What is the Best Timber Flooring and Why?

If you want to revamp the ground of your residence or work space, you can’t be mistaken with timber flooring. It is a timeless classic that will bring natural elegance and warmth along with a wide selection of colours, grains and finishes.

Have you noticed the quotation marks around “timber floors” and asked yourself why? With the emergence of new flooring options like hybrid and engineered timber floors, the term “timber flooring” has become increasingly confusing as it is typically used to refer to any type of “wood-like” flooring. In reality, though, most of the “timber flooring” isn’t made from genuine “timber” from trees.

As the decade of the 2020s begins, the majority of the “timber flooring” available has moved away from natural solid timber and towards other types of flooring. These alternatives can offer advantages such as waterproofing and cost-efficiency when compared to traditional timber flooring.

This article is here to help you make sense of the variety of timber flooring options available in Australia. We’ll delve into the different types and leave you with a better knowledge of the different kinds of timber flooring that all share the same wooden look.

What Timber Flooring Alternatives are Available?

Group 1: Hardwood Floors

One may ponder, what is Solid Timber Flooring?

The longevity and classic aesthetic of solid timber flooring make it a favourite among homeowners. With its natural composition, this type of flooring is incredibly robust and can stand the test of time, providing you with a beautiful look and feel for many years to come.

Benefits of Having a Solid Wood Flooring Installed

1) High-Quality Aesthetic Appeal

The look of solid timber floors is something special; not only do they offer a stunning visual, but they also provide a stable and strong feeling beneath your feet. What more could be desired from these wonderful floors?

2) Endurance for an Entire Existence

The durability of these items is such that they will remain usable for a whole lifetime.

Solid timber floors have the advantage of being able to be sanded and polished back to the seams that attach them together. This is a great way to remove any wear and tear that has occurred over the years, and the floor will appear as new. Additionally, solid timber floors have a longer lifespan than engineered timber flooring, so they can be expected to last for many years.

3) Simple to maintain

A solid timber floor requires only minimal cleaning due to its hard, smooth surface which cannot accumulate dirt or grime. Generally, just sweeping or mopping it regularly will maintain its pristine look.

4) Lasting

Floors made of solid wood can have a hard-wearing finish, such as polyurethane, applied to them. This gives them an extra layer of protection which makes them particularly suitable for rooms which receive a lot of foot traffic, like the living room. The finish helps to protect against dents and scratches.

Cons of Having Solid Wood Floors

1) Other surfaces are more resilient than the surface in question

If you’re searching for a floor that can stand up to moisture and take on whatever kids and animals put it through, solid timber may not be the best choice. Instead, laminate, hybrid, or vinyl flooring could be a better fit as they are designed with highly scratch-resistant layers of aluminium oxide.

2) Costlier

The cost of solid timber flooring tends to be higher than other options due to the slow growth rate of the trees necessary for its production. Even so, the initial outlay can be justified by the long-lasting quality of solid timber floors, as well as the fact that no other floor covering can imitate the natural beauty that real timber offers.

3) Has the capacity to fluctuate in size

Moisture that is ingrained in the fibres of solid timber floors causes them to expand and contract as the temperature or humidity fluctuates. Therefore, when installing these floorboards, it is vital to leave a slight gap, otherwise, the floor can become creaky or warped.

Category 2: Floors Made from Engineered Timber

What is the nature of Engineered Timber Flooring?

When you want to enjoy the beauty of real timber on the surface, engineered timber floors are a great alternative to solid timber floors. For a more detailed comparison of engineered timber with solid timber floors, take a look at this article we compiled!

Engineered timber floors have a unique construction, with a thin layer of hardwood bonded to a cheaper plywood substrate. This build endows the floor with some distinct advantages, as explained below.

Benefits of Engineered Wood Flooring

The installation of engineered timber flooring is becoming increasingly popular due to its advantageous characteristics. It offers several advantages, such as its longevity, its resistance to wear and tear, and its simple maintenance requirements. Additionally, engineered timber is an eco-friendly option, with the wood coming from sustainable sources and having a minimal impact on the environment. Furthermore, it is also aesthetically pleasing and can easily be stained to suit any decor. Its versatility and affordability make engineered timber flooring a great choice for many homeowners.

1) Financially Accessible Compared to Solid Timber Floors

Can you really get the same quality of wood with less solid wood? Absolutely! Engineered timber floors provide the same aesthetic as solid timber floors, but at a more affordable price.

