It is extremely common for property owners to renovate their property in order to increase the property’s appeal in a competitive rental market or to increase the asking price prior to placing the property on the market. Of the many renovation work that properties benefit from, a few have the potential to create a striking first impression on potential tenants or buyers as they walk in the door.
A new flooring solution fitted in good taste and to a high degree of workmanship can indeed create that first impression that so many property owners look for. In this post we will explain the legal and practical ramifications of fitting wood flooring, one of the most popular types of flooring solutions in the UK.
Flooring and Noise – 2003 Building Regulations
Under the 2003 building regulation (‘The Building Regulations Approved Document E’), property owners have a legal obligation to reduce noise pollution. In the case of flooring, these regulations are met by fitting an underlay layer below the flooring material. An underlay includes two important features, noise reduction measured in percentage and acoustic insulation measured in dB. Wood floorboards are regarded louder than other flooring solutions, so a quality underlay is needed to ‘keep the peace’.
Types Of Timber Floorboards
Wood flooring range contains two floorboard technologies. One contains complete natural wood which is likely the one that you are familiar with, while the other contains natural wood and synthetic materials. The two may look alike when fitted successfully, however they differ in how they react in different conditions.
Solid Floorboard – Solid wood flooring are made from complete hardwood such as Oak and Walnut and even exotic examples such as Iroko and African Teak. Regardless of the hardwood family, to meet the definition of solid floorboard no other materials should be present. This construction type had led to the nickname of ‘real wood flooring’ given to solid floorboards.
Engineered Floorboard – Externally, engineered wood flooring looks precisely like solid wood flooring because the top layer is made from the same hardwood. However, unlike solid floorboards, this layer of hardwood is merely 3mm to 6mm thick and the core is made from synthetic materials such as MDF, Plywood and even softwood.
Choosing Between The Two
It may seem a clear-cut case that solid floorboards due to the use of complete wood will come triumphant, but there is more to it. Solid floorboards are stronger and boast a much longer service life, though on the other hand they share natural wood’s predisposition to damage from water and to excessively expand in the face of warm temperature. Engineered floorboards on the other hand are more versatile in their suitability around the property and the lesser use of natural wood in favour of synthetic materials often makes them more affordable and even cheaper to fit. To help choose between the two we have devised a simple way on which to base your decision.
Commercial Properties – One of the key goals for commercial properties is to ensure a robust and long lasting interior that can accommodate extensive use. In terms of flooring, commercial properties often experience higher levels of foot traffic in which solid floorboards are the obvious choice.
Low Budget Projects – The cost of fitting wood flooring revolves around the cost of the floorboards, fitting and labour. Engineered floorboards are more affordable to source and cheaper to install using a technique called floating installation. This technique is unwise in the case of heavier solid floorboards that require nail or glue down fitting technique.
Areas With Under Floor Heating – UFH systems create heat that can cause natural wood to expand beyond its permitted tolerance. All natural hardwoods share this property of expanding in the face of hot temperatures and contracting in the face of cold temperatures. However, engineered floorboards due to their varied core of natural and manmade materials will not expand nor will they contract in any significant manner and are therefore suitable for fitting over under floor heating.
If your project does not feature any particular constrains, you can safely entertain the idea of fitting either solid or engineered.
Timber Floorboard Finish
Both engineered and solid wood floorboards are covered in a thin layer that acts to protect the wood from scuffs and scratches (to a degree). Choices of finish are most commonly a variation of oil or lacquered chemicals.
Oil Finish – Oil seeps into the wood thereby creating an especially durable finish and can accommodate many months of foot traffic prior to requiring a top-up. In terms of visual appearance, oil resembles a matt finish.
Lacquered Finish – Property owners who fit wood flooring in wet areas such as the kitchen area, will benefit from a waterproof coating in the form of lacquer. Due to its density, lacquer does not seep into the floorboard, but remains on the surface at all times thereby creating a waterproof layer of protection. However, property owners should be made aware that its presence on the surface of the floorboard means it is quicker to wear and will require regular care.
We hope this guide to your wood flooring choices has helped.
Wood flooring information by Jonathan Sapir Managing Director at wood floor company Wood and Beyond. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) registered hardwood vendor.