English Timbers

Solid Hardwood flooring

A General Description of the Floors, the Timbers, Grades, sizes etc.

Index - click on the links below to view the information

The Benefits of Quality

English Timbers believe in total quality and we make it part of our everyday business - from the quality of information that you receive through the manufacture of the flooring to delivery and our friendly and efficient service.

Technical Information - Good advice at the right time ensures straightforward installation and long life.  

As a manufacturer of wood flooring we understand the nature of the different timbers.  As a civil engineer, the owner understands the importance of the installation methods and the site conditions.

We also work with our suppliers to understand their products and conduct research to ensure we can best advise you how our products are installed in a whole range of conditions.

Grading of Solid Timber Flooring - Accurate grading produces flooring which is consistent & repeatable. This means that different orders of the same grade of flooring bought at different times will look very similar.

hardwood floor sales uk

Timber Moisture Content - As a manufacturer, the most important factor that we can control is the moisture content of the timber.  Other factors such as site conditions and installation are beyond our control and we can only advise and stress the importance of these.

The quality of kiln drying, rigorous checking of moisture contents and careful storage of both timber and finished flooring ensure a correct moisture content which is essential for stability and long life.

The moisture contents of the timber are checked at every stage of the process -- on arrival, during all stages of manufacture, during storage and at the time of dispatch.  

We normally check a minimum of 60 moisture contents per 100 square metes during manufacture and these are logged so that an accurate average can be calculated.  In addition, random checks are made and readings are taken at dispatch.

Each order is supplied with a moisture content certificate which gives the average moisture content for that particular batch of flooring.  

To ensure that there are no changes in moisture content, the rough timber and flooring is plastic wrapped at all stages of manufacture, storage and when the order is prepared for delivery. Our specification for raw materials is extremely exacting and timber is turned away if it does not meet our standards.

Engineering Tolerance & Standard Sizes - Our precision machining produces hardwood flooring that is made to engineering tolerances giving an accurate fit, a smoother finish, less sanding and trouble free installation.  Our standard sizes mean that all of our flooring is all the of the same size & tolerance regardless of when it was manufactured.  This means that orders bought several years apart will fit together & look similar.

Quality Traceability - Effective checks, monitoring and accurate records mean we can track orders back through production to the original batch of timber to produce a record of machining tolerances and moisture contents.

Service - Our quality of service ensures that you have an informed, friendly contact with whom you can discuss your requirements and who will organize your order with a minimum of effort and fuss. Goods are well packed and protected and are normally delivered within 24 hours of dispatch. Delivery to the Scottish Highlands and Islands takes a little longer.

Unfinished Floors versus Factory Pre-finished Floors

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Our 20mm floors are unfinished because we decided that the advantages of unfinished floors far outweigh any disadvantages when compared to pre-finished floors.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types and these are set out below to help you decide which is appropriate for you.

Pre-finished hardwood floors have the advantage of faster installation and possibly less initial disruption during fitting in an occupied dwelling. The overall cost of the floor including installation may be less than a similar unfinished floor because the cost of factory finishing is less than the cost of finishing after installation.

There is less skill required to fit a pre-finished floor because finishing is not required.  However the usual caution should be exercised with regards to site conditions & installation, so make sure that you use an experienced fitter.

There are also some disadvantages to pre-finished floors which should be considered by the customer:-

It is virtually impossible to machine a solid timber floor without a slight step between boards. The manufacturers of pre-finished flooring machine a small bevel along the top edges of each piece of floor to disguise these height differences.

This produces a vee groove between the adjacent strips on both the sides and ends which changes the overall appearance of the floor.  The grooves collect dirt, are difficult to clean and can be unhygienic.  They allow spilled liquids to run into the tongue and may cause the lacquer to lift or discolour.  So a quick fix might turn into a long term problem especially in well used areas exposed to spillage. E.g. Kitchens, halls, dining rooms and bathrooms. 

The factory finish is usually a standardized, machine applied surface (usually semi gloss) and there is no opportunity for the customer to choose the type of floor finish.  The finishes of some of the less reputable manufacturers may not be particularly durable and the floors may need to be sanded & refinished within a year or two.

We have tested some of these finishes & found them to scratch easily.  If you choose to use a prefinished floor, be aware of the potential problems and make sure that you buy from a reputable manufacturer.

