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One of the natural materials which experiences its comeback (after the era of various artificial substitutes) is wood. It is soft, elastic, natural and fragrant, it is a subject to ambient influences, a material with which a skilful craftsman can do real wonders.

Recently, natural materials are increasingly returning into architecture. They remind us of our origins and our “roots”, as people have been using wood to build their homes since time immemorial.

You can achieve many interesting effects by finishing the wood. When working with it, you have to keep in mind that you need only good quality and well-dried wood, otherwise it will warp and cause a number of difficulties.

Wood has been having a wide use in our homes. It feels warm, so it makes even a very austere apartment feel cosy.  It is traditionally used for making furniture, musical instruments and window and door frames. Increasingly, it becomes used even in other fields, in which you would not expect before, such as in kitchens (kitchen worktops) or in bathrooms.

If you wish to have a wooden countertop in your kitchen, it is no problem. It is good to choose beech, oak or exclusive teak wood. Teak wood is non-absorbent itself (due to the high content of natural oils), that is why it can be used without any surface treatment, which is to guarantee impermeability. This determines its use in kitchens and even in bathrooms. Other kinds of wood must be impregnated by epoxy resins which prevent water absorption.

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Teak wood is a hard, dimensionally stable and resistant to parasites and pests. It is also resistant to the effects of sunlight, rain and even snow, although it is very easy to maintain. It is much appreciated for these properties and it is used for making both interior and exterior furniture (and even in shipbuilding). If you have teak garden furniture, you do not need to store it indoors during winters. You just need to check if all screws and joints are carefully tightened, otherwise water could leak in and as a result of frost, ice can cause cracking of the wood. If you decide to store the furniture inside during the winter, it is not advisable to put in a hot room; a garage is ideal.

Teak wood exposed to sun, wind, rain and frost becomes covered by a gray patina which gives the impression of antiquity and elegance. If you like the warm, golden colour of teak wood, you should impregnate the garden furniture with the teak oil 2 or 3 times a year. This treatment is not necessary, however if you decide to do it, you have to follow a few rules:

– remove any impurities with soapy water, then brush any stains (a scourer is not suitable)

– before applying the oil, the item must be completely dry

– the oil must be applied BEFORE the item goes gray

– only high quality oil may be used, applied by a clean brush evenly over the entire surface

– the first treatment should be done in two layers; the following treatments may include only one layer

– given to the fact that the teak oil detains dirt, the item begins to darken over time, that is why it is necessary to sand the old coat with an abrasive sponge off before applying a new coat.

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In recent years, an interest in wooden floors has been growing significantly. This kind of floor has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that wood as a natural material absorbs water, that is why it should never exposed to excessive moisture; it could possibly change it shape (by swelling or turning gray). This is especially true for the tree species which react to moisture extraordinarily fast, such as beech wood. Therefore, you must be careful e.g. during doing the cleaning.

It is best to use the “dry method”, i.e. sweeping and vacuuming. Nevertheless, washing cannot be avoided completely. In this case, it is necessary to ensure consistently that the mop or the cloth being used has been wrung out very well not to make any “puddles” on the floor. According to experts, freshly laid wooden floors should be only dry cleaned for at least 14 days after installation.

You should also keep in mind, that wood is a natural material, which reacts sensitively to ambient conditions, particularly to the relative air humidity, which causes any changes in humidity of the wood. When the moisture level is high, the wood swells – and vice versa. This can create e.g. large gaps in the floor. That is why in rooms with a wooden floor, the relative humidity should range between 55 and 65% at 20 °C all year round. These conditions are beneficial not only for the floors, furniture, and musical instruments in your apartment, but for you, as well.

Since wood is a relatively soft material, it can be mechanically damaged. For this reason it is good to protect it against abrasion and to provide furniture, especially chairs, armchairs and tables, with felt pads. If a damage of the floor surface happens, the floor needs to be sanded and re-finished. However, it is quite a dusty and professional work, so it is better to hire an expert to do it.

 

There are a lot of things you should know before you choose and install a floor covering. We are going to summarize the information about floors made of stone or wood planks, now.

There is a different type of flooring for every room in the house or in its immediate vicinity. Every floor covering has its advantages and pitfalls and you should know them before you buy the material. We are going to focus on stone and wood, now.

Stone is one of the oldest building materials: it is strong, it can withstand the wear and tear of time and, moreover, it is beautiful to look at and to touch. You can use the individual tiles or pavers, either rough (preferably the granite ones) for a patio or a garage, or finely machined and polished (these are used to create fascinating marble pattern in entrance halls.). If the stone is coarser, you have to accept the fact that you will be able to clean all the joints only on your knees with a scrubber and a lot of water – and the dirt will be back in a few days again.

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The Materials For A Stone Floor

In addition to hard granite and decorative marble, sandstone is often used nowadays, because of its pleasant, warm colour (but with the disadvantage of lower abrasion resistance), as well as slate, which splits into slices easily. Try the basalt paving, which is proven in factories, on places, where a really high load is expected.

 

Installing A Stone Floor

You do not need to build any special anchoring for a stone floor, and if it is a paving the base needs to be aligned and even. The stone is very heavy and it will not be easy to lay it in upper floors without a massive static protection.

The stone also maintains heat for a long time, therefore it takes time to get warm, however it can retain the heat longer, too. The walls around the stone also hold moisture more, that is why you should plan the insulation and the painting well. The stone is outstanding as it is, so it would be a shame to cover its characteristic pattern with paint. And whereas it can withstand heavy load, it does not need any protective coating or finish.

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Wooden Parquets, Boards And Joists

The forms of wooden floors are countless, as well as are the types of wood. The oak floor last the longest and it can also be used in wet areas, such as a bathroom, because oak hardens by the influence of water and becomes almost as hard as rock. And thanks to the technology of drying and laying of wood, the problems with large gaps, creaking and warping have almost disappeared. Unlike the stone, however, is necessary to treat the wood with a finish or oil base which prevents the penetration of dirt.

Wood can also be renovated several times by sanding and refinishing it, or by replacing of the individual damaged parts. Thanks to the various patterns, knots and shades, it is natural that every piece is different. A mosaic floor compiled from various types of wood looks interesting. However, you must pay attention to the different responses to heat and humidity. For the wood, likewise for a human, the temperature of 20 ° C at 60% humidity is ideal. Anyway, significant fluctuations from this optimum do not damage the wood.

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Installing A Wooden Floor

There are two different ways to install a wooden floor. The floor boards or planks are laid on a grid made up of joists of approx 12 × 7 cm at intervals of about 0.5-0.7 m, between which insulation should be inserted. Because of the grids, the floor will be increased above the current level. It can be somewhat impractical in attic spaces, where every inch is needed. Contrariwise, the parquets are glued on a perfectly level surface.

The carpenters sort the wood not only by its quality and hardness, but also by the uniformity of the pattern (which has nothing to do with the quality of the wood itself). It can help you to choose a uniform floor or a surface with a distinctive pattern.