Cork or Wood Flooring?

The natural colours and richness of timber provide, in the form of wood floors, both a decorative and hardwearing flooring surface. Wood flooring may consist of hard or soft wood, laid in strips, or a woodblock or parquet flooring. Techniques of fixing and treatment depend on the type of floor and the finished effect required.

Woodblock flooring, available in a variety of thicknesses and sizes, is usually kiln dried which means that the moisture content is stable and the wood will not continue to dry out and warp or shrink when laid.

This type of flooring usually consists of solid wood blocks or wood veneer bonded to thinner plywood blocks. Some blocks are tongued and grooved, while others are loose-laid or bedded in adhesive.

Hardwood solid blocks are best in areas of heavy wear. Softwood is not durable enough to stand heavy traffic, except when used in block form. A softwood block floor will give good wear.

Suitable hardwood timbers are maple, oak, afromosia, sapele and teak. These are used for both block and strip flooring and are supplied pre-sealed or machine sanded ready for final sealing. Hardwood block is best laid on a solid sub-floor.

Block parquet and mosaics are made of solid blocks of wood, in the form of a panel which is stuck down to a rigid sub-floor. Mosaic panels are normally arranged in a herringbone or basket-weave pattern. Some are backed with felt or paper. Felt-backed blocks are stuck with the felt side downwards.

Paper-backed mosaics are fixed with the paper upwards. This paper is removed with a rotary sanding machine, as part of the finishing process. Work along the grain of the wood.

One high-quality, durable, woodblock floor is called end-grain. These blocks are cut from timber 25mm2 to expose the end grain. End-grain parquet is laid on a timber sub-floor.

Plywood parquet resembles block parquet but is less suitable for heavy-wear areas. It can be used to form basket-weave or herringbone patterns. The durability of the flooring is only as good as the top layer of plywood which may be finished in one of many timber effects.


There are various methods of fixing wood flooring, dependent on the sub-floor and the type of flooring to be used. All wood blocks or strips should be acclimatized at room temperature for at least a week before laying.

Underfloor heating should be turned off for at least 48 hours before work starts. Always check first that the flooring material is suitable for use with underfloor heating.

Woodblocks for strip flooring can be laid on concrete or timber sub-floors.

Sub-floor treatments

Timber floors must be level and smooth before work starts. Plywood or hardboard sheeting may be laid to provide a level, stable surface. Before laying a sheet flooring, remove the skirtings.

On concrete, a bituminous adhesive will prevent blocks from the effects of damp. When fixing on concrete floors only use adhesive. Panel pins are not necessary, except at the threshold of doors.

Laying out

The room should be divided exactly in half. Use a chalk line to mark the centre position. It is important that this is true, for floor laying starts from this point and works outwards towards the walls. A 10mm expansion gap should be allowed at the wall edges, which is later covered with the skirting or a piece of moulding.

A simple pattern consists of squares made up of four strips of wood, laid in a chequer-board pattern, with the grain of the wood alternating within each section. A herringbone pattern can be laid in the same way, starting at the centre marked line.

Here, a straight border is used at each wall edge. Small pieces of block, to complete sections of the pattern, may be cut and fitted before the border is laid.

As woodblocks tend to expand and contract slightly, use an adhesive that allows for this, such as a bituminous adhesive. Each block should be glued down and then secured with a 25mm panel pin at each end. These are punched in and the holes filled with a suitable filler.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Cork or Wood Flooring?


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