Timber Flooring FAQ's

Please see below for some of the more commonly asked questions, if you need more information please call or email us.

General Timber Flooring FAQ's

  • What is Engineered Flooring?
    Engineered timber flooring is the most common type of wood flooring in Europe and is widely becoming accepted around the world as a more stable alternative to solid timber flooring.

    Engineered timber flooring consists of two or more layers of wood adhered together to form a plank. Typically, engineered wood flooring uses a surface layer (aka wear layer or 'lamella') of a more expensive hardwood bonded to a core constructed from cheaper, faster-growing wood. Because the surfaces of engineered and solid timber flooring are both made from hardwood timber, once installed it is impossible to detect the difference.

    The increased stability of engineered wood is achieved by running each layer at a 90° angle to the layer above. This makes it very difficult for the wood to move either way and therefore reduces the risk of shrinkage, cupping and warping - those issues common with solid timber flooring. The stability of engineered flooring makes it a universal product that can be installed over all types of subfloors above, below or on grade. Most engineered timber flooring is also compatible for use with under floor heating.
  • What are the benefits of Engineered Flooring?
    Engineered flooring has many benefits and for this reason it has widely become accepted as the preferred alternative over solid wood flooring.

    With engineered flooring you achieve the exact same look as a solid wood floor and nobody would ever know the difference. Engineered flooring has a surface layer of real hardwood timber that is the ‘real deal’ - so just as with a solid wood floor, no two boards will be the same. As we all know, a natural wood floor is gorgeous to look at and can add considerable value (not to mention wow factor) to your home.

    The main advantage is that the base layers provide excellent stability, greatly preventing issues such as cupping, warping and shrinkage which are common with solid wood flooring in NZ's humid climate. Due to its superior stability, most engineered flooring is also compatible for use over under-floor heating (which is not advised with solid wood flooring).

    Engineered flooring also helps to conserve forests by using approximately one third of the amount of precious hardwood timber compared with solid wood flooring of the same dimensions. To explain this: With any wood floor, you can only sand back as far as the tongue, as this is what holds the flooring together. So with solid wood flooring, the beautiful hardwood timber that is located beneath the tongue area will never be seen and is essentially a waste.

    Once an engineered floor becomes old and worn it can usually be sanded back and re-coated. This enables you to go for a complete new colour and look if desired, without buying another whole floor. Should repairs need to be done to specific boards within your engineered floor, it is often possible to remove and replace select boards only which minimizes cost.

    In a nutshell: You get exactly the same look as a solid wood floor but with greatly increased stability and other benefits. No one will ever know it's not a solid wood floor!
  • Status: What does Pre-finished mean?
    Pre-finished flooring is a term associated with solid or engineered timber flooring.
    The word Pre-finished is used to describe flooring which has had finishing coatings applied in the factory as a part of the manufacturing process. In almost all cases it will require no further finishing after installation.

    This idea of pre-finished flooring has been widely embraced worldwide as it is such a huge convenience, eliminating the noise, dust, smells and wait time associated with having a floor finished on site.

    One downside of pre-finished flooring is that if you have a certain colour or look in mind it may not be available - pre-finished floors are generally not customizable so you are limited to the designs that are created from the factory. However nowdays there are quite a number of options available so you should be able to find something to meet your requirements.

    The other factor is that pre-finished flooring is rarely available without beveled edges. (See beveled edge for information). So if you don't like the look of the beveled edge you may be best to have your floor finished on site.
  • Status: What does Unfinished (or site-finished) mean?
    Unfinished flooring refers to raw, natural timber flooring (whether solid or engineered) that is supplied without any finishing coatings applied. This type of flooring is usually finished on site after it has been installed.
  • Status: Pre-finished or Unfinished - What is best?
    To decide whether to go for a pre-finished or unfinished floor, you really need to weigh up your priorities. If you are on a tight timeframe, want better convenience and a more predictable cost, a pre-finished floor may be your best option. On the other hand if you have a specific look or finish type in mind that is not available pre-finished, and the cost, timeframe and convenience is not a worry - then buying unfinished flooring and having it finished on site may be your best option.

    Although unfinished (or site-finished) flooring has a number of benefits over pre-finished flooring, pre-finished flooring still remains for the most part, the more popular option due to its convenience and time-saving properties.
 

Timber Flooring Finishes

  • What is Lacquer?
    A lacquer finish provides a very tough, durable coating to the surface to which it is applied, protecting the underlying surface from stains, wear and damage. It is one of the most common finish types for flooring because it is very low-maintenance.
  • What is UV Cured Oil?
    Oil finishes work by penetrating the wood surface and working in the cell structure to protect and nourish the wood. They give a soft lustre to the wood, providing a more natural appearance than a polyurethane.

