The Characteristics of Hard Floors - Part I Wood Based Flooring

For a professional cleaner understanding the characteristics of Hard Floors is essential, in this series of Blogs we look at the three main categories these floors fall in to

In Floor Care

For a professional cleaner understanding the characteristics of Hard Floors is essential, in this series of Blogs we look at the three main categories these floors fall in to

Hard floors can be separated into three main categories:

  1. Wood and wood based

  2. Resilient synthetic

  3. Non-resilient

Here we look at the different types of

Wood Floors


Of all of the floor coverings available, the warmth, feeling and look of a good quality wooden floor cannot be matched. The natural characteristics and beauty of wood mean that when durability, along with the need for an attractive, natural surface is required, there really is nothing to compare to wood.

In this section, we will look at the various different types of wooden surfaces that are found within buildings and examine the specific benefits of each. We have also considered the environmental issues surrounding the harvesting of hardwood for use in flooring and will be looking at the newer, more environmentally friendly wooden floors that are becoming ever-increasingly popular.

About Hardwood

hardwood-flooringMost varieties of wooden floors, certainly the more robust varieties are made from hardwood. Indeed, there are many examples of hardwood floors that are hundreds of years old, yet are still in near mint condition. This is down to the unique durability of the wood itself and its careful maintenance.

Hardwood is available in a number of species, the older floors being constructed from oak or walnut. However there are an increasing number of more exotic varieties available harvested from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Africa and the Far East.

However, although hardwood is available commercially, due to sensitivity surrounding the depletion of world stocks and the subsequent damage to the environment, its use in large quantities is slowly diminishing, particularly in the construction of solid wood floors.

Nevertheless, the suitability of hardwood as a flooring material is unquestioned. The different species of hardwood offer different levels of durability and each should be considered. The relative hardness of the different types of wood used (if known), will also impact on the effectiveness of some maintenance and restoration procedures such as sanding and scarifying.

Wood floors are laid or manufactured in a number of ways. Examples of these are:

Wood Block

Herring BoneThese are usually rectangular blocks of hardwood, produced in a number of different variations between 1”to 2”in thickness. Each individual block is laid on a sand and cement bed and secured using water-resistant adhesive. They are sometimes set in bitumen which acts as a waterproof membrane preventing water ingress from the ground. They are laid in either basket or herringbone designs and are found in areas where a high standard of appearance is required.

Wood Strip

StripsTypically narrow strips of hardwood fixed onto joists and glued together using water-resistant adhesive. Each strip incorporates a tongue and groove They are thinner than wood blocks and, as such, are far more flexible making them ideal for use in gymnasia and dance halls. They can also be sprung for extra flexibility.

End Grain

end-grainThey are extremely hard wearing floors and can be used in industrial situations in factories and workshops, due to their ability to withstand heavy traffic and impacts. These are normally square blocks of hardwood laid in such a way that the end grain is vertical, forming the surface of the floor. They are laid in much the same way as ordinary wood block floors.


ParquetAt first glance, it is easy to mistake parquet floors for more tradition basket laid wood block floors. However, there are a number of differences; they are made of three sections. Wooden or concrete floor joists which support timber sheets, to form a base for the parquet mosaic blocks or strips. Parquet strip is 50-77mm in width and cut to various lengths. Parquet mosaic sections are 113mm in length and 35mm wide and are laid in panels. The blocks or strips are secured to the wooden base using water-resistant adhesive and panel pins. Unlike hardwood block floors they cannot be sanded.


granwood-sports-floorGranwood is made from wood flour and sand filler bound with portland cement. It is produced in blocks similar to wood block and are laid in basket and herringbone designs on a concrete sub-floor. Granwood has many of the same properties of hardwood floors and is a relatively cheap alternative. It has the added advantage of being available in a wide range of colours. Usually found in gymnasia, corridors and entrances.


MagnasiteSimilar in many respects to Granwood floors, certainly in terms of manufacture and characteristics. It too is made from wood flour and fillers but with burnt magnesite added. It is generally used in commercial and industrial settings. Magnesite floors must be properly sealed if it is installed in areas where water is used. Wood Floor Construction


Sealed-Cork-Flooring-Tiles_largeCork is made from soft bark and is particularly suited to areas where noise and insulation are considerations. However, cork tile floors have poor resistance to indentations. It is available in tile form, and also as sheet floor covering similar to linoleum. This is sometimes referred to as “Cork Carpet”.

Wood Laminates/Veneers

LaminateNot to be confused with synthetic laminate floors, wood laminates are produced in pre-lacquered strips and consist of a veneer of hardwood on a base of wood chip soaked in melamine resin for added strength. They can be laid on most surfaces using fibreboard underlay and waterproof membrane. They are available in a wide range of natural wood colours and are used in areas where an attractive natural wood appearance is required.


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