If you are contemplating fitting wood flooring in your self-build project, you will soon come across many options and considerations.
In this guide to planning wood flooring for your self-build, we look at some of the common scenarios you are likely to face. These are legal noise reduction obligations, type of floorboard, finish and lastly, your fitting options.
Noise Regulations and Wood Flooring
In part, The Building Regulations Approved Document E (2003 – Resistance to the passage of sound) refers to your legal obligations to reduce noise in newly built blocks of flats and apartments as well as properties that have since been converted into flats or apartments. Generally speaking, if the self-build project has downstairs neighbours (apartment or flat), then you owe it to them to take into account the amount of noise they are likely to over-hear from the upstairs neighbours. If you are considering fitting wood flooring, an underlay with acoustic soundproofing properties will do the job well. When you research an underlay, you will see a reference to walking noise reduction and impact noise insulation in its description. The thickness and materials will make the underlay better or worse in terms of soundproofing.
Types Of Wood Flooring For Self-Build
There are two types of wood flooring, one made from 100% natural wood, while the second is made from natural wood on a base of syntactic materials. Which type is more suitable for your build is a common question.
Solid Wood Flooring – Solid wood flooring as the name suggests is made from 100% natural wood. The floorboard is extremely strong, so strong that it can even be used as structural boards. It suits most areas of the project, but for potentially wet and damp areas such as the bathroom and kitchen areas. If you fit solid wood flooring in wet or damp conditions, the floorboards might over expand and contract due to temperature fluctuations. In all other areas, especially in high footfall areas, solid wood flooring is a prize option. You can even sand and recoat the floorboards later in their service life, thereby extending its usability further. When you get a chance, visit some period properties to see first hand account of solid wood flooring fitted many decades before vouching for the strength of the wood.
Engineered Wood Flooring – The engineered wood flooring option has not been around for long, perhaps ten to fifteen years compared to hundreds of years in the case of solid wood flooring. The name ‘engineered’ originates from the construction of each floorboard. The top is made from 3mm to 6mm of solid wood, the core and bottom parts are made from MDF and ply. The outcome is a floorboard that can withstand wet, humid and damp conditions, but still retain the look of real wood flooring. Engineer wood flooring can be fitted in all areas of the project, even in the bathroom, kitchen and basement areas, and importantly even on top of under floor heating. Service life is shorter compared to the previous solid wood type, and while sanding is possible, it is limited to once or twice at the most.
Type of Wood Finish
A clear liquid is often applied onto the exposed wood to improve its service life. Options of finish are based on variations of either oil or lacquer coatings.
Oil Finish – Oil is the most common finish, mainly because it will not alter the look of the wood, thereby helping retain a natural authentic look. Oil is also slower to wear off.
Lacquered Finish – Lacquer is the rugged finish of the two, meaning it is often applied onto floorboards that are exposed to higher foot traffic, fitted in direct sight of sunlight for prolong periods or when water resistance is required. Lacquer might change the look of the floorboard by giving it a slight luster finish (semi-gloss).
Types of Wood Flooring Installation
There are three common methods to fit wood flooring. Your choice of one over the other will depend on your skills, sub-floor and type of flooring.
Floating Installation – Floorboards are held in place using the weight of each other. It is the most diy friendly method and quickest. However it is only suitable in the case of light floorboards, such ad the engineered ones. You should never float the solid type due to its weight.
Glued Installation – Both solid and engineered wood flooring can be fitted using the uncomplicated glue down fitting method. Special flooring glue (adhesive) is used to secure the floorboard to the sub-floor, while still allowing the floorboard to expand and contract to a degree.
Nail Installation – Nailing down is the traditional fitting method, which can be used for either solid or engineered wood flooring. The nail can be applied onto the tongue of the board, which is then covered by the groove of the next board (called secret nailing).
We hope this has helped. Thank you for reading.