FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

+ What is an engineered hardwood floor?

Engineered hardwood flooring is a product made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core. The product thus has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer. The “engineered” product has been designed to provide greater stability, particularly where moisture or heat pose problems for solid hardwood floors.

+ What are the advantages of engineered hardwood flooring as opposed to solid?

Engineered hardwood is more versatile and stable than solid hardwood and is more resistant to moisture and humidity. It is better for below-grade installations (basements) where dampness is common and is able to be installed over underfloor heating systems, which tend to dry out solid hardwood causing the boards to shrink, cup and buckle. It is ideal on a concrete subfloor, either as an adhered or a floating floor

+ Can I install engineered wood flooring in my kitchen?

Engineered wood flooring can be installed in a kitchen as long as it is subsequently cleaned and maintained correctly. There is unfortunately no such thing as a self-cleaning, impenetrable wood floor, but wood flooring finished with either an oiled or lacquered finish is perfectly suitable for a kitchen provided you look after it.

Oiled and lacquered finishes are both hardwearing, but protect your wood in different ways. Oil penetrates and saturates the wood, protecting it from within, whereas lacquer sits upon the surface as a protective film. Spills can be wiped from an oiled floor without leaving a mark but if you leave them for a prolonged period of time they will leave a stain. If you apply a coat of maintenance oil once or twice a year as recommended you should not have any issues with stains or marks, but if you allow your floor to dry out the wood will become porous and absorb more moisture, which will cause the floor to mark and stain. A great advantage to oiled floors is that they are easily reparable by lightly sanding out marks and stains and then applying a coat of maintenance oil to reseal the floor.

A lacquer is a coating which sits on the surface of your wood floor almost like a plastic film protecting it. It take longer for a spill to penetrate a lacquered finish than an oiled one, but although lacquer is very tough it is not impenetrable. If something spills on the floor and is left there it will eventually penetrate the lacquer and stain the wood beneath, which is difficult to fix as lacquer cannot be spot fixed very effectively

+ Should I install my floor before or after my kitchen?

You can install your floor either before or after your kitchen, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both options.

If you install your floor before your kitchen then your floor will be laid wall to wall, so if you ever need to move or remodel any parts of your kitchen in the future you can do so without having to try and patch in additional flooring. However, you will have to ensure that your floor is protected during the subsequent installation of the kitchen. We recommend covering your floor with Buffalo paper and then Correx sheets, which prevents the wood from becoming marked or scratched by tools or the moving of units.

If you install your kitchen before your floor then you will only install your floor up to the feet of the units. The plinth is then placed on top the edge of the floor is not visible. This reduces the quantity and therefore the cost of the wood required. The disadvantage to this is that should you wish to move units in your kitchen, you will need to purchase more wood and it may be difficult to match the flooring exactly as it will have come from a different batch. It will be a more difficult job for the installer to fit the new planks and the best way to blend in the new floor with the old is likely to be to sand and reseal the entire floor.

+ What is the difference between an oiled and a lacquered finish?

An oiled finish is comprised of solid, hard wax or UV oils, which are in general made of natural oils such as vegetable oils and waxes. These oils will nourish, seal and protect your floor. The oils saturate your floor, putting lost moisture that could cause shrinkage back in the wood floor, and give your wood a very natural look and feel. Oiled floors are hard wearing, but if you do get any scratches or marks on your floor they are very easy to spot repair by lightly buffing and applying a coat of maintenance oil to the damaged area. Oiled floors must be cleaned with only specific products as cleaning them with standard cleaning products can discolour and wash away the oil. They also need to be treated with specific maintenance oil every six to twelve months to keep the wood nourished and moisturised., Under floor heating dries out wood faster than usual, so if you have underfloor heating we recommend maintenance oiling your floor more frequently, especially before the winter period.

A lacquered or varnished finish leaves a protective coating that feels almost like plastic on wood. It requires less maintenance than an oiled finish, and can just be cleaned and polished your floor when required. It works well with underfloor heating as the moisture is locked into the board by the lacquer which stops your floor from drying out. Lacquer can sometimes look and feel synthetic: the coating sits on the surface, reflects light and is extremely smooth to the touch. Once the lacquer is damaged or broken you cannot spot fix it and the entire area must be sanded and resealed. Trying to spot fix will end up in visible patches across the floor.

+ How should I care for my oiled floor?

In order to care for your Istoria floor and to keep it looking its best, we recommend using the correct cleaning and maintenance products.

Furniture

To avoid scratching your floor, put felt pads under chair and table legs and avoid dragging furniture across the surface. Ensure any desk chairs are fitted with rubber wheels rather than plastic ones which can mark the floor.

Covering

If you need to cover your floor to protect it from scrapes and knocks during construction work, it is important to use the correct products in order to allow your floor to breathe whilst it is covered. Correx boards are lightweight corrugate plastic sheets widely used as temporary floor protection. Building paper such as Buffalo paper must be placed between the wood and the Correx. If Correx is placed directly onto the floor it will cause the wood to sweat, which will wear away the floor seal and cause the wood to become porous and mark easily. The Correx itself may also leave marks on the timber. If this happens in most cases the floor will need to be sanded and refinished.

Cleaning

Mix the specified natural soap solution with warm water as instructed by the manufacturers. Ensure you are using the correct colour soap to match your floor. Apply the cleaning solution onto the wood floor using a cloth or mop, then rinse the dirty cloth or mop in clean water and repeat. Make sure the cloth or mop is wrung out well so that you are not soaking your floor with water, as this may cause the wood to lose its protective coating. A floor normally requires cleaning approximately once a month, but this can be done more or less regularly depending on your individual needs.

