There are two different types of real wood floors - multi-layer and solid - and three main methods of installation:
The most popular methods are floating and stick-down installation.
Floating floors are ideal for DIY installation. Rather than being attached to the subfloor, boards are simply joined together and rest on the surface, hence the term 'floating'. Wedges are placed around the perimeter of the room, to allow an expansion gap. This is then covered with beading to create a neat transmission between floor and wall.
Most modern designs feature glueless 'click and lock' systems, whereby the boards literally snap together, automatically lining up to create a perfect, flush finish. If any mistakes are made during installation, boards can be unlocked and reattached. Meanwhile, traditional floating wood floors have corresponding tongue and groove joints which are glued together.
Floating floors can be installed on most dry, level surfaces and as each system differs in nature, specialist tools are often available. To reduce footstep noise and protect against moisture, a thin underlay is laid between the wood flooring and the sub-floor before installation.
In this type of installation, the wood planks are glued directly to the sub-floor and professional installation is recommended. Adhesive is spread onto the sub-floor using a trowel and the planks are set into the glue. Stick-down installation of multi-layer wood floors can be carried out over wooden sub-floors and dry, fully-cured concrete slabs.
Whilst most multi-layer wood floors have three layers, stick-down boards tend to comprise two layers as the subfloor acts as the additional layer. Although the installation is more time consuming, these products are generally quieter to walk on and can be laid continuously throughout rooms, without the need for expansion gaps, room diving thresholds or skirtings. The floors also provide a thin surface height, eliminating the need for door trimming.
Look for the 'Real Wood' label when buying your real wood floors.
The environmental benefits of choosing real wood are indisputable.
Far less energy is consumed in timber production, processing and disposal, than in any other construction material.
And, after each wood harvest, the forests are replanted for the next generation.