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Wood Flooring in The Office

When interior designers recommend wood as the flooring solution in your project there are various considerations that are taken into account. More so when the nature of the property is commercial as the floor will have to cope with higher levels of foot traffic and any downtime for unexpected renovation or maintenance work could hurt productivity or even revenue.  Commercial properties such as offices and retail premises deserve special attention when it comes to choosing the correct type of wood flooring.

Types Of Wood Floorboards

The industry offers two variations of the traditional wooden floorboards to appeal to as many interiors as possible. The two types look the same and even cost the same, though they vary in their suitability. The most widely fitted option is the solid type, while an alternative is the engineered type.

Solid Wood Flooring – Each plank of solid wood flooring is made from complete and natural hardwood. Such hardwoods vary from the common Ask, Oak and Walnut to the more exotic species such as Cumaru, Larch and Teak. In the manufacture process no other material besides wood is added, hence the use of the term ‘solid’.

Engineered Wood Flooring – Each plank also contains the same hardwoods as in the solid type, however this time the density drops from 100% to 10% to 25%. The top layer is made from solid hardwood, while the core (which isn’t visible when the engineered floorboard is fitted) is made from MDF, Plywood and other synthetic substances. 

Solid vs. Engineered In Your Project

Having read both descriptions it might seem a clear-cut case in favour of the solid type, however it isn’t so simple. Each type has at least one major advantage over the other, so your decision is often led by the project’s circumstances. 

Durability – Of the two types, solid is the stronger one, which in plain English equals longer service life. Commercial properties in the vast majority of projects will prefer the solid type for this reason. Furthermore, it is possible to sand and recoat a solid floorboard up to 10 times during its service life. Sanding is a process that removed 1mm layer wood to expose new wood. In the process, stains, scuffs and surface scratches are removed, which makes for a quick (and affordable) way to improve the look of the floor.

Versatility – Solid type is unsuitable to fit in damp, humid and wet areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and even over under floor heating. Natural hardwood expands when the temperature climbs and contracts when the temperature drops. This can lead to damage from constant expansion and contraction. On the other hand, the engineered type due to its varied construction of solid wood and synthetic substance is perfectly suitable in such conditions and in these areas. Engineered floorboards could also be sanded and recoated, though to a far lesser extent of 2 to 3 times overall.

The Visual Side

The appearance of each floorboard regardless of its type is achieved based on the grade of the wood and finish of the floor.

Grade Of The Wood – Grade is an indication of how refine the wood is in terms of knots, sapwood and colour variation. Both solid and engineered types contain wood and therefore you will need to choose the most suitable grade for your budget and interior taste. Higher grades such as Prime and Select feature less knots and sapwood and are naturally more expensive. Value grades such as Natural and Rustic feature many knots, plenty of sapwood and are natural more affordable. Large premises projects will often opt for the Natural or Rustic grades due to budget constraints.

Finish Of The Wood – Each floorboard is covered in a thin layer, which acts to protect the wood floor from the elements (sun and rain in particular) and minor damage from items dragged on the surface. However, different finish will often result in a different shade. Your choice is based on variations of oil and lacquered based flooring chemicals. Oil has a more matt look to it, while lacquered has a gloss like appearance due to its glare. Unlike grade or type, the finish can be altered easily by simply using a different shade of finish.

If you are considering fitting wood flooring in your office interior fit out project, there are practical and visual constrains to take into account. If you require help with your commercial interior design project talk to J.S.Office Environments today.

Information for the J.S.Office Environments blog by Wood and Beyond, a London based wood flooring supplier of solid wood flooring and engineered flooring.


Posted by Chris Johnson on 1 May 2013