Everything You Need to Know About Timber Flooring

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Are you considering upgrading your home or office with a touch of timeless elegance and natural warmth? Look no further than timber and hardwood flooring! From its rustic charm to its durability and sustainability, timber and hardwood flooring have been a favourite choice for centuries. That's why the Floorworld Blog team decided to sit down with industry veteran Matthew Hadden from Bayside Floorworld Cheltenham to compile this comprehensive guide on all things timber and hardwood flooring. We discuss everything from benefits to variation, maintenance, and design tips.

Let's get started!

Matthew Hadden is the sales director and store owner of Bayside Floorworld Cheltenham. An industry veteran, he has over 20 years of experience installing, selling, and consulting in the flooring industry. Renowned as a certified problem solver, he has successfully tackled various projects, from public sector installations to medical facilities and schools. 

Corsica Oak Modern Living Room Timber FlooringTable of Contents: 

1. Why Choose Timber Flooring?

2. What Rooms and Households Don't Suit Timber Flooring?

3. Engineered Timber Vs Solid Hardwood

4. Types of Timber

5. Timber and Hardwood Designs and Styles

6. Timber Flooring Challenges and Considerations

7. Proper Cleaning and Maintenance Techniques for Timber Floors 

8. Sustainability and the Environmental Impact of Timber and Hardwood Flooring

9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

10. Further Resources for Flooring

 

 

1. Why Choose Timber Flooring?

We understand it can be hard sometimes to justify the price tag of timber floors, so let's explore why timber has been a popular choice for so long.

Timber and hardwood floors are a living and breathing product that is synonymous with sophistication and durability. Unlike other flooring materials, such as laminate or vinyl, they are crafted from natural wood. No two trees grow the same way twice, thus providing a unique grain pattern where no two floors are identical.

This provides an authentic, timeless aesthetic for both modern and classical designs that is unique to you as an individual. 

Timber floors come in various species and styles, providing options for any type of household and helping add luxury and value to your property. This makes them perfect for long-term investments. 

Careful maintenance and repair will also allow timber floors to last for decades and be resanded and restained as required to keep them looking brand new. This helps to reduce waste when replacing floors while also making them an attractive option for those seeking eco-friendly flooring, as they can be harvested from sustainable sources and even recycled!

Whether you prefer the rich grains of oak, the warm hues of cherry, or the classic appeal of maple, there's a timber or hardwood flooring option to suit every taste and style.

 

Pros and Cons of Timber Flooring

Pros:

  • Timeless appeal
  • Durability with proper maintenance
  • Versatility in designs and styles
  • Increase your property value
  • Environmentally sustainable options
  • Able to be resanded and restained to look good as new

 

Cons:

  • High cost when compared to other flooring options
  • Susceptible to moisture and temperature fluctuations
  • Prone to scratches
  • Require constant maintenance
    3 Modern Dining Room with Timber flooring and grey chairs

2. What Rooms and Households Don't Suit Timber Flooring?

Not all rooms and households are built the same, and despite timber flooring's versatility, there are a few cases where it might not be the best choice.

The first thing to consider is moisture in a kitchen or bathroom, in a humid climate, or beside a body of water. Where moisture is involved, timber can mould, swell, or warp over time as it is exposed for long periods of time. This even comes into play with cleaning, where excessive water use and a mop can potentially damage your floors. 

Another concern is the susceptibility to scratches and dents, making it unsuitable for high-traffic areas or pets with sharp claws and a tendency to be rough on your floors. While all of this can be repaired and resanded, the increased maintenance may make it a less desirable choice. 

The last category you may need to watch out for is households with those more susceptible to injuries, such as elderly or very young individuals; you may need to take extra care around them as the hardness of your floors could potentially cause more issues. 

If you really want the look and aesthetic of timber without the issues mentioned before, technological advances in hybrid, vinyl, and laminate flooring allow for products that look almost identical to real timber. 

Otherwise, timber flooring can be a great and beautiful addition to any other room or household. Matt Hadden likes to tell his customers that a great time to get new timber floors is right after all the kids have left home so you can finally enjoy a more peaceful, less chaotic home. 

2 Pet dog on timber floor

3. Engineered Timber vs Solid Timber/Hardwood

Engineered timber flooring (ETF) is a modern innovation consisting of multiple layers of wood veneer bonded with adhesive to form one singular, stable plank. The top layer, known as the wear layer, is made of high-quality hardwood and sits on top of multiple high-density fibreboard or plywood layers. 

On the other hand, solid timber/hardwood floors are just standard timber flooring planks made from a single piece of timber. 

The construction and composition of engineered timber flooring are made to allow the look and feel of regular solid hardwood floors but with improvements to its durability, moisture resistance, temperature resistance, and weight.  

This means that engineered timber floors, while not entirely immune, are more resistant to common issues in timber flooring, such as warping, cupping, and shrinking, while allowing for more freedom in where and how to install them. 

