All About Flooring – Wooden Floors (Part 1)

Let's discuss an important element of any dwelling – the floor, you know, that horizontal surface that everything rests on. Floor defines the actual living space fenced by the walls.

The more civilized a nation, the more materials it uses for flooring. In the rural villages of Central Asia, where people work in their fields and gardens, their houses have no flooring – the floor is made of dense clay. The wealthy cover their floors with carpets made of camel wool, and the poor with thin and cheap rugs. The woodless Central Asia had no suitable material for poor people's flooring and only the wealthier people could afford ceramic flooring made of burnt clay.

In Europe wood used to be the most common flooring material. And if we track the evolution of wood as a flooring material, it becomes very obvious that the width of this coating changed according to people's capability to work with it. As long as everything was done using just one axe, the width of timber boards was 100 – 120 mm. When the chain-saw was invented, the width dropped to 40-50mm. Milling machines made it possible to use 16 to 30 mm wide boards.

I am not familiar with better material for flooring than timber – it is the most humane, warm, clean, practical, aesthetic, durable and easy to maintain. Of course I refer to the real wood, either parquet (made of harder wood) or timber boards (made of softer wood).

The most durable wooden flooring is parquet. Although it's small width (16 mm) it can last a century, given proper care and 3 or 4 renovation cycles. Up to 7 mm of its width can come off during the polishing and then after being lacquered it is as good as new.

Naturally, parquet laying requires compliance with the technology and rigor. I would advise against laying parquet in such spaces where it can get wet – kitchen, toilets, and bathrooms. However in the corridors, bedrooms, living and dining rooms it looks perfect, neat and solid.

Parquet floor can be made to anyone's taste, looking either simple and modest or amazingly beautiful with fancy patters and ornaments on the floor. I have seen various kinds of Vietnamese parquet. Its color was ranging from lemon yellow to flamingo pink -that country is rich in exotic woods. Without a doubt, a talented designer can turn these colors into a "lace" on the floor.

The durability of parquet depends on the base it is laid on. Wooden base that will not dry out and crack (such as multilayer plywood) is a very good one for parquet.

Speaking of real parquet, we must mention all of its look-alikes, cheaper and less durable floorings. The most popular one is laminate – flooring made of thin layers of wood bound together by simultaneously applied heat and pressure. Laminate floors have a high-resolution photo of wood on the top layer and covered with high quality lacquer. Laminate boards are fitted together and look very similar to parquet. As a rule, it consists of narrow boards of different width, up to 1.2 meters long, 8-9 mm thick.

Having described parquet, let's move on to different timber flooring – polished floor boards. Its look depends on the way the boards were dried and milled, and if that was done properly then the lively texture of timber will be preserved and the boards can be just lacquered. If the boards are crooked, not even, then they need to be filled and painted. The boards should be 32 – 40mm thick and the distance between the bearer beams is 70 – 90 cm. It's easy enough to repair polished boards floor. In time the bearer beams can become loose and to fix that the boards are removed, the beams are strengthened, the same boards are densely laid (with addition of 1 or 2 boards per room). After such fix, the floors will be good for another 15 – 20 years.