Do you really need to treat your wooden floors with kid gloves?

Two perceptions of durability: Our Technical Manager Richard Aylen discusses the case for NOT treating your hardwood floor with too much care.

Some people can afford to be a bit meaner to their hardwood floors.

We are all interested in what customers think of our floors, but when I found out for the first time how the same floor type can be perceived so differently when laid in different types of building, I was surprised.

Same floor, different uses

Take for example two different sites; one, a sports hall and the other a shopping centre, both fitted with similar solid hardwood floors. From daily conversations with clients and architects I can say that the shopping centre floor will be perceived as durable, hard wearing, long lasting, repairable – a beautiful but dependable “workhorse” of a floor that can also be refurbished many times over. The client knows that it will take any number of tables and chairs, any amount of foot traffic and stand up to the variety of footwear that the public choose…. all the things we like to hear. A good example is the food court at the Trafford Centre Retail complex in Manchester, a Junckers 20mm solid oak floor over 20 years old and still going strong.

Junckers solid Oak flooring installed at Aeroville Shopping Centre outside Paris. Floors specified and installed in shopping centres will generally be perceived as hard-wearing, durable and able to withstand heavy foot traffic. Hardwood floors are an excellent choice for high traffic areas.

Can I put tables and chairs on my sports hall floor?

The sports floor will also be seen as long lasting and durable, but this will ONLY be so when it is used specifically for sports, and the client may become quite nervous at the prospect of using it for anything else. The floor is often a lot more versatile than they assume it is. School premises managers will often ask if their sports hall can have tables and chairs put on it. They are going to fill the hall with chairs – will it bear the load? Can they use the floor for an open-day or fill the hall with diners? Often they assume it will need protection for all activities apart from sports, and will ask us what the manufacturer recommends for protection. Some clients are keen to allow roller skaters and tap dancers on their hardwood sports floor, but fear that the surface will be damaged. Both activities are usually fine on solid hardwood floors and manufacturers will often have some simple guidelines for users to follow. It’s always good to be able to reassure them that the floor will be OK for all those activities without using protection – so avoiding the cost of buying a temporary covering and finding somewhere to store it.

Junckers solid Beech sports flooring installed at Oriam, Scotland. Photo: broad daylight. With a technically advanced sport flooring system, clients can express worry when it comes to non-sport use, seeing their high performance floor as ‘fragile’, which is not the case at all.

The village hall – a true multi-purpose floor

Community halls are a very good example of the best of both worlds because they can cross over into sports use but are often used for social functions as well. Community hall committees often depend upon a full booking schedule to keep revenue flowing. They tend to give their floors a hard time by getting as much use from the floor as it will give – and still a solid hardwood floor will last them for decades given proper care and maintenance. They really make their floors work hard, but that’s what a solid hardwood floor is designed to do. Of course, the floor will show signs of use, the surface finish will wear, dents and scratches will appear, but solid hardwood floors are actually quite hard to destroy and can be refurbished many times over.

Junckers Oak Golden Pear flooring installed at Warwick Hall community hall. A solid hardwood floor installed in a community hall makes perfect sense. It’s a true multi-purpose surface that can be used for anything from large functions, kids’ parties and sports activities.

Putting your floor to good use

So why do we see the “kid gloves” approach in the sports hall market? Could sports floor manufacturers and the way they sell their products be partly responsible?

Sports floors are usually heavily promoted on their technical performance. If we, as manufacturers, talk about critical surface friction levels, special “sprung” batten systems that have scientifically proven performance and the like, then we are perhaps inviting clients to think that a thoroughbred floor may not be suitable for the knockabout treatment that can happen with everyday multi-purpose use.

The limitations of other types of floor covering may also lead customers to think that hardwood has similar shortcomings; e.g. if a thick cushion vinyl floor needs to be covered up for some types of “non-sports” use, then they may assume that the same will apply to all types of sports floor.

