Tips & Trends: Beautiful Timber Flooring
Timber Applications – Knowing what timber you can use for a particular application can sometimes be a tricky task if you’re unsure of its properties. Timber can be used for a wide range of applications, such as flooring, decking, cladding & furniture. The terms hardwood & softwood do not impact the strength & density of timber. It is simply a name given to a timber species based on the plant growth and its internal structure. For example, balsa wood is one of the lightest, least dense timbers available, and is considered a hardwood.
Solid Timber Flooring or Solid Engineered Boards? – There is a structural and visual difference between solid timber boards & solid engineered timber boards. Solid timber boards will always look incredible. The density and quality of the timber means they will always feel structurally sound. However, with solid timber comes the natural movement caused by moisture and shrinkage. This is part of the life cycle of solid timber and can be minimised by seasoning (drying) the timber and laying the boards correctly to compensate for shrinkage and possible movement.
A general practice in our design studio is to leave the timber boards in the space in which they will be installed, for a number of weeks prior to installation. This will allow the timber to acclimatise to the environment, minimising shrinkage and movement.
Despite our passion for solid timber floors, we also specify solid engineered timber boards. These timber boards are fast becoming a popular flooring alternative to solid timber. Mafi Timber natural wood floors consist of three layers. The top and bottom layer of the boards is made up of solid timber, with a core layer of spruce in between. This central layer runs perpendicular to the outer layers, allowing for dimensional stability over the entire surface – one of the many benefits of using solid engineered floors.
Another benefit of using Mafi Timber is that they are prefinished, so selecting the timber species and finish is an easy process. We love using Mafi Larch White Oil, Oak Country White Oil & Oak Country Natural Oil, as these are very natural and light coloured timbers and the character of the boards becomes beautifully exposed with an oil finish. Their Fir Lye Treated White Oil is also another light timber, great for European inspired homes! Mafi Swiss Stone Pine Natural Oil also has a beautiful rustic surface with large knots. Mafi also have a modern alternative to traditional timber floors called Domino Larch White Oil, which exposes the end grain of this timber, which has been treated with heat to produce a beautiful variation in colour throughout. If you are after a darker timber Mafi Timber also have range oak timber boards with a darker pre finished appearance, such as their Nero Oak Natural Oil.
Harpers and Sandilands also have a wide range of timber flooring alternatives to solid timbers, and specialise in wide American Oak boards. Their Aged Smoked, Smoked Oak and Smoked & Limed Oak are some of our favourites. These lighter timber boards are durable and weather beautifully over time. They also have a wide range of finishes available which are perfect if you are trying to create a specific look. Their French Grey Oak and Pale Grey Oak would look beautiful in an Alpine style home or European inspired house.
Selecting Your Timber – Selecting your timber floor can sometimes be a daunting process, so it is important to make your selections based on the look & feel you are after. Collecting some inspiration can always be a great starting point. If you looking for a casual beachside feel, Mafi Larch White Oil could be a possibility.
Timber Finishes – We recommend selecting timber finishes and stains which enhance and maintain the natural appearance of your floor. With solid timber floors we always use Treatex from Whittle Wax which uses natural plant oils to protect the timber. We also love Bona Naturale and Bona Dri Fast Stain which are low sheen products for solid timber floors. They use a thin water based lacquer to maintain the natural appearance of the timber while creating a highly protective film on the timber. We always steer our clients away from using a highly polished, polyurethane finish on their timber floors. Not only is it bad for the environment but it detracts from the natural beauty of the floor.
Replace or Restore? – This is an age old question, especially if you own a heritage home. We always encourage our clients to keep original floors if they are in good condition or can be easily restored by sanding them back and applying a new finish. If you need to replace the timber, always make your selections based on the style of your home.
International Favourites – We love sourcing our timber from local suppliers. However we have always had a passion for Dinesen floors. These boards are used predominately in Europe and America. They are typically specified by some of our favourite international designers, John Pawson and Vincent Van Duysen. However, being an international product which needs to be shipped to Australia, they have quite a high price tag. But we must say they are certainly worth the wait and investment! The Douglas and Oak are two of our favourites from Dinesen.