Wooden flooring in the Indian context takes on a new meaning. There are 10 things to consider before buying wooden flooring as it is now being increasingly chosen over stone and ceramic tiles.
Brand: The wooden flooring market in India is still unorganised. Therefore, opting for a product from an established brand is a safe bet. You are assured of high levels of quality and service. Study the available options, and try and visit brand showrooms to experience flooring. European brands are an ideal choice as they come with a long history of knowing and working with wood.
Shades: Flooring should complement and enhance décor. Decide on a colour family —browns, greys, whites, that will go with the walls and furniture. Check out the various available shades and shortlist some. Shades of grey top the latest trends and natural hues are all-time favourites. In case you have pets, go for lighter colours.
Texture: Texture plays an important role in bringing out the character of the décor. There are many options — from clean and smooth textures to distressed including brushed, deep brushed and sawn. You can also get a burnt, smoked or stained look. Depending on the usage of the space, you should pick out a texture. For eg. clean textures are ideal for the children’s room.
Surface finish: This is a coating that helps protect wooden flooring. Oiled finishes are soaked in by the wood to give a natural feel. Lacquered (glossy or matt) finishes provide a durable, clear top coat that protects the surface from damage. A hard wax finish gives a natural feel, but is more prone to wear and tear. For Indian homes, matte lacquered finish is recommended.
Grade-grading: This is done based on the number and size of knots, sap and colour variations. You can choose from the totally clean (prime grade) to the extremely busy (rustic) and the in-betweens (classic and character). Insist on looking at bigger sample planks if you go for a grade other than prime to get a better idea of how the variations will look across a larger area.
Overall construction: Engineered wood flooring comes in a two or three-layer format with a core of HDF, wood or ply. The thickness of the planks ranges from 7 mm to 21 mm + with 2.5 mm to 8 mm+ of top layer. The ideal construction to choose for average daily wear and tear would be 14-15 mm thickness with a 3.5-4 mm top layer and a Birch ply core.
Installation: Installation is as important as the flooring itself. Expert advice and professional services are needed. Across a large space, installation is glued down. For smaller areas, you can go for floating.
Maintenance: Wooden flooring needs to be dry mopped first, followed by damp mopping. Lacquered floors are easier to maintain as compared to oiled surfaces that need regular attention. In case you have a hard wax floor then it needs special attention and maintenance. Good wood care kits are now available in India.
Guarantees and warrantees: When buying wooden flooring, make sure that the products are covered under proper brand guarantee and warrantee.
Certification: It is very important to choose wood that has come from sustainable sources. FSC (the Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Be a responsible buyer.
— The writer is director of a wooden flooring design firm....