 

4. Types of Timber

Like animals, timber comes in various species, each with unique looks and quirks. We will discuss some of the more popular types so you can better understand what works best for you in your home.

 

Species of Timber for Your Floors

Spotted Gum: 

Spotted Gum is a native Australian timber known for its striking appearance and exceptional durability. Its colour varies from pale to dark brown, with characteristic gum veins and a distinctive grain pattern that adds visual interest to any space. Spotted Gum flooring is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas such as living rooms and hallways. Its natural resistance to termites and decay makes it an excellent choice for outdoor decking. Additionally, Spotted Gum timber is relatively easy to maintain and can be sanded and refinished to restore its original lustre.1 QSreadyflor_spottedgum1strip_1.jpgImage from Quick-Step Readyflor

 

Hickory

Hickory is known for its strength, durability, and rustic charm. It features pronounced grain patterns and colour variations that appear attractive. Hickory flooring is highly resistant to wear and denting, making it ideal for busy households with children and pets. Its natural beauty and rugged texture make it famous for rustic and farmhouse-style interiors.

AST Timber Hickory Impressions- Acorn

Image from Australian Select Timbers Hickory Impressions

 

Oak

Oak is a classic choice for timber flooring, prized for its timeless beauty and versatility. European Oak, in particular, is highly sought after for its warm, golden hues and elegant grain patterns. Oak flooring is available in various finishes, including natural, stained, and distressed, allowing homeowners to achieve various looks to suit their preferences. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, Oak flooring is known for its strength and stability, making it suitable for installation in both residential and commercial settings. 

Quick Step Massimo Oak Timber

Image from Quick-Step Massimo Oak

 

Australian Blackbutt

Australian Blackbutt is another native Australian hardwood favoured for its light colour and subtle grain patterns. Its creamy tones range from pale straw to soft brown, creating a bright and airy feel in any space. Blackbutt flooring is highly durable and resistant to wear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas such as kitchens and dining rooms. Its natural resistance to termite attacks and decay makes it popular for outdoor decking and structural applications. With its warm, inviting appearance and exceptional durability, Australian Blackbutt is a versatile option for contemporary and traditional homes.

Quick-Step Readyflor Blackbutt

Image from Quick-Step Readyflor Blackbutt

 

Bamboo:

While technically not classified as timber, bamboo flooring has been a popular timber alternative for those seeking a more eco-friendly and sustainable option. Featuring clean lines and a distinctive grain pattern different from most timbers, bamboo has a light, neutral colour that imparts a sense of warmth and brightness to your interior spaces. Bamboo flooring is extremely hard, durable, water resistant, and made from a highly renewable bamboo plant that matures in as little as three to five years. 

7_MG_7612-Natural_Bamboo.jpgImage from Premium Floors Arc Bamboo

5. Timber and Hardwood Designs and Styles

Now for the exciting part, where we discuss different design and style options for your Timber Flooring!

Timber allows for design and style options that are as diverse as they are stunning when it comes to flooring. Below is a list of some of our favourite options. 

If you need more ideas, check out our inspiration page or read our Floorworld Essentials Series: The Ultimate Guide to Interior Design Trends.

Timber Style and Patterns

Herringbone

The herringbone pattern is a timeless classic that adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any space. Characterized by its distinctive V-shaped pattern, herringbone flooring creates visual interest and enhances a room's aesthetic appeal. This design works particularly well in formal settings, such as living rooms, dining rooms, or entryways, where it can make a bold statement.

Chevron

Chevron flooring features a V-shaped pattern similar to herringbone but with the ends cut at a 45-degree angle for a more continuous and uniform look. Chevron flooring offers a modern twist on a traditional design, creating a sense of movement and flow that can visually elongate a room. It is ideal for contemporary interiors or spaces with a desired dynamic focal point, such as kitchens, hallways, or home offices.

Long Planks

Long plank flooring features longer and wider boards, creating a sleek and seamless appearance that can visually expand a room's size. This style of flooring is perfect for open-concept living spaces or rooms with high ceilings, where it can create a sense of continuity and spaciousness. Long plank flooring comes in various wood species and finishes, allowing homeowners to customize their floors to suit their individual tastes and preferences.

Playing with Transitions

Transition flooring incorporates different materials or patterns to create a seamless transition between two distinct areas, such as between rooms or levels of a home. This design technique allows homeowners to delineate separate zones while maintaining a cohesive and harmonious overall look. Transition flooring can take many forms, from subtle changes in wood grain direction to more dramatic shifts in colour or texture, depending on the desired effect.

Border

Border flooring involves using contrasting wood or tile borders to frame the perimeter of a room or highlight specific areas, such as entryways or focal points. This design element adds visual interest and definition to a space, drawing the eye and accentuating architectural features. Border flooring can be customised to suit any style or aesthetic, from traditional to contemporary, and can be as simple or intricate as desired.

