1 October 1999

Knock on wood and take the boring out of flooring

Wood, wonderful wood, is

back in vogue for flooring but

is it good to tread wood?

Tessa Gates went back to

the boards and talked to

David Dennison, who refloored

his farmhouse with oak blocks

THE television programme, Changing Rooms, has a lot to answer for. It inspired me to go for colour when redecorating our living room, newly created from two small rooms knocked through. But what colour carpet do you choose to go with mellow yellow and terracotta? You dont. You opt for something natural – wood.

Our floorboards, hidden for years beneath fitted carpet, were pine, laid circa 1930 and stained black. They didnt look very promising to me but my husband was confident they had potential and a thorough going over with a hired industrial sander that sucked up most of the dust as it was went, brought them back to their original colour.

It took a full day to sand a 24 x12ft room and we had to hire a smaller sander too, to get right to the edges and corners. Several coats of varnish later, we had a very nice-looking floor that complemented our colour scheme but would look just as good with future changes to the décor.

It has been a liberation. No need to worry when we have a houseful of children visiting – spills are easily wiped up. A sweep with a soft broom and wipe over with a wet mop, as necessary, keep it looking good. Or they would, were it not for our sharp-clawed and excitable terrier. His frenzied dashes to the front window as he protects "his" territory from invasions by the postman and any other hapless passer-by have left their marks – an awful lot of them – in the varnish.

For the moment, they will have to stay because we cant face sanding off the varnish and re-applying it, perhaps using a more hardwearing brand. But come the day the dog ever calms down, that is all it will take to make it look as good as new again.

&#42 After the flood

My FARMERS WEEKLY colleague, regional sales manager David Dennison, has long known the value of wood flooring. Following a dreadful flood in his farmhouse at Rossendale, Lancs, he has just reinvested in oak block flooring throughout the ground floor.

"It will last for ages," he says, with understatement. "Most oak floors are guaranteed 10 years but the one we had here previously I bought secondhand from a local school that was being demolished. The school was built in the 1800s and the floor had survived generations of schoolkids giving it real stick. We had 15 years use out of it and would have been happy with it still if it hadnt have been for the flood.

"With two teenage sons still at home and five dogs, my wife Sandra says any other form of flooring wouldnt have been half as hardwearing or looked as good for so long, especially in high traffic areas such as the kitchen. She reckons carpets would last about three months!"

There are many types of wood flooring, from laminates at around £15/sq m, through imported woods and – harder to find – home grown oak such as Coed Epynts Welsh oak, from £25/sq m, (see following page) to wood block like the inch-thick flooring David chose at £80/sq m and had professionally laid.

The total cost of flooring the whole of the farms ground floor (except the lounge, which is carpeted) was £11,000 – equating to about £110/sq m fitted.

"I believe this floor will last several generations of wear and tear from the Dennison clan," says David, "and Height Top Farm looks a better place for it."

WOODEN FLOORS

Pros

Hardwearing

Long-lasting

Easy to clean

Warm

Looks great with traditional or modern décor

Nowhere for pet fleas to breed

Better than carpet for people with dust-mite allergies

Cons

Can be noisy – especially if used upstairs

The floor at Height Top Farm was professionally laid, sanded and

sealed and the Dennison family expect it to

last indefinitely.