    A UV Cured Oil finish is cured using a UV light, a quick process that provides a good sealed coating to the floor and ensures a consistent finish. UV Cured Oil finishes offer the soft natural appearance of a typical oiled floor while having the easier care requirements of a polyurethane finish.

    UV cured oil floors will not need a coat of oil on installation but should be treated with maintenance oil periodically depending on usage.
  • What is Natural Oil
    Oil finishes work by penetrating the wood surface and working in the cell structure to protect and nourish the wood. They give a soft lustre to the wood, providing a more natural appearance than a polyurethane.

    A Natural Oil finish is applied in several coats and allowed to dry naturally between coats. Typically 2 or 3 coats of oil are applied. Natural oil finishes require more maintenance than a polyurethane finished floor and are not as durable, but they also have some added benefits. When a Natural Oil floor is starting to show signs of wear it can be replenished by simply adding another coat of oil - this will smooth over the scratches and revive the look of the floor.

    Natural oiled floors can benefit from a coat of maintenance oil on installation and should be maintained in the same way periodically. How often you will need to oil the floor depends on usage.
  • What is best?
    Lacquered floors are the most convenient for busy people or those on a smaller budget. There is no hassle of having to routinely apply more coatings. The floor is highly durable but will show signs of wear with age, as most surfaces do. 10 years or so down the track if it becomes quite worn you might consider getting it re-finished. Until then… just keep it clean and no worries!

    UV Cured Oil floors are also very convenient, give you the beautiful natural look of an oil but are slightly less hardwearing than a polyurethane. UV Cured Oil floor is best suited for someone who really wants the look of an oiled floor but doesn't have the time to care for it routinely.

    Natural Oil floors are more of a constant care, best for those who are energetic and have plenty of time on their hands, or those with a bigger budget who can allocate the care of the floor to a professional. A Natural Oil floor can be revived on demand - any time it starts to look dull a new oil coating can be applied to make it look like new again. In Commercial situations such as restaurants this is particularly useful to ensure the place remains looking tidy and presentable. In Residential situations, the need to revive the floor is likely to be a less frequent occurrence as there is generally much less foot traffic.
  • What is a Reactive or 'Aging' stain?
    Reactive stains replicate the oxidation processes that occurs naturally in wood when it is exposed to the elements; resulting in an aged look in new timber. They work best of all on French Oak which has a very high tannin content compared to European and American Oak.

    To some, the terms ‘reactive stain’ may bring up concerns that there may be ingredients in these stains that could be harmful to human health. Rest assured, this is not the case. Most reactive stains are just different kinds of salts dissolved in water. One of the most common ones, iron chloride, is actually used in the treatment of drinking water. A traditional homemade reactive stain that some wood floor finishers still use today is a solution of steel wool dissolved in vinegar. Today, we use more advanced formulas that give us better stability and consistency, but the basic building blocks are still the same and completely safe.
 

Timber Flooring Edges

  • What is a square edge?
    Square edges are most commonly found on unfinished wood flooring, as unfinished wood floors can be sanded to achieve a flat surface before they are finished. 

    A square edge gives a flat, uniform appearance to a floor and makes it difficult to distinguish between planks from a distance. Some people prefer square edges over bevelled edges because it eliminates the likelihood of dust and dirt getting caught in the grooves. However, bevelled edges that are sealed correctly will be easy to keep clean.
  • What is a bevelled edge?
    Bevelled edges are commonly found on pre-finished wood flooring and also some unfinished wood flooring. A bevelled edge is especially important on a pre-finished floor because this floor type is factory finished and may have minor height variances between boards, which a bevel disguises very effectively. Unfinished floors do not require bevels because they are usually sanded to achieve a flat surface before being finished. However, there are some unfinished products available that come with bevels for those who prefer that look.

    Bevels enable you to distinguish between planks from a distance and often vary in size between brands. Larger bevels, especially with lighter coloured floors, can be a hassle as dust and dirt that becomes trapped in the groove can become very noticeable. Smaller 'micro-bevels' are a popular choice as there is less of a cavity for dust and dirt to be trapped in, while still achieving the same look.
  • What is a micro bevelled edge?
    A Micro bevelled edge a type of small bevelled edge. Micro bevelled edges can be found on pre-finished wood flooring and also some unfinished wood flooring.

    'Micro-bevels' are a popular choice as there is less of a cavity for dust and dirt to be trapped in than a standard sized bevel, and they make the distinction between planks more subtle.