Think solid oak flooring could be just the thing for your project? In this post we answer some of the most common questions we get asked about this type of flooring, from what it is to where it can and can’t be used.
What is solid oak flooring?
Let’s start with the basics. Solid oak planks are made from a single piece of milled oak. They can vary in thickness, width and length and can also differ in appearance depending on their finish. Oiled and lacquered are the most common types of finishes. These enhance the oak’s colour and add long-lasting protection.
What are the benefits of solid oak flooring?
Oak is valued for its rich golden colour and hardwearing properties. It’s a durable, reliable wood with the classic knots and swirling grain patterns that have always defined a traditional wood floor. As oak ages, it also becomes richer and deeper in colour.
Natural solid oak flooring can also be sanded down and refinished. This is a great benefit for high-traffic areas or homes with pets. Yet there’s nothing unusual about allowing a solid wood floor to mature naturally. Signs of wear can add extra character and a lovely sense of heritage.
How is solid oak flooring fitted?
Solid oak flooring is typically engineered with tongue and groove joints that allow each of the planks to be slotted together for a neat surface. The planks are glued either directly to the subfloor or at their joints. In no cases are the planks glued in both places as this doesn’t allow for natural movement in the wood. Tongue and groove solid wood planks can also be secret nailed over an existing timber subfloor or (subject to thickness) fixed directly above joists to provide a structural floor.
In any case, the subfloor must be carefully prepared. Levelling, moisture levels and any issues with damp should all be considered and controlled prior to installation.
Is solid oak flooring suitable for any room in the home?
Oak is a durable wood that will perform for more than a lifetime in many rooms of the home. The flooring is a great option for living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and hallways, with its golden tones bringing a lovely sense of warmth to beneath the feet.
The only room that isn’t suitable for solid oak flooring is the bathroom. This space is subject to changing levels of moisture: conditions that don’t bode well with the floor. Wood naturally absorbs and releases moisture from the air and while doing so, its fibres expand and contract. In unstable conditions with fluctuating humidity (such as in the bathroom) oak planks are at risk of this kind of movement and fitting oak in such conditions can result in gapping or cupping in the floor.
Is solid oak flooring suitable for underfloor heating?
Solid oak flooring doesn’t make a great pal for underfloor heating, for the same reasons that we don’t recommend it in bathrooms. As these planks are comprised of a single solid piece of natural wood that’s sensitive to the moisture in its environment, they aren’t stable enough to manage the fluctuations in humidity that arise from heating beneath the floor.
Engineered wood flooring is the solution to pairing wood with underfloor heating.
Is solid oak flooring suitable for pets?
Solid oak flooring can be installed in homes with pets. These floors have high finishes which help to protect them from small scratches and wet shakes after walks. As oak is a smooth flooring, it’s also much easier to clean than a carpet and doesn’t harbour the dirt or bacteria in the same way that a carpet does.
Yet as with any floor, there’s always the risk of some damage from furry friends. To try and minimise this risk, we recommend choosing an oiled solid oak floor as scratches are less visible and more easily repaired with this finish. Plus, it’s a good idea to keep coir matting at doorways and to ensure pets are wiped clean and dry when coming in from outside.
Think solid oak flooring is right for your project?
Our collections of solid oak flooring are designed to provide style and long-term reliability. The York range includes traditional solid oak boards with tongue and groove joints, 5 coats of durable UV lacquer or oil and random lengths for a truly traditional look.
Our alternative collection is Barafundle: these unique floors are versatile and innovative. They’re completely solid all the way through but comprised of a three-layer engineered construction for ultimate stability. Their structure also allows them to be fitted with a glueless ‘drop and lock’ joint.