No matter their taste in furniture and fittings, what many clients can agree on is the timeless appeal of a wooden floor. A timber floor might seem extravagant, but it’s a value-adding feature that will live on long after you (not to mention its aesthetic appeal and health benefits). One company pushing the envelope with their bespoke timber products is Hummingbird Floors, headed up by Operational Director Nanu Patel. We caught up with Nanu to get the answers to our clients’ more frequently asked questions.
What types of wooden flooring do you offer?
Predominantly we do bespoke, high-end timber products. We can provide solid timber floors, engineered timber, LVT and laminate. Engineered timber is probably the most popular.
What are the key differences between those products?
Solid timber flooring is one single plank of flooring. Traditionally that’s what people have used since the 1800s. Engineered is made up of various different layers of timber. Because of those layers it won’t react like solid timber, which will expand and contract quite considerably throughout the year.
A laminate is made up of three components: you have your finished layer on top, you have your base layer and then you have your core, which is made up from an HDF [high density fibreboard], which is basically compacted sawdust. Depending on how finely that’s cut and compacted that will determine how much a laminate floor will expand and contract. LVT [luxury vinyl tile] is a high-end vinyl flooring that’s available in many different wood effects.
Are certain flooring types better suited to different rooms or areas of the house?
It depends what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a floor that’s going to be extremely tough and durable, but not mark or wear, then you should probably go with a high-end laminate. Other clients accept that engineered timber is a natural product and so it’s going to wear and mark. If you were doing a bathroom it would make more sense to use a laminate or an LVT rather than timber because of all the excess moisture. An LVT will usually feel nicer than a laminate underfoot.
Why should someone choose a wooden floor over a cheaper option, such as carpet?
With carpet you’ve got lots of dust and dust mites, which can be terrible for people with allergies. That’s not going to happen with an engineered floor or a laminate, so there are long-term health benefits. An engineered floor will last for your lifetime. Ten years down the line you can sand it and bring it back to life again.
Does an engineered timber floor require a lot of maintenance?
Once the floor’s installed the client doesn’t have to do anything. What they do need to be aware of is the fact wood flooring will mark. For example, if you have a lot of parties and people are walking around in heels, the floor will mark and scratch. In terms of appearance, a wood floor will look much nicer than the man-made stuff. Over time, to retain that, you have the option to sand it down back to bare timber and repaint it in the future if you want to change the colour, but it’s not necessary.
Are your floors compatible with underfloor heating?
Engineered, laminate and LVT are all suitable for underfloor heating. With the LVT and the laminate it depends on the manufacturer. At the moment we use Quick-Step and Pergo. Quick-Step is a top-of-the-range residential laminate flooring and LVT. Pergo is your top-end commercial-grade stuff. Pergo’s a little bit more expensive but it’s very hard-wearing.
Once you’ve laid the floor and left, what if it’s damaged by ongoing building work?
We offer a service where we protect the floor once it’s laid. If we’re working with a developer like Kantec we know they’ll be other people on site working on other jobs, so we’ll protect the floor, and then we’ll go back at the end and make sure there’s no damage. If there is, we don’t normally charge for that, because it’s built into the service.
Can a client buy your flooring and have someone else install it?
We do get some clients who want us to just deliver the floor and have someone else lay it. They might know how to lay a floor but they don’t know all the technical stuff that needs to be done before the floor is laid, especially with underfloor heating. Because of that we always install our own floors.
How else does Hummingbird’s service differ from other suppliers’?
As a company we work very closely with developers, interior designers and architects to find out what their clients want and we will either source the material for them – in terms of the shade, the timber, the colour – or have something made specially. We’re not like a high-street retail outlet. We offer a bespoke service. Whatever the client wants we can tailor-make it for them or source the material they need to make their dream floor become a reality.
How can potential clients see the products you offer?
We have a warehouse, which is not open to the public but by appointment only. Also, a lot of our clients are happy for people to come and see how the product works in their homes.
How do you make sure your clients get exactly what they want and need in a floor?
Our approach isn’t price-based. If a client comes in wanting a wooden floor, I won’t just sell it to them. I’ll ask them, ‘Do you know it will mark and dent? Will you have a no-shoe policy? Are there kids in the house?’ We’ll give them the right product and give them an amazing service – on budget and on time. I want to provide a top-end service, because that’s what separates us from everyone else.