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August 2, 2012, 3:38 pm Words Rachel Smith, Yahoo!7
Timber floors are an easy way to imbue your decor with warmth and soul and have an enduring appeal that’s immune to trends.
Timeless, stylish and smooth underfoot, a polished timber floor can be a home’s most striking feature and, teamed with the right decor and a couple of rich rugs, will bring a cosy, inviting ambience to any space. Low-maintenance and non-allergenic, timber also offers natural insulation so you’ll ride out the seasons in comfort. From choosing a size and species to buying with sustainability in mind, our handy guide has everything you need to know about getting your decor right from the ground up.
Many turn-of-the-century Aussie terraces probably sport traditional 80mm-wide floorboards, but wider boards and the fresh, roomy aesthetic they bring are more in demand for modern homes, says Dave Angus of Boral Timber Flooring. “There’s a trend towards wider boards such as the 130mm, right up to the 180mm board, because a nice big room with a wider board just looks better,” he asserts. However, you’ll pay a premium for them – around 5-10 per cent extra or more depending on your supplier – as the resources required to cut a wider board aren’t as plentiful.
Overwhelmed by styles and species? It all starts with colour, says interior stylist and colour consultant Donna Rishton-Potter of Welcome Home Interiors. “Flooring impacts on everything in your home,” she explains. “You’ll be naturally attracted to certain timber colours – be it dark, light or mid-tones – but consider the size and style of your home. Dark floors are sophisticated, but they show the dirt and will also make a tight space feel more enclosed. To bring a sense of light and roominess to a small space, opt for lighter timbers.” If you have dark antique furniture, don’t install pale flooring with cooler undertones, as it will clash. Light floors suit beachy and shabby-chic looks, whereas dark floors – the trend of the moment – or mid-tone caramels work if your style is more classic.
grade across the board, while high-grade timbers are more heavily ‘featured’ for a unique, aged look. “Some people prefer a very clean grade but if you’re buying Australian hardwood, expect a moderate to high level of feature,” says Kendall Waller of Premium Flooring.
Engineered, pre-finished boards layer Australian hardwood on top of a cross-laminated ply, which can be laid over existing floorboards or concrete slabs. They’re ideal if you’re time poor, as they can be quickly installed using a tongue-and-groove system that eliminates gaps. On the other hand, solid boards, once installed, need to be sanded and finished, which could take several days. Prices don’t differ much between the two methods, says Dave. “If you were installing blackbutt, you’d pay from $70-$80/sqm for product and around $30/sqm for installation, so around $120-140/sqm installed. You pay a bit more upfront for engineered boards because they’re pre-finished, but it works out around the same for solid boards once you’ve paid for your floor to be sanded and finished.” For traditionalists, solid boards are considered the ‘real deal’ and worth the extra effort. After a few years of wear and tear, most boards benefit from refinishing, an option not available with some veneers and engineered boards; always check before purchase.
Taken from old warehouses, wool stores and piers, recycled timber lures buyers as much for its history and look as its eco-friendliness. “You’re not tearing down a forest to get it, so it’s really sustainable,” says Joe Garzia of Australian Recycled Timber. “Because it’s often up to 100 years old, it’s also less likely to move or buckle.” Ideally, recycled timber for use as flooring will come from buildings rather than bridges and wharves, says Joe. “Recycled timber should be around eight per cent moisture. If you’re using it as flooring and the timber is too wet, it will shrink, and you could get gaps in between the boards.” If the boards are too dry, the timber could absorb moisture in the air and expand. You can ask your timber supplier for a moisture test, and a letter which certifies the moisture percentage in the timber you’re buying.
Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) - The Australian Forestry Standard is a joint scheme between the forestry industry and the government, which aims to promote the use of Australian wood over imported species and to encourage sustainable and responsible forestry practices. For details, visit www.forestrystandard.org.au.
Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) - This independent labelling scheme assesses the eco-impact of products based on their entire lifecycle, from creation to disposal. Look out for the GECA tick or visit www.geca.org.au for a list of certified products.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - The Forestry Stewardship Council is one of the most recognised environmental certifications in the world, labelling forest products as both environmentally responsible and socially beneficial. Look out for it particularly if you're purchasing imported timbers such as rainforest species, which may come from controversial sources. Visit www.fscaustralia.org.
Good Wood Guide - This Greenpeace guide offers a colour-coded, searchable database of timbers from “ethical and ecologically sustainable sources”. The guide supports FSC over AFS-certified timbers. To choose an eco-friendly timber or supplier, visit www.goodwoodguide.org.au.Janka test - This standard test measures the hardness of timber species. In Australia, this is given in kilonewtons (kN). Generally, a domestic floor requires a timber measuring more than 5.5 on the Janka scale. A harder wood is best for high traffic areas; while nothing will withstand the assault of stiletto heels, if you expect your floor to take a beating, look for a timber rated 10 or more.
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