Wooden floor in loft conversions

During planning of your loft conversion, you will need to decide on the future flooring material. Your decision will have to weigh in practical as well as interior design considerations. Wood flooring are a popular choice, but one that should be served with a pinch of salt due to the natural characteristics of wood making it unsuitable in a small number of loft conversion projects.  Here are your options and considerations to take into account.
Types Of Real Wood Flooring:
Your choice of natural wood is in fact made of two types, each containing a slightly different core, but ultimately looking the same.
Solid Wood Floorboards – These are the most popular choice, containing a core made of 100% natural hardwood such as Oak, Walnut and other species. From end to end, the floorboard contains only natural wood.
Engineered Wood Floorboards – These look the same due to an upper layer that is made from the same natural wood as featured in solid wood floorboards, though the core is built from artificial materials such as MDF and Plywood.
Choosing Solid or Engineered For Your Loft Conversion:
In the vast number of projects, you can safely fit either option. It is in the more unusual circumstances that your project manager will recommend one over the other.  
Stability Consideration – Natural wood will expand when temperature rises and contract when the temperature drops. This may cause the solid type wood floor to rise due to expansion or for gaps to appear due to contraction. In such cases, engineered wood flooring is the suitable choice as the floorboard is immune from this reaction. Typically this will occur when under floor heating is fitted in your conversion.
Humid and Wet Areas – Hardwood that is used in flooring lacks natural oils to repel water damage over time. If your loft conversion includes areas such as a bathroom or kitchen, water and humid conditions may occur. In such cases, you should either consider a different material to wood or fit the engineered type with a suitable waterproof coating of lacquered.
High Traffic Areas – Of the two types, solid is by far the stronger option. If your loft conversion is expecting high volume of foot traffic, such as when used as an office, solid wood flooring is the better choice. That is, provided that the above two constrains do not apply.
Noise From Flooring:
Any flooring material will generate noise due to footsteps and the passage of sound (vibrations in the air) between the floors. However, wood floor will generate higher levels of sound if an underlay isn’t used. A suitable one can reduce noise by as much as 20dB and should therefore be considered. An underlay will include two features in its description. These are walking noise reduction (in percentage) and impact noise insulation in dB (Decibel). The thickness of the underlay and the materials of which it is made from will make the underlay better or worse in terms of insulation. Additionally, the underlay will make the floor softer to walk on so don’t overlook it. Again your project manager will be able to suggest a suitable one.
If you have any questions about loft considerations, talk to Apex Loft Conversions.
Information by Jonathan Sapir. Jonathan is the MD of WoodandBeyond, a UK based hardwood supplier.

 14 January, 2014

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