2) Steadier

The multiple layers that engineered timber floors are made with give them a greater stability than solid timber floors. With solid timber, a sudden shift in the weather can cause it to expand, contract, or warp. This is not an issue that engineered timber experiences to the same degree, meaning that any creaking from the flooring will be significantly reduced.

3) Aesthetic qualities of high calibre

It can be difficult to discern the difference between solid wood and engineered timber floors by just looking at them, as they are so alike! But one distinction between them is that engineered floors offer more stability, so you have the option of picking out wider floorboards (above 100mm!) if you would like the unique grain and characteristics of the timber to stand out.

4) Reduced Requirement for Attention

The engineered timber floors on the market come with a durable coat of protection, with some even making the surface water-repellant. This makes cleaning more straightforward, as there is no chance for any dirt or dust particles to get into any crevices.

If your floor has become worn-looking, no need to fret! Engineered timber floors have a top wood layer thick enough for them to be re-sanded for a few times in their lifetime.

Cons of Installed Wood Flooring

Engineered timber flooring has certain drawbacks that need to be taken into account before making a purchase.

1) Shortened Life Expectancy in Comparison to Solid Wood Floors

Engineered timber flooring, though created with advanced technology, still has some issues that can affect its lifespan.

One downside of engineered timber floors is delamination, which happens when the layers of the floor detach from each other. This can be caused by a manufacturing error or if moisture has intruded into the boards from the ground.

Engineered timber floors have an issue that limits their lifespan: there isn’t a great deal of actual wood on them. This means that these floors cannot be sanded as frequently as solid timber floors.

2) Could Potentially Generate Fumes

Constructing timber floors often requires joining different pieces together by means of an adhesive. The VOCs emitted from this type of glue may be odorous, depending on the quality of the product. It is recommended to verify with the supplier what kind of flooring is being purchased to ensure the least amount of unpleasant scents.

Group 3: Human-Made "Wood" Flooring (Laminate Floors, Combination & Vinyl Floors)

When seeking out a more budget friendly alternative to timber, non-timber flooring such as laminate, hybrid and vinyl provide a great option. Through modern techniques and intricate printing, these floors offer a realistic look of real wood.

Thanks to advances in science and technology, these floors boast a number of benefits over traditional solid timber flooring, such as increased durability, waterproofing, ease of installation, and affordability.

In 2020, there is a rising trend towards the use of artificial timber floors, especially in areas that have high levels of wear or moisture. While this substitute may not be able to replicate the unique natural qualities of wood, it is becoming a more cost-effective choice.

Option 1: Laminated Floor Covering

Laminated flooring is a popular choice for homeowners looking to enhance the appearance of their interior spaces. It is a cost-effective flooring option that provides durability, easy installation, and a variety of attractive finishes. This type of flooring is also easy to clean and maintain, making it an ideal choice for busy households. Laminated flooring is a great way to give any room a modern, stylish look without breaking the bank.

Are you looking into laminate flooring? We have created an ultimate guide on laminate floors and the pros and cons of it. Check it out here!

Laminate flooring is a cost-effective choice that features a digitally-printed timber look on top of a protective surface layer and a high-density fibreboard base.

Laminated Floor Covering

Benefits of having laminate flooring

  • Laminate flooring is installed as a floating floor which makes it a more cost-effective option to prepare and install.
  • Maintaining laminate floors is much simpler compared to solid wood or engineered timber floors because they are resistant to scratches and fading; in many cases, sweeping or vacuuming is enough to keep your floor in the best condition.
  • Thanks to the high-definition printed layer on the surface of laminate flooring, there are hundreds of styles and colours available for interior designers. At FloorVenue, we have a wide selection of laminate floors, offering over 100 colours and styles!,/li>

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Drawbacks of having laminate flooring installed

  • Upon close examination, particularly with lower-quality print layers, the laminate may appear ‘fake’.
  • What’s more, since the print layer is essentially a picture of real wood, some of the wood patterns can be too frequently repeated and look unrealistic. To counter this, it is possible to stagger the floorboards and opt for higher-quality laminates.
  • Additionally, laminate floors cannot be re-sanded or re-polished, restricting their efficacy over time.
  • Moreover, they are susceptible to moisture which can seep through the click-lock joints, leading to warping. Therefore, it is important to clean up any spills right away!

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In spite of this, laminate flooring remains a sensible and cost-effective decision for your house in 2020 and after, particularly if you’re doing some remodeling or simply desire to alter your floors for the time being.

Option 2: A Combination of Hybrid and Vinyl Flooring

Our full guide to hybrid flooring covers all its features in detail. Check it out here!

