What kind of flooring to use has been a major concern in the planning for this project. I am a lifelong fan of wood floors, and there was no way I was going to go with anything other than wood. At the same time, a really major factor in the planning is sound insulation because of the open conflict with my downstairs neighbor over noise, so I needed to be sure that I would be making the problem better, not worse.
My contractor assures me that they will be able to ameliorate the situation by blowing in insulation between the floor joists and adding an extra flooring layer (or two). He also strongly recommended what in Norwegian is called varmefolie, radiant heating without the tubes and water. Because of the radiant heating, I’m pretty much limited to engineered wood flooring rather than solid wood. At first I was disappointed, but in checking out what’s available in stores, I’m pretty impressed with how far engineered wood floors have come. At the higher end it’s nothing like the ticky-tack laminates that one often sees.
So I came to terms with the idea of engineered wood flooring pretty early in the planning process, but not with the limited choices in types of wood. I would guess that something like 75% of the engineered wood floors available in this market are oak. Now, for whatever reason, I got it into my head that I do not want oak floors. In fact, I don’t want any oak in my apartment, if I can help it. It bothers me that oak has taken over the status that pine had here in Norway in the 1980s and 1990s; it’s everywhere and it’s going to start looking very dated soon, if it isn’t already. I also can’t help but wonder what is happening to all the oak trees. I live in a place known for having some of the northernmost oak forests in Europe, and I guess irrationally I think oak trees are somehow just a little bit sacred.
My self imposed ban on oak essentially limited me to two options, pine and ash. I got some samples and lived with them for only a few days before it came totally clear what I wanted to use:
These samples are all ash, placed against the existing pine floor. I have become a huge fan of ash! As a friend of mine pointed out, it’s traditionally at least as sacred as oak (hello, Yggdrasil anyone?), but that’s not stopping me. Unlike oak, it’s a relatively fast-growing tree, almost a weed, so in my mind that makes it slightly more sustainable. Ash is really wild in its growth pattern and coloration, so narrow (3-plank) floors tend to look really mottled, almost like camouflage. In my opinion, for ash to work well you really need the broader 1-plank floors. That way you get to see the patterns more fully, without them getting all broken up. Left to right, these samples are A) white-oiled 1-plank ash, B) oiled 3-plank ash, and C) my favorite, matte white-finished 1-plank ash. I’m definitely going with C!
This will be the flooring for the entire apartment except the bathroom. I’ve also asked the contractor to do doors without thresholds, so things will be a lot tidier visually.