97 – The Renovators Guide To Timber Flooring

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guide to timber flooring

This is a solo episode that I haven’t done for a while and I thought it’s time to share another information that I know would be very beneficial to all aspiring renovators out there.

Today, we will talk about Timber Flooring. Pretty much everyone likes timber floors but not everyone knows the decision it entails. This episode will greatly help you on how to install it, what type and materials to choose, and so much more. Also, I will share the status of my reno projects and how it’s going considering the kind of condition we are currently facing right now.

Listen to Episode 97: The Renovators Guide To Timber Flooring

Podcast: Download (Duration 21:31 — 29MB)

Episode Highlights

  • [00:00:49] My reno projects update
  • [00:03:47] Renovating is always surprising
  • [00:05:15] The Chalmers Street project
  • [00:07:38] Few considerations with timber flooring
  • [00:09:01] The cost of having timber floor
  • [00:10:10] Low cost effective tips for doing solid timber floors
  • [00:12:51] The downside of sealing timber floors
  • [00:13:14] Two main types of floating floor
  • [00:14:03] Floating floors price
  • [00:14:46] Tips for a really good laminate or engineered floor
  • [00:17:26] Board’s direction matters
  • [00:18:31] What to consider if you’re installing timber floors
  • [00:19:28] Looking after your floating floors
  • [00:20:28] A message for the gorgeous review we just received

Transcription

“One thing about renovating is it’s always surprising. Things never go completely as you would like them to go so you need to be prepared for anything.”

Intro

Hello, hello, everyone, it’s Bernadette back with another episode of She Renovates. Today is a solo episode. I haven’t done one of these for a while, and I thought that it was about time.

Bernadette: Before I get into that, I want to update you on how I’m going. The Chalmers Street project is going along really well, things seem to be falling into place. It’s behind program but that’s mainly because I have quite a lot on my plate and I just don’t have the capacity to push it too hard this week. We also have our She Renovates Live conference at the end of next week and once that’s done, I will be able to give it the last shove for want of a better word to get it over the line.

It’s actually coming together quite nicely. The tiler has really dragged it down, normally this tiler will give me a team and they’ll be in and out basically with waterproofing and tiling in about a week but it dragged over three week. I believe that’s because he’s busy, he’s been telling me these stories which I know are absolutely rubbish but I’m just not getting too hung up on it at the moment. It’s cruising along pretty nicely so I’m not too worried as long as the property gets to market in good time before Christmas, which it will.

We also got approval on the other two projects, so we sort of ramping those up. At some stage I will go into more detail of the Lane Cove project because that was our experiment in Renovating for a Client. I have to say, for me, being one of the most challenging projects, mainly because the strata manager is a piece of work, I think you would say. Anyhow, we’ve got the approval and that’s set to go but I will probably go into some more detail about that in another episode.

Darley Street also got approval and I’ve actually handed over to David to get the demolition done because I just think it would be crazy for me to take on something else at this point. If he does that, then the plumber and electrician can come in and do their first fix so that it’ll be ready for me to bring the tiler in which will be quite cruzi, I think.

We’ve made a lot of the selections for Darley Street, I’m actually really happy with the plan. I was concerned about it because when I handed it over, I said to David, “Do what you like with it” and then he came back and said, “How brave do you want to be?” I started to worry, but when I saw the plan, I was really thrilled with it. We’ve already bought the tiles, mainly because we had a lot of trouble finding them. We got them and we found them so that one is so tiny it shouldn’t take too long, but you never know what’s going to crop up.

That’s the one thing about renovating, it is always surprising. Things never go completely as you would like them to go so you need to be prepared for anything. Interesting, one of the building managers at Trauma’s Street told me that someone on the 12th floor had actually dropped something metal down the toilet and it had gone all the way down the building and punched out the pipe on ground floor and flooded one apartment with sewerage, oh, my god, wouldn’t that be awful if that was our project? But thankfully, it wasn’t.

I spent the weekend with my gorgeous grandies and that always gives me some energy to move on. I’m still working with the hypnotherapist and that’s been amazing, absolutely. That’s quite exciting. Also, I had Jo Vadillo, my occasional co-host, come over today and we were packing goodie bags for our upcoming online event, Pandemic to Prosperity, which we actually booked out this event at the beginning of Covid but then had to stop it because of the lockdown. We’ve finally given up and decided to go online. We’re posting out all the goodie packs and while we started doing it today, we went out to lunch to celebrate her birthday. That was a nice day.

