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WHAT IS TIMBER FLOORING?

Timber flooring is usually milled from solid, high-quality timber. When installed properly, solid timber floors have been known to last many generations with appropriate care and upkeep. They come in many beautiful varieties; with different colours, grains, and finishes to best suit the style and décor in any room.

WHAT TIMBER FLOORING OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO BUY?

Online Flooring Store offers a huge range of different flooring styles for sale, including engineered timber, pre-finished solid timber and solid hardwood floors.

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Strong and durable, our engineered timber flooring collections features pure timber veneer tops with a superior multilayer plywood core below. If you are looking for the luxurious look of solid timber without the price or time, choose engineered timber.

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Our popular hardwood flooring collections represent the best of the best in terms of solid timber styles. If you are looking to invest in your home, we recommend considering the luxurious look and feel of true solid timber flooring.

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WE ANSWER YOUR FAQS

Timber flooring is milled from high-quality, solid timber. When installed and cared for properly, timber floors are capable of lasting for generations. They come in practically endless varieties, finishes, grains, and colours, making it easy to find the perfect match for your home.
We offer an extensive range of high-quality flooring including pre-finished solid timber, solid hardwood floors, and engineered timber. Feel free to contact us to discuss the differences between solid timber and engineered timber, which variety would be best for your home, and how to choose a colour or style.

Solid timber floors are completely natural and best suited for breathable, open spaces such as hallways, dining rooms, and living rooms.

Because it is natural, extreme temperatures and moisture can negatively affect timber flooring, causing it to expand or shrink. Because of these properties, we do not recommend timber flooring in bathrooms or any other rooms susceptible to moisture issues.

It is crucial to protect your hardwood flooring from water if you want to keep it luxurious and beautiful for years to come. It is also important to avoid situations that may stain or scratch it.

When cleaning, avoid abrasive products, steel wood, hard-head vacuum cleaners, and wet mops. Clean your timber flooring regularly by sweeping and vacuuming frequently and immediately wiping up any spills.

If you are concerned if your flooring was harvested responsibly or not, you will want to look at certifications prior to purchasing flooring. We highly recommend visiting The Australian Timber Flooring Association(ATFA) for further details.

Engineered timber flooring consists of a pure timber veneer over a multilayered plywood core. Along with being cost-effective and beautiful, engineered timber is durable, strong, and less likely to experience gapping or splitting than solid timber floors.

It makes a perfect choice for individuals looking to update their home with the luxury of solid timber without the high price.

Engineered timber offers the same look at solid timber without the risk of moving, expanding, shrinking, or warping due to a change in season or weather.

Engineered floating floorboards are also able to be installed faster than solid timber. Most engineered timber also comes pre-finished, meaning you do not need to spend time sealing, sanding, or staining. This saves both time and money during installation.

Engineered hardwood is created by using real hardwood over a layered plywood core.

The plywood core layers typically consist of high-density fiberboard glued together in opposite directions. Much like laminate, engineered timber cores are constructed with a tongue and groove system that allows for click and lock installation.

Solid timber is a natural product that is known for its stunning appearance and luxurious beauty. Engineered timber features a real timber veneer over a multi-layered plywood core. It can last for generations when cared for properly.

While solid timber is susceptible to moisture damage and changes in climate, engineered flooring offers the same appearance with less risk of shrinking, warping, or expanding. Engineered timber features a real timber layer over a multi-layered core.

Engineered timber and laminate flooring both feature multi-layer construction. Laminate is an entirely synthetic product that does not completely capture the appeal of real timber.

Engineered timber floors also boast a longer lifespan than laminate floors. While they may cost more up front, engineered timber floors can prove worth the initial cost thanks to their quality.

Engineered timber floors make a lovely addition to a variety of rooms and are becoming an increasingly popular choice in modern Australian homes.

They are excellent at making small spaces feel larger and also make a great option in dining or kitchen spaces. Since they are durable and hard-wearing, they are suitable for high traffic areas.

In many ways, engineered timber flooring requires care and considerations similar to hardwood flooring. Caring for engineered timber mostly comes down to paying attention to which cleaners you choose. Avoid using generic floor cleaners or detergents as these may cause permanent damage to your flooring.

It is best to follow the cleaning guidelines outlined by the manufacturer. Floors should be swept and vacuumed regularly to avoid dust and dirt build up.

