Tips & Advice
Tips on Choosing a Supplier
We have compiled some important wood flooring advice on selecting the best supplier and the best product for your installation.
There are many suppliers to choose from; we have composed a brief list of wooden floor advice on how to select your perfect oak floor from a quality supplier:
- If a free sample is available, always take advantage of this service so you can fully examine your oak.
- Ask the company if they provide a guarantee. Be vigilant and ask questions, they should be forthcoming about information on their product.
- Ask the supplier to provide you with a photograph of the installed product. This will enable you to decide if it is suitable for your home.
- Each product should have a spec sheet that is available for customers. Use this spec sheet to take note of the dimension tolerance allowed. This is so that you can ensure your oak is of the right size.
- Generally if a company is passionate about their product then they will do their upmost to provide a high quality product and service.
Engineered Oak Flooring
When choosing your engineered oak flooring, first make sure to enquire about the construction. Also enquire about the thickness of the wear layer. The surface of a board can be the same across several styles but underneath the board can vary in size. For instance, if a company offers a 15mm for a cheaper price than their competitors’ 14mm it does not necessarily mean that the board is of better quality. The surface of that board might be thin and weak. We advise our customers to purchase no less than a 4mm wear layer.
We advise customers to purchase plywood-backed products over softwood-backed products. This is due to plywood-backed boards having an increased stability and strength after installation compared to the softwood-backed. A softwood core board is not of structural grade, so even a 21mm is not suitable for spanning and fixing directly to floor joists. Nor is it suitable for secret nailing because the core simply isn’t strong enough.
Many of the well-known companies increase their prices simply because their brand is recognised and so customers will pay extra. The price difference can be substantial and it does not necessarily mean you are buying a better product. We offer a lifetime guarantee but without the high street price tag.
Tips on Choosing Solid Oak Flooring
It can often be difficult it is to decide which company to use when you receive a variety of samples which appear much the same. We endeavour to give you access to as much information about your product as possible, right from the start. The sample you receive should be used for assessing the machining quality and the finish, along with the overall presentation and speed of response from the company it came from.
Please note that due to the natural quality of the wood that samples can vary slightly in colour and grain.
Why do some companies charge for a ‘FREE’ sample?
If a company charges for a sample it can mean that they are not entirely confident in its quality. If the product is of high quality then they should be confident you will invest in their product.
So you have your sample, what next?
Having assessed the machining and finish quality, the next step is to establish how much dimensional variation there will be in the flooring. If there are large dimensional differences, you could encounter two costly problems:
- The fitter will have to select a range of boards of a similar width, which is very time-consuming.
- After the flooring is installed, any gaps and spaces between the boards need to be filled and finished.
To ensure that your flooring will arrive with consistent dimensions we recommend you request a full product specification sheet from the company. Ensure that the dimensional tolerances are shown within it. The two most important tolerances are the width and thickness, and neither should be more than 0.25mm for a well-produced and close-fitting solid oak product (engineered can be more due to the potential variance in the underside thickness). The easier and closer your flooring fits together, the easier the installation process will be; meaning an efficient and cost effective installation.
What grade should I order?
Within the specification sheet there should also be a detailed description of the grade mix of the flooring explaining what you could expect regarding grain variance, knots, sapwood, and overall appearance.
Primarily there are four grades of oak available (unless you want a highly rustic finish with open knots etc.) these are: Grade A, Grade B, Grade C, and Grade D.
Some may refer to Grades A and B as Prime Grade or Select Grade but generally it means that the boards will have very little variation in grain pattern and very few small knots (if any at all). Some sapwood is allowed but only to cover a maximum of 5% within Grade A and 15% within Grade B. Grade C allows knots up to 25mm and sapwood to cover no more than 30% of the face, whilst Grade D allows more obvious grain and colour variation, with larger knots (some filled and sanded).
At Oak Floors Online we believe a 25% mix of each provides the most authentic appearance of natural oak, without being either too clear and laminate-looking or too knotty and rustic looking. Our 25% mix will ensure that 50% of your floor will be quite clear with straight grain pattern, and 50% will have good oak features like knots and colour variation, as well as good grain pattern.
Tips On Choosing Engineered Oak Flooring
When studying the construction of the two different types (plywood backed and the softwood core version) our plywood backed is stronger and less susceptible to dimensional changes after installation. This is due to the multiple layers of ply, each running in the opposite direction to the next and heat bonded together with boil-proof glue. This creates a cross-grain structure where, when the wood fibres within want to gather moisture and expand or contract, each layer is restrained by the other so providing strong dimensional stability. In contrast, the single core of softwood has its grain running in one direction.
Our 21mm board is structurally graded, so can be fixed directly to floor joists at 400 c/s with no need for a supporting subfloor. This support allows the floor to be installed as a floating floor where conditions permit, directly onto concrete or timber subfloors. It is ideal for floating floor installation, over an underlay that can provide your floor with extra protection from possible moisture attack from beneath. Please see the following link for more information on our selection of Underlay.
Engineered Oak can also be fitted above underfloor heating when the correct installation guidelines are followed and the necessary levels of heat, humidity and moisture are maintained by the owner after installation.
We can supply a suitable Self-Regulating UFH System to go with our Oak Flooring, so it never overheats and never wastes energy, making it super-efficient.
What thickness wear layer should I go for?
There are many different thicknesses of Engineered Oak Flooring boards available. The most important structural parts of an engineered board (other than the actual quality) are the wear layer of oak on the surface and the backing that it’s bonded to.
The most cost efficient deal is not always the best. You must take into consideration the quality of the backing and the thickness of the wear later. We recommend minimum wear layer of 4mm to our customers.
How to choose a quality fitter
Many people can claim they are professional floor fitters and so to ensure you receive a true quality service we have compiled several tips:
- Always get more than one quote. Some offer a time-spent cost and some offer a price per square metre; they can differ in price significantly.
- Ask to see photographs of their previous work
- Research their quality by looking at recommendations and testimonials.
When you are on site with your potential fitter, ask his advice. What does he recommend for the best result? Ask him how he would fit the flooring (there are four different fitting methods) and which way he prefers to fit and why.
If there are any parts that you are unsure about, ask the fitter how they will go about solving what you see as a challenge.If they avoid questions or struggle to answer then that could be a sign that they lack knowledge in certain areas.
Can You Visit One of their Previous Jobs?
Due to private courtesy we prefer to keep our customers names and addresses private. However if we have fitted flooring in a public place like a shop then you could always visit.
We ask our customers to avoid an hourly rate or day rate cost; we recommend a Metre Squared rate or an overall total for everything. This will prevent issues arising afterwards; agree on everything regarding cost and charges before the installation starts, rather than afterwards.
Make sure to be aware of what is included in the price. Prepare for any potential problems, for instance; what would happen if something else is required during the installation, and who would cover breakages, leaks, or mishaps.