The Complete Guide To Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring is often a consideration for property owners who are looking to add a tasteful decor element or for practical reasons during a home refurbishment process - find out more thanks to Wood and Beyond

The popularity of hardwood floors means that choice is plentiful and the sheer amount of information may be overwhelming for a typical homeowner. In this guide, we aim to simplify your options, and bring you up to scratch with the latest hardwood flooring jargon.

When it comes to hardwood flooring, there are four features that help distinguish one hardwood flooring over the other. These are, the type of floor, the grade of the floor, the wood species at the core of the floorboard and the finish of the wood.

Hardwood Flooring Types:

The category of hardwood floors is divided into the traditional floors called solid and the newer type call engineered. Each type has its benefits which helps explain its popularity and on the other hand, a few drawbacks.

Solid wood flooring - Also refereed to as ‘real wood flooring’, solid floors are made from complete wood hence the descriptive name ‘solid’. The benefits of solid floors are their durability that is known to last over 100 years and structural strength. On the other hand, the floor is vulnerable to temperature changes due to the natural property of wood to shrink in cold temperatures and to expand in hot temperature.

Engineered wood floors - Also refereed to as ‘semi solid flooring’, engineered floors are made with wood together with MDF and Plywood. The benefits of engineered floors revolve around easier installation methods and of course indifference to temperature changes. On the other hand, some consider this type of hardwood flooring as less natural and its durability, although extensive, can’t rival the durability of solid wood.

Hardwood Flooring Grade:

Both solid and engineered flooring are further split according to the grade of the floor. Grade is not an indication of quality, but rather an indication of the visual and decorative side of the floor.

  1. Prime grade - The highest grade for wood flooring, prime has only minimal variation of colour between the different floorboards and limited infrequent small knots and character marks.

  2. Select grade - The middle range grade, select is the most popular grade for both solid and engineered floors. It displays the odd infrequent knots, colour variations and mineral streaking together with grain pattern.

  3. Rustic grade - The most basic grade, rustic displays heavy grain markings and figuring, wider colour variations and frequent knots of varying sizes. Often you will see a distinct colour difference between the floorboards.

Hardwood Flooring Wood Species:

Both solid and engineered flooring contain hardwood in different amounts. This hardwood comes from species suitable for flooring. The main requirements are:

? Availability from sustained forests which therefore rules out exotic species

? Affordability so large surfaces could be covered under various budgets

? Durability and strength properties

The two most common wood spices in the UK are Oak and Walnut. Each species is often broken down further by sub-species such as European Oak, Brazilian Walnut etc’. Either type will make suitable hardwood flooring; however if you come across other species do check the origin of the wood to ensure it was sourced ethically.

And lastly....

Hardwood Flooring Finish:

The finish or coating, as some will refer to it, is the top layer that covers the floor. It is your last consideration and where an influence on your decor will be most visible. Its traditional job is to provide some level of protection to the floor, however it is also used to give the floor a desired look. Here are a few popular examples and their affect.

***Oiled finish - Used to give the floor a glossy shiny look, oiled is the most popular choice.



Brushed finish - Used to give the floor an aging look as if it has been fitted for many years.

***Smoked finish - Used to transform a natural light colour wood into darker shades.

***UV Lacquered finish - Used to give the floor a glowing like affect.

Bespoke finish - New technology means that wood species will not longer determine the shade of the floor and outstanding shades could be achieved by special colouring techniques.

If you have any further question about hardwood flooring, leave your comment below.


Article by Wood and Beyond, online vendors of hardwood products from flooring to decking. Images copyright of Wood and Beyond.