How to choose the right timber flooring

How to choose the right timber flooring
Couple looking at timber flooring. Photo: Andrey Burmakin via Bogstock

Its timber flooring, there can’t be too many options available’ is a thought many renovators have before choosing timber flooring. However, this idea quickly vanishes from their mind the moment they walk into a timber flooring showroom. Suddenly they are surrounded by vast amounts of flooring samples that look almost identical but are completely different.

Renovating or building a home is stressful enough without spending hours in a showroom unsure of what you are looking at or where to start. Here are a few facts and tips to know when selecting timber flooring.

Know the room

The first step is to know the room or rooms that the flooring will be used for. It’s also important to keep in mind the feel and look you want to create. This is essential before you even start looking at samples.

The size of the room will influence the style and colour of the timber flooring. If your home has smaller rooms, lighter timber can enhance the space. Smaller rooms should be furnished and designed using light colours to brighten the space, giving the appearance of an open and larger room then it really is.

For large open rooms a darker timber can be used to draw the room in, creating a cosier atmosphere. Large rooms can often feel empty or dull, utilising dark timber flooring will create a base that captures the room, allowing it feel for intimate.  Dark timber flooring also creates a great contrast, if you are utilising darker timber;consider light furniture to create a unique contrast.

If you are planning on using timber flooring throughout the whole house, keep in mind the size of each room, although dark flooring may be best in one room it will feel out of place in another

Along with colour there are a few tips on how to make small rooms feel like they have endless amounts of space. The way you lay the flooring will influence the feel and size of the room.

Find the longest wall within the room and run your flooring to that wall. This will allow the flooring to appear to covering an area much larger than it really is. Staying consistent in the choice of timber will not only save money it will create a seamless finish, extending each room into another.

  •  Know the size of the room
  •  Light colours for small rooms
  •  Dark colours for large room
  •  Run timber to longest wall for smaller rooms
  •  Using the same timber throughout extends the rooms

Types of timber flooring

Not all timber flooring is the same; there are differences in colour, durability and the type of timber being used. There is also difference in the creation of the timber which will also affect how it is installed. Options include:

  •  Solid timber
  •  Floating floors
  •  Engineered flooring

Solid timber uses solid lengths of timber that interlock together utilising a tongue and grooves method. The floor connects together to create a sleek finish. Solid timber is not exclusive to any colour or type of timber.

Floating floors is constructed by joining multiple layers together; the top layer is wood veneer providing the timber floor appearance. The base layers of floating floors a re insulated foam blankets. Floating floors can be directly laid on to concrete and require no sanding. With the base of floating floors being foam, floating floors have the ability to absorb sound, a feature that is uncommon in timber flooring.

Engineered flooring  is man made flooring; it combines multiple layers of hardwood that is combined through heat and pressure. Engineered floors can be glued down and installed over floating or existing floors.

When selecting the type of timber think about your existing floors and what method of installation will be easiest. If you are concerned with noise, floating floors are the best options. Solid timber is the best option if you are concerned with durability as they can be sanded back and resealed.

Durability

In a perfect world our timber floors would never become scratched, dented or in need of some TLC. But unless your plan is to never walk on your floors, the continuous foot traffic along with high heeled shoes and everyday living will eventually mean your timber floors will need some maintenance.

Thankfully there are two easy solutions, firstly, timber flooring can be sanded back and sealed when they need a revamp. Secondly depending on the type of timber you use, will depend on its level of durability.

The Durability level of timber flooring available varies according to the type of timber used. For homes that will experience heavy foot traffic or if you have a young family more durable timber such as Maple and white oak are recommended. White oak is also more durable to water and humidity.

If you have a larger budget, timber such as mahogany or Brazilian Teaks have even higher durability ratings. If you are using engineered timber they tend to have a high durability along with being more resistant to water.

Grade and grain

The grade of timber refers to the quantity of natural features within the timber floorings that are visible. The grade of timber has no effect on the quality or performance of the timber; it only adds character to the flooring. The decision in grade is determined by how much character you want the flooring to have.

There are three main levels when selecting the grade of timber:

  •  Natural/feature grade – allows for more natural ‘imperfections’ to be seen.  Natural grade timber can display knots, variations within colour along with some cracks along and between growth rings.
  •  Standard/better grade – allows for colour variation and larger knots to be visible. Variations are more subtle in the timber within standard grade compared to natural grade.
  •  Select grade – sees little to no variations in colour or knots. Select grade incorporates a mixture of prime boards and alternative boards to provide small imperfections adding character without being distracting while still creating a clean finish.

 

Timber can also vary with its grain appearance; this is the composition and appearance of the timber and relates to how the timber is grown. Timbers such as Victorian Ash have a straight grain composition in contrast to timbers such as Jarrah and Eastern States Blackbutt that have a mixed grain appearance.

Your timber flooring is an important part of the interior design of your home. When choosing timber flooring make sure you talk to the professionals they will be able to give you advice on which timber flooring will meet your requirements and preferences.

Timber flooring can be an expensive and rather permanent investment, so it’s essential you ask questions to ensure you pick the right timber flooring that will suit your needs and style.