Which wood floor?

Wooden flooring is one of the oldest of all the house building traditions that are still in use today. The materials we use to build our walls, struts, roofs and windows have changed radically over the last few hundred years, but the wood floor that can be found on the second storey of any ancient farmhouse is very similar to that of a Victorian terrace house or a modern, newly built home.

Like any concept that has remained more or less unchanged for hundreds of years, wooden flooring has such staying power because it does the job and does it well. The demands made on floors of all kinds are quite severe when considered over a period of years or decades. First, they must be strong enough to withstand constant weight- not just of people walking around, but of heavy furnishings and household appliances. It must be forgiving underfoot and not too cold.

Quality wood floor boards fulfil all the requirements. Unlike fully rigid materials, wood planks flex over time. That’s not a bad thing. It allows houses to settle naturally- as they inevitably will- without harming the rest of the structure. There’s no denying that wood is also visually attractive, and a well maintained wooden floor is a beautiful compliment to any home, new or old. No two are exactly alike even when they are made from the same kind of wood and to the same standards.

Wood is a great material, but the type of timber is important and so is the quality of the milling and engineering of a particular board. Hardwoods are usually far more durable than softwoods like pine. Pine grows fast and it’s soft and easy to cut and shape, so pine boards tend to be very cheap, but a pine wood floor won’t last as well or be as strong as the hardwood alternative.

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