Real and faux wooden flooring options that can resist the UAE climate – and how to install them

Wood is a great alternative to tiles if you want to bring a warm, elegant feeling to your space – but real wood is not always practical in the humid and hot climate of the UAE

Wood planks next to each other
Wood flooring can bring character to your home, and here’s how to achieve the look with weather-resistant materials

If you’re looking for an alternative flooring to tile, then wood has natural appeal, bringing warmth and character to a home. However, wood flooring is one of the most challenging floor types to install and maintain.

It expands and contracts with moisture, temperature and humidity – conditions prevalent to the UAE. With this in mind, there are a number of options available, including using materials that look like wood.

When deciding which to go for, your starting point should be where you are planning to install the flooring and how much wear and tear it will be exposed to.

Often described as the fifth wall in a room, flooring is also an important design element, so colour, pattern and texture are also crucial considerations. Here’s our guide to your options:

Floorworld LLC., Paining hung in the living area
Laminate flooring is a budget-friendly option. Credit: Floorworld LLC.

Faux: laminate flooring

A budget-friendly choice, laminate flooring is a wood-look flooring that is tough against wear. The top layer is made from a clear, strong material called melamine, the second layer is the décor paper that provides the wood appearance, the middle layer is made from high-density fibreboards (HDF) providing strength and very little expansion when the product is installed, while the bottom is called ‘balancing paper’ and it ensures the plank has no warping. 

Laminate doesn’t fade in the sunlight and, if installed properly, can last up to 30 years.

To waterproof laminate flooring, Floorworld LLC recently introduced Quick Step Eligna, the latest fully water-repellent HydroSeal coating from floor designers Quick Step.

Cafe Miel Evolution vinyl flooring Floorworld LLC.
Vinyl flooring is both a durable and affordable option when it comes to redecorating. Credit: Floorwood LLC.

Faux: vinyl flooring

Another affordable option, vinyl is versatile, durable and 100% waterproof. However, it is a softer material than hardwood, engineered wood and tiles so it can be prone to damage from sharp objects.

And for the environmentally conscious, it is also not biodegradable and can be very difficult to recycle. “If you choose vinyl, we recommend using Gerbür Vinyl Click Flooring,” advises Craig Curtis of Floorworld LLC.

“It looks fantastic, is hard-wearing and is manufactured using only virgin PVC, with no unsafe volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being discharged, ensuring it won’t adversely affect indoor air quality.”

Image credit: Kährs

Real: engineered wood flooring

It costs a lot less than real hardwood but you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish it from the real thing. It’s made from three layers of wood, pressed on top of each other and at conflicting angles. The layering makes the floor more stable and limits the expansion and contraction that typifies a solid wood floor. The bottom two layers are usually made from soft woods, while the top layer is made from a hardwood. 

Real: solid hardwood

It’s the most expensive option, but the effect is stunning. It can also be an environmentally-friendly choice although unlike engineered wood, it is generally constructed with slow growing hardwoods. 

Use special hardwood flooring cleaners, preferably manufacturer recommended ones.

Can’t decide between light, dark or natural? Keep in mind that a dark floor swallows the light but adds warmth, while light wood reflects the light and adds space.

Ensure the A/C is maintained between 21-24 degrees Celsius, with humidity levels between 30-50% to avoid floor coverings expanding and contracting due to temperature changes

How your floor will be installed

Curved Oak, Bolefloor, Available from woodfloors Middle East LLC.
Curved Oak, Bolefloor, Available from Woodfloors Middle East LLC.

Now you’ve decided which option works best for your space, you need to know how to go about getting it installed: Luckily, Floorworld LLC’s Craig Curtis has laid out the steps involved so you know what to keep and eye out for.

Check your contractor’s credentials

See their previous work and ensure that they have the correct licence to carry out the work. If in doubt, ask to see their trade licence.

Ask for a no obligation estimate

During this visit, a professional estimator should visit your home or office at your convenience to take the measurements and highlight any potential problems that could occur and the solution required. This ensures no additional charges at a later date. 

For a simple process

Within the UAE, floor finishes in apartments and villas are ceramic or marble at the time of construction and handover. If you’re concerned that replacing the look of your floor requires lifting the existing ceramics, thus causing a lot of upheaval and interruptions while living in your home, think again.

Gerbür’s Vinyl Click Flooring generally comes in thicknesses of 4mm/5mm, which can go directly on top of existing ceramic flooring with a 2mm EVA underlay in between. With the total thickness being 6-7mm, there is generally no requirement of cutting the bottom of doors and can be installed without a skirting or beading around the perimeter. Also, if you are renting or considering moving home in the future, the floor can be removed, taken with you and the original ceramics returned to the exact same condition that they were before.

The finished product

Nordic Homeworx Project Flame Tree Ridge Jumeirah Golf Estates Kährs Oak Valois1
Light flooring reflects the light and makes a room look more spacious. Credit: Nordic Homeworx, Studio Zee Photography

Want an idea of how the finished product might look? The above image showcases the real home, located in Flame Tree Ridge, Jumeirah Golf Estates that opted for a flooring upgrade for a family villa with the help of Nordic Homeworx.

The homeowner was looking for a flooring upgrade to go with her coastal-meets-contemporary look, including gorgeous décor from Tribe and a sleek kitchen from Kaiser. During a store visit, she opted for white-washed one strip Oak Valois and three-strip Oak Dew wood flooring throughoutthe villa. Nordic Homeworx sent a skilled estimator to take formal measurements, a quotation was issued and the entire installation was completed in 20 days.

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