Spills and messes should be cleaned up immediately. A dry or damp mop can be used for deep cleaning as needed.

Rugs can be used for added protection against spills or scratches in areas you are particularly concerned.

Online Flooring Store offers a huge range of different flooring styles for sale, including engineered timber, pre-finished solid timber and unfinished solid hardwood floors.

There are many species of timber that are used for Timber Flooring. Several are commonly used, and some are a little more ‘Exotic’. We will deal with the timber species that are commonly used in Australia.

Oak

Both American and European Oak is used in flooring in Australia, with European Oak being the most popular. This is mostly the case as European Oak tends to have a softer looking grain structure that is more pleasing visually. Oak is quite ‘Bland’ in and of itself, and for this reason is mostly stained to different colours. It is typically softer than Australian Species Timber, but breathes better, therefore coping better with environmental change.

Blackbutt

One of the 2 most popular Australian Species of timber, Blackbutt is a lighter timber in a blonde colour that tends to yellow with age. Blackbutt often has black marks that either manifest as holes from insects or long streaks from Insects and Gum Veins. It is quite a hard timber, but not so much as other Australian Species.

Spotted Gum

Possibly the most popular of Australian Timbers is Spotted Gum. Spotted Gum has more colour variation than any other Australian Species Timber, ranging from light Blonde to Chocolate Brown, often within the same cut of timber. Spotted Gum can also have a Red or Green tinge in certain cuts, depending upon there the timber is grown. Spotted Gum also contains a feature known as ‘Fiddleback’ which gives the timber a unique look when certain planks have been cut on different angles.

Ironbark

Iron Bark is a very Hard timber, but the name refers to the texture of the bark and not the hardness of the timber, although it is apt. 2 sub-species of Iron Bark are commonly used in Flooring, known as Grey and Red Ironbark. When the timber is lacquered it tends to have a medium to Dark Brown colour.

Jarrah

Another very hard Aussie Timber, Jarrah is less common due to it’s price. It has a rich, dark red colour and a smooth grain structure. Jarrah does not vary so much in colour as species like Spotted Gum, meaning that it is easier to be planned around. This timber is popular world wide.

Blue Gum

Another Red Timber, Blue gum tends to start life quite pink-ish, and once it has oxidized, tends to go to a medium to dark red colour. The grain structure is typically quite consistent, and does not vary too much in colour when compared with Spotted Gum, although variation always exists.

Tasmanian Oak

This species is actually not a species, and not an Oak! Tasmanian Oak is made from typically 3 species of timber (Messmate, Mountain Ash and Alpine Ash,) which are all very similar species of timber and hard to differentiate, while all growing together in the same forests. The timber has a long grainy structure, with less ‘Swirling’ that is seen in other timbers. The timber starts quite Blonde with a Pinkish tone, eventually yellowing with age.

Brushbox

Another very hard timber, Brushbox usually has a light to medium Caramel tone, sometimes with a reddish undertone. Brushbox also can feature large sections of Fiddleback. It is a beautiful looking timber, but is harder to access in areas where it can be legally logged.

Engineered Timber Flooring is suitable for any room in a house except a Wet Area, ie: Toilet, Laundry and Bathroom.

The question is often asked if Engineered Timber Flooring is suitable for a Kitchen, and the answer is Yes. Just clean up any spills, and make sure you don’t drop those knives and heavy pans!

Many different manufacturers use many different types of cores in engineered timber floors, and this can be a very deep area to delve into. In keeping it simple, we will outline the basics and why they are so.

In general, there are 2 different categories of core type: The Whitewood Stave Core and the Ply Core. The type of core a manufacturer will use will sometimes simply be a matter of what they have access to. For example, floors made in Malaysia often have Hevea cores due to the access to this kind of timber.

White Woods Staves are generally softer hard woods or harder soft woods like Hevea, Spruce or Birch. These timbers are used because they represent a good match to European Oak.

Engineered floors were developed in Europe and as a result, most of the veneers on these floors were Oak as it is a very popular timber in Europe. Hevea was a good balance to Oak, as a 4mm veneer Oak was roughly equal to an 8mm stave of spruce. When the balancing layer is added, this gives a fairly nice match for the purposes of balancing the different layers of timber out.

Additionally, as Oak is an Open pore timber and breathes better than Australian Hardwoods, the fairly gentle nature of the Whitewood core made this a great match.

