There are so many fabulous engineered oak flooring designs available. This can make choosing the right floor for your home and lifestyle quite difficult.
To narrow things down, it often helps to focus on the practical aspects first, and then to consider the aesthetics, including the wood grain, colour
The practical considerations of engineered oak flooring
Engineered oak flooring is generally offered in thicknesses spanning 12-21mm. It’s best to opt for a thicker
construction. Our designs are 21mm thick and they comprise a 15mm birch plywood core and a substantial 6mm oak wear layer. This format is suitable
for most homes, although you may need to source a thinner board if there are height issues.
In terms of board widths, most engineered oak flooring is 160/200/240mm wide. Larger widths tend to work well in bigger rooms, and vice versa. Lengths
vary too and span from 600 – 2400mm; random, mixed lengths create a more informal, relaxed look, whilst fixed lengths (often available by special order)
are more regimented and formal. Patterned floors are very popular too, especially Herringbone designs, like our Gatehouse and Tall Ship Brown designs. They create a stunning ‘Scandinavian-style’ parquet effect
that suits contemporary and traditional interiors.
The oak itself
All of our engineered oak flooring is made from sustainable, European timber. As well as the eco-benefits of sourcing from Europe, it’s also a lovely species
to work with, and very high quality. It has a much warmer tone than non-European oak. The choice of backing is really important too. We always recommend
a quality birch plywood backing, which creates a very stable floor.
The floor finish
There are several different options in terms of floor finish. We’ve found that hardwax oil or lacquered finishes work best. All of our designs are hand-finished
in London so that we can accurately determine the end finish and colour. The finishing treatments seal the oak, making the floor more durable and resistant.
They also enhance the timber’s tone and tactile finish.
Achieving the final look is more complex than you may think, with several processes applied in careful succession. A lacquered finish is a chemical treatment
and it seals the surface without changing the colour or tone of the oak. Hardwax oil is a more natural, tactile treatment and is used when a colour
change is intended, as part of achieving the final look. You can generally tell if engineered oak flooring has been treated with just one layer of lacquer or wax; it will take on a slightly ‘plastic-like’ appearance and the timber’s lustre will be lost.
So, a quality finish is really important.
As well as the surface finish, there are also other engineered oak flooring treatments that can create very different looks. Some oaks are brushed, distressed
or tumbled, to achieve an aged look. ‘Rough sawn’ finishes are also used to create a naturally worn look; they give the appearance of faded lines running
across the timber’s surface, like our own Boardwalk floor. Oaks can also be ‘smoked’ to darken
the colour of the timber, creating rich conker and ebony tones.
Colour is one of the biggest deciding factors when choosing engineered oak flooring – and, with a spectrum of new finishes available, there are lots of
shades to choose from. Here are some examples from our own collection, which show the breadth of colour choice available:
- Tall Ship Brown – this parquet design has a rich, dark brown mahogany tone, reminiscent
of old rigger ships.
- Boulevarde – light and airy, this floor has a white oil prefinish which creates a bright
tone and accentuates the oak’s natural graining and knots.
- Gatehouse – another very popular parquet design but in a warm golden tone with lots of grain
markings. Ideal for creating an ‘old school room’ look with the benefit of a modern construction and finish.
- Pavilion Grey – this limewash finish also gives a light, airy feel but in a greyer
tone. It accentuates the oak’s grain and also contrasts with the wood’s natural, darker base tones.
Engineered oak flooring has become a real style classic and it’s a great investment for the home. When you’re choosing between different styles, it’s always
worth comparing real samples, side by side, to see the variations in grain, and the different treatments and textures. Long sample boards are best,
so that you can get a really good feel of the finished look in different lights. Some designs and finishes can look very different in natural daylight,
especially those with undulating rough sawn or tumbled surfaces.
For more ideas, browse our engineering oak flooring collection, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or contact us here. Alternatively,
you can pop into our Burford showroom to talk through some interior ideas, and compare different
samples over a coffee.