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Timber Floor Types & Finishes

Choosing the Right Timber Floor and Finishes for You

When you make the effort to install wooden floorboards in your home, you create a beautiful ambience and style, setting the scene for the rest of your decor.  Unlike carpet or tiles, wooden floors bring a certain character to your living spaces due to the texture and feel of this naturally grown resource.  Each wooden floorboard is unique, with its knots and grains creating a stunning pattern when laid on the floor.
And because there is a huge number of options available, you can select a timber floor that is just right for you: for your taste, the expected level of traffic and the finish to meet your needs and budget.  But do not be daunted over this choice as we are always available to help you make the right decision based on your requirements.

TIMBER FLOORS

Solid Wood Floorboards

If you own an older house constructed prior to the war, chances are the floorboards were milled from softwoods such as Oregon, Baltic, Kauri or other pines, which were commonly used in those times.  Some of these are square-edged boards which were butted together, a popular ‘shot-edged’ method.  Such old floorboards are more likely to let in draughts and move over time. 
In recent times, modern timber floorboards have a tongue and groove shape to help resist the floor’s ability to move (caused by changes in moisture levels) and also resist the letting in of draughts.  These can be laid on floor joists or bearers, or on a concrete slab if the slab has ply sheets or battens fastened.  Solid timber wooden floors have the advantage of being able to be sanded and refinished periodically to restore their surface.  They are the best choice for natural-looking floors. 

Floating timber floors

Floating timber floors are not normally fastened or glued, but have leeway to move with the climatic changes in humidity and temperature. They are cheap and simple to install, with no sanding or finishing needed because this part is done during the manufacturing process. And with the foam underlay, they are great for sound-proofing. Floating timber floors are created out of a few layers of wood with a polished wood veneer on top.  They may be laid over a concrete slab directly.  If need be, an acoustic underlay is available to counter the hollow sound of floating floorboards.

Laminates & Bamboo

Some of the most popular types of manufactured flooring are laminates and bamboo.
Bamboo has a distinctive style which makes a dramatic statement when used as flooring in your home, and its impact on the environment is minimal. It can be purchased in packs of planks.
Laminates give you the look and feel of genuine wood for a far lower cost. Laminates are made with a compressed core of wood fibres which are covered by a printed wood-patterned layer along with a protective surface layer. 
Both bamboo and laminates are simple to install and are great, hard-wearing options for your floor.

Parquetry

Parquet floors are made up of patterned strips of wood which are glued over a flat solid floor, such as a plywood substrate or on concrete slab. Parquetry can be purchased in patterned tiles or panels, or otherwise laid out in patterns of individual wooden blocks which are glued into place, sanded and then coated with a finish. Laying parquetry requires specialist knowledge, so the floor layer must have relevant experience.

Hardwood

Most newer houses in Australia have hardwood flooring. The benefits of hardwood include resistance to pests, resistance to scratches and dents, being hard wearing and long-lived, and the sheer beauty and range of the grain patterns and colours available.

Sustainable, Recycled Timber

Recycled wood is an option for wooden flooring, however it is hard to source sufficient quantities of timber of a similar species and size to complete a whole area.  New flooring which is milled in Australia from local species is grown in sustainably-managed state forests or private properties where compliance with strict harvesting processes must be met to protect ecosystems, cultural heritage and water quality. For imported timber, the sustainability aspect is not necessarily so well controlled.

TIMBER FLOOR FINISHES: Polyurethane Vs Water-based

Finally, once you have chosen a timber floor, you will need to decide upon the finish you would like us to use.  The two main types of finish are polyurethane and water-based finishes.  Let us look at the pros and cons of both.

Polyurethane Finish

Especially when a floor is heavily worn, or if you anticipate particularly heavy traffic for your floor, we are likely to recommend using a polyurethane finish as it produces the most durable, hardest finish available for wooden floors.  Given that it produces toxic off-gasses while it is applied and during the drying process, it is necessary for us to use breathing apparatus, and for the finish to be left to dry over about two days.  In the meantime, it is necessary that, due to the health hazard produced by the drying polyurethane, that the space is totally vacated.  It means you may need to arrange temporary accommodation elsewhere, even if only a small part of your home is being treated, given the temporary health risk.  Thereafter, furniture can be brought back in and the space can be used as normal.
Strangely enough, polyurethane attracts ants, so we recommend having a pest treatment done prior to the floor sanding so that ants do not crawl over the newly finished floor, thus spoiling the outcome.  This step and the accompanying expense needs to be taken into account too.

Water-Based Finish

Using a water-based finish is a more cost-effective option, particularly if the wooden floor is in good condition or is subject to minimal traffic or light use.  It also requires less ‘down time’ than when using a polyurethane finish as it does not emit the toxic fumes of polyurethane while it is drying.  Normally, once applied, water-based finishes can be lightly walked upon (that is, with socks) within just a few hours.
Whatever choices you are considering in terms of timber flooring or timber floor finishes, you can contact us at 5 Star Flooring to discuss these further and obtain an accurate quote particular to your domestic or commercial premises.