 

6. Timber Flooring Challenges and Considerations

Once you have finally decided on your type of timber flooring and how to bring it into your home, there are a few things to remember and watch out for. Timber flooring is one of the longest-lasting options available, and if maintained well, these issues can make your floors last for decades. 

High Maintenance: Timber flooring requires regular maintenance to preserve its beauty and longevity. This includes routine cleaning, avoiding harsh chemicals, and promptly addressing any spills or stains to prevent damage.

Shrinkage: Changes in humidity levels can cause timber flooring to shrink or expand, leading to gaps between boards or buckling. Proper acclimation of the wood before installation and maintaining consistent indoor humidity levels can help mitigate this issue.

Resanding: Timber flooring may show signs of wear and tear, such as scratches or surface damage, over time. Resanding involves removing the top layer of wood to reveal a fresh surface, restoring the floor's appearance and smoothness.

Restaining: Depending on the type of timber, fading and resanding can change the colours of your floors. Restaining is an option to remedy this, but it can also be done if you want to change the pattern or colour. Make sure to choose the right stain and application method to achieve the desired results without compromising the integrity of the wood.

Fading: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause timber flooring to fade or discolour over time. Window treatments such as blinds or curtains can help protect floors from UV rays and minimize fading.

Cupping: Excessive moisture or water damage can cause timber flooring boards to cup or warp, resulting in uneven surfaces. Proper subfloor preparation, moisture barriers, and vigilant maintenance can help prevent cupping and ensure the longevity of your floors.

Moisture: Timber flooring is sensitive to moisture and humidity levels, which can lead to swelling, warping, or mould growth if not adequately controlled or cleaned using excessive moisture. To protect your floors, it's crucial to address any sources of moisture, such as leaks or spills, and maintain a consistent indoor environment.

Installation: Improper installation techniques can lead to issues such as uneven surfaces, gaps between boards, or structural instability. It's essential to hire a professional installer or follow manufacturer guidelines carefully to ensure a proper and secure installation.

9 Installing Hardwood Floor

7. Proper Cleaning and Maintenance Techniques for Timber Floors 

When cleaning and maintaining your timber floors, it is essential that you use the proper equipment and techniques to avoid damaging your floors and maintain their longevity.

For an in-depth understanding, please read our article: How to Clean and Maintain Timber Floors. 

Otherwise, below is a brief set of instructions to follow. 

  • Sweep or Vacuum Regularly: Dirt, dust, and debris can scratch the surface of timber flooring if left unchecked. Use a soft-bristle broom or vacuum with a hardwood floor attachment to remove dirt and debris regularly.

  • Avoid Excess Water: Timber flooring is susceptible to water damage, so avoid using excessive water or soaking the floor during cleaning. Instead, use a damp mop or cloth with a mild cleaning solution specifically formulated for hardwood floors.

  • Promptly Clean Spills: Accidental spills should be cleaned promptly to prevent staining or water damage. Blot up spills immediately with a soft, absorbent cloth, and then clean the area with a damp cloth.

  • Use Protective Mats or Rugs: Place mats or rugs at entryways and high-traffic areas to trap dirt and prevent shoe scratches. Avoid rubber-backed or non-ventilated mats, as they can trap moisture and damage the floor.

  • Protect from Furniture: Use furniture pads or felt protectors on the legs of furniture to prevent scratches and dents when moving or rearranging items. Avoid dragging heavy furniture across the floor to prevent damage.

  • Periodic Maintenance: Depending on the wear and tear, your timber flooring may require periodic maintenance, such as refinishing, resanding, restaining or resealing. Consult with a professional to determine the appropriate timing and method for maintenance based on the condition of your floors.

  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh cleaning products, ammonia-based cleaners, or wax-based polishes on timber flooring, as they can damage the finish or leave a residue. Instead, opt for pH-neutral cleaners specifically designed for hardwood floors.

10 Contractor Sanding down timber floors

8. Sustainability and the Environmental Impact of Timber and Hardwood Flooring

As concerns about environmental sustainability continue to grow, many consumers and corporations are turning towards timber and hardwood flooring for its eco-friendly properties. Unlike synthetic materials, wood is a renewable resource that can be sustainably replenished when harvested in the right ways and from the right places. Properly maintained hardwood floors last for years, reducing waste. They can also be recycled, reclaimed, and recovered, reducing their environmental impact. 

For more on sustainability in flooring, check out our Floorworld Essentials Series: The Ultimate Eco-Friendly Sustainable Flooring Guide. 

Otherwise, read on for details about sustainability in timber flooring. 

