Choosing Timber Flooring: Part 2 of 2

July 14, 2014
Choosing Timber Flooring: Part 2 of 2

We recently caught up with Eric Siegers, Executive Officer at Timber Merchants Association – TMA. Eric was kind enough to share with us some excellent industry knowledge and tips on how to choose a timber floor.

This feature is Part 2 in a 2 Part series of articles that we hope you find helpful.

Read More: Part 1 in the series Choosing Timber Flooring Part 1 of 2

Thanks once again for your time Eric.

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Now that you have chosen your new hardwood solid timber floor, what finish are you going to select?

These days, there are two (2) main choices:

  • Tung Oil finishes and;
  • Polyurethane finishes.

Tung Oil Finish

Tung Oil is a traditional preparation that produces a subdued or semi-gloss appearance. It is absorbed slightly into the timber grain surface and facilitates the natural seasonal shrinkage and expansion to occur without highlighting any gaps that may appear between boards. It is an easily maintained surface but not usually used in high traffic locations as it does mark more easily than other harder surface finishes. That said, marks can be easily removed with a little metho on a damp cloth. Tung oil can also be readily recoated in areas that have worn to restore the original finish appearance (provided the floor hasn’t been waxed).

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Polyurethane Finish

Polyurethane finishes provide a harder, smoother surface with either a high gloss, satin or matt appearance. High gloss finishes make the timber look great but they reflect more glare from windows (particularly those that have glass extending to the floor) and also show every bit of dust etc. So, the house cleaner may find themselves running around with the dust mop more frequently! On the plus side, polyurethanes are harder wearing but generally can’t be patched or spot repaired, the whole floor has to be buffed and recoated.

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There are also two (2) types of polyurethanes:

  • Water based and;
  • Oil solvent based, the difference being in the drying/curing time and the amount of odour produced by the coating formula.

Water based products will dry/cure in about two (2) days, whereas Solvent based finishes take much longer, up to six (6) days and a word of caution here, these finishes give off a strong odour as the solvent dries off and this can be quite harmful to anyone with asthma or other breathing problems. So if you are planning a renovation or extension to your property and will continue to live there whilst the work is going on, then you would have to consider moving out during the finishing/coating process. The odour will also penetrate food stuffs so make sure all that sort of product is in the frig or in secure containers, don’t leave it lying around open.

Solid timber floors are very easy to live with, comfortable under foot, good insulators for heat and cold, make environmental sense and, after all, timber is a natural product, sure it can expand and contract with atmospheric changes of weather, but with correct and careful handling in the installation and finishing, you will have a luxurious floor that will be the envy of anyone who visits you.

Don’t forget that you should always use a qualified timber floor layer/finisher to supply/install your new timber floor, such as any member of the Wood Flooring Association Victoria. Their members are all bound by an industry code of practice and are well qualified to produce a satisfactory result.

They will also back up their work and give you the best advice on site.

Handy references with further information on topics like ‘Selecting The Right Floor’, ‘General Flooring Information’ and ‘Guide to Installing Timber Strip Flooring’, can all be freely found from the Timber Merchant Association

Timber Merchant Associations Members

The following businesses on RenoExchange are members of the TMA,

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