Last Updated on November 23, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Real Wood Engineered Floorboards.
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Am I alone in having discovered engineered wood floors through a hatred of draughts? I bought my last home having fallen just a little bit in love with the stripped pine floorboards that ran throughout the property. Add a few rugs to a natural wood floor and you have a charming, timeless style. You can change things up a bit by using a designer rug, create a warm and retro style using vintage Persian rugs or keep things simple with sisal. That said, original stripped pine floorboards have their own challenges. Firstly, the world will probably have changed a lot since they were installed – so you may find (as I did) that there are drilled holes where central heating and other plumbing pipes have been installed. Secondly, over time they will probably have shrunk a bit. You can pay to have them re-fitted, but you will need to source matching vintage wood to make up the spaces. When I first moved in there, despite plenty of rugs, I found that that ‘character’ feature I’d loved so much actually made the rooms feel cold. I could feel the wind blowing up through the gaps!
It was then I discovered engineered wood flooring. Mine were 6mm oak. Engineered wood floors are made with special unfinished plywood base layers that slot together a bit like a jigsaw and with the top wood layer finished with the stain and varnish of your choice. Laying my new boards over a special soundproofing underlay, I ended up with a stunning finish that was as easy to maintain as a quick vacuum and then mop with a special wood floor spray. No draughts and a similar effect to the original pine boards. Once they are laid, you can refinish them later if you want to change your decor – with 6mm engineered wood you can sand and refinish up to three times if you are careful!
In my new house, part of the space already had engineered wood flooring and I’ve extended the same oak dark walnut finish stained wood throughout the whole of the ground floor. The result is a stunning set of rooms that I think still have a period feel but with enough of a contemporary twist to not make them feel dated. I know from experience that the boards can be sanded down and refinished if the next owners don’t like the dark walnut. There are no gaps between the skirting boards and floor – and the wood has been carefully fitted around my lovely curvy picture window.
I’m gradually breaking up the space with big rugs – I’m still looking for the right rugs for the dining area. That said, I rather like the effect of the bare wood, especially around the grand piano.
Upstairs, I have lighter engineered wood floors in the bedrooms, replacing the scruffy carpet that was there before and because I laid a soundproofing insulation mat under the boards, you really can’t hear anyone moving around up there. It’s warm and cosy and I like the way it updates a traditional Victorian house without making it feel ‘stripped out and bare’. Having the flooring fitted probably cost me about twice as much as I would have paid for carpet, but I know this will last for as long as I am here. If I spill a glass of wine, there won’t be any tears and if I decide I want a new look, it’s a question of hiring a sander and then refinishing with a new stain.
I’m particularly impressed by how easy my engineered flooring is to keep clean and dust-free. I have a robot vacuum which wizzes around picking up the fluff from my long-haired cat and a microfibre mop which I use with a special wood spray. If anywhere gets very grubby, I mop with warm soapy water and then again with the microfibre mop and spray to finish everything back to a nice dull sheen.
What’s next? well, I have a real yearning for a parquet floor. I didn’t fit one here because the living room already had walnut finished engineered wood flooring and I wanted the whole space to feel cohesive. But watch this space – I’m planning a move to Scotland in the next few years and I’m definitely going to have that parquet finish of my dreams!