Refinishing wood floors
your questions answered
MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES ABOUT WOOD, LAMINATE, CERAMIC AND STONE
Q What is the advantage of real terracotta country floors?
A For a floor with warmth, character and homely good looks, terracotta is a great choice. 'The mellow, aged look of terracotta can only really be achieved by using a traditionally made tile,' says Daniel Morris, Technical Manager of Mandarin Stone. 'For an authentic finish seal with a 50:50 mix of boiled linseed oil and white spirit, followed by a coat of beeswax.'
What to consider for terracotta country floorsTerracotta country floors is made by fitting soft clay into a tile mold The clay is then compacted before being fired in a kiln. The intensity of the heat and the clay used determine the color and look of the finished tile. Authentic terracotta country floors are a hard wearing material with good insulating properties. Air trapped inside the tile during the manufacturing process makes it porous, so sealing is essential.
Q What's the difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles for country floors?
A Porcelain tiles for country floors are a type of ceramic, made from kaolin clays, feldspar, silica and colouring oxides, but are fired at much higher temperatures than ceramic tiles. 'Porcelain floor tiles are exceptionally hardwearing with a higher density and lower water absorption rate than ceramic, so they are ideal for busy country kitchens or hallways,' says Bethany Skinnard of the marketing team at Original Style. Both types of this country floors are available unglazed or are glazed during manufacture. 'A glaze can help ceramic tiles to wear better and prevent staining,' says Bethany. Some porcelain is glazed, though unglazed 'through body' porcelain (where the material and pigment is the same throughout the tile) is naturally hardwearing.
What to consider for this type of country floorsThe thickness of a tile does not determine its strength or quality: ask for a durability rating for a better guide. Clean ceramic and porcelain country floors tiles, whether glazed or unglazed, with
a damp mop and manufacturer-recommended grout and tile cleaners, but do check manufacturer's guidelines first.
Q Which country wood flooring and finish is best for avoiding scratch marks in a hallway?A Take a pragmatic approach for the country wood flooring if you want to enjoy a wood floor in your hallway. 'You can't really avoid scratching wood, especially if traffic is heavy,' says Harvey Booth, UK Sales Manager of Kahrs, 'but you can camouflage marks by choosing a rustic-looking country wood flooring, rather than one with a very clean, even grain.'
What to consider for country wood flooringSolid country wood flooring are made from a solid piece of timber, while engineered wood floors are made of layers of timber, laid at right angles to each other. Both are usually offered with a durable surface finish, including satin and matt lacquers, as well as waxed and natural oiled options. Waxed and oiled boards can be spot-repaired, making country wood flooring easier to restore if scratched. Poor quality country wood flooring pre-finishes are usually easy to spot as they often
appear thicker, thus compromising the look and feel of the timber, giving a more plastic appearance with less scratch resistance.
Q Can you suggest a budget country flooring solution for a child's room?A Laminate country flooring can be stylish without breaking the bank. 'These floors are incredibly realistic, good value and come in some great traditional styles,' says Philiep Caryn, International Communications Manager for Quick- Step, which offers laminates from £13.99 a square meter.
For a country flooring look, go for grain-effect surfaces and plank styles with V-groove and roll-over edges (try the Country and Rustic ranges, £28.49 and £21.49 a square meter).
What to consider for child's room flooringLaminate floor is made of a photographic image of wood fused to a core board then coated with a tough melamine layer, so it's hardwearing, less liable to scratch than wood flooring and is low maintenance. Most laminate planks click together, making them quick, cheap and easy to install, without the need for glue or nails. For a bedroom or guest room with an en suite, there are some
laminate flooring options designed specifically to cope well with moisture (try Quick-Step's Lagune range), which is handy if damp towels get left lying about.
Q Which wood flooring is suitable for a bathroom?A Get specialist advice as not all wood flooring is recommended for humid areas. 'Woods containing natural oils, such as merbau, are best,' says Vanessa Garrett, a founder of timber company Broadleaf, 'but most good-quality wood flooring can be used in a bathroom as long
as it is properly sealed and the room is well ventilated.'
What to consider for bathroom flooringGood quality engineered boards should be more tolerant of moisture than solid wood, while lesser quality boards may be more of a problem. Either way for country bathroom flooring the key is to avoid too much water getting on them in the first place. A moisture-repellent finish, such as Broadleaf's Hardwax Oil, £24.61 a liter, will be less slippery than lacquer or varnish. Apply the last coat when the flooring is in place to ensure a seal across the joints between the boards.
