The enduring warmth of wood

Katherine Mathews of Kährs UK explains why engineered wood comes out on top for a great looking, hard wearing floor covering that can offer the ‘human touch’ to interiors

Despite its having been used for centuries, many architects and designers are saying that wood is the building material of the future. There are many reasons for this. The most important, of course, is that it is more environmentally friendly than most other building materials. Wood plays an important part in counteracting climate changes. According to the European Commission, an increased use of wood products stimulates the planting of new forests, while bringing down carbon dioxide emissions. But there are many other aspects to why wood is the preferred material of professionals. Wood floors are physically warmer, but they also have a way of softening a whole interior, and providing a human feel in an increasingly high-tech world. Frank Lloyd Wright summed it up with his famous quote ‘Wood is universally beautiful to man. It is the most humanly intimate of all materials’. A key trend across the industry this year has been the notion of “bringing the outside in”, and it has become more important than ever to be able to do so, but in a sustainable and ethical way; all while still meeting requirements of the project design brief. As with all components of an interiors project, there is plenty of choice when it comes to finding a suitable floor covering, and many choices for floor coverings which are made from natural wood, such as solid wood, or those which mimic the appearance of natural materials, including various laminates and LVTs (luxury vinyl tiles) available on the market. Engineered wood is a ‘real’ wood solution, which readily embraces the realness of nature, cracks and knots and all, but with added strengths where other floor coverings may fall short.

The sustainability of engineered floors is second to none. With a multi-layer format, engineered wood designs have a composition, which ensures all the raw material is used in the most efficient way. With middle layers comprising fast-growing spruce or pine, this ensures no prime species, such as oak, are wasted underneath the locking joint and never seen. The genuine wood top layer shows off the natural beauty of the wood and all of its characteristics. These engineered designs can (and should) also be accredited with environmental recognition, such as FSC and PEFC certifications, in the same way as solid wood designs. It’s always important to check that the wood supplier is sourcing the material ethically. Stability and flexibility is another tick in the box for engineered wood. Wood was designed by nature to be a great insulator, with thousands of air chambers per cubic inch. In fact, wood offers seven times better insulation than ceramic tiles and is much warmer than plastic laminate or thin vinyl floors – naturally. With the additional temperature stability from a multi-layer format, engineered wood designs are also able to work alongside underfloor heating systems, meaning no more radiators getting in the way of interior design. With hundreds of different styles, from patterned one-strip to three-strip light to dark, in an array of species, and with different surface treatments spanning high gloss to oiled, all the way to on-trend ultra-matt – engineered wood has the solution to any design brief. Whether your client seeks a sleek and contemporary floor or something expressively rustic, there’s plenty of choice to achieve these extremes of interior styles, and everything in between. Many popular engineered designs today embrace all of the natural features of wood including knots and cracks, and the characteristics of the wood can be enhanced further with craftsmanship such as handscraping, brushing, and even bespoke features such as saw marks and butterfly joints. On the other side of the spectrum, are designs which limit these features for a more minimalistic, uniform, finish. When it comes to the install itself, engineered wood continues to be flexible and can be floated or glued depending on the requirements. Wood accessories including mouldings, skirtings and stairnoses can be used to finish off the floor and complete the room.

With so many floor coverings available today, it can often be confusing to navigate and find the ideal solution for a commercial or residential project while considering everything from design, sustainability, ease of install and stability. Engineered wood comes out on top, as the natural choice for a great looking and hardwearing floor, to be enjoyed for many years to come. Katherine Mathews works in the PR & Communications team at Kährs UK