Jason’s favourite part of his job is seeing his client’s expression when they see the transformation of their floor. He is importing engineered oak and doing more finishing on site these days – this gives us lots of options with selecting colour on site and going with zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) options which improve the healthiness of the home.
First things first. If you’re putting down a new floor, would you choose a hardwood floor or an engineered floor and why?
Jason told us that he would choose an engineered timber floor 100% of the time. Why?
- It’s greener – it uses less of the tree and because the ply substrate is from fast growing timber, it has less embodied energy compared to a solid hardwood plank.
- It’s more stable – This is contingent on the right glues being used, expansion joints are allowed for and the board not being cheaply manufactured. BUT if you’re working with a good quality board and installer, you can be confident about the longevity of your product.
- It has a great lifespan – a good board will have the same amount of hardwood, before you hit the ‘tongue & groove’ connection, as a solid hardwood floor. This means if you need to sand the board – you have the same number of sands as a solid board.
OK! So if we’re running with engineered flooring. What are the finish options we have? Lets have a look at our star rating; 5 stars is the bees knees.
Option 1: Polyurethane
Polyurethane has come a long way and you can now get water based polyurethanes that perform well and don’t give off gas with VOC’s. A polyurethane finish is how factory finished boards will come, but is more susceptible to surface scratching. In order to upgrade this surface, you will need a light sand (depending on age) and a new coating every 5-7 years.
Initial Cost ★★★★★ | Wear ★★★★ | Ease of Maintenance ★ | Ongoing Cost ★★★
Option 2: Natural Oil
Natural oil is site finished and can be buffed on and off, penetrating the timber making it more stable for the long term. It can really highlight the natural product on your floor, and is an easy process that the DIY homeowner can do. A single coast of Natural oil will need to be reapplied to high traffic areas every 12 months (at it’s most cost effective), but if used correctly, will not need to be re-sanded before re-application.
Initial Cost ★★★★ | Wear ★★★ | Ease of Maintenance ★★★★★ | Ongoing Cost ★★★★★
Option 3: Hard Wax Oil
A hard wax oil (Jason uses Cironova) has the same penetrating oil as above but also includes a waxy finish which cures on the top of the timber. The benefits of this system are that the protection is in the timber rather than on top of it. As a natural product it has zero VOC’s which is fantastic for the health of your family. This product will show the natural wear of scratches but it won’t dint, chip or peel. The big benefit for this product is that it can be spot sanded and re-oiled without impacting the rest of the floor.
Initial Cost ★★★ | Wear ★★★★ | Ease of Maintenance ★★★★ | Ongoing Cost ★★★★
Some FAQs about Engineered Timber:
Is Engineered Timber as hard as a hardwood floor?
You won’t notice a huge difference between engineered spotted gum and a solid board – the Janka rating for Australia hardwoods range from Victorian Ash at 4.5 (moderate) to Brushbox at 9.5 (hard) to spotted gum is around 11kN. You will get the benefits of hardness in the timber based on the species you select – most of those properties are transferred to the engineered board.
If I want to upgrade my floors how long will it take and do I need to move out?
A complete new floor will take around 1 week for a standard sized home and yes, you will need to be out of the house. Everything in the affected rooms will need to be moved out. If you’re doing a smaller part of the home you can remain in the house as the dust control is very good.
Do I need to take the skirtings off before the flooring contractor comes in?
No – they will work around skirtings and architraves. Ideally floors will go in after electricians and painters if you’re doing a bigger renovation. They can also work around existing joinery and kitchens without marking or damaging the kicks.
“How do I stop it from scratching”
Just like a normal timber floor – you don’t. The question really is around how much you will do to protect it when it is in place. Timber is a natural product and in Jason’s opinion (and Maytree’s), the natural patina of scratches and dints that occur are what gives it some character! You can reduce how obvious the scratching is by going for a really high grain timber with lots of variation in it. Darker surfaces will also show up more.
How much will an engineered floor cost me?
Putting aside preparation prior to it going down, an engineered floor will cost between $120/m2 to $180/m2 for moderate quality factory finished floor (board is sanded, stained and finished in the factory prior to installation). For site finished flooring (sanded and finished on-site) you will pay between $180/m2 – $240/m2 but that initial spend is reduced over the long term by less and easier maintenance. Of course once you start moving into custom lay and pattern you’re looking anywhere north of 300-500/m2!
“Engineered flooring is greener, more stable and has a great lifespan”