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Choosing Timber Flooring: Part 1 of 2

June 30, 2014
Choosing Timber Flooring: Part 1 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 1 in a 2 Part series of articles that we hope you find helpful.

SEE ALSO: Choosing Timber Flooring Part 2 of 2

Thanks once again for your time Eric.

You’re planning a new home or renovating your existing home and decided that you would prefer a solid natural timber floor. But you believe that it might cost too much, then you should think again! Carpet may appear to be a cheaper option, however, think along the lines that solid, natural timber will last a lifetime, it is also healthier (particularly for people with asthma and similar allergies), much better for the environment and will make a real statement in your home.

Deciding in favour of a solid timber floor is a big investment so you must get it right at the beginning, after all you and yours have to live with it!

What’s Available

So let’s have a look at the range of alternatives available in the hardwood flooring market, these range from a choice of board width (nominal 60, 80 and 130mm), thickness (14, 19mm), colour and grain patterns (depends on the grade selected), whether you want to use it in a high traffic area (kitchen, hallway, family room) or just in a living room or bedroom.

Whilst timber flooring is all hardwood species, some hardwoods are not as hard as others, that’s why you need to think about high traffic areas etc.

There are three (3) distinct grades available to suit individual tastes and room décor.

These are:

(1) Select

(2) Standard and;

(3) Feature grades according to Australian Standard AS.2796.2-2006.

Select is usually at the top end of the cost scale, primarily because the production process involves a higher labour content to manually sort out the pieces showing gum veins, knots hobnail (insect markings) etc. (ie. the timber’s ‘natural’ characteristics) and gives mostly straight even grain patterns with the only variation being in the colour.

Standard is graded to allow a small proportion (maybe 20%) of gum veins, knots, hobnail etc. to be included. This grade is probably the most popular as it does include some of the natural characteristics of the hardwood timber to add to the overall appearance.

Feature Grade is graded to include most of the natural characteristics already mentioned, however the grading is again done in accordance with the Standard that governs the size of the gum veins and knots etc. that are allowed.

Timber Floor Colours

(Example of the colour gradients available in timber.)

Timber Colour

This is essentially a personal and aesthetic choice.

Australian hardwood timber species in solid timber come in a range of colours from light pink to creamy/brown such as Victoria Ash, pale brown Blackbutt and Tasmanian Oak, through slightly darker grey to pale browns like Brush Box, Messmate and Spotted gum to darker brown such as Ironbark.

There’s also some red tones like Sydney Blue Gum and Jarrah and a Victorian species with the title of Wormy Chestnut that is a pale brown with, unusually, many figure grain features.

Species like Brush Box also have a prominent figure grain that is very attractive.

Then you can also look at American Oak which is an imported hardwood with a light tan creamy colour with prominent figure grain patterns and sold in a wider 175mm x 18mm board, becoming quite popular.

Also around are species such as Blackwood with gold/red/brown colouring, Silvertop Ash with pale brown tonings and Brownbarrel in pale brown with paler streaks.

Remember that solid timber is a natural product and no matter how big the sample you have been shown or a display on the floor, when your new floor is delivered it will probably be somewhat different from the sample, but it will be unique.

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Timber Merchant Associations Members

The following businesses on RenoExchange are members of the TMA, and you can shop for their timber products by clicking on their logo: