Installation - the difference between average and excellent
If you want a top-class wide-plank installation, time, expertise and unstinting meticulousness are essential ingredients.
Radiant Underfloor Heating – Wide-Plank
Not only are Element7’s engineered wide-planks specifically constructed for use with radiant under-floor heating, but our fully bonded installations, when combined with the thermal conductivity of our boards, maximise the system’s efficiency.
Owing to its inherent characteristics, any type of wood flooring, wherever it is to be used, must be carefully specified, selected and installed. This is never more critical than when it is to be installed over a radiant under-floor heating system. The close proximity of the heating source and the use, in effect, of the floor as a large radiator can give rise to serious problems. Because floor planks expand and contract dramatically across their grain with corresponding increases and decreases in moisture content, they are liable to distortion and can generate enormous compressive forces; and the wider and longer the plank, the greater the distortion proportionally. Radiant under-floor heating tests a wood floor to its limits. In such conditions both non-engineered solid wood and poor-quality engineered wood flooring variants regularly fail. The technical supremacy of an Element7 engineered wide-plank wood floor, provides the dimensional integrity necessary for a wood floor to withstand the extreme humidity and temperature changes, caused by radiant under-floor heating.
The exceptionally engineered “balanced and blocked” Element7 wide-plank construction has been the informed choice for use above radiant under-floor heating for more than forty years worldwide.
Installation – Wide-Plank
At Element7, not only do our in-house installation technicians have to be time served, but more importantly, they operate to our own exacting standards and fastidious installation methodology. The result is that an Element7 installation guarantees perfection, whereas the installations of many others, frequently aim at best, to hastily achieve an arguably acceptable standard only.
Some installers are simply not aware of the correct methodology and refinements necessary to install a floor to the highest of standards. If their clients are not told that the floor could have run seamlessly from one room to another without door thresholds, or that the cut wide-planks at each side of a room should be of identical widths for aesthetic balance, or that the floor should be inserted beneath a door frame, not cut around it, or that an inlaid electrical floor socket should be grain-end-matched, or that the cheaper glue option is not always the right one (radiant heating), or that an obvious gap between planks is unacceptable – the list of such refinements goes on – their clients might remain unaware of this lack of finesse. The average Element7 client however, would notice.
Our philosophy does not distinguish between more and less observant clients: an Element7 installation is the difference between average and excellent. Floors installed by Element7 are fully guaranteed.
Finish & Floorcare – Wide-Plank
As many will confirm, the look and feel of an Element7 floor is inimitable, and that is because we believe hardwood floors should have our premium-plus finishes, that if properly maintained last for decades without the need for refinishing. Our Benchmark floors look as fabulous a decade after installation as they do when first installed.
Be wary of the many poor finishes applied to cheaply engineered floors. For example, a poor finish of a stain and a thin single coat of toxic polyurethane varnish will quickly need refinishing. The stain will fade away within 9 months to 2 years, and the varnish will crack, both as a result of the wood contracting and expanding between seasons, and in areas of heavy traffic like room entrances and in front of cookers. Dirt and moisture then penetrate the cracks and deteriorate the wood beneath. Equally poor oil and wax finishes are prevalent too.
The bare minimum approach taken to finishes by less fastidious manufacturers of cheaply engineered floors, typically reduces a floors lifespan at best to 6 years or less, they frequently need refinishing within 1 to 2 years. You will never replicate the factory finish, and the brushed surface texture of the wood applied by most factories today, along with the micro-bevels at the sides and ends of each plank or piece of parquet, will be removed when the floor is sanded as part of the refinishing process.
Element7’s Benchmark floors and finishes are initially a significant cost, but completely cost effective given they have the lifespan of at least 3 cheaply engineered variants.
An Element7 Varnish Finish
The varnish finish applied to an Element7 Benchmark floor is a premium-plus environmentally friendly water-based varnish, cured and abraded between each of its 8-coat application. This varnish has inbuilt elasticity and therefore does not crack. If properly maintained it will last for decades, without the need for refinishing.
The majority of our floors are specified with this finish as it is incredibly durable, easy to clean and requires the least maintenance. Cleaning is easy, use a damp cloth to spot clean, or pH neutral wood floor soap and water to damp clean the whole floor. If the floor is subject to heavy traffic, a top-up revival solution can be domestically applied every 8 to 10 years, though in normal residential environments this is not necessary. This 8-coat finish is exclusive to Element7.
An Element7 Oil Finish
The oil finishes applied to Element7 Benchmark floors incorporate 3 coats of Natural vegetable oil (not to be confused with hard-wax oils), once again an environmentally friendly finish. Oil is applied, penetrates the wood surface, and then within a few weeks crystallises. This finish is surprisingly resistant – witness linseed oil protecting a cricket bat from the impact of a solid ball, bowled at 75mph or more.
Cleaning and maintenance is easy. As above, use a damp cloth to spot clean, or pH neutral wood floor soap and water to damp clean the whole floor; once every 3 to 4 years a re-oil is recommended. If properly maintained it will last for decades – the oil keeps nourishing the wood. Again, it will never need refinishing.
We always finish our softwood floors – Douglas Fir and Siberian Larch with natural oil, as well as some of our Oak floors when specified.
An Element7 Wax Finish
Natural Wax finishes hold a sentimental attraction to us all producing that classic warm Patina that only wax can. Wax is popular with reclaimed floors and other specific floors with colours that benefit from the soft sheen achieved.
Waxed floors when new are prone to scuff marks, but as these scuff marks are buffed away with a domestic buffing machine and the floor periodically polished, the wax hardens and slowly settles. Six months to a year later you are rewarded with a inimitable look that only wax can deliver.
Cleaning is again done using pH neutral wood floor soap and water, with maintenance being the application of more wax every 3 to 4 years. The new application will scuff a little, but the scuffing will reduce as before.
An Element7 Coloured Floor
Coloured floors are an Element7 speciality. We do not use stains. Stains are not colourfast and will need refinishing every few years. Almost all colours, various shades of grey currently being popular, are best achieved using colour enhanced varnishes.
Our premium-plus varnish finish is applied, but with colour enhanced, not clear, varnishes. This system is incomparable with all the other commonly used colouring processes used in the industry, the vast majority of which use stains.
There is absolutely no doubt that this process, exclusive to Element7, is the best way to apply colour for those seeking a lifetime colour finish.
Companies do try and copy our colours, and there are two things we advise those considering this route to do:- first place your copy sample next to our original, the difference in finesse is always plain for all to see, and second, speak to someone who has gone down this route and ask them how their floor looked a year or two later.
Lifetime finishes are initially expensive, but when compared to the disruption of refinishing and floor replacement costs, they are in fact very cost effective in the long term.
Sub-floors for Wide Plank
Sub-floors are the wide-plank wood floor’s foundation. If a sub-floor is in any way compromised, it can seriously affect both the look and structural integrity of the wide-plank wood floor above. It is therefore essential to ensure that the sub-floor has been properly prepared prior to beginning installation of the floor.
As you would expect, Element7 ensures that sub-floors are correctly prepared. Liaising with the main contractor and overseeing the correct preparation of the sub-floor is a key part of our installation procedures.
Download detailed sub floor requirements: Sub-floors PDF (73KB)
Noise Control – Wide-Plank
When you carry out refurbishment or new-build work, there are a number of building regulations governing the minimisation of airborne and impact noise. Element7 can guide you around the pitfalls to ensure that you comply with the regulations and achieve the most practical and aesthetically harmonious solution.
The two most popular options are, first, to use acoustic sub-floor panels which are sound and impact noise-rated: in this case, the wood floor is bonded to the sub-floor in the normal way. Second is to float the floor: this involves gluing only the tongue-and-groove of the floor, not its under-surface, in order to form a single raft of wood. Decibel-rated acoustic insulation is then laid between the wood floor-raft and the sub-floor.
Floor Protection – Wide-Plank
Protect your investment. Once installed, wood floors need to be temporarily protected from the damage that they will almost certainly incur as other trades complete their works.
The cost of replacing, repairing or refinishing a floor after it has been damaged far outweighs the cost of floor protection.