Design & Interiors

Hardwood comes to the fore in homes

A man smoothing timbers at a furniture factory. FILE PHOTO
A man smoothing timbers at a furniture factory. FILE PHOTO  

Kenyan homeowners swapped wood floors for tiles, then they moved to 3D epoxy flooring which comes with aquatic, floral themes and other eye-tricking patterns. But now they are slowing turning to the 19th century look.

The overlooked timber is making a comeback in kitchens, floors, walls and staircases.

But before you jump back to wood, how would you take care of it? If treated right wood can last for many years. A hardwood fitted kitchen which can cost about Sh3 million or staircase evokes some rustic elegance.

Also, there are a number of homes with windows lined with hardwood to give the architecture an interesting look.

Arjun Bhachu, the business executive at Wood Products, one of the oldest companies dealing in wood in Kenya says it evokes elegance and texture in any room.

‘‘Just like art, wood helps restore the natural state in a room,’’ he says.

Mahogany and mvuli are two of the most sought-after wood due to their natural state. Also, they do not decay and are water-resistant therefore good for all weather conditions.

Hardwood is also very durable compared to softwood which is why most homeowners will pick it when making doors, skating, stairs, rails, frames and for wood panelling.

Arjun says their best-sellers are hardwood flooring and doors.

“Wood is now a premium product and having it in your house increases the value by up to about 20 per cent,” he says.

Mercy Gathoni, a real estate agent says most homes with wood finishing either flooring or wooden ceilings have a higher value than those with ceramic tiling.

“Fitted kitchens and wardrobes which are mostly made from wood are a must-have in most houses and without these few people are attracted to buy or rent,” says Mercy.

Cheaper alternative

One of the new products in the market is the post form wood which can be used on kitchen countertops in place of granite.

“This is a special form of formica that covers highly compressed wood to form a laminated product that can be used on any countertop. It is cheaper than the granite and marble countertops,” says Arjun.

Arjun says, a post form costs Sh25,000 per liner meter while fitting a kitchen with medium density fibreboard (MDF) which is light and easy to clean ranges from Sh350,000 upwards. If you fancy Mvule doors, one can cost you about Sh250,000.

Post form also softer than marble but if not well maintained it can last for only three years. When installing, cover all the gaps to avoid water from leaking into the wood.

Developers are also using wood on window frames, on the staircase and floors. The growing demand for rare woods has seen most companies import timber from Congo.