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Commercial Flooring News

Hurrah For Something Different

Jim Coulson asks where have all the hardwoods gone?

ABOUT six months ago, I wrote about hardwoods used for floors; but that was just in the context of being careful about moisture movement and so on. However, I began to think about hardwoods again only a few weeks ago – at the start of spring – when I happened to be attending a wedding in a lovely old Village Hall.
What struck me immediately about the building was its beautiful hardwood floor. It was polished and ‘glowing’; and it had a rich and variegated pattern of strips, made from a very attractive dark red-brown timber – which I knew at once to be Muhuhu. ‘Mu-what!?’ I hear you say…what on earth is that?
Having seen this marvel of a floor, I began to wonder what has happened to the amazing and diverse variety of flooring timbers that we had available to us, only about 25 years ago, or so?
And why does everyone, more or less, use Oak, when it comes to solid flooring these days? A lot of that is, I suppose, due to fashion: and the lighter colours are still very much in vogue; but some of it is a lack of imagination, or even a lack of information as to what’s out there.
Seeing that beautiful, rich, dark Muhuhu floor a little while ago, made me nostalgic for some of the timbers we used to see in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. (By the way: I’m not that much of an old fogey. I like the Kings of Leon and the Kaiser Chiefs for instance…)
In the 1980’s, BRE even issued a special guide to flooring timbers; listing such wonders as Missanda, Padauk and Seraya, as well as Utile and Iroko, the latter two of which we still see a bit of, today.
Here’s a little ‘hands on’ example: some years ago, I was very closely involved with the refurbishment of the Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle: and as part of that, I needed a fine-textured (and thus, non-splintering), hard-wearing, low-moisture-movement hardwood for their new stage.
And for that very specialist need, I sourced a West African timber called Danta which had all of the desirable properties I wanted. And it looked fantastic too!
So here’s a wake-up call to all of you flooring designers, specifiers and fitters out there: stop being ‘safe’ and ‘boring’ in your choice of hardwoods for solid timber floors. Give Oak a rest; and use an unusual timber for a change: there are a lot out there to choose from. Try Muhuhu – you’ll love it!
Jim Coulson FIWSc FFB is director of TFT Wodexperts, based in Ripon, North Yorkshire
T: 01765 601010

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at