The fact is that a solid hardwood floor has a lot more to offer the client than simply being a technically advanced sports surface, and the life span will often be many times longer than say a synthetic or engineered wood floor. A case in point is a 22mm Junckers Beech floor that we supplied in 1964 to a secondary school dance studio not far from our offices in Essex. It is still giving good service, and we are told it is hired out annually for a local beer festival, so no kid gloves here!

You don’t have to treat a solid hardwood floor like a fragile or delicate surface. Just enjoy it, make it work for you. Be sensible, but don’t be over-sensitive. It will take some hard treatment, it is designed to, and when the battle scars appear you can refurbish it… time and time again.

This article first appeared in Contract Flooring Journal magazine

Richard Aylen, Technical Manager, Junckers Ltd

Have a technical question? Contact Richard on ria@junckers.com

Strong + durable wooden floors for Jaguar Land Rover

Arranged around several courtyards and atria, Jaguar Land Rover’s new Advanced Product Creation Centre by Bennetts Associates is a series of inspirational, creative spaces designed to foster interaction and collaboration. As part of a refined materials palette, over 5,000m2 of Junckers solid Nordic Oak Classic plank flooring has been installed to define zones and provide a warm, natural surface.

High levels of natural light fill new offices, restaurant and a 400-seat multipurpose hall, all linked by generous internal streets. The company’s latest vehicle models are proudly displayed on the ground floor, where the flooring had to be able to accommodate both the cars and a Stringo, a specialist vehicle moving truck. Working with AC Flooring Ltd, Junckers provided a solid hardwood floor able to take the weight of a five-tonne load. Richard Aylen, Junckers’ Technical Manager worked with AC Flooring and the architects to find the best solution for the floor to withstand heavy loads:

“The wooden floor at Jaguar Land Rover’s new Advanced Production Creation Centre was glued to the subfloor using our Parquet Glue. Given a suitable subfloor, this is usually the method that will bear the highest loads.

Worryingly, there is a trend towards substituting proprietary adhesive products for cheaper brands. A cheaper adhesive generally contains more filler, which will bulk out the product but do nothing for its adhesive properties. The high amount of filler in in the cheaper adhesives has reduced the bonding ability and projects where such products have been used are beginning to fail with large claims being fought in parts of Europe. This is an issue many flooring contractors may be unaware of. By choosing Junckers Parquet Glue the client can be confident that they have the best long-term result.”

Junckers Nordic Oak Classic at Jaguar Land Rover by Bennetts Associates. Photo: Hufton + Crow
Junckers Nordic Oak Classic at Jaguar Land Rover by Bennetts Associates. Photo: Hufton + Crow
Junckers Nordic Oak Classic at Jaguar Land Rover by Bennetts Associates. Photo: Hufton + Crow
Junckers Nordic Oak Classic at Jaguar Land Rover by Bennetts Associates. Photo: Hufton + Crow

For more information, please contact us at sales@junckers.co.uk

Another masterpiece by BIG

World-renowned Danish architects Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG) designed Glasir Education Centre, the largest building on the Faroe Islands to date. The new centre merges three educational institutions with the aim to combine age groups and disciplines, sharing knowledge to the benefit of students, teachers and staff.

Inspired by the dramatic landscape of Tórshavn, the building’s spectacular glass façade and glazed roof invite the surrounding environment to become part of the interior design. Every room has natural light, with a central courtyard connecting learning spaces, sports facilities, metal and wood workshops, music rooms, a FabLab, a canteen and a library over five levels.

The building features 3,200m2 Junckers Ash Premium, a solid hardwood floor, in walkways, the wood workshop as well as in the large sports hall, where the wood flooring was fitted over Junckers’ UnoBat 45 undercarriage system, providing a safe, responsive surface for a busy multi-purpose hall. A stunning project.

