What wooden floor to buy?

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As an Interior stylist, one of things I am asked about all the time is ‘what flooring to choose’ especially when it comes to wood. So, when Quick-Step asked me to review one of their new products, I thought it would fit quite nicely on my site and (hopefully) be a useful guide when choosing wooden flooring.

Why wood?
Wooden or wood effect laminate flooring adds a natural warmth and beauty to the home and can be tailored to compliment pretty much any style of decor. Both materials offer durability and if it’s engineered or solid wood, can age beautifully. Most estate agents will tell you that houses with wooden floors sell faster and for a higher price, making them a sound investment as well as a beautiful addition to your home.

The specific type and style of flooring you opt for will depend on several factors including budget, size of the floorboards and wood species. If you like thin and long planks of wood, you should choose strip flooring. If you prefer the aesthetic of very wide planks of wood, then plank flooring is the best choice, and if you have a more decorative look in mind (perhaps a geometric design) parquet flooring would be a perfect match for your taste. Below is a little guide to the three most popular types of flooring with a brief explanation of each.

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Laminate
The most affordable of the three, laminate is made up of a HDF core layer, which are fused with a printed décor layer of wood, or any image that the manufacturer is able to produce, and durable resin wear layer. High quality laminate such as that from Quick-Step has become incredibly realistic over the years and in recent months even a waterproof option has hit the market, I recently used this in a bathroom that I designed for the House Beautiful Homes at this year’s The Ideal Home Show, the product was part of the Impressive Collection from Quick-Step.  

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Engineered wood
Engineered wood is made of layers to provide better stability; a backing veneer, core layer (can be plywood, hevea or HDF) and face layer of solid wood; it is this top layer that gives the impression of a solid wood floor. It can also be used with underfloor heating (bonus). You then have the choice of a lacquered or oiled finish, the benefits of each I am about to talk about, latter being slightly more traditional in appearance.

Solid Wood
As it sounds, when you talk about a solid wood floor it means that it is pure wood all the way through, definitely the most expensive, but oh so beautiful. The look is (as you would expect) a warm and characterful floor that shows the history of the tree. Popular choices are Oak, Maple and Walnut. My one piece of advice is that you have a ’shoes off’ policy as the surface can dent fairly easily.

Wood Varieties:

  • Oak (the most popular)
  • Maple
  • Walnut
  • Cumaru
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Pine
  • Cherry
  • Douglas fir

 Styles:

  • Standard width
  • Wide plank
  • Narrow plank
  • Herringbone
  • Chevron
  • Reclaimed

What I bought for my house and why?
The floor we have in our home is a Limed Grey engineered Oak from Quickstep. I choose this for several reasons; cost, appearance and ease of maintenance. The colour is a pale grey oak and whilst you can see the grain of the wood, it’s faded appearance means it is not too domineering in the room. We decided to lay it in the whole of the downstairs area, most definitely the right decision with children! My only initial worry was that the living room wouldn’t feel cosy enough but as soon as we laid a large woollen rug, the whole area was instantly softened.

What finish to opt for?
Choosing the right tone of wood is key as it forms the foundation of the room and should fit seamlessly with other furniture pieces and accessories

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  • Natural oak a mid tone wood which has the ability to sit quite comfortably within a traditional or modern home
  • The dark floor (almost black) a popular choice, especially for high-end homes. It gives a classic look and makes items in the room stand out, especially paired with white kitchen cabinets and other light features in the room. Due to the dark colour, it hides any marks or blemishes. The most popular stains are Charcoal, Ebony, Jacobean and Espresso.
  • The grey floor, a continuing trend and showing no sign of slowing down. Popular shades are Grey lime washed oak (which I chose) as this sits nicely with a modern interior
  • The white wood floor, this modern finish has the ability to lighten a room and is great for Shabby Chic or minimalist spaces.
  • The reclaimed wood floor the appeal of a reclaimed floor is that it comes with it own story, often salvaged from old homes or factories, it instantly adds character and warmth to the home. Other benefits are that it is very environmentally friendly, a win-win choice.
  • The patterned wood floor, such as herringbone or chevron (which are the most common, but by no means the only patterns available) are a great way to add style and drama to a room, breaking up the traditional parallel lines that we are so used to seeing. It’s also a very ‘of the moment’ pattern.

Engineered wood and ‘finish’ options
If like me you opt for an engineered wood, you need to decide on what type of finish you want. Personally, I am a fan of a matt finish which is why I was quite excited to see the new ‘extra matt’ from Quick-Step. Traditionally, when buying a wooden floor, your options are oiled or lacquered (the latter always being shinier but more durable) but now Quick-Step have now found a way of making a lacquered surface with a matt finish, which means we can now enjoy the practicality of lacquer and the aesthetic of the matt finish, which also happens to very on trend.

The main advantage of this new extra matt lacquer it is tougher and easier to look after than an oil finish, while giving the desirable matt look that sees many opting for an oil finish despite the extra hassle. I am not a fan of anything shiny and that applies with most things, paint, floors, photos, it all has to be ile giving the desirab

Other benefits are that it is more child and pet-friendly as well as having a more contemporary look and because of its natural appearance; any scratch marks that do appear are less visible, and any accidental spillages can easily be mopped up.

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Picture credits: Image 1: Extra Matt Finish, 2 &3: Laminate Impressive Ultra flooring, styled by Pippa Jameson for House Beautiful Homes. 4 & 5: Extra Matt Finish, all by Quick-Step.

Brief background of Quickstep
Quick-Step’s Hardwood, being engineered, only uses the wood you see for it’s top-most layer, using less wood per metre squared and making the flooring less prone to warping and movement than solid wood floors.

Engineered wood flooring was introduced to North America in the mid-1980s and quickly became the most popular type of do-it-yourself wood floor. It’s composed of three or more wood layers glued together into long planks, with a top layer composed of a solid-wood face layer (2.5mm-3mm thick with Quick-Step). This multi-layer construction creates a floor that’s much more dimensionally stable than solid-wood flooring, so it’s less likely to cup, split, shrink, or warp. There are more than two dozen wood species to choose from, including both softwood and hardwood.

All wood and wood-based products used in Quickstep’s laminate and engineered floors originate from sustainably managed forests. This means that you can be safe in the knowledge that your floor has made as small an impact on the environment as possible.