For Australian species timbers however, most whitewoods struggle due to the increased density of the Aussie Hardwoods. Australian timbers are notorious for not liking our conditions once they are cut from the ground, so they need something to counterbalance them. Hevea is probably the best of the Whitewoods here as it has a higher density. For example, as Hevea has a density that is a little over half that of Spotted Gum, an 8mm Hevea Stave is roughly balanced to that of a 4mm Spotted Gum veneer.

Ply Cores can vary drastically depending upon where they are made, what they are made of and the amount of layers in the lamination. Typically though, in Australia they are made of Chinese grown Eucalyptus so they are a better match for Australian Species timbers. This is because they are both closed pore timbers and have similar characteristics, and also because they are much stronger than than Whitewood cores. This additional strength can come at a price though. ATFA (The Australasian Timber Flooring Association,) conducted a study a number of years back, which compared many types of flooring and how they were affected by climatic conditions. This study showed that on average, a Ply core would grow about 50% more than a Hevea core.

After years of observation, it seems that there is an argument either way for the different core types. While if I was to give my honest opinion, I would probably say that the Whitewood sits best with Oak, and the Ply best with Australian species. However, this is probably a personal preference, and would be disputed by others.

For example, Premium Floors product ‘Ready Flor’, is possibly the best known and Premier Australian Species timber on the Market. While it has gone through many evolutions, it has always had an unashamedly Hevea core, and Premium have ferociously stood behind the product with great zeal.

So in conclusion, it is a matter of Balance and the reputation of the company who make the product. In the past some have put Australian Species veneers over the top of pine cores with less than desirable results. If you are buying a timber floor, the cheap product can be an expensive option if you have to replace it. In some product categories you can purchase cheaper products with little adverse results.  With Timber though, the old adage rings true: you get what you pay for.

Timber floors have Grading classifications that rate the visual appearance of the floor. In Europe a standard is used that rates individual veneers on a scale from A to E. The Australian method uses a different method entirely, and Asian manufacturers often use a mashup of the 2, or invent their own scale based on the European Standard.

It is important to note that while in the gradings some may sound better than others, gradings are purely a tool for the visual appearance of the product and are no representation of the quality of the timber. Veneers of all grade will come out of the same tree, and so as far as quality and durability, they are all the same. It really comes done to what your personal preference may be, with beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

Following is an explanation of the 2 most common scales you will come across, and an additional one that is often used out of Asia which is a kind of merging of the two.

The European Grading System rates the visual grading of a veneer on a scale from A through to E. There are 7 classifications that are standard across most European manufacturers that use mixes of these veneer types. These classifications are AB, ABC, ABCD, BC, BCD, CD and DE. The higher the classification, the more expensive the product will be. This is because only about 35-40% of the tree produces A, B and C veneers. The remainder is all D and E grade, so these veneers are much cheaper for a manufacturer to buy!

Boards are graded based on the size and frequency of knots, size and frequency of cracks, presence of sapwood, colour uniformity and a number of other factors. The A Grading represents the cleanest and most uniformly coloured lumber, while with the E grading it is pretty much ‘Anything Goes’ as E is anything that is not A, B, C or D.

It should be noted that there are no real hard and fast rules for this grading, and it is done by eye. This system is an evolution of the European Hardwood structural grading system, where the size of a knot could compromise the strength of a timber beam. As such, there is often an overflow between grades and can often come down to how the grader feels on the day.

It is notable that with Oak, as it is a softer timber than Australian Species timbers, that a certain amount of feature is present. This is because unless you treat the floor with kid gloves, it will show signs of passage over time. Having a more highly featured (lower grade,) veneer will sometimes be enhanced by the build up of ‘Living’ that happens over the floor. This would not be true of a high grade veneer.

So if you like that rough and wooly, easy to live on and not tear your hair out look, the lower grade veneer is the way to go. On the other hand, if you like the clean look, and are prepare to care for the floor properly, the high grade is the way to go. There is also the place in the middle for those who want the best of both worlds!

The Australian Grading System really only uses 3 classifications: Select, Standard and Feature. Aussie timbers are graded according to Colour variation, appearance of Sapwood and Heartwood, Gum pockets, knots and Insect Trails. The last of these, while reducing the visual grading of the timber is highly sought after, especially in Blackbutt.

