Timber Floors

Solid Boards

These can consist either of single plank machined boards or two strip staved boards in various thickness between 14mm and 22mm. These are tongue and grooved, and need fixing either by secret nailing to battens or fully bonding to a suitable substrate. There are also proprietary clip systems available that allow the installation of a fully floating floor over a screed base.

Solid boards are supplied either factory-finished (lacquered or oiled) or unfinished. Unfinished boards will require sanding and finishing on site once they have been installed.

The advantage of using a solid board is the number of times it can be sanded and refinished. This has a direct effect on its life expectancy. A 20mm solid board can be sanded up to seven times, giving an expected life of twenty or more years.

Engineered Boards

Engineered boards generally range from 10mm – 22mm thick, a variety of widths and finishes as well as three basic structures. It is important to understand the implications of how the structure of the board is made so that the effect on the application in which the floor is to be used can be understood.

Cross plywood backed – this is a multilayer board comprising various layers of plywood running in different directions over which a hardwood timber veneer wear layer is bonded. The wear layer may range from 1mm to 6mm thick and as such the number of times it may be sanded and refinished is limited to the thickness of the wear layer.

Sandwich board – this is a multilayer board where the whole structure is made up of the same species of tree but bonded together with the grain of each layer running in different directions. These tend to be of a more premium cost than a cross plywood backed board.

Spruce/Poplar backed – this is made up of a hardwood veneer wear layer over a thicker core and base layer which may be spruce or poplar backed. These are the cheaper end of the scale and additional considerations should be made when using this type of board.

Top quality plywood boards are the basis of any good quality engineered flooring as it gives the timber veneer surface a good foundation. 100% birch plywood back is the best to use as it gives the product extra stability whereas a mixture of woods is not good for the long term stability of an engineered wood floor especially in commercial applications. As well as fixing the boards down as with solid timber flooring engineered flooring can be installed as a floating system over a good quality underlay. Engineered flooring is generally considered more stable than solid timber flooring and more advisable to use with underfloor heating providing it is installed and maintained to manufacturers guidelines.

Engineered flooring may come tongue and grooved for traditional fixing, or can be manufactured with a “clic” locking design that eliminates the need for gluing the edges. This makes for a very fast and clean installation. You should never confuse engineered wood flooring with cheaper laminate flooring.

Laminated Boards

These are generally constructed of an MDF bottom layer with a printed-paper or vinyl finish layer. Laminate flooring is a good solution for residential projects and similar projects which have a light volume of traffic. Laminate flooring is generally a more economical solution than solid or engineered hardwood flooring as it usually a cheaper cost install and easier to maintain. The main drawbacks however is that it cannot be sanded or refinished because of the way it is constructed and as such not generally recommended for commercial use.

Parquet Blocks

This more traditional type of flooring is seen in period homes and old school buildings. The blocks may come in a variety of shapes and sizes though usually either rectangular solid blocks – generally between 12mm to 20mm in thickness – or small squares made up from bonded “fingers.” Installation is by fully bonding to a suitable substrate, either concrete or plywood base, with specialist parquet adhesive or bitumen. Parquet blocks can be laid to create intricate designs with mixtures of species. Thanks to their construction and installation method they need far less expansion allowance. As with all solid wood products they can be sanded and refinished many times. There are examples of original parquet block flooring over 100 years old and still in sound condition.

The table below gives a brief overview of the species available and their suitability of use.

Resistance to
(brinell rating)

Suitable for use in

Available finishes
Oak 34N / mm2 Commercial / Domestic / Retail / Leisure Lacquered /oiled / Unfinished
Beech 36N / mm2 Commercial / Domestic / Sport Lacquered / oiled / Unfinished
Maple 35 / mm2 Commercial / Domestic / Sport Lacquered / oiled / Unfinished
Merbau 41N / mm2 Commercial / Domestic / Retail / Leisure Lacquered / oiled / Unfinished
Ash 34N /mm2 Commercial / Domestic Lacquered / oiled / Unfinished
Hevea 40N / mm2 Commercial / Domestic / Retail / Leisure Lacquered / oiled /Unfinished
Cherry N/A Commercial / Domestic / Retail / Leisure Lacquered / oiled / Unfinished
Sycamore 35N / mm2 Commercial / Domestic / Sport Lacquered / oiled / Unfinished
Jatoba 50N / mm2 Commercial / Domestic / Retail / leisure Oiled / Unfinished

Please note that suitability of use is based on our own commercial experience in tried and tested commercial installations. For example, we would be cautious about using a blonde wood in a restaurant as it will be more prone than a darker species to showing dirt