Wooden floors

Wooden floors give warmth and sound insulation. They are relatively soft, warm, physically comfortable and do not become electrostatically charged (unless treated with varnish). In addition, they can be hard-wearing and relatively resistant to chemicals. They need to be kept dry but maintenance requirements are moderate.

It is difficult to know when wooden flooring first appeared. In the countryside, rammed earth floors were still common as late as the Middle Ages, but in the towns, stronger, drier floors were needed. As well as stone and brick floors, wooden floors were quick to spread during this period. In buildings of several storeys there was no

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Cladding alternative. Planks and cleft tree trunks were used, usually on a system of joists or at ground level directly onto the earth.

Wooden floors are generally made of high quality spruce, pine, oak, beech, ash, elm, maple or birch. Aspen is less hard wearing, but is well-suited for bedrooms, for example. Aspen floors are soft and warm and have also been used in cowsheds and stables where they tolerate damp better than spruce and pine and do not splinter.

Wooden floors are durable, but should be thick enough to allow for sanding several times during their lifetime. Periodic sanding removes the worn or stained upper layer and can provide a floor as good as new, with juniper interior. Architect: Inga Lindstrom.

with juniper interior. Architect: Inga Lindstrom.

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on condition that the floor planks are thick enough to lose a few millimetres in this way over their lifetime. With underfloor heating, timber floors should be used with care due to possible cracking. The timber to be used for flooring is most often artificially dried, unlike other solid timber products, involving an increased use of energy in the production process. With the use of special construction methods (see Figure 15.28), the timber can be laid after being naturally dried to about 16-17 % moisture. This can also be done for ordinary floor boarding by letting the boards lie together unfixed for half a year, after which they are fixed permanently.

A floor has to be treated after laying. This can be done with green soap, varnish, lye or different oils (see Chapter 18). Floors that are treated with lye, soap or linseed oil are warm and anti-static and good moisture regulators. Varnished floors are cold and vapour proof, but their shiny surfaces makes them easier to maintain. This is, however, only a short-term solution as the layer of varnish will slowly but surely split, especially where there is heavy traffic; then the floor needs sanding and re-varnishing. Oiled floors are renewed by just repeating the treatment on the worn parts of the floor.

Solid wood is also often used in subfloors. Low quality spruce is adequate. This type of floor should ideally be allowed to settle for a year before laying the final floor covering.

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