Like the European System, there are no hard and fast governing rules, but rather the experience of the person who is doing the grading is what will dictate in what pile a veneer lands. This means that there will be overflow from one grading to another depending on the feeling of the grader on the day, and how veneers stack up against each other on the day of the grading.

As Australian Species timbers are harder than Oak veneers, so the grading is less important (but not unimportant,) to how the veneer will hold up over time. However, many people like the look of Spotted Gum with its massive colour variation and Feature Grade Blackbutt with its insect trails. Again, personal preference will be the deciding factor.

There are 2 factories in Malaysia that produce timber with a hybrid system of these 2 scales that manufacture for the Aussie market. They have taken European Oak, and moved the ratings in line with the Australian Standards. What they refer to as ‘Select’ is AB grade Euro Oak. ‘Standard’ becomes BCD, and ‘Feature’ is DE Grade. This method simplifies things for the consumer, but is less versatile than the European system.

Additionally, some cheaper manufacturers have been known to use their own grading standard, based on the European standard. This is deliberate in order to pass off C grade Veneers as B grade and the like, due to the increased perceived value of a higher graded product. However, most well known Brands have carefully procured veneers in line with legal logging practices that ensure that what you pay for is truly what you get.

The Veneer on top of an engineered timber is the thing of value in a timber floor. While an engineered timber is wood all the way through, it is the veneer that is the most valuable aspect of the floor. This can be seen in the price difference between Australian Species Timber and Oak. Quite often the only differentiating factor is the veneer. This will give you an idea of that this is where the cost is. Veneers come in many thicknesses from .6mm to 6mm, with 3-4mm being the average.

For a 14mm timber product (this includes 13-15mm timbers,) the average veneer thickness is 3-4mm. This is often a nominal thickness and not exact in every case as boards must be sanded to uniform heights so that they fit together seamlessly.

The reason that initially the 3 and 4mm veneers were chose is because in tongue and groove solid timber flooring the portion of timber above the tongue was usually 4mm. This meant that when you were refinishing the floor, it could only be sanded about 3-4 times as each time you sanded and recoated the floor you lost about 1mm of timber. This meant that after 3 or 4 refinishes, you would have the tongue of the floor exposed and it would have to be replaced.

The 3-4mm veneer was designed so that an engineered floor could be sanded and recoated as many times as a solid floor. However, because the veneer was the most expensive component of the floor, less of this would go to waste. This reduced the cost of the floor, and had less environmental impact as the timber for the other layers of the floor are plantation grown with the end in mind.

6mm veneers came along later, but required a reengineering of the lower layers. By increasing the top veneer by 50-75%, this meant that there was this amount of additional strain on the lower layers, and they had to be increased proportionately to maintain the stability of the system. This means that most 6mm veneer floors are 20-21mm thick.

There are also Micro veneer timbers that are generally .6mm thick for Australian Species, and 1mm thick for Oak. While very successful from the sake of stability, they have not been particularly successful in the sales domain because of the perceived lack of durability, and inability to be refinished.

Veneer Thickness Vs. Refinishing

As mentioned, Engineered timber was designed to be sanded and recoated in the same way as a Solid timber floor. This has been a very effective sales tool as most people when they are purchasing a floor like to think they have this option up their sleeve for the future. For the most part though, with the way we install floors in Australia, this argument simply does not hold water.

Firstly, most timber floors installed in Australia through the ‘Carpet Shops’ using the floating installation method. This is indeed how these floors were intended to be installed. However, the oversight was that when a floor is sanded using a large industrial sander, the floor ‘Bounces’ as the sanding disc spins. This can leave large circular shaped sanding marks known as ‘Chatter’ through the floor. To be sanded successfully when the lacquer is being totally cut back from the floor, the floor should be bonded to the sub-floor.

Additionally, if the floor is an Oak, the colour stain on the product will be eradicated. This is fine if you want to recolour the floor, but if you want to keep the same colour it will need to be reapplied before the floor is lacquered. Additionally, almost all Oak flooring and recently much of the Aussie Species flooring sold is hand scraped. If the floor is sanded flat, then this process will have to be done again, and is another expense.

Micro veneers can never be cut back. However, they are designed not to be. Usually, an engineered floor has about 7 layers of Lacquer on it, with the lower layers applied thinner to penetrate the timber, rising in thickness as they are stacked. A Micro veneer often has 13 layers of Lacquer. On it’s own this is arbitrary, as 2 thick coats can have more protection than 20 thin coats, depending on how they are applied. So here again, the higher number is not always better. With the Micro Veneer timber, it is the kinds of coatings that are used that are key.

