Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wood floors: More natural, more aesthetic wooden floor

Many homes sport wood floors these days.

A few summers ago, Ankit Verma holidayed with his family in Kashmir. The chalet style hotel that they stayed in at Pahalgam had a wood floor. Ankit was charmed. When he recently bought his own apartment, he was determined to install wood floors in all the rooms. A few years ago, his wish would have remained a pipedream. No more. A large number of firms are nowadays offering laminated wooden floors that are both affordable and tough. Many people are installing them in their homes now.

To elaborate, two types of wooden floors are available in the market - real or hard wood floors, and laminate floors. Hardwood floors are expensive. Their cost could range from Rs 350-700 per sqft, putting them beyond the budget of all but the very rich. At Rs 700 per sqft, for instance, installing a real wood floor in a 12x12 feet room would cost you about Rs 1 lakh. Real wood floors are also difficult to maintain. They damage easily - drop hot tea, or a stub of cigarette, and you ruin the plank, though some recent brands claim to be more resistant to damage.

Laminate floors (so called because they are made up of a thin, transparent upper crust that is resistant to wear and tear, and of high density fibreboard inside), on the other hand, cost less - Rs 80-260 per sqft. In addition, they are not ruined easily. It is this category that has caught on.

Wooden floors offer several advantages. One, they are aesthetically pleasing. Look at the wood and steel decor of some coffee shops or retail boutiques, and you will know. Two, they are easy to install. Your entire home can be done within 24 to 48 hours, unlike marble, stone, tiles etc., which take a lot of time. Three, laminate wooden floors are tougher, so much so that manufacturers today offer warranties ranging from 10 to 50 years.

Easy to dismantle

If you move out of one home, you can dismantle your floor and take it with you. No adhesive or nail is used these days to install the planks. Instead they come with a tongue and groove mechanism that makes them both easy to fit, and easy to dismantle. In the West, in fact, wooden floors are a DIY (do it yourself) product.
Steps in purchase decision

First, decide where the floor will be installed - in a heavy or light traffic area. Then determine your budget. These two decisions will narrow down your range of choices considerably. Next decide the shade: do you prefer a dark or a light shade? Darker shades make the room look cosy. They are, for instance, suited for the home entertainment zone. But they also shrink the space visually. Dark floors combined with steel furniture impart a Scandinavian look to your interiors.

Lighter shades go well with smaller spaces. They also create a neat effect. Many retail outlets use them. The market for wooden floors is growing at above 40 percent annually. But given the low penetration of this product, the marketers have barely scratched the surface. With builders too installing wooden floors in their premium range apartments nowadays, expect more wood beneath your feet in future.
Mind your step…
Here are some precautions you need to take while installing wooden flooring
Make sure you don't install residential grade flooring in a commercial setup where the floor needs to be tougher

Ensure that the company you're buying from has the service backup to be able to carry out repair work in case your floor gets damaged Water on your wood flooring is like the proverbial kiss death, specially if it stagnates for a while. But laminate floors can withstand the occasional spill.

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