Step into any Singaporean home and you’ll notice that wooden flooring, or wood-style flooring, is one of the most common flooring types. It is highly sought after and continues to be popular among homeowners in Singapore due to its amazing qualities and cost-effectiveness.
Are you thinking about renovating your home and wondering if wood flooring is a good choice? Here is an A-Z guide to the various types of wooden flooring, their benefits, how to care for them, and the factors to consider when selecting a flooring material for your home.
BENEFITS OF WOODEN FLOORING
1. Durability and Resistance
Timber and engineered wood flooring are extremely durable and resistant to daily wear and tear, chips, scratches, and warping. However, their level of durability is also affected by a variety of factors, one of which is the wood species used — some species have a stronger structure than others. Aside from wood species, the durability of wooden floors can be enhanced by applying a hard-wearing finish or sealer.
A Janka Hardness Test, which measures the resistance of a wood sample to denting and tearing, can be used to determine the durability of wooden floors. This test takes into account the force required to embed a small steel ball into the wood to half its diameter. If you need to choose a piece of wood for your home flooring, keep the Janka rating in mind to find a suitable one.
Aside from its hardness and resistance, wood flooring’s natural properties allow it to hold and insulate warmth much better than vinyl, laminates, tiles, or stone floors, which are frequently cold to the touch even on regular sunny days. This makes wood flooring more comfortable to walk on even on rainy days, which may be an attribute that many homeowners value.
Real timber flooring has been around for a long time and is still the material of choice for many homeowners today. Wood floors have always been valued for their appeal and timelessness, regardless of the decade or furnishing style. It not only lasts for generations, but its organic texture never loses its appeal and instantly adds warmth to any space, regardless of interior design style.
Every timber plank possesses its own colour, shade variance, and grain pattern, allowing it to contribute to a home’s visual appeal, and helps it to stay in trend even after many years. In addition, timber flooring can be resanded and sealed multiple times after years of use to restore its natural lustre and beauty, so that it will never look outdated and worn out in your home.
3. Easy Maintenance
Wood flooring is extremely easy to maintain and clean — it can be swept, mopped, or vacuumed to remove any dirt, stains, or debris that has accumulated. Being able to live comfortably knowing that your floors do not harbour any pollutants or dirt without having to thoroughly clean them all the time puts you at ease. Furthermore, regularly and properly sealed wooden floors are relatively stain- and moisture-resistant, so if you do spill something, all you need to do is wipe it up quickly.
Even if your timber flooring sustains damage, such as chips or scratches, it can be easily repaired to look as good as new again. If you want to breathe new life into an old set of wood flooring, you can even have the wooden planks stained in a different colour.
4. Added Value
Wood flooring can increase the value of your home in a variety of ways. Its natural appearance adds a touch of elegance and warmth to your home, making it appear larger, more inviting, and cosy. It is also a good financial investment because even the most inexpensive wood floors can last a long time with little maintenance.
Furthermore, because of its many great qualities, wood floors can increase the value of your home and raise your sale price when it comes to selling your home. It can even improve the room’s acoustics by reducing hollow sounds or vibrations.
5. Health Benefits
a. Doesn’t Trap Allergens
Engineered wood flooring does not trap allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, and other pollutants on its surface, preventing allergies and other respiratory issues. This contributes to a more secure and comfortable environment for you and your family. Timber flooring can also help to keep allergies at bay if it is properly sealed and refinished every few years.
b. Easy to Disinfect & Sanitise
Wood flooring can be easily cleaned with an occasional sweep or mop; this will immediately remove any dirt, hair, and debris that has accumulated on your floors; you do not need professional tools or heavy vacuum cleaners to do the job. Gently cleaning your floors with a wood-friendly floor cleaner and a damp mop can also help disinfect and sanitise the surface, leaving you with a spotless floor.
c. Improved Air Quality
Because engineered wood flooring does not trap dust or dirt, it not only improves the appearance and cleanliness of your floors, but it also contributes to healthier indoor air quality. When dust mites, allergens, and other debris linger in your floors, they seep into the air and fill your home with airborne particles that can cause long-term health problems. Your air will remain fresh and clean as long as you keep your home surfaces clean on a regular basis.