Q Does stone flooring need a great deal of attention once it's fitted?A A hard-wearing water-resistant country floors types of stone are best for a country kitchen or bathroom floor, if you want to minimize the amount of care required. 'Slate is naturally durable,' says Beth Boulton, Head of Marketing at Topps Tiles. 'Most country floors types of slate are water resistant and need little in the way of aftercare. But all slate should be sealed to ensure optimum durability and water resistance.'
What to consider for stone flooringA protective sealant can be applied to stone tiles and slabs once laid to protect from dirt and stains. You may need to re-apply it once a year or so. Most stone can be damp-mopped using warm water and mild detergent, but some will require specialist cleaning products. Rather than polished country floors, go for brushed or other rough-textured finishes as they will provide the most grip.
Q How much does it cost to fit the floor tiles?A A useful rule of thumb is to allow a similar amount for fitting as for the tiles themselves. 'You need to budget for fitting, adhesive, grout and making good the substrate [surface below], and more
for trickier installations and mosaics,' says Jules Archard, Operations Manager at Surface Tiles. While inclusive prices for a simple job might start at about £35 a square meter, £60 to £100 a square meter is probably more realistic.
What to consider for cost tilesLarger tiles (over 60cm squarejtake longer to fit. They also tend to incur more wastage and breakages so they are usually more expensive to fit Ceramic tiles are generally the least expensive to fit because they can be 'scored and then snapped', whereas natural flooring stone and porcelain tiles cost more to fit (and about the same as each other), because they are harder country floors materials that require more specialist cutting equipment.
Q What is the difference between sub, suspended and floating country floors?A "Traditionally, country wood floors are nailed down to existing joists or battens, so they are usually called "suspended" floors,' says Steve Maltby, General Manager of Junckers. 'If you have a concrete, cement screed or chipboard surface underneath your wooden flooring finish, this is known as the "sub" floor. And a "floating" floor is usually a hardwood board laid on top of this
sub floor or another floor.'
What to consider for country floorsSub country floors must be dry and flat to avoid expansion problems with the new floor and prevent squeaking. Floating country floors are usually quicker to install because they are simply laid on top of an existing floor with a layer of cushioning in between. But the thickness of the new country floors boards (anything between 15mm and 25mm) may cause a ramp effect between rooms, although this is not usually noticeable if the adjoining room is carpeted.
Q What are the advantages of lookalikes compared to real stone?A There are lots of hardwearing country floors, low maintenance country floors and affordable floors alternatives to real stone.'A good-quality porcelain country floors replica doesn't need
sealing and comes with realistic color variation, pitting and veining, so it's ideal if you love the look of stone but want a really low maintenance floor,' says Leila Roberts, Tile Range Manager at Fired Earth.
What to consider for country floorsLook out for the best quality lookalikes, which have large or random repeats and a textured finish, to make them appear as close as possible to the real thing. As well as porcelain stone country floors lookalikes, you may want to consider vinyl and laminate flooring, some of which are very realistic, and are usually created using a digital image of real stone; try Amtico for vinyls and Pergo for laminates.
Q Can I retro-fit underfloor heating?A For minimal disruption in an existing home, the 'dry' type is the answer. 'Electric underfloor heating is ideal for refurbishments,' says Joan Pask, Group Marketing Managei at Warmup. 'Simply fix the ultra-thin heating elements (choose from loose wire systems or mats) to the sub-floor,
then tile or lay wooden or laminate floors straight over.'
What to consider for underfloor heatingUnderfloor heating can be used throughout the house or for designated rooms, such as kitchens, bathrooms and wet rooms. Choose from a range of underfloor heating systems for use under tiled, stone, timber, laminate and carpeted floors. Insulation beneath the cables or mats is a must to minimise your heating requirements and maximise your energy and financial savings. Fit an energy monitor thermostat, such as Warmup's 3iE model, £139.99. While many underfloor heating
systems can be fitted by a competent DIY enthusiast, you do need a qualified electrician to fit the thermostat.
Country floors as well as country wood flooring will make a big difference in your decorating style!
FEATURE AMELIA THORPE