Sustainable Forest Management

Timber is a natural resource, but if harvested in the wrong way, it can still result in deforestation and environmental damage. Ensure that your timber flooring supplier is sourced from managed, sustainable forests, meaning trees are harvested responsibly to ensure the long-term health and biodiversity of the forest ecosystem. Sustainable forest management practices include selective logging, reforestation, and protection of wildlife habitats.

Environmental Certifications

Many timber flooring products are certified by third-party organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). These certifications ensure that the wood used in the flooring has been responsibly sourced from well-managed forests that meet rigorous environmental and social standards.

For a list of common certifications to watch out for, please read our article: 7 Tips for Choosing Sustainable Flooring.

Different Types of Reused Timbers

Recycled Timber: Recycled timber flooring is made from reclaimed wood sourced from old buildings, barns, or industrial sites. Repurposing salvaged wood and recycled timber flooring reduces the demand for virgin timber and prevents valuable resources from ending in landfills.

Reclaimed Timber: Reclaimed timber flooring is sourced from old structures such as warehouses, factories, or railroad tracks. This wood is salvaged and repurposed into flooring, preserving the unique character and history of the original timber while reducing the need for new materials.

Recovered Timber: Recovered timber refers to wood salvaged from logging operations, construction sites, or natural disasters such as wildfires or storms. By salvaging and repurposing wood that would otherwise go to waste, recovered timber flooring reduces the environmental impact of harvesting new trees and helps conserve natural resources.

 

9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is timber flooring suitable for all areas of the home?

While hardwood flooring is versatile, it may not be suitable for areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms or basements. In such cases, consider engineered hardwood or alternative flooring options.

How often should I refinish my hardwood floors?

The frequency of refinishing depends on factors such as foot traffic and wear. Generally, hardwood floors should be refinished every 7-10 years to maintain their appearance and integrity.

Are there any eco-friendly options for timber flooring?

Yes, bamboo flooring is considered a sustainable alternative to traditional hardwood. Bamboo grows rapidly and can be harvested without causing damage to the environment.

Can timber flooring increase the value of my home?

Yes, hardwood flooring is a desirable feature for homebuyers and can increase the resale value of your property. It adds a touch of elegance and sophistication that appeals to potential buyers.

How can I protect my hardwood floors from scratches and dents?

Use furniture pads or felt protectors on the legs of chairs and tables to prevent scratches. Additionally, avoid wearing high heels or heavy shoes indoors, as these can cause damage to the wood surface.

What is engineered timber flooring?

  • Engineered timber flooring is a type of flooring made from multiple layers of wood veneer stacked and bonded together. The top layer is a thin slice of high-quality hardwood, while the core layers are made of plywood or fiberboard. This construction enhances stability and reduces the risk of warping or cupping due to changes in humidity.

How to lay or install timber flooring?

  • Laying timber flooring involves preparing the subfloor, measuring and cutting the boards to fit, and securing them using adhesive, nails, or a click-lock system. Proper installation techniques are essential to ensure a level and stable floor. We would recommend using a proper installer for peace of mind. 

What is hybrid timber flooring?

  • Hybrid timber flooring is just another name for Hybrid flooring that imitates the look of timber; it is not the same as timber flooring. It combines hardwood's natural beauty with synthetic materials' durability. It typically consists of a rigid core made of materials such as stone polymer composite (SPC) or wood plastic composite (WPC), topped with a layer of hardwood veneer.

How much does timber flooring cost?

  • The cost of timber flooring varies greatly depending on factors such as the type of wood, current availability, quality, installation method, geographic location and even the quantity being purchased. It is generally more expensive than other flooring options such as laminate, vinyl and hybrid, and we recommend getting a full quotation from a specialist (such as Floorworld) for cost estimates. 
  •  

What is the best timber flooring?

  • The best timber flooring depends on individual preferences, budget, and specific needs. Some popular options include oak, blackbutt, hickory, and spotted gum, each offering unique colour, grain pattern, and durability characteristics.

How to remove timber flooring?

Removing timber flooring involves carefully prying up the boards using a pry bar or floor scraper. It's essential to take precautions to avoid damaging the subfloor or surrounding surfaces during removal, so we recommend contacting a professional contractor. 

How to clean timber flooring?

  • Cleaning timber flooring involves sweeping or vacuuming regularly to remove dirt and debris, using a damp mop or cloth with a mild cleaning solution for spills or stains, and avoiding harsh chemicals or excessive water. Regular maintenance helps preserve the beauty and longevity of timber flooring.

 

10. Further Resources for Flooring

There's much to know about Timber flooring, so the Floorworld Blog team hopes this article answers all your questions. Feel free to visit our flooring experts at any of our Floorworld Stores for more advice.

For inspiration and ideas on designing your home renovation, check out our Inspiration page or read our Flooring Essentials Series article: The Ultimate Guide to Interior Design Trends.

For more on flooring renovations, trends, and sustainability, download our eBook by filling out the form below.