazing variety offered on the market nowadays. Nowadays, it is not only possible to choose wooden floor planks with different widths, but it is also very trendy to choose a wooden floor with wider planks. Wider planks definitely add a twist of luxury and elegance to the interior of every home.

Additionally, wider floor planks can make the room appear more spacious and larger. Therefore, nowadays, the wood floor industry now assumes the standard for a plank width to be four-to-six-inch planks. However, most designers are now shifting towards a seven-inch width and even more. Keep in mind that the wider planks will also add up to the overall price of the product. Another specific of the wider floorboards you should be aware of is that, despite the fact they appear seamless when initially installed, the seams will start looking more noticeable due to the natural movement of the floorboards as a result of the impact of moisture, humidity, and temperature fluctuations.

Pick the Right Grain Pattern

The grain pattern of the wooden floorboards is a very important aspect in the choice of a wooden floor. Remember, the grain pattern definitely does not determine the quality of the wooden materials, the longevity, durability, or the hard-wearing power of the floor. The grain pattern is most important due to aesthetic reasons and should be considered in the context of how it will fit the overall atmosphere and style of the interior.

The grain pattern will be determined by the way logs are cut. This can happen in three different ways – plain-sawn, rift-sawn, and quarter-sawn. These three different ways of cutting will create three distinctive patterns – the way pattern, which is the most traditional one and comes from plain-sawn wood, the longer, rectilinear type of pattern that is achieved when the logs are rift-sawn, and the irregular figuring with the three dimensional-like quality of the quarter-sawn logs. 

Prefinished vs Site Finished Floorboards

When it comes to the finish of the floorboards, there are many different finishing and staining products you can choose from, however, the main choice comes from either selecting prefinished floorboards or having them finished on-site. In general, prefinished floorboards leave the factory with a finish already applied and cured, which means the only thing left is having them installed.

This is a convenient choice since it means you don’t have to deal with additional sanding and finishing treatments after installation and the floor is ready to be used right away. However, purchasing unfinished floorboards means you will have to have the floor sanded and finished once it is installed. It may sound like a lot of additional hassle and stress, however, selecting unfinished floorboards gives you the opportunity to have the floor treated and looking the way you want it, which means you can definitely customize the look of the floor and create a very unique and exciting one.

The Right Type of Finish

Choosing the right finish for the floor is among the most important choices you will have to make when it comes to wood flooring. The right finish will not only ensure long-lasting and hard-wearing protection of the floor and easier maintenance, but it will also enhance the beauty of wood, its colour, texture, pattern and grain, it can also create a very specific aesthetic that perfectly suits the rest of the interior and the overall atmosphere of the home. Some of the most popular wood floor finish options include water-based polyurethane, penetrating oil sealers, wax, lacquer, and acid curing.

The water-based polyurethane finish is usually selected for wooden floors that experience a lot of high traffic and daily use. Thanks to the amazing durability of this finish, it is also suitable for commercial floors. It gives the floor a clear finish, which means it allows you to enjoy the natural beauty of the wooden floorboards. On another hand, oil sealers are another wood floor finish options that enjoy a lot of attention and popularity. As the name suggests, this type of finish penetrates into the structure of the wooden floorboards and ensures protection from within too, not just on the surface.

Penetrating oil sealers are normally made with natural ingredients, which means they are pretty eco- and family-friendly. In addition, they give the floor a very natural look and enhance its beauty, they are also pretty easy to apply and a great project for DIY-ers. However, there is a downfall of this type of finish – they are not as durable and long-lasting and require refreshments every now and then. Finally, the acid-curing process ensures unbeatable protection and durability for the floor. However, the process generates high toxicity levels, which means it should be done by an experienced professional only and never attempted as a DIY project.

Consider Different Wood Types

There are two main types of wood that create two categories the different wood species fall into. Hardwoods and softwoods are the two main categories. While the categories do not determine the quality of wood, clearly, hardwoods are the category that includes the wood species that are naturally harder and more durable. The most popular species of hardwoods include oak, maple, and cherry.

These are a great and hard-wearing addition to every home, however, keep in mind they are usually more expensive. On another hand, softwoods like pine, for example, are a great alternative if you are working with a limited budget. Be aware that softwoods tend to scratch more easily, therefore, a stronger and more durable finish is required. Install softwood floors in areas of the house that does not experience a lot of high traffic and heavy footfall.