Using the Hurfords ‘HM Walk’ product as an example, the first 10 coats are Polyurethan lacquer, but the 11th layer incorporates Aluminium oxide, which is incredibly scratch resistant, and terribly difficult to sand from the floor. Over top of this are 2 coats of a ‘Sacrificial Water-Based Polyurethane’. This means that when the floor shows wear, it will only be in the 2 top layers, and these can be refreshed without the need to sand the entire coating off!

So Is Thick Better or Is Thin Better?

Certainly the industry standard is the 3-4mm veneer. It gives greater depth than a micro veneer meaning that knots and cracks can be visibly shown and used as feature in the floor. This also allows hand scraping of various depths that are unattainable in a micro veneer timber.

6mm veneers are more for the ‘I’ve got a big one’ factor. They allow greater depth than the 3-4mm veneer, but if this is utilized, then they start to create a trip hazard. Most ultra wide boards though are in the 6mm format, but this is not necessary. 3-4mm veneers are just as successful in this application, provided the entire plank maintains a correct height to width ratio.

The Micro veneer is the unsung hero in all of this. Firstly, as the veneer is the same thickness as a piece of paper, the cost between it and a 3-4mm veneer is significant. Additionally, if you look at an Aussie Species Micro Veneer timber against a 3-4mm veneer timber side by side, most people will not be able to tell the difference! The main factor though that sets the micro veneer apart is stability. Because the veneer is so thin, it exerts almost no stress on the timber core, and (in the case of Aussie Timbers,) is too thin to undergo ‘Checking’.

It’s downside though is its lack of depth. This means that most Micro Veneer timber will appear at a ‘Select Grade’ level, because cracks in the wood cause the veneer to tear, so Micro Veneers can only be cut into a log until they experience even small amounts of feature. If however you are after a super clean grade timber, this may just be the product for you.

Engineered Timber Floors were designed to be able to be ‘Floated’ meaning that they are not bonded to the floor. It is the weight of the floor that keeps it in place, but is free to grow and contract with the seasons. Even so, many manufacturers will allow engineered flooring to be Direct stuck. So if you are having an Engineered timber installed or considering doing the job yourself, what are the key points to consider when making this decision?

Sound and Feel

When an engineered timber floor is stuck to the sub-floor, it is indistinguishable from a solid timber floor of the same species. It will have the same feel and sound, and to even the most educated Floor-o-phile, will be indistinguishable.

A Floated floor on the other hand will have a more hollow sound to it when walked on. With changes in season (and temperature,) there is the possibility that the floor will creak and make noise that a direct stuck floor will not. Additionally, there will be a discernible difference in the feel of the floor underfoot in the way that it ‘Bounces’.

Refinishing

A Direct Stuck floor can be sanded and recoated in exactly the same way as a solid timber floor and just as many times. A Floated floor cannot be sanded successfully, as the bounce in the floor leaves Chatter marks in the floor.

Raft Sizes

A Floor that is direct stuck has it’s ability to grow inhibited because it is stuck to the Sub-floor. While it will still grow, it will do less so than a floated floor. This means that you can have a bigger raft of flooring before there is a need to install expansion breaks in the floor.

A Floated floor will have a smaller raft size before expansion breaks are required because the floor is free to expand and contract with the seasons. Most manufacturers will not allow a Floated Floor to be more than 8m on the width of the floor and 10m on the length before an expansion break is required.

Re-Flooring

If at some stage you decide that you would like to change the floor in the house, a direct stuck floor is a very expensive option to change. The floor must be removed and then any debris and adhesive must be ground from the floor to make it flat for what is coming next.

A floated floor simply unlocks and is lifted and stacked ready for disposal. Additionally, on 2 occasions my wife has sold our old floors on E-Bay. The money she made was the same as what we would have had to pay to dispose of the floor. So instead of costing money, we made money and someone else picked it up from us! If Furniture is removed, it is not unrealistic to say that an entire house of floating floor could be uplifted within an hour.

DIY Potential

Unless you are incredibly handy and have done your homework, it would not be advisable to install a direct stuck timber floor on your own. There is more than just the application to be considered in this, with working time and bond strength of the adhesive to consider. If you absolutely must tackle this yourself, it is advisable that you practice this process before you start on your own floor. Always follow both the Timber Supplier’s and Adhesive Supplier’s installation requirements.

