By Roger Hemmings, marketing manager of Havwoods
The demand for solid and engineered wood flooring has never been so great and many clients are now requesting it for use in a huge variety of applications including walls and ceilings as well as flooring. The applications are numerous, the ideas endless and with so many surface finishes available the installations have been further carried forward into the wider realm of hospitality, offices, retail and the leisure industry.
The benefits of engineered timber are being recognised more and more, ensuring an increasing scale of options across the vast spectrum of European and tropical timber.
A number or international, governmental and non-governmental organisations have been established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. A new European Union Timber Regulation (EU995/2010) is now in place which makes it illegal to place illegally harvested timber and timber products on the European Union market place and all operators supplying timber or timber products must provide a due diligence system of operation, which includes recording and storing information for a minimum of five years.
The bonding together of multiple layers of timber in engineered boards, positioned so that the grain runs at 90 degrees to each other, makes it virtually impossible for the timber to swell or shrink. This ensures a number of important advantages, primarily that the board itself remains highly stable despite changes in temperature or humidity, thus enabling guaranteed installation over underfloor heating.
Engineered timber flooring is available in many thicknesses and widths, the most common being around14-22mm but is also available up to 25mm+. The minimum thickness for structural boards is 18mm in solid or engineered construction and there are various stipulations and recommendations for installation to ensure it is fitted to the correct British Standards.
There are a number of finishes for wood flooring and many species can be purchased as unfinished giving the contractor the opportunity to colour stain and finish the board as they wish. Many floors are available coloured and pre-finished and the most common are the oiled finishes. These are easily maintained by regular wax application and complete renovation is simply undertaken by sanding either particular areas of high footfall or the whole floor area. Oils are available in different sheen levels for gloss, satin, matt or ultra matt appearance depending on individual requirement.
Lacquered boards, as above, are also available in a variety of sheen levels and most lacquered boards will already have a number of coats applied for extra resistance to wear and tear and for areas of high foot traffic. However, spot renovation is not as simple and generally requires a complete renovation of the entire floor area by a specialist floor contractor.
Many other finishes are becoming increasingly recognised including distressing, tumbling, hand-scraping and even fuming and burning to give the wood that particularly unique look that only the specialist processes can achieve. Most however, will still require an on-site final seal coat to ensure years of wear.
Product and design
Many timber product ranges are continually developing exclusive and inspirational finishes for applications limited only by the imagination.
Reclaimed flooring has long been a favourite with designers and the ever evolving genuine and reproduction reclaimed boards are now readily available in herringbone and chevron blocks, increasing the scope and design options for this re-used timber product.
The more traditional reclaimed ranges are not limited to oak but include elm and pine and the benefits include random length and width boards to add to the truly historic image.
Painted and stained boards are aesthetically pleasing and many are available in bespoke finishes requested by designers and high end residential clients.
Currently most popular are greys and whites and the many initial processes give even wider scope to these neutral hues.
Walls and ceilings
“Don’t be limited to the floor” is the advice, and many designers are only too keen to try the products up the wall across the ceiling and in many other applications including table-tops and counter surfaces.