A solid wood floor is floor laid with planks or battens which have been milled from a single piece of timber, usually a hardwood. Since wood is hydroscopic (it acquires and loses moisture from the ambient conditions around it) this potential instability effectively limits the length and width of the boards. Solid hardwood flooring is usually cheaper than engineered timbers and damaged areas can be sanded down and refinished repeatedly, the number of timbers being limited only by the thickness of wood above the tongue. Solid hardwood floors were originally used for structural purposes, being installed perpendicular to the wooden support beams of a building (the joists or bearers) and solid construction timber is still often used for sports floors as well as most traditional wood blocks, mosaics and parquetry.
At Havwoods we carry two ranges of solid wood flooring: Junckers and our own Gold Leaf range. Gold Leaf products are sourced from a variety of mills, all of whom work to a very exact tolerance to ensure minimal on-site sanding; Junckers is a highly respected Danish flooring producer and is the only solid wood flooring which we are prepared to specify for use over underfloor heating.
An engineered board is, quite simply, a timber board which consists of more than one layer. By placing each layer so that the grain runs perpendicularly it becomes virtually impossible for the timber to swell or shrink with changes in humidity and so it dramatically increases its stability. The top layer of an engineered board (the lamella) is solid wood, usually hardwood, and may be anything from 2 to 6mm thick; the thickest wear layers are equivalent to those on solid timber boards and obviously the thicker the surface layer the more times it can be sanded and refinished to remove the ravages of wear. The lamella is securely bonded to one or two further layers – this may be a multi-layered plywood or a sandwich with either a softwood or hardwood core.
Engineered boards should not be confused with laminate or veneer. Laminate uses an image of wood on its surface whilst veneer uses only a very thin layer of wood over a core of some type of composite wood product, usually fibreboard.
Engineered timber is now the most common type of wood flooring used globally. Not only are they more stable than solid planks but they also offer alternative, easier methods of installation. Furthermore the technology has enabled the production of much wider boards as well as the application of an enormous variety of really interesting finishes, reducing the demand for exotic species since their rich colours can now be simulated with the use of oils, heat and pressure.