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Wood Flooring Species for Your Office Compared

Here at 20six we work alongside a variety of companies to bring you the very best solutions for your office furniture, office design and office fitouts. So it seemed only right that we gave space to other companies who are in the same line of business to appear as guest contributors.

Our first guest blog is by the London based company Wood and Beyond Ltd who are specialists in wooden flooring, worktops and decking. Whilst we have yet to work with Wood and Beyond we are loving their work and are pleased to have them appear as our first guest blog.

Wood Flooring Species for Your Office Compared

Deciding which species of timber to use on a floor is one of the most important decisions you can make when building or renovating an office with the intention of using real wood.  The timber’s colour, texture, grain and durability can all have a dramatic effect on the look of a room.

The most commonly used floor timbers are oak, walnut, pine, maple and bamboo.  They are popular for a variety of reasons, including their availability, reasonable price, durability and appearance.  But how do they stack up against one another?  Here are the pros and cons of these popular flooring timbers.

Oak

Oak is one of the most common hardwood flooring timbers because of its beautiful appearance and high level of durability.  The two types of oak most commonly used for flooring are red oak and white oak.

Red oak has a medium to heavy grain, high level of colour variation and light-brown to pink/red colour range.  The grain in red oak is often swirling and wave-like.  White oak is very pale and has straighter grain, similar to the stripes of a tiger.  It often has flecks of yellow throughout and the colour of the timber ranges from grey/white to yellow.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable and hard wearing
    A well made and maintained oak floor can last for centuries. Many ancient buildings in Europe contain original oak floors that have survived for many hundreds of years.  Red oak has a Janka Hardness rating of 1290 while white oak is 1360.
  • Resistant to warping
    Because it is a hardwood, it is unlikely to buckle, dent or warp. It is also fairly scratch resistant.
  • A beautiful and distinctive grain
    The grain in some oak floors is absolutely spectacular to look at. Oak can have very distinctive and unique grain patterns.
  • Capable of achieving multiple looks
    Red oak and white oak floors can be used with a number of design styles, from rustic through to modern. Owners can choose a timber grade, colour and grain level that matches almost any interior design style.

 

Cons:

  • Can fade when exposed to sunlight
    Dark oak floors are particularly susceptible to fading when exposed to sunlight.
  • White oak can stain easily
    If something is spilt on a white oak floor, it can stain very quickly — particularly dark fluids like red wine
  • Expensive
    A high grade oak floor is very expensive

 

Walnut

This is a chocolate brown to yellow-coloured hardwood with a relatively straight grain.  It is often used for ornamental purposes because it has become a fairly rare and expensive timber.

Pros:

  • The colours can be absolutely stunning!
    Walnut can have some incredible colours that appear very lustrous when finished with a glossy polyurethane or shellac finish
  • A unique and unusual look
    Furniture often uses walnut, but it is much rarer to see a walnut floor. Visitors will be impressed by such a beautiful and elaborate floor.

 

Cons:

  • Slightly softer than some hardwoods and more likely to scratch
    Walnut is a fairly durable material, but it doesn’t have the same toughness that oak or maple have. With a Janka Hardness rating of 1010 it is possible to dent floorboards with certain pieces of furniture or high heels.
  • Has a wide variation of colours on a single board
    Some floorboards can contain a significant variation of colour in a short distance. The start of a board could be the colour of chocolate and the other end could be yellow!  That may bother some people because it can distract the eye.
  • Walnut is very dark
    Walnut floors tends to be a very dark timber, so you are committing to a certain type of look. A dark floor may be unsuitable for some design styles.

 

Pine

Pine is a fairly soft timber that ranges in colour from white through to yellow/caramel.  It often has large brown knots in the timber, however, different species may have more or less frequent knots.  It is a very common and inexpensive option that can achieve a range of different looks.

Pros:

  • Cheap!
    Pine is one of the cheapest flooring timbers to purchase. It is plentiful and there are a range of varieties available with different qualities.
  • Wear-and-tear can make it look better
    The softness of pine means that it will dent fairly easily and it would be unusual for a pine floor to survive for more than a few years without some marks. However, a marked pine floor can actually look very beautiful for some design styles.
  • Fantastic for rustic looks
    If you are designing your office in a rustic style, wide pine planks with plenty of knots will look absolutely beautiful.
  • Stains well
    You can dramatically change the look of a pine floor by giving it a dark stain.

 

Cons:

  • Prone to scratches and dents
    Because pine is a softwood, it is prone to scratches and dents. If you are trying to maintain a very clean and minimalist design aesthetic, dents on your floor may detract from the look.
  • Brown knots
    Some people don’t like the brown knots that appear in pine

 

Maple

Maple is an extremely durable hard wood — the toughest of the flooring timbers reviewed here.  It has a creamy white colour with occasional patches of light orange or red.  It is perfect for high traffic areas like hallways, kitchens, dining rooms and lounge rooms.

Pros:

  • Extremely tough!
    You’ll be hard pressed to make a mark on this floor! Maintenance is also very easy with maple floors.
  • A beautiful and attractive timber
    Maple has a very clean appearance that is very attractive in hallways and large spaces. It works very well with modern offices that have a clean design aesthetic.  It’s natural golden colour is very beautiful.
  • Versatile
    It stains very well and is able to achieve a variety of looks. When stained, it can look like much more expensive timbers
  • Affordable
    Maple is fairly cheap for such a hard-wearing floor timber — particularly lower grades.

 

Cons:

  • Vulnerable to moisture
    Maple flooring does not do well in environments with large fluctuations of temperature or humidity.
  • Scratches easily
    Despite the toughness, it can scratch very easily, so be careful when moving sharp objects.
  • Stains can become splotchy
    Maple floors can be difficult to stain, and sometimes splotches will appear where the grain is heavier.

 

Bamboo

Bamboo flooring has become very popular in recent years because of the interesting look that it provides and its great value-for-money.

Pros:

  • Water resistant and stain resistant
    Bamboo is more resistant to water and stains than some hardwood timbers
  • Great for the environment
    Unlike some of the hardwood flooring options like oak, bamboo grows quickly and is a very sustainable and ecologically friendly option.
  • Price
    You can usually get a bamboo floor at a lower price than a hard wood floor
  • Very durable
    Some bamboo flooring products are as durable as red oak.
  • An interesting and modern look
    Some very unique looks can be achieved with bamboo and it suits spaces with a modern design.

 

Cons:

  • Scratches
    Bamboo floors are susceptible to scratches and may have to be refinished every few years
  • Vulnerable to humidity
    Floorboards can expand greatly in humid environments
  • Quality of product is not reliable
    Because there is no grading system for bamboo and the quality of products varies greatly — it can be difficult to ensure you are receiving a high quality product.

 

Thank you to all at Wood and Beyond for this useful guide to wooden office floors. If you would like to find out more about these guys please check out their website, or connect online on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube.

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