Unfinished hardwood floors do, initially, require more work but modern sanders are reasonably clean and modern lacquers and finishes dry very quickly and there are distinct advantages:-

There are no vee grooves and the floor is sanded perfectly flat and smooth. This produces a clean area which is more aesthetically pleasing than one which is visually interrupted by the vee grooves. Also once applied, the seal provides a continuous surface which is easy to clean, does not collect dirt and is not marked by liquid spillage

There are many types of finishes which allows some individual choice - you can use water based lacquers in gloss, satin, silk or matt, hard wax oils and oil based lacquers.  Granwax finishes are extremely durable and will last for many years. In general, a good quality seal applied to an unfinished floor will far outlast a factory finish and will age more naturally.

English Timbers Unfinished Floors

The Range of Timbers

Our range of solid hardwood flooring has developed over the years in response to our customers needs, the availability of raw materials and our investment in new technology.

The range contains many different timbers with a wide variety of textures, colours and grades. Some timbers are harder than others and should be chosen for areas of heavy use. Timbers chosen for light usage in domestic areas can be selected aesthetically. (A comparison of hardness is available if required.)

Our range of 20mm thick, 128mm wide unfinished flooring is:-

The Sizes

We manufacture a range of solid floors which are accurately tongued and grooved along the edges and ends.

They are normally 128mm wide, 20mm thick and have the advantage of being easily fixed by secret nailing. Each piece of flooring is ends matched which means that they are tongue and grooved on the ends as well as the sides. This allows the individual boards to be joined between supports which reduces waste and means only one piece per room length need be cut to fit. Each species is separated accurately into three or four different grades. ( See below for more details.)

The flooring is supplied in random lengths and these lengths depend on the species and grades.  In general, they have a maximum length of 1500mm and a minimum length of 500, 400 or 300mm depending on the grade.  The higher the grade, the longer the minimum length and the longer the average length.

Each order will contain a representative spread of lengths for that particular manufactured batch of flooring.  For specific details of length ranges, please refer to the individual species page.

This range of lengths is a consequence of the method of production and the need to produce a range of accurately graded floors at a reasonable price.

Timber is a natural material which varies in colour and texture. It is full of features which may be defects in one grade yet attractive features in another. For example, a single plank of maple may be white in one part, knotty in another and may vary dramatically in colour in another part.

Rather than simply machine the board in one long length to produce a very varied appearance, we cut out any unacceptable defects and cut the rest of the board into shorter lengths with a well defined set of characteristics.

In this case a white piece which would make our Ivory or Honey Maple, a knotty piece which may make a Rustic piece and a piece with colour variation which would produce Smoky Maple. The potential problem of fixing and supporting these shorter lengths is overcome by the ends matching.

A skilled operator decides where to cut the board. The cutting and length sorting is done with computerised machines which scan the timber, remove any defects and cut the board into the various lengths. As well as producing accurately graded flooring, the shorter lengths can also be machined more accurately than longer lengths, leading to a better fit and less work.  By cutting the boards in this manner we are able to use all parts of the tree. This is less wasteful on timber and energy.

Unless stated otherwise, our floors are unfinished and require sanding and sealing on site.

Our wood floors must be fixed solidly to the sub floor.  They cannot be laid as a floating floor.

Other timbers and grades may be offered from time to time and it may be possible to manufacture specials if the timber is available.

The Grades

Timber is a natural material with a tremendous variation in colour, texture & appearance - perhaps within one species. A well defined grading system is necessary to separate the timber into aesthetically different groups.

English Timbers floors are graded to enhance the natural beauty of each individual timber. Normally it is sufficient to grade a timber into 3 grades - Classic, Character & Rustic. Some timbers with wide colour variation may be separated into several classic grades each with a different colour.

For example, Classic Ash is separated into Classic White Ash and Classic Olive Ash.  Both are free of knots, but White Ash is graded to produce a light floor which is reasonably uniform in grain and colour.  Classic Olive Ash has variations in colour from white to brown and may contain swirling grain. Each of these floors may be used to create a very different ambience.

The grades may also differ slightly from timber to timber where the aesthetics of the particular timber permits.  For example, Elm, which is by nature a wild grained timber with wide colour variation, contains some small knots and burrs in the Classic Grade which actually improve the beauty.  Similar features in Classic White Ash or Ivory Maple would actually mar the appearance.

