Which Wood Species is Right for Me?
Choosing the right species of timber is strictly a matter of your style, budget and personal preference. Whether a native NZ species or one of the many imported timbers available today there is something to suit everyone.
Light timbers such as Maple, American White Oak, Southland Silver Beech can make a room appear more open and airy. Medium timbers such as Tasmanian Oak, Australian Oak, NZ Matai, NZ Rimu or Totara give warmth to a room with the option of grades you can also achieve a more natural rustic appeal. Dark timbers such as Kwila, Walnut can give a room a more stately and refined look.
Once decided on a look you should then consider how your floors will be used. Are you a retired couple living alone, or a busy family with children and pets? Each timber species is rated for its hardness and durability using a term known as a 'Janka' scale. The Janka test measures the force required to embed a steel ball to half the depth of the timber. It is a scale measure used industry wide determining the ability of a particular timber species to withstand denting and wear.
The Janka rating is normally displayed in kilonewtons (kN). The higher the score the harder wearing more resistant the timber is. For example, Victorian Ash has a rating of 4.49 kN, whereas Kwila has a rating of 8.56 kN. This tells us the Kwila would be a better option for a high traffic flooring.
I have been told to allow 10% wastage, is this necessary?
As a general rule, you should plan to order 10% more than required for the installation. The timber flooring will be cut to fit the exact space, and once boards have been cut they cannot be used elsewhere in the room as generally the side tongues or groove will have been removed. Once that happens, that board cannot adjoin with another board.
Other factors to account is how busy is the room? Things like working around doors, stairs, fireplaces, closets all factor to a larger percentage of waste. If the room is square with no interruptions, the waste factor may be less than 10%.
Your chosen contractor is generally the best estimator of what material will be needed to complete the job.
What does end-matched mean? Are there benefits to having end-matched?
End-matching is a term that describes the process of double-end trimming a plank then a special precision process which puts a tongue and groove on the plank ends.
There are a number of benefits of having your flooring end-matched. It can cut down on the installation and labour time/cost as none of the boards require docking as they are designed to fit together. End-matching will also give a more consistent appearance, the boards fit more snugly which gives a flatter appearance more consistent colour and grain.
I’ve seen different finish sheens on wooden floors, which one is better?
The choice of finishes really comes down to a personal preference. Stain Gloss offers the most shine and reflects the most amount of light, semi-gloss offers some shine and reflects some light. Satin or matte finishes offer the least amount of shine and reflect the least amount of light.
The less sheen, the less you will notice small scratches and other wear normal with hardwood floors. There are also relatively newer products on the market which contain tints and dyes that can lighten or darken the timber. Also used to pick up the grain in the timber to either enhance the wood or give a whitewash or similar appearance.
Grading, what does it all mean?
Depending on the species they all have a "top" grade. Common terms used for the top grade will be known as Clears, PC1 (premium Clears 1) Prime, Dressing Grade A (DA). Other terms used for the next grade down could include, Select & better, PC2 (Premium clears 2), select, commons, rustic, character, tavern, dressing grade B (DB).
All these grades have different meanings dependent on the species of timber, also whether a NZ Native or imported timber can alter the "allowable/permissible" defects within the grading.
Some top grades have allowances for some defects to a percentage of the boards, whilst other species all boards must be clear, clean and defect free. The 'best' grade for you is the one YOU like the most. Whether that be a timber with little colour variation and no knots etc or prominent colour variation and knots to add character.
Installation is so expensive. Why can’t I just do it myself?
Installing a wood floor is a lot more complicated than it appears. Given the cost of the timber alone - any damage done is not as simple as running to the hardwood store for a replacement piece, the cost of that one replacement piece could run into a few hundred dollars with freight and machine set ups often associated with special runs/orders.
Installing the floor requires specialist tools specifically for timber and it takes a lot of experience to become competent enough to ensure a successful installation. All wooden flooring will need to be on the job site and allowed to acclimatise before the install can begin. This can take up to 3-4 weeks depending on the timber species used. This is a very important part of the installation as the timber flooring needs to reach equilibrium moisture content (EMC) with the job site conditions to ensure a long lasting, high quality installation.
Testing for moisture also requires special tools and the sub floor must also be tested. In addition, you'll need to know how to centre the room, how much space should be left for expansion gaps etc. The sub-floor must be level which often requires special fillers/coating. There must also be a moisture barrier between the sub-floor and timber. Any moisture issues at all will result in damage over long term to the timber flooring.
Installing a wood floor is NOT recommended as a DIY project. It really is a case of doing your homework and ensuring you have found a professional, in the long run it will save you money, time and potential headaches.