This is a much easier option to install than a Direct Stuck Floor, and far more forgiving as you don’t have to worry about adhesive curing while you are working, risking bond failure by walking on the product before the adhesive has set, or getting adhesive on the surface of the floor. While a much simpler and faster option, still always follow the Timber Supplier’s installation requirements.

Cost

In addition to the cost of the timber floor, bonding to a sub-floor first requires preparation. If the surface is concrete, it will require a vapour barrier as you do not have the underlay with this built in. If you are going over top of a second storey yellow-tongue floor, you will need to screw sheets of ply to the floor first to allow the adhesive to bond correctly. This is in addition to the adhesive which can itself, be quite expensive.

With a floated floor, you only have the cost of the floor, the underlay and any required trims to consider. This makes a floated floor a less expensive option than a direct stuck timber floor.

There are pros and cons to whatever decision you make, and it will really come down to the factors that are most important to you. If you are absolutely certain that this is the floor that you will have forever, then the direct stick option may be the way for you to go. Alternatively, if you are transient or unsure, floating is a better option as you can always pack it up and sell it, or even take it with you to your next place and install it there!

While they may look like the same thing once installed, Engineered and Solid timber floors are 2 very different things. Solid timber flooring has been used since the dawn of time, but engineered flooring is only an invention of the last 30 years, but incorporates scientific principles that were used in the making of Composite Bows by laminating several different types of timber together that would in theory balance each other out.

Engineered Flooring was developed to allow floors to be floated as it is quite common in Europe that people take all of their fittings (lights, kitchen and Floor included,) with them when they move house. The theory was that the floor could be packed up and reinstalled in a new home if it was floated, but could not be if it was direct stuck.

Let’s have a look at the 2 different kinds of timber flooring (and their sub-categories,) so you can see which will be the right choice for you.

Solid Timber Flooring

Solid Flooring is as it’s name suggests solid timber all of the way through. It is a single piece of timber that is usually profiled with a Tongue and Groove join to help with installation, although historically this was not always the case.

If the solid Timber is 19mm in thickness or greater, it means that this can be used as a structural floor laid over top of joists. Anything less than this is considered an overlay and must be laid over top of another kind of sub-floor. A Solid Timber floor is usually coated on site and not supplied pre-finished. This means in the vast number of cases an experienced timber installer is required to do the job and a floor sander to sand, seal and finish the product. Sometimes this is the same person.

The product is supplied raw and kiln dried usually in random lengths, and requires a period of acclimatization before it is laid. Because the timber is supplied, there is an array of finishes that can be used from polyurethane lacquer, Oil, Hard Wax Oil and others. In Australia, floors are typically Lacquered as this requires less regular maintenance.

Engineered Timber Flooring

Engineered timber flooring is a lamination of several different kinds of timber to make a lighter, more stable type of hardwood flooring that would have less environmental impact. This is achieved through using a veneer (or Lamella,) of Hard wood that is on average 3.5mm in thickness. This is then laminated to either a Ply core, or a stave core of about 8mm, with a 2mm backing, making for a finished product that is usually between 13-15mm in thickness depending these layers.

In the case of the Ply core, the kind of ply that is used depend upon where it is made. This can be made of many different types of timber with fewer thicker or more thinner laminations that are cross laminated. This is because as Timber wants to grow more on it’s with than its length, these laminations control each other to a degree. The veneer is then added to the surface of the core, and the backing (or balancing layer,) is added to the back of the board to try to counter the forces of the veneer.

A 3-layer floor uses a Stave core made of Staves of white Wood (commonly Hevea, Birch or Spruce,) working on the same principle as the Ply core. In this case the veneer and the Backing Layer run in a North/South Direction while the Staves in the core run East/West. This achieves the same principles of cross lamination as the ply core does.

Installation

A Solid Timber Floor is always fixed to a Sub-floor and cannot be floated. In the case of it being used as a structural floor, it is usually nailed to joists. In the case of it being used as an overlay, it generally requires that Ply sheeting first be screwed to the floor and then the Solid Timber be either Glued or Secret Nailed to this. This means that you will almost always need to engage the services of a timber flooring professional.