Maintenance Oil

Istoria oiled floors should be given a coat of maintenance oil once a year in order to keep the wood nourished and moisturised and to enhance the protective coating. This will also help remove any minor scratches and marks on the floor. Applying the maintenance oil is a simple process which you can do yourself. There are different colours available for different coloured floors so please ask for advice when purchasing maintenance oil.

Before applying the oil you should vacuum and mop your floor to avoid trapping any dirt under the new oil, then let it dry. Apply a very thin layer of maintenance oil using a cloth, brush, roller or a specialised buffing machine and wipe off any excess oil with a clean lint free cloth to ensure an even finish. The standard drying time is ±4 hours depending on moisture levels and ambient temperature. Do not wash the floor with water during this period. Used cloths need to be put into water after use as they can potentially self-ignite.

For wood floor cleaners please click here

For wood floor maintenance oils please click here

 

+ How long does it take to supply a bespoke floor?

Our standard lead time for bespoke orders is two to three weeks. Some products have to be ordered specially which can take up to eight weeks. However, we are committed to accommodating the needs of our clients as much as we feasibly can, so if you are working to a deadline please get in touch as we are always flexible.

+ Do you offer an installation service?

We offer a professional quality installation service. Our installation teams are trained experts and are fully equipped to install floors to a very high standard. The standard of finish that we attain can only be achieved through a combination of expertise and experience. Our teams have attended the training courses specific to each of the products and services that we offer, such as sub-floor preparation, sealing, lacquering, oiling etc. These courses have provided them with the knowledge, the skills and the experience necessary to install wood floors. An individual company representative will be allocated to your project and will deal with all your enquiries from initial contact to the completion of your installation and any subsequent aftercare.

+ How will my floor be installed?

Engineered flooring can be installed in a number of ways according to preference and to the type of sub floor onto which it is being laid.

Floating Floor

If you wish to lay an underlay beneath your floor for the purposes of soundproofing, then your floor will be 'floated' on top. This means that the tongue and groove joints between each plank are glued together using PVA adhesive and the planks are laid over an underlay, leaving the new floor independent from the sub floor.

Adhered Floor

If your floor is being installed onto concrete, ply, or a suitable form of underfloor heating, it will be fully glued down using a suitable flexible adhesive. The adhesive is usually trowelled onto the sub floor and the wood flooring is placed into position on top and left to set.

Secret Nailed Floor

If your floor is being installed directly onto joists or ply, it will be secret nailed. This means that a nail is driven through the tongue of each plank at a 45 degree angle to the timber subfloor. If you are nailing directly to the supporting joists your timber floor will need to be a minimum of 18mm in thickness or 20mm if your joist centres are wider then 300mm, and you will need to insert building paper between the floor and the joists to prevent the surfaces rubbing together and squeaking.

+ Is engineered wood flooring compatible with underfloor heating?

Yes, all our engineered wood flooring is compatible with underfloor heating. However, it must be installed in conjunction with the guidelines of the manufacturer of the heating system. Please see the guide below for further information.

 

+ How much wood should I order?

We recommend that you should always factor in extra wood for waste when installing a floor. The amount of waste you need to allow for will vary according to the type of floor you are ordering, the shape of your room and the skill of your fitter. We normally recommend ordering 10% more than your actual square meterage for waste when using standard planks and 15% for parquet blocks, but this is something you and your installer must decide. Bear in mind that it is a good idea to keep a few extra planks once the floor has been installed in case you ever need to replace a damaged board.

If you do not order enough wood you may delay your installation and may find that there is more colour variation in wood ordered subsequently as it will come from a different batch.

+ What is a wear layer or top layer?

The wear layer is the top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core of hardwood, plywood or HDF. The thickness of the wear layer determines how many times you can sand and refinish your engineered floor: 2-3 times for a 4mm wear layer, or 4-5 times for a 6mm wear layer. If you clean and maintain your floor correctly it shouldn't need to be sanded unless you want to change the colour.

+ Can I sand and refinish my floor?

Most hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished between two and five times. The exact number depends upon the total thickness of the wear layer or top layer of the engineered hardwood - you should seek this information from the supplier.

To refinish wood floors, the existing finish must first be sanded off completely, and then the floor smoothed out and flattened. Repair work and filling is then done if necessary and a stain or finish then applied.

+ How long does my floor need to acclimatise for before installation?

Wood floors need to be left in their packaging in the room in which they are going to be installed in order for the timber to adjust to the temperature, moisture and humidity of the room. This must be done before the floor is laid to reduce the possibility of the floor shrinking or expanding due to the change of atmosphere.

The length of time flooring takes to acclimatize depends on various factors such as the species of wood, the size of the planks and the variance in atmospheric conditions. As a rough guide we advise leaving engineered wood floors to acclimatize for three to four days and solid wood floors for seven days – but the longer the better.

+ Do you deliver?

Yes, we can deliver all over the UK and deliveries outside the UK can be arranged upon request. Charges vary according to the size of the order and the distance from our North London based workshop.

+ If we order too much wood can we return the unopened packs?

No, we cannot usually accept return of bespoke products as we make them specifically to order. It is not a bad idea to keep a few planks extra in case you ever need to replace a small damaged area.