A new type of flooring, hybrid flooring, has recently been introduced to the market, boasting an appearance reminiscent of real wood and a water-resistant quality. This makes it an ideal choice for places such as the kitchen, a laundry room, or any other area where moisture levels tend to be higher.

Hybrid floors are constructed similarly to laminate, but with the inclusion of PVC plastic in their core layer. This addition not only allows them to be waterproof, but also very resistant to any alterations in temperature or humidity. Moreover, these floors are typically installed as a floating floor, which makes them effortless to install and remove if a new look is desired.

Vinyl floors are made from flexible PVC plastic that has been printed with textures and colors. Normally, these floors are found in a sheet format, enabling them to be laid like a mat on top of existing floors. Additionally, vinyl floorboards are available. Like hybrid floors, vinyl is completely waterproof and ideal for areas with high moisture or traffic.

Benefits of hybrid and vinyl-based floor coverings

Hybrid and vinyl flooring offer numerous advantages. They are easy to install and maintain, making them ideal for busy households. In addition, these types of flooring are more affordable than hardwood or tile flooring. They are also available in a wide variety of colors and textures, allowing homeowners to create a unique look in their home. Furthermore, vinyl and hybrid flooring are waterproof, making them a great choice for areas prone to moisture. Lastly, these materials are durable and can last for years with minimal upkeep.

  • These floors, being without any moisture-absorbing pores or fibres like timber or plywood, are completely impervious to water, making them ideal for rooms such as laundry and kitchen.
  • The production of hybrid and vinyl floors does not depend on trees, making them more cost-effective to create.
  • The great tenacity of hybrid and vinyl floors is due to the hard-wearing coating of substances like aluminium oxide.
  • Being resilient and waterproof, cleaning hybrid and vinyl floors is extremely easy. All that is needed is a broom, vacuum, or mop.

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Cons of hybrid and vinyl floor coverings

Regrettably, the same potential problems that laminate floors can present can apply to hybrid and vinyl floors, which are also synthetic surfaces.

  • Because the production of hybrid and vinyl floors depends on printing technology, they can appear artificial when examined closely.
  • Pattern duplication is an issue that should be taken into account when viewing the product in a showroom; however, this should not be a problem with higher quality hybrid or vinyl floors.
  • Additionally, these floors cannot be sanded or polished to restore their appearance, meaning their shelf life is restricted.

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Option 3: Tile or Stone Flooring that Imitates Timber

Those wanting a water-resistant floor which has the appearance of wood should consider the option of tile or stone floors with a timber-style finish.

Porcelain tiles are tougher and costlier than ceramic ones, but they are both used in tile flooring. Stone floors, on the other hand, are composed of a mix that contains limestone.

When you are looking to have a surface that is easy to maintain, both tile and stone floors provide great options and can even be used in exterior spaces. The main distinction between tile and stone is that stone floors have better temperature regulation – they stay cooler in the hot Australian summers and provide more warmth in the winter.

Tile and stone flooring have several advantages. These types of flooring can be very durable, they can be easy to clean, and they can also be aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, they can be more resistant to wear and tear than other types of flooring. Additionally, they can be better able to withstand moisture, while also providing a way to add warmth to a room.

  • Tile and stone flooring is much more durable than any other wood-like flooring, making it an ideal choice if you have kids or pets.
  • It is completely waterproof and so is ideal for bathrooms and other wet areas.
  • They are easy to keep clean and require minimal maintenance.
  • The materials used to make them, such as sand and clay, are environmentally friendly.
  • Additionally, they can be installed with soundproof underlay, making them suitable for places like apartments where noise can be an issue.

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Cons of having tiling and stone flooring

  • Compared to stone flooring, tile may not be the most cost-effective choice, as it is more challenging to install than other timber options. The process of putting it in place usually demands cement and glue, which can take up a significant amount of time. Nonetheless, it is still more affordable than having solid timber floors.
  • As opposed to timber, tile and stone can feel chilly and rigid underfoot, leading to an unpleasant sensation (especially during colder months!).

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The Fourth Class: Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo floors, as the name implies, are composed of shredded bamboo grass mixed with a combination of heat and adhesive. Although these floors are harder to come by, they are a more resilient choice when compared to solid and engineered timber.

At a first look, bamboo flooring may appear to be similar to timber, however, they actually possess a distinct grain and texture. There is an array of stains and finishes to choose from, such as the timeworn look of Genesis’ Java floor, or the chic minimalism of Greena’s Lime Wash. Both of these floors, and more, are available at FloorVenue!