Which Rooms Are Best For Wood Flooring?
The received wisdom used to be that bespoke wood flooring wasn’t suitable for use in some rooms of your home, due to the potential for damp or excess water, or because of other mitigating factors such as the presence of underfloor heating. Nowadays, thanks to the constant development of technology and installation techniques, wood flooring can now be fitted pretty much anywhere, giving every part of your house a timeless and natural beauty.
However, there are some important considerations to make in terms of the type of wood flooring you choose, as not all wood flooring is suitable for every room. Read on to find out what type of flooring will work in which particular room in your house.
It is often argued that tiles, linoleum, rubber or slate are the most suitable surfaces for a kitchen floor, as they are hardwearing and easy to clean. However, these surfaces can often feel cold and stark and don’t offer the warmth and natural look that wood does.
The good news is that wood can be used in your kitchen, but you have to be careful about the type of wood flooring you choose. Engineered wood flooring is more durable than solid hardwood and is able to withstand changes in humidity, moisture and temperature, all of which will vary greatly in a kitchen due to activities like cooking and appliances like dishwashers (not to mention all those inevitable spillages).
Engineered wood looks like solid wood, as the top of the plank is real wood, but underneath are layers of plywood, which give it strength and stability.
What about spills and leaks?
Whilst engineered wood flooring is tough, it does still need to be carefully looked after, as any standing water could risk penetrating the boards and damaging the surface. Wipe up any spills quickly and be vigilant about keeping an eye on dishwashers and washing machines to make sure they aren’t leaking.
Should I lay the floor underneath kitchen cabinets?
It is recommended that you lay your floor up to the edges of kitchen cabinets and appliances, as there is little point in spending money on flooring that will be hidden away gathering dust. Also, kitchen units and appliances can be heavy and unbalanced, which puts large amounts of pressure on the floor and can lead to buckling and breaking.
The bathroom has the most humidity and moisture of any room in the house, as well as extreme changes in temperature, which leads many people to avoid considering installing a wooden floor. However, a wooden floor makes a bathroom look and feel warm and inviting, and adds a real touch of class and style that can’t be achieved with tiles and lino.
Having a wooden floor in your bathroom is certainly achievable, but, as with the kitchen, it is strongly recommended that you choose an engineered floor rather than a hardwood floor. Moisture is very bad for hardwood, causing it to swell and buckle, and all those hot showers and splashy bedtime baths will quickly damage it.
Engineered wood flooring is much better able to withstand the humidity and dampness of a bathroom, but it’s still important that you thoroughly clean up any excess puddles of water before it causes any problems.
What can I do to keep my floor dry?
Keeping your bathroom well ventilated by opening the window on a daily basis will minimise the humidity in the room and on the floor. Areas that are at high risk from spillages, such as next to the sink, bath and shower, can be protected with bath mats or rugs, which should be replaced with dry ones on a regular basis. Keep a careful eye on your plumbing and use preventative measures to deal with problems before you have a serious leak or flood on your hands.
What other problems should I look out for?
Bathroom floors in large family households are likely to be damp most of the time. This can lead to the growth of mould, which can cause health problems, particularly among people who suffer from asthma. Cleaning regularly with an anti-fungicidal agent will help prevent this.
Installing wood flooring in your living room will give the space an instant feel of style and elegance, as well as being easy to clean and maintain. As there are unlikely to be big temperature variations or increased humidity in your living room, it’s a great place to make use of solid wood flooring.
This type of flooring is made from a solid piece of timber, cut to size and designed to fit together, before being air-dried or kiln-dried. Solid oak floors are the most common type of wood flooring due to the strength and durability of the wood, but walnut and acacia are also popular due to the range of colours and attractive grains.
Solid wood flooring can last for decades and be sanded multiple times to return it, again and again, to look as good as new. This means it will return its value many years down the road, making it a great investment for the future, as well as something you can enjoy immediately.
Can I use underfloor heating with a wooden floor?
If you currently have or wish to install underfloor heating you will have to use engineered wood flooring instead of solid wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring has been designed and made to give the planks dimensional stability, which means it is able to expand and contract with the changes in temperature caused by underfloor heating.
Solid wood flooring planks are not stable enough to deal with the temperature changes and will soon become damaged.
Wood Flooring on Stairs
A beautiful staircase can become a real focal point in your house, making wood flooring a great choice if you’re giving the area a makeover. Either solid or engineered wood flooring can be used, as your stairs shouldn’t be experiencing excesses of moisture or temperature.
Engineered wood flooring is usually cheaper to purchase and install, but solid wood flooring will last longer and retain its value, so it’s completely up to you which you choose. As well as buying the actual boards for your staircase, you also need to have a type of moulding or accessory called ‘stair nosing’, which covers the edge of each step and joins it to the one below. The only potential difficulty with a wooden staircase is that it can be slippery, so care must be taken when using it.
Can I fit wooden flooring to my staircase myself?
It’s a relatively easy job but does require care and patience. A flexible adhesive must be used to bond the flooring and stair nosing to the staircase so they don’t become loose with daily use. Each step must be level and at a 90-degree angle, or the risk of falling or tripping will be greatly increased.
Every room in your house is suitable for wood flooring, but you should bear the above information in mind when choosing which particular type to install. Regular fluctuations in temperature or humidity will cause damage to solid wood floors in bathrooms and potentially kitchens, meaning engineered wood will prove far more durable over the long term in those circumstances.
Outside of these considerations though, you really can fit beautiful wooden floors in any room of your house with confidence, and enjoy stylish surroundings for years to come.