Our Services and Skills
We specialise in retaining the aged patina and texture evident on old, reclaimed floors. We are a small, tight operation, but with highly skilled staff. We have been working with antique, reclaimed floors for 35 years; our experience is second to none and we believe we are pretty good at what we do.
Many designers and architects see the advantages of old floors and how, with the correct project, they offer an attractive and unique feature. However, boards may need to be installed in a manner compatible with modern building practices, for example over concrete sub-floors or on top of under-floor heating systems - floated or stuck directly to the screed.
Our in-house engineering and drying kilns allow us to ensure that all our floors - even our reclaimed wide boards and antique patterned floors - can be confidently floated over or stuck to any screeded sub-floor - WITH OR WITHOUT UNDER FLOOR HEATING.
The key aspects of our production are:
- Skilled men who handle and hand-sand every board of each job - against an approved and signed off sample board. This ensures consistency in continually grading the timber but also holding an image in their mind's eye of the finished sample panel that is required. Old fashioned craftsmen
- A 60m2 lay-out area in our workshops where we lay your floors out on a 1:1 ratio - on a room by room basis. The clients come and inspect and approve all material, before it comes to site
- In-house capability to kiln-dry to any moisture content required.
- Complete in-house engineering facility. This allows us to provide any type of reclaimed timber floors that can be installed over any under-floor heating system or floated or glued over any screeded subfloor.
- A fully-fitted joinery capable of manufacturing anything from our Reclaimed and Antique timber stocks.
Our careful and thorough approach allows us to create a unique, soft - and dare we say beautiful - old, textured product, that looks as though it has been there forever.
Hand DA Sanding
Each board is individually Hand-DA Sanded on a bench by a skilled man. Our purpose is to retain the wear, the patina and the character of these old boards. This is unique to every batch we reclaim and has been created by the traffic and usage they have been subject to. We seek a pleasing and unified finish for the new floor, that shows a softness and age. Each board is matched to a client-approved 1m2 sample board that depicts the required texture, degree of distress and finish each project needs. For each individual board we clean away the dirt and debris, plus any heavier scratches, gouges or marks. What emerges is a clean board upon which new coats or treatments will adhere, but that holds the history and evidence of its past use. The process depends on the person doing the sanding; their understanding and skill is the key.
This can be a slow process, but costs are off-laid because the floors don't need to be sanded again when they are installed (also reducing the dust that is created onsite). What one gains from this careful approach is a one-off hand-made floor - at pretty affordable prices.
Probably the most effective service we offer.
We have a 60m2 layout area in which we lay your floors out on a room by room basis. We chalk out each area on a one-to-one ratio, then build the floor up board by board in preparation of a client visit.
All parties, including client, architect, designer, main contractor and fitter can be invited to view their floor laid out in this way. They identify any boards that they would like to remove or change, which can be done immediately. They then work directly with our French-Polisher on the very boards that are coming to their project - to achieve the exact colour and finish they prefer. Once this has been agreed we ask that they sign and date a sample panel, against which we produce.
This process allows clients to see what is coming to site, and in their mind's eye they project the floors into this space ... and relax! It is astonishing how successful this has been over the years. ANY issues can be identified and sorted out way before the floor comes to site.
All wood is hygroscopic, which means it perpetually absorbs or attracts moisture from the air. This is true no matter its age. If wood is wet it will shrink, twist and cup in an inside space. Even if a reading shows 13% or 14% moisture content, a floor will quickly warp and move (shrink) and become an ongoing problem.
We kiln-dry every piece of wood that leaves our workshops. Our own on-site dehumidifying and steam kilns allow us to control the moisture levels in all boards. For normal centrally heated houses, we bring moisture content to 9-11%, and for floors going over under-floor heating, we set moisture to 6-8% for hardwood floors and 8-10% for softwood.
Laying wet reclaimed parquet woodblock for example is usually impossible and a complete waste of time. When one tries to dry the blocks, the bitumen becomes active again when heated and drips everywhere. We have developed a way of cleaning, stacking and drying our blocks so that every single block can be brought to 6-8% MC and even laid directly over under-floor heating. Ask us about the 3 ways you can purchase blocks from us.
For peace of mind, we give written guarantees covering all our kiln-drying, especially when laid over under-floor heating.
Engineered Boards for Under-Floor Heating and Concrete Substrates
Nowadays 50-60% of new builds have concrete sub-floors. One cannot nail solid boards to a concrete base. We produce engineered boards that consist of a 15mm plywood base and a 6-10mm wear layer. These engineered boards are fully Tongue and Grooved to allow wide and long boards to be floated over an under-floor heating system or glued to a solid substrate. To this end, perhaps 65% of all our manufactured products are engineered onto an 11 strand birch plywood base. For an install over under-floor heating systems we do a secondary drying in our slow kiln, to ensure the boards have an extremely low moisture content - nominally 6-8% - so that floors will not buckle when in close contact with a heat source. We provide written guarantees for all boards that have undergone kiln-drying, but especially when they will be used with under-floor heating.
Fully Fitted Joinery Workshop
Our joinery shop is a tight, well-equipped part of our larger workshop. The larger-scale machines allow us to process the rough, old timber and bring it to a point where our joiners can work on it. They use primarily hand-held tools and much of this work is hand-assembled using traditional methods. The pieces we make in the joinery shop are then hand waxed, hand oiled and hand-finished by our French-Polishers.
It is here that we make all the ancillary components for our floors, such as thresholds, saddles, skirting boards, door trims, etc.
Additionally, our large stocks of antique timber and our joinery expertise give us the capability to make a wide range of bespoke joinery projects such as furniture. We regularly design and create items for restaurants, bars, pubs and homes - or happily work with designers and architects on whatever they have imagined. Typical pieces include tables, bookcases, work-tops, benches, reception desks and bar-tops, but almost any joinery project is possible - please just ring or email us with an image or drawing.
For each new enquiry we make samples showing textures, colour, finishes, timber type and manufacture, as a preliminary response. It is very helpful to receive images and mood boards showing colour pallets and overall ambience, as these give us a proper starting point. It is also helpful to have a budget at this stage so that the samples we provide only offer realistic options.
Once a sample has been agreed and tied down on material, colour, sizes, texture etc. AWF produce a 1m2 sample board which is signed off and dated by the client. It is our task to produce the job to match this board.
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