Junckers solid Ash Premium floor fitted over UnoBat 45 undercarriage system at Glasir Education Centre by BIG
Junckers solid Ash Premium floor at Glasir Education Centre by BIG
Junckers solid Ash Premium floor at Glasir Education Centre by BIG
Junckers solid Ash Premium floor at Glasir Education Centre by BIG

New partnership with England Squash

We’re delighted to announce we’ve become an England Squash Approved Supplier. Our SylvaSquash solid beech floors and undercarriage systems have featured strongly in the UK squash market for many years, in both new build courts and refurbishments, it seems only natural to have a formal partnership with England Squash.

England Squash offers squash court related technical and design advice and its clients are directed towards the sport’s governing body Approved Suppliers to help choose products and installers.

England Squash AJ Bell National Squash Championships 2020

Junckers is partner to this year’s British Squash Championships. Through our links with England Squash the Junckers name and logo will appear on the main show court at the A J Bell British Squash Championships which takes place at Nottingham University 13-16 February. The Junckers name will have high profile exposure not only to audiences at the venue but to wider audiences via TV and online coverage.

To find out more about our SylvaSquash Beech floors & undercarriage systems , please click here

Kresen Kernow by Purcell

A large expanse of our Nordic Oak Boulevard flooring forms part of this extraordinary new archive and research facility in Cornwall. Designed by Purcell, the UK’s leading heritage and conservation architects, the centre is a landmark development comprising public search, exhibition, education and workshop spaces.

Set within a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Conservation Area, Kresen Kernow is housed in formerly derelict brewery buildings, rebuilt and redeveloped whilst carefully conserving many of the historic original features. The new, purpose-built facility brings together a staggering 1.5 million manuscripts, books and documents relating to the history, people, places and culture of Cornwall, dating back to 1150. The centre also includes a new two-storey environmentally controlled archive store with many, many miles of racking.

Purcell retained many of the buildings’ remaining structures and restored elements of the interior. Based on historic records, original cast iron columns were salvaged and incorporated in a new steel frame and brick gable walls at high levels were reinstated. For the floor, the original granite flagstones were carefully lifted and re-laid, installed alongside Junckers’ solid wide board oak flooring in a white-pigmented Nordic finish.

A technically challenging installation, flooring contractor Tre Concepts had to work within an accuracy of 0.6mm to allow for the varying sub floor levels as well as the difference in levels of the granite slabs. Around the rectangular sections of granite, the 185mm wide floorboards were cut lengthwise to form frames around the slabs as per the architect’s design.

David Burne, Senior Architect at Purcell and the project lead said: “Solid hardwood flooring was chosen as it is a sustainable, natural product, with a long life and low maintenance requirements. The Nordic Oak was selected due to its warm appearance and light colour characteristics which complement the tones of the historic granite slabs adjacent, whilst enhancing the natural illumination of the main exhibition space and visitor reception area.”

The 20.5mm thick solid wood floor forms a durable surface for a public space and a fitting backdrop to the strong visual appeal of the interior. A floor from Junckers can be sanded and refinished up to ten times. A long lifespan, PEFC and FSC certified and produced in a CO2 positive facility, means specifying a Junckers floor is an environmentally sound option.

Read more about our environmental policy here

Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Junckers Nordic Oak Boulevard at Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman
Kresen Kernow by Purcell. Photo: Phil Boorman

Nordic Beech floor for historic music hall

The historic Aberdeen Music Hall has been restored and redeveloped by architects BDP. The Category A listed concert hall has been completely refurbished and now includes a performance studio, creative learning space and a café/bar.

Nearly 1,500m2 of our solid Nordic Beech Classic flooring has been fitted as part of the transformation, including in the impressive 1,300 seat auditorium, which now has step-free access to all levels. Nordic Beech with its white pigmented finish offers a light and bright backdrop to the interior and makes the most of the new architectural lighting by reflecting an abundance of light.

