Beautiful Wood Floors

Posted on August 7, 2013 · Posted in Interior Design, Project Locations

If you are looking to fit wood as the basis for your new floor, you will likely come across industry terms from ‘engineered wood’ to ‘prime grade wood’ and other terms which will likely make little sense at first. To assist and to explain your options, residential architects 4D Studio together with Wood and Beyond are bringing you this handy guide to wood flooring.

Types Of Wood Flooring

There are two types of floorboard construction that fall under the category of wood floor. One is made completely from wood, whilst an alternative is made from wood and artificial materials. Both options cost similarly, both require the same detail and level of care and to make things slightly confusing, both look similar when fitted. The difference becomes apparent when looking closer at each type.

Solid Wood Flooring – Wood floorboards made from 100% wood are called ‘solid’. Each plank is made from natural wood without the supplement of any other material. The floorboard is made from common woods such as Oak and Walnut to more exotic species from tropical forests.

solid wood floor

Engineered Wood Flooring – This time around, each floorboard is made from a top layer of solid wood in typical thickness of 3mm to 6mm thick and a core of MDF, Plywood and even Softwood hence the use of the term ‘engineered’. The use of solid wood as the top layer (called the ‘wear layer’) ensures that solid and engineered wood share the same look when the boards are fitted.

engineered wood floor

Choosing One Type Over The Other

Whilst solid and engineered woods share the same appearance once installed, they differ in their reactions under certain circumstances. In consultation with your interior designer, one type will likely prove more suitable for your project.

When To Fit Solid Wood – The biggest attraction in fitting solid wood is the durability of the floor over time. It can cope with high levels of foot traffic (such as in commercial or retail properties) as well as offer up to 100 years of service life in residential properties. Furthermore, the use of complete wood allows property owners to sand and re-stain the wood many times over thereby increasing the length between changing flooring solutions. Sanding removes a 1mm layer of real wood to expose new wood therefore because solid wood is made from complete wood the process can be repeated many times. In most cases, solid wood flooring makes for the most suitable option between the two.

When To Fit Engineered Wood– The biggest attraction in fitting engineered wood lies in its versatility around the property. It can suit most of the property with the exception of the outdoors. Natural woods are susceptible to rising and contracting due to temperature fluctuations. When the temperature climbs, wood will naturally expand and when the temperature drops wood will naturally contract. Over time this can lead to damage. It means that solid wood (an entirely natural wood option) when fitted in high humidity areas such as the bathroom and kitchen areas as well as over under floor heating will react in the precise manner and damage within weeks or months. Not the case when engineered wood is concerned, which is the reason why it was introduced. The core of artificial materials helps negotiate challenging conditions and owners who want to fit wood flooring in these areas now have the option to.

Grade Of Wood

The appearance of wood varies in colour, defects and grain according to the species and within the species according to the grade. Both solid and engineered wood flooring contain wood, which is why your next decision is choosing the grade. Do not mistake grade for an indication of quality, it is merely a gage to measure how refine the wood is. Common grades include:

Prime OR AB Grade – This is the highest grade so it’s also the dearest. Colour variation is minimal and so is the presence of sapwood and knots. In plain English, if you open a box of prime grade wood flooring all the various boards will look similar in tone and texture.

prime wood floor

Select OR ABC Grade – Also considered a type of high grade, you may start to notice random sapwood and knots in sizes of up to 20mm.

select wood floor


Natural OR ABCD Grade – Colour variations, sapwood and knots of up to 30mm in size are to be expected as well as black resin used to fill holes in the wood.

natural wood floor




















Rustic OR CD Grade – Significant colour variations and knots of up to 35mm are to be expected as well as sapwood and black spots from the resin filler.

rustic wood floor


Regardless of which type or grade you choose, make sure that your supplier can account for the origin of the wood. Wood flooring should be sourced from managed forests, so your decision to fit wood does not endanger other habitats.

If you have any questions, leave your comment below or contact 4D Studio.

Information by Jonathan Sapir. Jonathan is the MD of Wood and Beyond ( UK based FSC suppliers of hardwood flooring, worktops and decking.