MAINTAINING WOODEN FLOORING
1. What Causes Damage to Wood Flooring?
a. Wrong Cleaning Tools
Sharp, rough, and abrasive items, such as steel wool and stiff brushes will scratch your wooden flooring and damage the finish and surface of the wood, exposing the material to moisture and dirt. Because wood flooring is a delicate material, do not use such cleaning tools on it.
Avoid using steam cleaners on wood floors as well, as the excessive heat and moisture can break down the protective layer of your wood floors over time, causing cupping, water damage, and warping. Instead, sweep your floors frequently with a soft brush and clean them with a slightly damp mop or cloth.
b. Using Harsh Chemicals & Cleaners not Suitable for Wood.
Some cleaning products can harm your wood flooring, particularly timber flooring, by stripping away protective layers and dulling the natural gloss. Bleach and other harsh chemicals should never be used to clean your wood floors. The same is true for vinegar, ammonia, wax or silicone-based products, dishwashing detergents, oil soaps, and powdered all-purpose cleaners. These products will disintegrate the finish and, eventually, harm the wood surface. Avoid cleaning your wood floors with hot water as well because it causes the same amount of damage.
Moving any piece of furniture, especially by dragging it across the floor, is harmful to your wood flooring; dragging furniture across the floor or dropping heavy items can cause indentations, chips, and scratches over time. To avoid causing damage, always lift the furniture completely off the floor and place it down gently. If the piece of furniture is too heavy to lift, cover the floor with a thick layer of soft material or lay thick moving blankets before moving it across the floor.
Also, hard plastic casters on the bottom of your office chair can cause scratches to your wood; if you don’t want to replace the wheels with furniture feet and pads, leave it on an area rug and avoid rolling the chair around the house on surfaces without the rug.
d. Walking Around in High Heels or Shoes
If you walk around the house in your dirty shoes, moisture and dirt from your shoes can seep into your wooden flooring or even scratch the surface, causing damage to it. Although wearing shoes inside the house is uncommon in Singapore, some people do it if they forget to take something after putting on their shoes.
High heel shoes or sports shoes with spikes on the soles can leave small scratches or even dig into your wood flooring; if your shoes are dirty, it will cause even more damage. Remove your shoes every time you enter the house to protect the wood flooring.
e. Too Much Sun Exposure
The sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to your wood floors the way it does to our skin; it is estimated that UV rays cause 40% to 60% of the damage our wooden floors sustain. UV rays, combined with radiation, heat, humidity, and artificial light, are bound to damage wood surfaces in the long run. Besides causing discolouration and fading, as different parts of your wood flooring are exposed to different amounts of sunlight, you may also notice uneven colours in various parts of your floor.
f. High Moisture Content.
Due to the porous nature of wood, wood and water should not be mixed because moisture can easily be absorbed into the material, seep into the seams, and cause moisture damage, mould, and warping, especially if the wood surface has not been properly sealed. Do not leave damp rugs or towels on wood floors, and do not allow water to sit on your wooden floors for more than a minute. If water is left to sit on your wood floors for an extended period of time, you may start to see the wood planks buckle or signs of stains.
Aside from keeping your wooden floors dry, avoid directly pouring any floor cleaners onto the floor, as this has the same effect as cleaning with too much water. Instead, wipe or mop down surfaces with a damp cloth or mop, then quickly dry them.
2. How to Clean and Maintain Wood Flooring?
a. Cover Furniture Legs
Make sure to add protectors to the bottom of your furniture to keep it from scratching or scraping your wood flooring. This is especially important for pieces of furniture that are frequently moved around, such as chairs.
b. Use Floor Rugs
Place area rugs at the entrance of your home for it to act as a barrier preventing water from entering and damaging your wood, as well as a space for you to step on when you have your shoes on — put on and remove your shoes on the rug before stepping in or out of your home. You could also place a mat near your kitchen sink and outside your bathroom to soak up any liquids.