By specifying the same floor for much of the building, the various spaces are seamlessly connected by a unifying element. At 140mm wide, Junckers’ signature wide board, long-length floor boards really come into their own in the open spaces and circulation routes, offering a clean and elegant look. Solid beech is amongst the most hard-wearing timbers used for flooring and our pre-finished floors are well-known for their durability.

The flooring contractor was West End Flooring.

Junckers Nordic Beech flooring at Aberdeen Music Hall. Photo: David Barber Photography
Junckers Nordic Beech flooring at Aberdeen Music Hall. Photo: David Barber Photography
Junckers Nordic Beech flooring at Aberdeen Music Hall. Photo: David Barber Photography
Junckers Nordic Beech flooring at Aberdeen Music Hall. Photo: David Barber Photography
Junckers Nordic Beech flooring at Aberdeen Music Hall. Photo: David Barber Photography

Add a bit of colour

In his series of articles highlighting technical issues to do with wood flooring and woodcare, our Technical Manager Richard Aylen explains how wood dyes and colouring processes work

Junckers Rustic Oil in Anthracite Grey adds a deep, dark finish to the wide board flooring in a Danish furniture store

One of the many reasons why beautiful timber floors have been around for so long is that they blend perfectly with many styles of interior. In common with other natural materials, timber may be used next to a wide variety of other colours and textures. The colours that nature provides are very familiar to most of us, but we can create even more choices by using stains, textures and colouring processes.

What options are there if you’re looking for a floor with a coloured finish? It might be a new floor or refurbishment of an old one – there are a few popular choices, each with its own pros and cons.

For refurbishments, a decision must be made if the products to be used will be from one manufacturer that are guaranteed to work together. Alternatively, there is the option to “mix and match” using wood dye from one supplier and lacquer from another. If the latter method is chosen, the flooring contractor needs to guarantee that the products offered are compatible. If in doubt, always do a test area and be aware of the risk that manufacturers sometimes alter formulations… so what works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. The timber species may also affect the result. Some water-based finishes may not perform well on naturally oily tropical hardwoods, but will be perfectly fine on traditional species such as oak and ash.

Let’s look at some of the choices that are available for customers who want to add colour their floors.

Junckers Prelak White primer adds a white wash to a solid hardwood floor

Coloured Primers

These will usually be water-based and used instead of a clear primer. As well as providing the desired colour,  the primer will reduce the “gluing effect” that can occur with water-based finishes. A good, and very popular, example is Junckers Prelak White.

Primers provide an even, transparent “wash” effect and work well on wood that may have a patchy finish if a conventional wood dye is used e.g. maple or beech. Skill and care are needed during application to avoid overlaps, especially on darker, parquet style floors. The primer needs to be over-coated with clear lacquer and it is safest to use a lacquer recommended by the primer manufacturer.

Not strictly a coloured finish; “Invisible” primers and lacquers are fairly new to the UK market. They are used where the final colour of the floor needs to be as close as possible to bare sanded wood. Their “invisibility” works in two ways; one, that they have a very “flat” matt surface which gives the impression that the wood has no coating. Secondly, they change the colour of the wood very little. That said,  these are often normal properties of many water-based primers whether marketed as “invisible or not. Best results are achieved on light coloured timbers as some colour change will be seen when applied to very dark woods.

Wood Dyes

These are low-solids, fast drying products, not to be confused with coloured varnishes or “wood stains”. They must be protected with lacquer. The “rule of thumb” is that if the wood dye is organic solvent-based, a water-based lacquer is most likely to be suitable for overcoating, and vice versa. This must not be fully relied upon though, and a test area should always be done prior to treating the whole floor. Often, the lacquer used to over-coat the dye will be from a different manufacturer.

Dyes are easy to apply using a cloth or pad and it is fairly easy to avoid overlap marks etc. They are fast drying, so the first coat of lacquer or primer can be applied soon after. Bear in mind that stained floors may be difficult to patch repair – especially if the colour has faded over time and may appear patchy on certain types of wood eg maple, beech.

