Our Top 5 Timber Flooring Solutions!
Problem: Gaps Between Boards
Gaps opening between the boards
Solution- ensure timber is suitably dry prior to installation and ventilated your home to prevent overheating, use engineered flooring.
Gaps opening up in timber flooring is caused when the moisture content in the timber is higher than that of the environment it’s been installed in. This causes the wood to shrink as it loses moisture content which shows as small gaps opening between the boards. This is most common where the timber is exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time resulting in the temperature of the timber to rise causing the timber to release moisture and shrink. Solid Timber flooring is more susceptible to shrinkage and most floor will show some movement over the years, small gaps of 1mm or less in high sunshine areas should be considered normal in most homes. There are several thing you can do to prevent unsightly gaps ruining your flooring.
- Limit direct sunlight and heat where possible, use blinds to shade flooring in the heat of the day.
- Choose a narrower plank width, wider planks are more likely to show gapping as the they are less stable than narrow boards. If your flooring is more than 130mm wide, it should be less than 19mm think to provide needed stability.
- Choose engineered timber flooring. This type of flooring has a plywood backing making it highly resistant to shrinkage.
Problem: Scratches and Dents
Scratches and dents in timber flooring
Solution- ensure furniture feet are protected with felt pads, trim pets’ nails, keep stones and grit off the floor, choose a feature grade textured flooring with polyurethane coating.
Like the first scratch on a new car, the first sign of damage to your new flooring might cause some heartache, but be assured, timber flooring is a hard-wearing flooring solution that will last a lifetime, and with correct care will be a beautiful enduring part of any home, kids and pets included.
Firstly, lets identify the main causes of damage to timber flooring.
- Frequently moved furniture, like dining chairs and barstools
- Pets, namely boisterous dogs
- Abrasive sand or grit on the floor
- Moving heavy furniture or appliances
Scratchy Furniture Feet.
Damage to timber flooring can be caused by furniture such as dining chairs and bar stools which are frequently moved as part of everyday life. It’s essential to inspect all furniture feet to ensure there are no hard plastic or metal caps that will damage your floor. These types of feet should be removed and replaced with an adhesive felt pad which creates smooth surface which will slide over timber flooring leaving no damage. Your local DIY store will have a great range of adhesive felt pads in different shapes and sizes for this purpose.
Pets and Wood Flooring.
Large, boisterous dogs can cause surface damage to wood flooring if allowed to run around inside. If you live with dogs in the house, you can manage potential damage by keeping claws trimmed and ensuring the animal is well exercised. Animal urine can cause staining and should be cleaned off as soon as possible
Abrasive Stones and Grit.
Small stones and grit tracked in from outside can cause nasty surface damage to your timber, ensure you have doormats and all entrances to catch these. Vacuum regularly to prevent sand, stone or grit being tracked around.
Heavy Furniture and Appliances.
To safely move heavy appliances with wheels, a layer of protective board such as hardboard should be laid down to protect the floor prior to moving. Heavy furniture should be lifted into place.
Timber flooring is a suitable flooring solution for even the most active and damage prone household lifestyles. At Floorex, we install many floors in beach homes, high foot traffic areas and recommend a timber flooring with lots of knots and feature, a textured surface (wire brushed) and a suitable coasting such as polyurethane to ensure your lifestyle doesn’t have to change to accommodate your beautiful wood floors.
Problem: Colour Fading in Timber
Colour fading and sun damage in high-sunlight areas.
Solution- protect from prolonged exposure to harsh sunlight and high heat where possible.
Modern timber flooring coatings contain anti UV properties to prevent damage from sunlight, however over time, it’s prudent to take steps to protect your flooring extreme heat and UV rays where possible.
What causes timber to change colour in sunlight?
All natural timber products change colour over time with exposure to UV rays in sunlight. Depending on timber species some will darken over time and others will lighten.
The type of coating on the timber also is a big factor in contributing to colour change over time. Traditional solvent-based polyurethanes and Oil coatings will tend to darken and take on a golden patina, whilst modern water-based coatings tend to lighten with age.
What’s the solution?
Avoid Sun Exposure
Protect flooring from extended exposure to direct sunlight where possible, this could involve pulling blinds or curtain when you’re not at home or at times of day when the sun is shining on the flooring.
Avoid Extreme Heat
Protect from extreme heat. Like solution one, direct sunlight can be intensified by glass or other highly reflective surfaces causing the surface of the floor to become very hot. (too hot to touch in some instances!) This will lead to breakdown of the coating and timber over time.
Move Furniture and Mats
Move mats and furniture around. Placing mats or rugs in high sunlight areas will protect the area underneath from the sun, leaving a clear outline around the mat’s edge when moved. Moving mats and furniture will minimise shading around the edges allowing the entire floor to age and colour at the same rate preventing unsightly
Problem: Timber Stains and Damage
Susceptible to staining and damage from liquid spills. (Solution- ensure you floor in coated with a quality polyurethane or oil finish, and wipe spills up in timely manner.)
Timber floors are coated with a wide range of products to protect from stains and spills and bring out the natural beauty of the wood grain. There are a huge range of coatings available that offer different benefits but for the purposes of this article I’ll focus on the two most popular coatings offered by most good timber flooring providers.
Polyurethanes and Hardwax Oils.
These two coatings both provide good protection for keeping the flooring looking great. Here are some key points in order to keep your floor in great condition
Polyurethane coatings offer great scratch and water resistance even in high traffic areas of the home, This type of coating is applied in multiple coats, (normally somewhere from 3-6 coats depending on system used) providing a protective layer across the surface of the floor. With regular cleaning to keep the floor free from grit polyurethane coatings will last for years without recoating. Down the track, maintenance coats can be applied by a professional contractor extending the life of the floor and preventing the need for a full re-sand.
Hardwax Oil Coatings
Oil floor coatings give a smooth and natural look to timber with a silky underfoot feel to walk on. For longevity, oil coatings should be overcoated with a hard-wax oil to provide extra protection from water staining. Products such as Osmo, Rubio and Ciranova all have high quality hard-wax oil finishes that will protect your timber floor and still offer that natural-wood underfoot feeling. The real strength of oil finishes is the ease of maintenance and repair, small scratches and scuff can be repaired by simply rubbing a little oil over and allowing to dry. This will blend in with existing floor and the damage will disappear.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Overall, the best care for timber flooring is to wipe up spilt liquids as soon as possible to prevent possible staining or penetration of the coatings especially cleaning products such as meths, harsh detergents or products with high acidity that may break down or weaken the coating.
Living with Floorboards
In my household, I have a hard wax oiled floor and young family and we’ve had water pooled on the floor for 12 hours with no damage or discoloration, felt-pen , crayon and many other nasties spilt over past 12 months with no permanent damage. So take courage my friends!
Problem: Creaking floorboards
Solution-install timber flooring using quality adhesives and installation methods when installing over plywood subfloor.
If you grew up in a house with a wooden floor, you’ll remember the creaks and squeaks of loose floorboards, especially if sneaking out to raid the fridge after lights out!
Traditionally wood flooring was laid directly over the joists, clamped up tight and nailed to fix it down and over time as the timber shrunk, the boards would begin to move causing the floor to squeak.
Today, most timber flooring is installed over a plywood timber or concrete subfloor and the flooring is installed using adhesives that form a solid bond to the substrate, eliminating movement, and squeaks and creaks.
An exception to this is when flooring is installed over an existing wood subfloor, creaks can persist if the subfloor is not well fixed to the joists underneath. To prevent this, have a flooring professional or builder inspect the subfloor and put in extra fixing if necessary to stop the movement.