How to choose wood flooring

Tactile timber provides a hardwearing, practical surface that will age gracefully – choose from Paula Woods’ pick of solid, engineered and even wood-effect boards that will add characterful appeal in your period home

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Wood flooring creates a great backdrop to any interior, but in period homes it’s also a key element of their historic character. One of the many advantages of a solid timber floor is that the look of natural wood works well with many styles, allowing versatility should you come to redecorate.

At the moment, white and pale grey floors are very popular in low-traffic areas of the home. The move to extending kitchens to create larger, open plan, multifunctional family spaces has seen homeowners installing wood over large areas for the warmth and homeliness it provides.


Related articles: How to choose hard flooring | How to fix draughty floorboards | Wooden flooring: A period character guide | How to use a salvaged wood floor


Solid wood floors

Solid wood boards are an authentic choice, and can be sanded and refinished whenever required. Hardwoods, like oak and walnut, will potentially last longer and won’t scratch as easily as softer options. Woods like pine and beech are cost effective, but are more likely to get damaged easily and show wear over time.

Natural wood flooring has many benefits, from providing longevity to changing the acoustics of a room, giving it a warm, rich sound. Real wood floors add value, appeal and a sense of luxury to the home and, despite common misconceptions, can usually be laid successfully over underfloor heating.


Junkers’ latest Driftwood Grey solid oak flooring is pre-finished with an ultra-matt lacquer. Due to the wood’s low, stable moisture content, it is compatible with underfloor heating. Prices start from £93.50 per m²

Engineered wood floors

Engineered flooring is usually made up of three or more layers of plywood laid at right angles to each other, with a top “wear” layer of natural timber up to 6mm thick. As long as the wear layer is at least 4mm, many products can even be given a light sanding if damaged.

To find out whether the boards can be used with underfloor heating, ask the manufacturer before buying, and also check that the wood has been sustainably sourced.


As well as offering an extensive range of reclaimed solid timber flooring, Bert & May also offers an engineered option that is compatible with underfloor heating. This new Weathered Barn oak flooring and cladding is £180 per m²

Reclaimed floorboards

For true period authenticity, reclaimed timber is a ready-aged, characterful choice that can often be fitted over underfloor heating, due to being acclimatised over the centuries. Parquet blocks are particularly popular, but boards from all eras are available. Be guided by the age of your home, and buy from a supplier that adheres to the Salvo Code.


Featuring an air-dried lacquered 6mm oak wear layer, this Dalston chevron design costs from £142.50 per m² from Ted Todd

 Parquet flooring

Made up of smaller blocks laid in a pattern such as herringbone, parquet flooring has its roots in the 17th century homes of the aristocracy, and its popularity blossomed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The pattern celebrates the grain of the wood and enhances the look of the timber, catching the light.

If you’re new to parquet, use it in the hallway to make a statement and avoid fitting it in rooms where the furniture will cover up the majority of it, such as bedrooms.


Elm was once widely used in British homes, and Victorian Woodworks’ Vault is a new collection that sees the Japanese technique of Yakisugi applied to its antique elm parquet de Versailles panels. The elm is gently charred before being hand-finished with natural oils. Shown in Jet, £250 per m²

Laminate or vinyl

Alternatively, for a fuss-free option, vinyl and laminate planks are available in a wide range of authentic-looking finishes, usually requiring no specialist installation. More often than not, they are compatible with underfloor heating and can be used in wet areas.


Although not technically a timber, Topps Tiles’ solid carbonised silkwood bamboo, £46.88 per m², has the look of wood and a natural durability that means it can be safely used in wet areas