Engineered Timber Floors can for the most part be direct stuck (many are designed to be,) but do not require the layer of ply unless they are going onto upper level Yellow Tongue style sub-floors. Additionally, these floors can be floated, eliminating the need for adhesives with a mostly glue-less installation. This means that a Floating floor can easily be dismantled and removed.

Stability

Solid Hardwood flooring will grow much more than an engineered floor. This is planned for by acclimating the floor on site prior to installation. Additionally, small expansion joints of Cork must be added periodically through the floor during installation to accommodate expansion in the floor. These are not a negotiable option and are required for all timber floors. Studies conducted by the ATFA showed that a solid timber on average will expand and contract about 4 times as much as a solid timber with a Hevea Core. This movement must be planned for, and cannot be ignored.

For an Engineered Floor, the Acclimatization period is still required, but the amount of expansion breaks is not. Most suppliers allow a floor to be 10m on the length and between 7-8m on the width before a break is required. These breaks are usually positioned in places where they are less obvious, such as doorways. Trims are used to conceal the expansion break, and around the perimeter either skirting boards or scotia are used to hide the perimeter expansion. Additionally, most suppliers will allow their Engineered Timber  to be direct stuck which greatly reduces the need for internal expansion breaks in the floor.

Coatings

A Solid Timber floor is installed, and then sanded and coated on site. This gives you not only a greater option in the coating that goes on your floor, but allows for better coatings to be applied. When polyurethane Lacquer is applied on site, it is generally done in 2 thick coats. This forms a solid protective shield across the top of the timber and does not leave any sort of micro space for dirty humid air to be sucked down into and stain the ends of the boards. Additionally, while not really very popular in Australia, Oiling is a viable option. While this is more regular maintenance, you will  never have to go through the process of sanding he floor, and scratches can be instantly buffed out with a small amount of oil. Because Oil nourishes a timber, a floor coated this way has an indefinite life if it is maintained.

Engineered timber is mostly pre-finished although raw versions do exist that give you the same options as above. With an engineered floor, you are generally limited to a Lacquered finish (in Australia,)and these factory finishes are applied differently. As any over run of coating over the side of the board can prevent it going together properly, these coatings are sprayed on in several thinner layers. The bottom layers are thinner to allow them to penetrate the wood, and then they are gradually thickened to build up over this. While this is very convenient, the fact that there is a micro space between boards that is unprotected can often overtime cause a ‘Dirty’ appearance in the timber as moisture is drawn in through these spaces and the wood is stained over time. Once this coating is removed though, all of the options for a solid floor apply.

Price

Solid Timber is a more expensive option. This is because you are using more of the most valuable wood in it’s makeup, and dealing with a far more expensive installation process which requires ply-wood sheeting and the correct adhesives.

Engineered Timber is a less expensive option because it uses less of this most valuable timber, and uses plantation grown alternatives below the top veneer where it is not seen once it is installed. Additionally, because it can be floated, there is a great cost reduction here, and also the ability to do the job as a DIY project.

Engineered Timber Flooring is made up of multiple layers of ‘Real’ timber. A laminate floor, while it may look like timber, is in fact a photograph of a piece of timber (admittedly a pretty fancy one,) that is laminated to an HDF core and topped with a Melamine wear layer.

The difference between the 2 product categories is often confused, as the different layers in an Engineered timber are ‘Laminated’ together. Laminate Flooring though, is it’s own category.

Solid timber as the name implies is a solid piece of timber cut from a log that is then profiled and ready to use as timber flooring. Profiles will vary, depending on whether the timber is to be stuck, top-nailed or secret nailed. Solid timber Flooring can be used as an overlay, which can be laid on Plywood. If the product is 18mm or greater in thickness, then it can also be used as a structural floor.

Engineered Timber Flooring generally has only a ¼ or less of the species of timber that is used as it’s face than Solid Timber does. This makes it a far more environmentally friendly option, as the timber in the other layers of the floor are made from Plantation Grown timbers that have a faster recovery rate than slow growing hardwood trees.

Due to it’s engineered construction, Engineered timber withstands climatic change better than solid timber does, meaning that it can be floated successfully where Solid Timber can’t.

Also, due to the fact that most solid timber only has 4mm of timber above the tongue of the profile, this means that an engineered timber floor with a 4mm veneer can be sanded and recoated just as many times. However, to successfully sand an engineered timber floor, it should be direct stuck.

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