c. Clean Regularly
Sweeping, vacuuming, and cleaning your wood flooring on a regular basis helps to keep dirt and debris away from the floors, preventing them from causing unnecessary scratches or stains. Once in a while, use a floor cleaner to clean your wood flooring, and always keep the floors dry.
d. Use Cleaners Suitable for Wood
There are many floor cleaners available that are suitable for wooden surfaces; use them to clean your floors so that they look as good as new for as long as possible. Floor cleaners manufactured specially for wood floors have the ability to clean and sanitise the surface without causing a single bit of damage to the wood.
e. Protect from Sunlight
Upgrade your windows and consider laminated ones that can filter harmful UV radiation to keep the sun from causing damage to your wood floors. If replacing your windows is too expensive, consider adding window films, which can filter UV rays and prevent heat from entering your home. You can also protect your wood flooring from sun damage by applying a layer of sun-resistant sealant. Otherwise, just keep your curtains closed during the day to keep the sun out.
f. Keep Temperatures Consistent
Changes in indoor temperature can cause wood planks to expand and contract rapidly, resulting in permanent cracks. While these cracks can be easily repaired, they are unnecessary costs that you do not want.
g. Clean Spills Immediately
When there is a spill, immediately wipe it up with a dry or slightly damp cloth. When exposed to liquids for an extended period of time, wood swells and shrinks, so drying your floors quickly is the best way to avoid moisture damage.
h. Refinish Every 3-5 Years
Refinishing your wood floors after every three to five years or when they begin to look dull can keep them clean and looking as good as new. This layer of coating also acts as a barrier against all of the elements that can damage your wooden floors.
Cleaning Wood Flooring
Step 1: Choose a soft bristle brush and gently sweep up dirt and dust on the ground, moving with the grain of your wood flooring.
Step 2: Vacuum the floor with a soft nozzle to pick up more dirt that cannot be swept up. You may choose to use a robot cleaner with a soft brush.
Step 3: To clean your wood flooring, use a damp flat-head mop or a microfibre pad. Fill a spray bottle with your wood floor cleaner and mist the floor as you clean to control the amount of moisture that comes into contact with your wood floors. Alternatively, you can pour the floor cleaner into a pail and thoroughly wring out your mop as you clean to avoid getting too much liquid on the wood.
TYPES OF WOODEN FLOORING
1. Timber Flooring
Timber flooring, also known as solid wood flooring, is constructed from a single plank of real wood of the same species throughout its thickness. Because it is the same timber throughout, timber flooring can be resanded and refinished multiple times. There are numerous hardwood species, with some being more popular than others. Here are some of the most common.
a. American Woods
This is a tough hardwood with a medium density, medium bending and crushing strengths, and excellent stability. It is easy to work with hand and machine tools, and it holds paints and stains well for beautiful finishes. American walnut wood has a creamy yellow-white appearance on the outside (the sapwood), and a golden brown to dark chocolate brown colour on the inside (the heartwood).
Oak is one of the toughest wood species, with high strength, hardness, and workability. It can be beautifully polished and is even resistant to fungal and bacterial attacks. Oak comes in a variety of colours, including light and grey tones, as well as honey and brown tones.
American maple is a cold-weather tree that produces creamy-white sapwood with a hint of pink and light to reddish-brown heartwood. Some maple wood has grain with a distinct curly figure, but the majority of maple wood is straight-grained.
It has high strength, medium stiffness, and is a hard wearing timber that is suitable for areas with heavy foot traffic.
b. Teak Woods
- Burmese Teak
Burmese teak, an exotic wood from Myanmar, is a highly versatile and durable wood species that ages beautifully over time, making it a highly sought after flooring material. Furthermore, its high levels of natural oil gives it excellent water resistant qualities. As for its colour, fresh Burmese teak appears golden yellow, while exposed and seasoned Burmese teak features a deep brown appearance.
- Indonesian Teak
Indonesian teak is highly valued for its high quality and versatility. It is a tough, durable wood that is extremely resistant to harsh weather conditions. They also have natural oils that keep the wood from warping or rotting when exposed to the elements. The colour of Indonesian teak is somewhere between brown and gold, but the colour darkens as it ages and dries.
