Photo: Wow Floors
Considering wood flooring, or even ceiling, for your home? There are many factors to consider before saying yes, from maintenance to what type of wood to pick. We speak to various experts from the wood industry to answer your burning questions.
What is the price range of wood like?
According to Mohammad Zain, the general manager of wood flooring company Wow Floors, it depends on the species of wood as well as the size you need. Exotic and prized wood like Wenge, Palisander, and Rosewood will cost much more than normal hardwood like White or Red Oak, Bamboo, and Teak. The price can start from around $8psf for teak parquet floor and can go up to $150 psf for exotic species like Ebony. Having said that, real wood floor can last a lifetime if proper maintenance is done.
Eileen Wong, manager of Sin Joo Lee, Chip Lee Timber’s parent company, adds that the price of wood flooring can also depends on the labour required and types of varnish used; it can average from $8 to over $12 per square foot.
Photo: Wow Floors
What types of sealants and treatments are there?
Without getting too technical, there are three types of treatments: the conventional solvent PU coating, water-base PU coating and oil based coating.
“The most durable will be the solvent-base PU coating and water-based PU coating. However, the solvent-base PU is very toxic both for the workers that are applying it as well as the homeowner as it still release toxic fumes over the years. This is especially bad if you have young children.
As for water-base coating, there are many variants in the market and the price varies significantly depending on its durability. A good quality water-base coating is much more durable than the solvent-base finish, and it is ecologically friendly, too.
The oil base coating gives a rich finish; however, in our humid climate, it does dry out rather fast. You need to reply the oil every six to eight-month period to maintain it,” shares Zain.
How do we take care of indoor timber flooring?
Floor Empire shares six tips to abide by:
- Avoid walking on newly coated floors for the first 24 hours.
- Avoid dragging furniture over coated surfaces.
- Use dirt-trapping mats at entrances to prevent dust and grit from entering the home and scratching the floors.
- Sweep floors with a soft bristle broom.
- Fit legs of furniture with protective pads to reduce risk of scuffing.
- Don’t use strong chemicals or abrasive floor cleaners.
Zain adds: For daily cleaning, a microfibre mop is sufficient. Mopping the floor with a well-rung mop should not be done more than twice a week. (Check out Zain's own home, which is designed to incorporate lots of wood, here.)
When should a homeowner choose engineered wood over real wood flooring?
“Engineered wood is better when the owner wants wider and longer boards as engineered wood is more dimensionally stable. These boards can be more than 300mm wide and up to 6m long. It is important to note that the top layer of real wood will influence the life span as well as cost; anything that is less than 2mm will not be able to be sanded down and as such can only last five to seven years,” advises Zain.
When choosing wood for the home, do ages and origins of the wood matter?
“With the latest technology of processing and drying of wood, it does not really matter where the wood is from. It is however important to prepare the wood for its usage and location. Different parts of the world would require different moisture levels in order for the wood not to warp and buckle. Getting your wood floor from your local wood flooring specialist will address this issue,” says Zain.
Eileen says that even the same species of wood can have varying properties if they have been sourced from different regions. For example, teak from Indonesia is logged from 30- to 40-year-old trees, while Burmese teak is logged only after trees have matured over 80 years. Hence, Burmese teak offers more material stability. Check with your wood supplier that the material is logged from a sustainable forest.
Photo: Floor Empire's showroom — read about it here!
Real wood flooring in the bathroom, kitchen and ceiling — is it possible?
“You can have wood flooring in your kitchen if you don’t do too much heavy cooking or have a dry kitchen. As for bathrooms, unless it is a powder room, we do not advise client to have timber flooring in the bathroom as excessive moisture is bad for wood. Having said that, we do have clients who insist on this. It turned out to be quite exquisite and sexy, too,” shares Zain.
On the other hand, the ceiling is a viable area. Zain shares that unlike flooring, you do not need very thick wood for walls and ceilings.
Tip: “For smaller rooms, use long and wide wood pieces to create a sense of space. However, if the room faces the westerly sun, wider dimensions are not recommended as exposure to harsh sunlight makes the material susceptible to warping, which may cause slight shifting of the slats." – Kelvin Chua, director of Choon Bok Wood Industries