Wood flooring for retail

16 Apr 2021

Stylish wood flooring will make any retail environment look classy and inviting, but what does it take to get it right with the choice of flooring, which is so exposed to high footfall, dirt and often wear and tear. We spoke with Steve Clent, Global Client Director at Havwoods, who shared his thoughts and tips on choosing the right wood flooring for a retail project.

How creative can retail designers be with wood floors?

When we first consider wood flooring we often imagine mid oak planks and rectangle formats, possibly because we see so much of this format used in the market and in vinyl products.

However, wood floors are available in a vast variety of species, tones, grain characters, widths and plank lengths, with a huge array of format choices. Wood floors can be easily treated using lacquers and stains which have almost limitless tone options. There are also oils, UV oil treatments, and stained oils which offer infinite tone ranges yet retaining the timbers natural satin finish.

In addition to truly reclaimed wood, many of our projects now also incorporate additional distressed surface work such as sawn, cross sawn and wood chopped which create an authentic vintage feel.

The variety available in wood is almost limitless and the natural depth of tone, grain character choices combined with final finish treatments are like no other product and offer an engaging experience to those who enter a retail area with a beautiful wood floor.

Let’s not forget walls! Adding a wood wall finish creates an amazing feature, adds warmth, softens acoustics and adds depth to an otherwise flat cold surface.

Can different formats be installed together?

It is entirely possible to use planks together with herringbones and chevrons, or other formats. We often help create areas using a variety of format options, and these work extremely well when combined and for defining different zones. Planks can be combined with a herringbone, border features, or even a Versailles inset.

In addition, we can offer different wood species in different formats that can be installed together to create stunning areas and using the species’ tone and grain effects in one space.

What about using wood vs. other products?

Wood floors are beautiful and make us experience something unique about the environment they are installed in, perhaps like no other product. They stir biophilic sympathies within us taking us back to a walk in the woods, the breath of fresh air in the countryside, and that “feel good” factor natural products offer. In short, there is nothing like the “real deal” in any product category and wood is the authentic choice. In fact, we can see, hear and feel the difference.

In practical terms wood floors are as easy to install and maintain as vinyl, and often balancing final cost of installation of each product type brings some pleasant surprises in favour of wood.

What are some of the practical considerations when choosing wood flooring for a retail space?

In addition to selecting a wooden floor that creates a stunning visual impact, it is critical to consider the level of footfall traffic the floor will experience. This will be an important factor in not only selecting the most appropriate timber, but also the treatment best suited to the installation such as a lacquered, UV oiled, or air-dried oil product.

Are there any specific wood flooring products that you would recommend for a retail space, and why?

There are essentially two types of wood flooring, solid wood or engineered boards.

Solid timber floors tend to be a prime grade with less grain character and knots, with narrower widths and less stable in areas where temperature or humidity can vary.

I would recommend Engineered wood floors for high footfall traffic stores as they offer a far wider range of grades and surface treatment options, greater width, and plank length choices as well as stability in environments where heat and humidity can vary. Engineered wood floors are also easier and quicker to install and are very durable.

What happens if the wood flooring in a retail space gets damaged, does it need replacing?

If damage occurs it is often the case that isolated areas of the floor can be repaired or replaced. Even individual planks can be uplifted, and new planks inserted in their place. If light surface damage occurs on a lacquered floor, the floor can be sanded back and re-lacquered. However, UV Oiled floors can be sanded and retreated in isolated areas so the repair can be conducted quickly and easily.

Are there any other tips that you could give to anyone looking for wood flooring for their retail store?

Wood flooring will be highly durable and easy to maintain if the correct product and treatment are selected. In addition to design possibilities and the visual you wish to achieve; it is good to carefully consider the level and type of use the floor will experience. These floors will last a very long time, in fact they can be viewed as timeless.

Also remember that engineered wood floors can be sanded and retreated over time to extend their working life. Wood floors respond best to light daily mopping using products that not only clean the floor but replenish the surface finish.

Finally, retail has gone through some challenging times due to the pandemic, what is the future for retail stores?

To say Retail has had a difficult time is an understatement, but this market is extremely tough, resourceful and resilient, and retail businesses have continually renewed, repositioned their brands and redesigned their stores to offer ever better shopping experiences.

I trust that the “new” retail market will be positive, highly motivated and focussed on not only the stores design but also strongly on the experiences of each consumer. Retail shopping is not only about the product sold but what the consumer senses when in store and when buying a product, and that will be ever more critical now than ever.