So you’ve decided to go with a timber floor – great! Now you have to think about the colour, hardness, grade, natural shrinking/expansion, board width, and subfloor. Don’t worry, we have years of experience and can help with all these decisions.
Firstly, the subfloor
You need to know what type of subfloor you have. Is it concrete, on wooden joists in the ground, plywood or particleboard over battens on concrete? Depending on your new floors subfloor supporting system, timber floors will feel and sound differently when walked on. Generally, T&G timber floors which are laid over joists or battens will have more of a spring underfoot when walked on. Floors that are laid over plywood on a slab or glued directly to concrete will have a firmer feel underfoot.
Secondly, we don’t want moist subfloors
Timber floors cannot be laid over moist subfloors, and structural subfloors (e.g. plywood) cannot be relied on to prevent moisture uptake in the T&G flooring if humidity in the subfloor space remains high for extended periods. Therefore good drainage and ventilation is essential in ensuring your timber floors perform well. Subfloor ground levels need to be graded and drainage provided so that in the event any water should enter the subfloor space (highly likely in the Queensland storms), it can drain freely.
Installing timber flooring over a concrete slabs
A high percentage of timber floors are now laid over concrete slabs, and often a moisture vapour-retarding barrier is applied to the slab or a black plastic membrane may be used. Concrete has a high water content and concrete slab moisture can cause problems with timber flooring if it seeps up through the bottom of the floorboards and cause the board to cup. Just because you have an old slab, does not mean 100% guarantee that there is no moisture in it. This is why we assess your concrete slab prior to laying it to ensure that it is sufficiently dry for your timber floor to be laid.
This is the easiest and most cost effective. All floating floors are laid on underlay (foam with plastic or foil which can incorporate a moisture vapour barrier built in to it), which is 2-5mm thick; this protects the floor from any moisture coming up through the subfloor. Laminate, bamboo and engineered timber flooring can all be installed using this method.
Direct Stick method
Using the direct stick (or glue down) method, a moisture barrier must be applied. The moisture barrier is a liquid barrier that is applied to the concrete slab and after drying and curing; the floorboards can be glued directly to the slab. In the case of direct adhesive fix applications we ensure the structural integrity of the subfloor is adequate to be able to withstand forces associated with board expansion.
It is important that the surfaces on which floors are laid are flat. Flatness differs from how level a floor is. A floor can be flat, not undulate up and down but may not be level in that it slopes from one side of a room to the other.
Sub Floor Preparation
Most existing floor coverings should be removed prior to timber floors being installed. Removing carpet is a relatively easy job, but other floor coverings such as vinyl and ceramic tiles can be left to the professionals who have specialised equipment to deal with this. In some cases it is possible to install timber flooring over tiles, but we would need to assess any existing tiles to make sure they are suitable to take the new timber flooring over them
The disadvantages of laying over tiles, is that it will significantly raise the level of your floor, doors may need to be trimmed and specialised thresholds to other areas of the house may need to be installed.
Installation of solid timber floor flooring over tiles is not recommended.
All subfloors need to be sufficiently flat to accept timber flooring. In floating floors in particular, variations in the subfloor may lead to excessive movement of a floating floor panel with foot traffic. Excessive movement can also lead to excessive noise; therefore we ensure that proper preparation is carried out in order to achieve a solid and quiet floor when walked on.
This preparation can be achieved with self-levelling compounds or for timber subfloors, sanding the floor level. You can rely on us to ensure that your subfloor is level prior to installation.
Before we start your floor, you should think about accessories that are going to be used such as skirting boards, trims, beadings etc. Flooring needs to have a 10mm expansion gap around the perimeter of the room, including cabinets, sliding doors and doors. For floors wider than 6 metres, there needs to be an intermediate expansion gap in the centre of the room. This is to ensure that when the timber expands it has room to move; otherwise your floors could buckle in extreme humid weather conditions.
During installation your skirting boards will be removed, you may want to reuse your existing skirting boards, or this might be a good opportunity to upgrade to new ones. Sometimes leaving a gap around your existing ones, and covering this with beading to match your floor can avoid the removal of the skirting boards. Around kitchen cabinets, silicon might be preferred or aluminium strips to cover the gap. Another solution would be to remove the kickboards under the kitchen cabinets prior to installation and then install them over the flooring once it’s finished, giving you a more streamlined finish.
Your timber floor should be the last trade to do any work in your house if you are doing major renovations. This is to avoid other tradespeople walking over your new floor and scratching or damaging it. It might be a good idea to get a plumber in to check that everything is in good working order and you have no leaks, because timber and water do not mix, and you don’t want your floor water damaged after installation.