What should I expect from my timber floor?
When a new floor is installed, sanded and coated, or an old floor restored, you can expect a timeless look which, unlike carpets, vinyls and many tiles, will never date and will be compatible with the most luxurious decor. You can also expect an option which is one of the easiest to maintain and free of many household allergenic substances such as dust.
What should I NOT expect from my timber floor?
Do not expect a “furniture finish”. Furniture is coated by several layers of thin coating in a quarantined spray booth or similar environment. It results in a flawless sheen which simply isn’t possible in the environment of your home during a building or renovation project. While your contractor should have dust-free sanding equipment, your home has dust of its own which can settle in the coating and provide some minor imperfections. Also, it is highly impractical to apply the same level of fine sanding and number of coats as can be done in the “spray-booth” preparation manner of furniture and other timber products. In the case of old floors, some stains and lacerations (such as carpet knife marks) cannot be removed by sanding
What is the difference between solid floors and engineered floors?
Solid floors are real timber of a selected species milled as tongue-and-groove and able to be installed on a sub floor of joists and bearers to act as the total, load-bearing floor. They will be not less than 18mm thick and can be sanded and coated. A variance of this is “overlay” flooring- solid timber, but cannot be used as a load-bearing floor, it needs to be laid over a sub-floor (concrete slab, yellow-tongue, etc).
Engineering boards are a convergence of the floating floor structure and solid timber, that is, they are a layer of genuine timber on top of a solid base of cross-ply. They are considered more of a substitute for solid or overlay timber in that they must be affixed (not floated), and thicker engineered boards can be used as solid floors. They can be sanded and coated in situ
How long will it take to sand my floor?
Newly installed floors will generally take no more than 3 days, depending on the coating being used. Older floors’ sanding time will be affected by factors such as damage, cupping, old coatings, stains and such like. Don’t expect a contractor to provide a firm quote when they cannot see what is under the old carpet!
How harmful are solvent-based coatings?
The pitfalls of solvent based coatings are more pronounced for the contractor than for the homeowner. The whole point of solvents is to evaporate during the coating process, hence the contractor must take the necessary precautions to avoid inhaling the fumes.
Having said that, the homeowner must consider the following: The average solvent-based coating process takes two to three days. Ideally you must vacate the premises during this time. It can take as little as one day when using Synteko Classic. The fumes can permeate fabrics such as lounge suites, curtains and carpets, and take up to 14 days or more to dissipate. The presence of these chemicals in your home and their general effect on the environment will cause differing levels of concern to different people.*
*A full report on the issue of VOCs can be found in Lagler’s newsletter PDF
How much more expensive is the water-based option?
For the homeowner, a contractor may charge between $3 and $6 per square metre in addition to their normal rate. As an individual, you must evaluate the cost/ benefit ratio of this, taking into account the absence of odours following the job and the fact that, depending on which areas are being coated, you will most likely not need to vacate the premises. Water-based coatings also dry faster
How much more or less durable are water-based coatings than solvent based coatings?
The floor’s life, in terms of real-world traffic and other wear factors, is surprisingly little different from that of a floor coated in a solvent-based product. A good quality 2 pack waterbased will be very close to the wearability of a solvent based coating. With standard family foot traffic and reasonable care, the coating should stay resilient for 6-8 years
Will solvent based coatings go yellow?
Yes, and more so when exposed to sunlight through a window. It is more noticeable on lighter coloured timbers. On darker, harder timbers, solvent based coatings tend to bring out the reds in the timber, whereas the water based brings out the browns and tans. It will depend on the personal taste of the individual. For a non-yellowing coating, however, water-based is the best option.
Will spillages discolour the floor?
It depends on what is being spilled. In our experience it has been found that red wine, for example, will discolour a solvent-based coating. Hot fats will discolour a water-based coating. The hard and fast rule is that whatever you spill, deal with it sooner rather than later. Even excessive water can discolour a coating if left to pool long enough.
What is the best cleaning solution for my floor?
See our link to MAINTENANCE
Can Timber Floors be laid over a concrete slab?
Yes, but there are different methods. Some contractors prefer to lay “batons” to elevate the floor covering, then lay ply/yellow tongue, or nail solid boards to the batons. Some will lay ply over the concrete then overlay timber flooring, or some will direct stick the timber directly to the concrete. Either way, if your slab is fairly new, its inherent moisture can cause problems for any floorcovering and we strongly advise having the slab moisture tested in accordance with AS/NZ standards.
Do you recommend staining a timber floor?
It depends upon why you wish to stain. A Tasmanian Oak cannot be made to look like a Jarrah just by staining. Staining will only achieve a similar colour to Jarrah. The difference in grain and vein characteristics between different species cannot be emulated by staining.
However, even interior designers and the like recognise the usefulness of staining to achieve harmony with existing decor. Some staining products are of exceptional quality and can create a very warm and natural appearance in your timber, providing they are applied with the correct technique. Direct staining, often by a wipe-on, wipe-off method, usually achieves the best effect.
For more information on the different stains available, download our PDF "Staining Timber Floors"