Available in several shades, Junckers Rustic Oils can be applied to any unfinished wooden floor and over coated with a lacquer for durability

Coloured Oils

Oils often produce a uniform colour on beech, maple etc. compared with wood dyes. They tend not to be prone to application issues such as roller stop marks and work well on herringbone and parquet floors. Oil can be used on its own or may be used as a primer and then over-coated with lacquer. Check that the oil is compatible with lacquer – some are not. Junckers Rustic Oils may be used either as a full treatment or over-coated with HP Commercial lacquer. Oils tend to have a longer drying time than a primer or wood dye.

The Effect of Sheen

Many customers will prefer matt finishes on textured and coloured boards as this tends to look more natural, although this is largely a matter of current taste.

Vacuum coloured floor boards

For a very consistent and permanent coloured finish, some types of timber lend themselves well to vacuum staining. Here, the colour of the wood itself is altered by using a chemical or staining process. This affects the board through the majority, if not all its thickness. So when the floor is sanded there is no need to re-apply the colour treatment. Fumed oak, or Black Oak, is perhaps one of the better-known examples of this. Junckers has also used this process on beech to make its Sylvaket boards, and has extended the process further by vacuum staining with water-based wood dyes.

Junckers Black Oak is a solid wood floor that can be sanded and refinished without losing its dark colour. The black stain is drawn deep into the floor board by a specially developed process mimicking nature’s way of darkening timber which has been left in a bog. The floor arrives fully sealed and factory-finished, ready to walk on as soon as it’s installed.

The ever-increasing choice of finishes has led to an increased demand for ‘the perfect shade’, a perfect match to another design element of the interior. It’s always important to assess the use of the floor, estimated foot traffic and maintenance issues before recommending one choice or another – that’s where the expertise of a professional flooring contractor comes in. Our network of Approved Flooring Contractors and Approved Maintenance Contractors might be able to help!

Junckers solid oak floor for award-winning school

Architects Dixon Jones specified 600m2 Junckers solid oak flooring for Marlborough Primary School, a multi award-winning building on a densely populated urban site in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in London.

The brief to create a primary school much larger than the original Victorian building on the existing site challenged Dixon Jones to design a school where teaching accommodation is arranged vertically around a series of cascading roof terraces. With nursery and reception classes on the ground, children progress upwards through the building the older they get, with the junior years arranged on the upper floors.

The interior forms an equally dynamic environment for students and staff with teaching spaces arranged around communal halls and generous circulation areas. A large main hall and multi-use space flooded with natural light from two central roof lights, features Junckers wide board oak flooring throughout, providing a natural, unifying backdrop. Junckers’ FSC and PEFC certified floors are a durable, long-lasting choice with low lifecycle costs. Made in solid wood, the floor can be sanded and re-finished multiple times without losing its good looks or performance, ideal for a thriving community school.

Main contractor: Mace; Joinery contractor: Swift Crafted; Photography: Paul Riddle.

Dixon Jones

Junckers solid oak flooring at Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones. Photo: Paul Riddle
Junckers solid oak flooring at Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones. Photo: Paul Riddle
Junckers solid oak flooring at Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones. Photo: Paul Riddle
Junckers solid oak flooring at Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones. Photo: Paul Riddle
Junckers solid oak flooring at Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones. Photo: Paul Riddle
Junckers solid oak flooring at Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones. Photo: Paul Riddle
Junckers solid oak flooring at Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones. Photo: Paul Riddle

Junckers & Stenhouse Flooring win industry award

Spanish City pleasure dome, a Grade II listed building which has been completely transformed and restored in 2018. It features an incredible domed ceiling in a rotunda, with a large open space and a circular balcony plus three restaurant areas elsewhere in the building – all fitted with Junckers’ Black Oak floor.

