When designing the interior of your dream home, the flooring area is an incredibly important and all too often overlooked factor, despite usually being the largest single area within the property. With natural oak flooring being such a popular choice, due to the many advantages and aesthetically pleasing features it provides, in an effort to ensure that your flooring contributes positively to your interior we have compiled the following tips.
Choose a Quality Supplier:
One of the most difficult challenges with selecting oak flooring is actually choosing a reliable, efficient and trustworthy supplier from which to purchase your flooring. This is because there are so many suppliers of varying quality, many of who give very contradictory information. Selecting the wrong supplier who provides all the right information but inferior quality oak flooring, can have a negative impact on your interior and compromise your dream home. In order to prevent this, we have compiled some tips to help you select a good supplier:
- Ask if the supplier provides a guarantee on their products. Make sure to be vigilant and ask questions, good quality suppliers should be forthcoming about all information concerning their products. Product Specification Sheets should be available and easily sourced.
- Request a photograph of the installed product from the supplier. This will help in many ways in order to ascertain the suitability of the finished floor appearance for your home.
- If a free sample is available, always, always, always take advantage of this service as it enables you to carefully examine the oak and gauge its quality.
- A good quality supplier will provide a complete specification sheet for each of their products. Request this specification sheet and use it in order to note the dimension tolerance allowed. This information will help you to ensure that your selected oak flooring is of an accurate and consistent size, so reducing the risk of costly remedial work for situations where the width variance is too great.
Engineered Oak Flooring or Solid Oak Flooring?
Both solid oak and engineered oak flooring are still very popular but engineered oak is becoming more and more so, mostly due to the stability advantages that it offers when compared with solid oak flooring. Engineered oak flooring with a plywood underside provides excellent strength and stability, whilst being suitable for installation over Under Floor Heating.
You can read an article about Solid Oak Flooring v Engineered Oak Flooring on our website, which will help you to understand the differences.
Solid Oak Flooring
If your selected product is Solid Oak Flooring, we have some tips:
- Always ask for a free sample; however it can be difficult to differentiate between solid oak samples when they largely appear the same. This is where a Product Spec Sheet becomes useful, determining size tolerances etc…
- Select a supplier who gives you access to as much information as possible about the product. If any supplier is vague or misleading in anyway, beware. You want to be speaking to people who not only care about their products but also know about their products, so that you end up with the right one for your personal situation.
- Use your sample as a means of assessing the machining quality and the finish of the flooring.
- Also use the sample to judge the overall presentation and speed of response from the company who provided it.
- Be aware that due to the way natural oak grows, samples can vary both in grain and colour.
Engineered Oak Flooring
For those who have decided that Engineered Oak Flooring best meet the requirements of their dream home, we have providing the following tips:
- Always compare the thickness of oak that is on top of the engineered plank, because the thicker it is, the longer it will last. A 14mm thick engineered product may seem better value at first than a 15mm product, but when the extra durability and life expectancy is considered, it usually is not. The 14mm flooring will have no more than a 3mm wear layer of oak (sometimes only 2.5mm) and the 15mm will usually have a 4mm wear layer, so the 15mm flooring provides 33% more durability than the 14mm product. If the 15mm engineered oak flooring is only slightly more expensive (anything less than 33% more expensive), then the 15mm product offers the best value for money.
- Where possible, always choose plywood backed engineered oak flooring. This type of flooring is not only stronger than softwood core flooring, it is also less likely to fall victim to dimensional change after installation. This extra strength is attributed to the fact that each layer of ply is laid in the opposite direction to the previous one before being bonded together with boil proof glue. This process means that should the wood fibres attempt to gather moisture, expand or contract then they are restrained, resulting in a strong dimensional stability.
- Engineered Oak flooring can be fitted above Underfloor Heating (especially plywood backed), as long as the correct acclimatisation and installation guidelines are followed. Additionally in this situation, we advise that the correct levels of heat, humidity and moisture are monitored and controlled following installation. Please see our website for more information on installation of engineered oak flooring with UFH. You will also be able to see details of our ThruFlow oak flooring, a product specifically designed for installation with UFH.
- If you want to lay the flooring directly on to floor joists without a continuous supporting subfloor, then select a 21mm structural grade board, which is suitable for this situation as long as the joists are not fixed at more than 400mm centres.
If you have selected a quality supplier who provides a specification sheet with the sample, then you will be able to find information about the grading type or grading mix of the flooring here. This information will explain what you should expect from the flooring in terms of grain variance, knots, sapwood and the overall appearance after installation.
No matter what name your supplier has given to the flooring you are interested in, the grades included within it will fall somewhere within Grade A, Grade B, Grade C, Grade D, or Below.
Often Grades A and B can be referred to as either Prime Grade or Select Grade, meaning that the flooring planks will have very few natural features like knots and sapwood.
Grades C and D will allow for and include greater variance in natural features, and the word Below covers all kinds of natural defects like splits and cracks that are filled and sanded before finishing to give what is usually referred to as Rustic or Character grade.
At Oak Floors Online we prefer to supply a mix of A, B, C and D grades for the vast majority of our flooring, so that after installation, the finished floor includes some clear boards and some with more features. This, in our opinion, creates a natural looking oak floor that is neither too ‘clear’ nor too ‘busy’ looking. The reason for this is that we believe that this blending of grades delivers the most authentic appearance of a natural oak floor.
What Wear Layer Thickness?
The importance of comparing wear layer thickness is so vitally important that we want to emphasise it again before we sign off on this article.
The wear layer or ‘top’ of an engineered oak floor board refers to the actual piece of oak that is what you see and walk upon after the flooring has been installed, so the thicker it is, the longer your floor will last.
When comparing different engineered samples for your dream home floor covering, please take time to consider this and apply the necessary focus when making your selection, because by doing so you will ensure that your beautiful oak flooring will not require replacing after just a few years.
A 15mm thick engineered product with a 4mm wear layer of oak will last 33% longer than a 14mm product with 3mm, so not only will it last much longer but by doing this, it will reduce future installation and replacement costs.
When installing engineered oak flooring in their home, we advise our customers to consider and install a product that has a minimum wear layer of 4mm, so that it provides sufficient durability to last for years and years.