By Your Call Publishing | ,

Interiors Column - October/November 21

A Guide To Wooden Floors by Katherine Sorrell

Laminate or solid, engineered or reclaimed, timber flooring is a classic choice.

Preparing for a new timber floor

Timber floors can be fitted anywhere, although they’re often not advised for bathrooms or other wet areas, where it’s best to stick to high-quality engineered wood. Insulate the sub-floor and consider what effect the new flooring will have on your final floor level. When fixing boards down, avoid pipes and wires running beneath the existing floor.

What type of timber floor?

Laminate floorboards are usually made from a resin-impregnated decorative paper surface layer bonded to a thin MDF or chipboard core. Cheap versions are not especially durable, but more expensive brands are tough and come with long guarantees.

Solid wood is exactly that, all the way through the board, so it looks and feels natural and can be sanded repeatedly.

Engineered wood is made from layers of solid timber or a veneer of solid timber on top of MDF, plywood, chipboard or softwood, with a balancing veneer beneath. A top layer of at least 5mm allows for limited sanding. Engineered boards shouldn’t warp, gap, cup or bow, unlike solid ones.

Reclaimed boards have a beautiful patina and are the environmentally friendly option. They don’t come cheap, as they often require work to remedy problems such as woodworm, stains, damage and old nails. Check where the wood came from and that it hasn’t stood outside for too long – it may be useless. Generally pine is cheaper than oak, and narrower boards are cheaper than wider ones.

Style and finish

Most timber floors sold in the UK are of European oak, which has a lovely grain and is long-lasting. Other choices include beech, maple, ash, walnut and pine. Options for finishes include stains, waxes, oils, varnishes and limewashes.

Consider the form and laying pattern of the boards. Solid and engineered wood flooring is available as boards, strips, smallish blocks and parquet. Boards can be laid parallel or in chevron and herringbone styles, while parquet has had a renaissance recently.


Don’t let wood floors get too wet, install a doormat and take off stilettos. Regularly vacuum or clean with a soft broom. Mop occasionally, but don’t soak the wood or leave water sitting on it. Using a proprietary cleaning product improves your floor’s look and durability. Remember that a new wooden floor will naturally become darker or lighter over time.


1   This reclaimed teak has been repaired and stained. Woodworks by Ted Todd Rare Finds Dark Colonial Teak, £POA, Ted Todd: 01925 284 496;

2   Floorboards in a chevron pattern create a stylish base. Lottie grand sofa in Isla Kingfisher with darkened oak legs, £2,425; Brompton reading floor lamp in brass, £350; Matilda armchair in Imogen Holkham Sand with pale oak legs, £795; Keswick square coffee table, £500; all Neptune:

3   A white-oil finish creates a clean, fresh look. Oak White oiled brushed wood flooring, £72 per square metre, The Natural Wood Floor Company: 020 8871 9771;