We’re absolutely delighted to announce that together with our Approved Contractor Stenhouse Flooring, we have won the 2019 Contract Flooring Journal / Contract Flooring Association Award for ‘Best use of flooring in a visitors attraction’ with our Spanish City pleasure dome project.

An extraordinary project with a complicated flooring installation featuring a concentric dodecagon pattern where the lines of the flooring on the balcony continues in the circular floor on the level below. On the balcony, the mitred boards run from column to column and downstairs from columns on the outer circle, where there is a step down, towards a centre point in the middle fitted with a small section of paler oak (just visible underneath the grand piano in the main image). There are 12 identical sections that form the circle, each segment overhung, angles adjusted to fit perfectly with the previous piece, mirrored in all sections. Every mitre was hand cut and hand routered, grooved with false tongue so the whole floor is connected. Over 2000 cuts in total. On completion a final coat of finishing oil was applied by hand.

The work to approximately nine weeks and required two highly skilled floor layers. The floor is finished with Junckers oil to allow for spot repairs without much downtime and minimal disruption.

Stenhouse Flooring

Junckers Black Oak flooring installed by Stenhouse Flooring at Spanish City. Photo: Andrew Heptinstall
Junckers Black Oak flooring installed by Stenhouse Flooring at Spanish City. Photo: Andrew Heptinstall
Junckers Black Oak flooring installed by Stenhouse Flooring at Spanish City. Photo: Andrew Heptinstall
Junckers Black Oak flooring installed by Stenhouse Flooring at Spanish City. Photo: Andrew Heptinstall
Junckers Black Oak flooring installed by Stenhouse Flooring at Spanish City. Photo: Andrew Heptinstall

Striking circular floor for landmark pleasure dome

This really isn’t something you see every day – a wooden floor installed in a circular pattern, a concentric dodecagon (yes, we had to look it up too!) to be precise. The famous Spanish City in Whitley Bay has undergone major refurbishment works, which includes new solid wood flooring from yours truly. Architects, ADP, brought the seaside pleasure building back to its former glory by carefully restoring the original decorative features in the Grade II listed building.

The works included revealing the magnificent dome in the rotunda by removing a mezzanine floor, restoring the triple height ceiling to create a large, circular space. The grand room required a complimentary floor and the choice fell on our Black Oak, fitted in the aforementioned pattern. Installed by Junckers’ Approved Contractor Stenhouse Flooring, the project features mitred joints which require a high level of skill and experience.

This is an extraordinary project with a very complicated flooring installation. The lines of the concentric dodecagon pattern on the balcony continues in the floor in the circle below (see images). On the balcony, the mitred boards run from column to column and downstairs from columns on the outer circle, where there is a step down, towards a centre point in the middle fitted with a small section of paler oak (just visible underneath the grand piano in the main image). There are 12 identical sections that form the circle, each segment overhung, angles adjusted to fit perfectly with the previous piece, mirrored in all sections. Every mitre was hand cut and hand routered, grooved with false tongue so the whole floor is connected. Over 2000 cuts in total.

The work to approximately nine weeks and required two highly skilled floor layers. The floor is finished with Junckers Oil to allow for spot repairs without much downtime and minimal disruption.

Junckers’ solid wood flooring was also installed in several other areas in the building, which now includes bars, shops, restaurants and a suite of rooms for events, conferences and weddings.

Our thanks to our Approved Contractor Stenhouse Flooring for the detailed information, and a for job well done!

 

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Junckers Black Oak flooring at Spanish City pleasure dome Photo: Andrew Heptinstall

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Junckers Black Oak flooring at Spanish City pleasure dome Photo: Andrew Heptinstall

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Junckers Black Oak flooring at Spanish City pleasure dome Photo: Andrew Heptinstall

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Junckers Black Oak flooring at Spanish City pleasure dome Photo: Andrew Heptinstall

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Junckers Black Oak flooring at Spanish City pleasure dome Photo: Andrew Heptinstall

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Spanish City pleasure dome Photo: Andrew Heptinstall