The style choice is bewildering; take your pick from ash, bamboo, beech, cherry, iroko, maple, merbau, oak, walnut and many others. Walnut is currently the most fashionable for contemporary homes.
The next choice is between laminate, engineered and solid wood. Beware cheap laminates; they are to this decade what swirly carpets were to the 1970s – a design disaster that will reduce the value of your home and will be instantly ripped out by new owners.
In this price test we looked at two of the best-known and best-selling brands in the real wood market, Kahrs and Junckers. Many other brands compete, and DIY stores deal in own-brand products, too, but these two appear to have the widest number of stockists and strongest market position.
We obtained prices for a floor in engineered oak and another in walnut from Kahrs, and a solid oak and a merbau floor from Junckers. We identified the leading internet retailers and compared them with prices on offer at John Lewis department store. On-line prices, somewhat annoyingly, are always quoted without VAT. We have adjusted them so all the figures opposite are per square metre and include VAT.
The winner was hardwoodfloorstore.co.uk, just pipping flooringsupplies.co.uk. John Lewis disappointed its many fans with some of the highest prices, although its current sale offer on Kahrs 3-strip oak at £26 per square metre beats the on-line suppliers.
But don’t fool yourself about the final cost; fitting and accessories can easily add £30 per square metre to the bill.