- Brazilian Teak
Brazilian teak is most famous for its use as flooring. Before its exposure to sunlight, Brazilian teak has a reddish-brown or purple-brown colour with yellow-brown or purple streaks, the colours then fade to a light brown or yellow-brown colour when exposed to sunlight. Brazilian teak is hard and tough in general, with good stability and durability.
2. Engineered Wood Flooring
On the surface, engineered wood flooring is identical to timber flooring; however, it is made by bonding high-quality plywood beneath a thin layer of hardwood. It is a less expensive alternative to timber flooring, but it cannot be refinished due to its composition.
Engineered wood flooring performs better in humid environments due to its plywood construction, which makes it more stable and less prone to warping.
HOW TO CHOOSE WOODEN FLOORING
1. Qualities to Consider
a. Solid Timber or Engineered Wood
As mentioned above, timber flooring and engineered wood floors generally have similar appearances, depending on the colour and species of wood chosen. However, unlike solid timber flooring, engineered wood flooring cannot be resanded to look as good as new in the future.
Engineered wood flooring, while difficult to repair, can be more durable due to its composition. Both types of wood flooring have advantages and disadvantages, so weigh them carefully before making a decision.
b. Type of Finish
There are many different types of finishing products for wood flooring, each serving a different purpose. They can, however, be classified into oil or polyurethane finishes.
Oil finishes penetrate the wood to provide a soft, matte, and natural feel, but they aren’t as effective at preventing stains and damage as polyurethane, which coats the surface of a wood with a hard layer that is more resistant to daily wear and tear. Oil finishes, however, make scratches and damages less visible to the naked eye, whereas with polyurethane, you will need to go through more steps to maintain or repair your wood floors.
Besides the finish, there are also textures, such as distressed, brushed, white-washed, or scraped wood flooring to consider. These textures contribute to the aesthetic appeal of your home, giving it a unique appearance.
c. Wood Species
Another important consideration is the species of wood you want to use for your flooring. With so many options available to you, it may be difficult to choose one. We recommend prioritising the species’ durability and maintenance over its appearance. If aesthetic appeal is most important to you, pay attention to the colour and grain of the wood and find out what it will look like after being exposed to sunlight as its colour will change in the long run.
d. Plank Width
Did you know you can customise the width of your wood flooring planks? Although most wooden flooring is installed in two- to three-inch strips, wider planks can be used to create a distinctive look. Wide wood planks are visually beautiful because they create the illusion of a larger space and even exude a sense of luxury. It should be noted, however, that as the wooden planks contract and expand, the seams between each strip may become more visible over time if you choose wide planks.
2. Things to Consider when Choosing Flooring for your Home
If you live alone or with a small number of people, you may want to go with a less expensive, less durable flooring option. However, if you foresee heavy foot traffic or have pets, you’ll want the floor to be as durable as possible. Also, high traffic brings extra dirt and debris, so think about how easy it will be to clean and maintain the flooring.
- Room size
The size of your room will also be a factor because larger rooms require more upkeep, especially if they contain large pieces of furniture. You should think about low-maintenance wood flooring options if you do not wish to put in too much effort to keep your home clean. Consider light-colored wood flooring for smaller rooms to make them appear larger and more airy.
If you are unsure about how you will decorate the room, or if you enjoy experimenting with new layouts and decors every once in a while, choose a wood flooring colour that is either versatile and suitable for all interior styles, or one that can be easily refinished or painted into a different colour.
- Maintenance requirements
Consider how willing you are to put in the effort to clean your floors. If you want to enjoy clean and beautiful floors with minimal upkeep, you should choose a flooring that is extremely durable and hypoallergenic.
There is a lot to learn about wood flooring, and not everyone will be able to sift through all of the information to find the ideal wooden flooring for them. However, it is important to find the one that is best suited to you to make your life better. This is where a flooring contractor can help.
As a leading flooring company in Singapore offering eco-friendly and non-toxic flooring solutions, Floorrich takes pride in our quality flooring options and excellent customer service. Whatever your requirements are, we have a solution for you. Get in touch with us today to begin your search for the ideal flooring.