In general and subject to the individual features of the timber, the grades are:-

Classic Grades - This is the highest grade and would generally have the following characteristics:-

The least variation in colour of any grade except for timbers where the marked colour variation is the main feature of the timber and adds to the beauty. E.g. Olive Ash.

The straightest grain and the least number of knots, burrs and character marks unless these are specificto the beauty of the wood - E.g. Wild grain in Walnut or Elm.

Classic/Pippy Grade - This is a grade which is a mix of all the classic grade plus a scattering of small knots, burrs and small character features. It is only suitable for one or two timbers and the individual descritions on the appropriate page should be read.

Character Grades - The timber is selected to give more variation in colour and texture and to contain more knots. As before, the interpretation of the grade will vary from timber to timber with the following generalizations.

All natural colour variations eg. a wide variation from white to dark brown in Elm with greens, purples etc. but in Oak there is a less obvious variation - cream to dark brown.

Wild grain and occasional slight surface checks.

A fair scattering of live, sound knots up to 30mm in diameter, burrs and other character marks & flashes of colour. A few small black knots are included and slight machining defects which are easily sanded out.

Hardwood knots crack slightly during kiln drying but are otherwise sound. After initial sanding, they are filled with a mixture of resin and sawdust before sealing.

Rustic Grades - Really a more pronounced version of the character grade with an increase in the size of knots and features allowed and some fall out from the higher grades because of slight machining defects. As a guideline a rustic grade may include:-

Unlimited colour variation including some discoloration and mineral staining. Unlimited knots of all sizes and colours provided they are structural and sound. Cracked knots which should be filled before sanding. Larger black knots and the odd small hole, some surface cracks and an occasional machining defect which can be filled or removed by the use of the floor sander.

All of these rustic features are normally filled prior to sealing. This grade may require some additional sanding. All timber is structurally sound

Mill Run or Mixed Grade - This grade is only found in the special offers or factory clearance lines. It is basically a mix of Classic, Character and Rustic grades in any proportion.

Tavern Grade - This is a grade that falls below the Rustic because of the size of the knots, excessive surface cracks or machining defects and short lengths. It requires considerable filling & produces a very rustic floor.

Reasonable quantities of the more popular timbers are produced, mainly oak and maple, but room sized amounts of the other timbers are usually available. Please refer to the Special Offers.

This is a low cost floor in the region of £10 to £12 per sq.m. It has been used succesfully for holiday cottages, pub bar floors and floors in games rooms. It is not a structural floor and must be fixed to a subfloor of plywood, chipboard or existing boards. It has been glued secret nailed and face nailed.

Pre-finished Hardwood Floors

We do supply a small range of pre-finished floors and these are all supplied in lengths of 1.82m. Each length is made up of a number of shorter pieces which are finger jointed together to make the longer lengths.

This reduces the number of end joints, which looks better and also makes it much easier to lay.

We have 90mm wide by 15mm thick overlays in 3 grades of Oak and also in 3 grades of maple.

We also carry a 120mm wide by 18mm thick floor with all 3 grades mixed together.

These are excellent value products which may be used in certain circumstances and to give a room that wow factor without significant expenditure.


We produce and stock an attractive, solid skirting in some of the timbers in one profile only.  The size is 130mm high, 20mm thick and lengths of 1.8m to 3m (but may include an odd shorter length to make up the order).  Special profiles and sizes can be produced to order, but the cost is much higher.

The grade of the skirtings is different to that of our flooring. We aim to make a classic grade skirting, but it is difficult to find long lengths of timber to make this. Consequently all skirting may have some character features - occasional knots and some colour variation in some of the boards. This applies to all the timbers and even the white ash & white maple may contain a little colour variation and an odd small knot.

Rustic grades may be available in small quantities and will be sold as a clearance offer. This grade may contain larger knots, other rustic features, wide colour variation and occasional machining defects.


We supply a full range of products necessary to lay the floor e.g. nails, building paper, sealers, applicators etc. We also manufacture a range of skirtings, architraves and mouldings - where possible in matching timbers, but not every timber is catered for because of the difficulty of buying longer lengths of timber in compatible grades.

Revised/Checked 10/11/06