Now, let’s get into this. Today, I’m talking about floors and in particular, timber floors. Currently in Chalmers Street, I have been wanting to run the floating floor under the island bench in the kitchen, mainly because the island bench has a curved side. I obviously can’t do a skirting on that so I have decided that I want the paneling to go right down to the floor. I don’t want the flooring guys to have to scribe into it so I want to run the floor underneath it. The suppliers say I can’t do it. I know that I can, we’re quite particular about which direction we’re going to run the boards. We’re going to run them across the room but the island bench really only has one cabinet in it because it’s got a sink, it’s got a dishwasher and it’s also got a wine fridge. There’s really only one proper cabinet so it’s not really going to create too much stress on the floor. That’s something I’m going to be having with them tomorrow.

What I’ll do is I’ll actually mark the kitchen out so that we can see on the floor where it’s going to reside. They just need to certainly on the island bench side, that can just go straight underneath. That will mean that the floor inside the dishwasher races and the wine fridge races will have floor boards on it. I’ll get them to just run them in just under the skirting area so that when the kitchen guy puts the kicker in, he can put them in completely and they’ll sit on top of the floating floor. That would be a nice-neat finish.

I am actually putting skirting in that room, so I’m getting quotes from the flooring supplier to actually install the skirting. They will do that so I’ll have to supply it, which I’ll measure it up and get it delivered. Then when they’ve completed the flooring they will install it so it’ll be all ready for the painter to come along and paint.

Timber flooring is very popular amongst floor choices. Pretty much everyone likes the timber floor. It’s a pretty safe option but of course deciding on what timber floor to go for is always the thing that creates some angst. I just thought I’d talk about a few considerations with timber flooring in order to help with that decision.

There was a time when we only did solid timber floors until I realised that most people, like 90% of the people looking at your property will not know that your floor is not solid. I’ve been looking at properties and listening to people talking about how lovely the timber floors were and they weren’t solid timber and that’s when I realised, “You know what? I don’t have to put up with all this mess and the pain and the expense of putting in a timber floor in my projects because the buyers really don’t know”.

The other thing is they’re not going to pay any more. If you do put in a solid timber floor, they will like it. They will say how lovely it is, but they won’t pay any more for it. With what we do, we want to make sure that we get paid for everything we do.

Timber floor generally will cost around about 130, 140 dollars laid per square metre. Then you have to go and get it sanded and sealed. I personally think particularly for renovating for profit, that’s just madness unless, of course, you have existing beautiful timber floors or even not beautiful timber floors. There’s lots of things that you can do with timber floors to conceal their lack of beauty, such as lime washing or black Japan. Yeah, they’re about the best options.

Our daughter Hannah ripped up the carpet at her husband’s property in Melbourne and found that they had lovely Victorian ash floors. They wanted to really make those a feature. To put that quality flooring down now is out of the reach of most renovators. If you are going for a solid timber floor or you’ve got a solid timber floor, it’s the most cost effective flooring you can do because the sanding and ceiling is quite inexpensive. I’ll just give you a few tips around that.

Sanding

I think everyone at some point in time has a go at hiring a sander and doing it themselves. We certainly did and I know lots of people that have. Stepehen and I were really sorry that we did it because managing a sander is definitely a learnt skill and it takes some time to master. If you don’t, what happens is you end up with sort of depressions in your floor because you’ve spent too much time on it and it’s dug in and so on. I personally would strongly recommend that you pay someone to sand and seal your floor.

The last one I had done was the one in Wynnum, and that was so cheap it was about twenty seven dollars a square metre to sand and seal the floor. Whoever’s doing it starts, they need to punch the nail holes so the nails are down below the surface, fill the gaps but if you want to save some money, that would be a good job to do because you’ll be charged extra to do it. But then get someone in to sand and seal. Generally, they do lightly sand in between coats of the sealer as well. It used to be we would only seal with a gloss polyurethane, but now these days the gloss isn’t the most desirable look. Generally speaking, I will go for a low sheen polyurethane because it is the most serviceable and stays looking good for a very long time.

Sealing

There’s a big movement towards more natural products. One product we have used is called tung oil which is very challenging to maintain. You are supposed to be able to touch it up and it is a, I guess I’d say pseudo natural product however, it just scratches really easily. And you find that you’re having to re-surface. If there’s a family living in the home, that you’ll be re-surfacing quite often because it’s just not very resilient.

The product that Hannah and Ed used is called Osmo, what that’s like is it really soaks into the wood and gives a very matte finish, which is quite a nice modern look. It’s quite expensive, but I think it’s worth looking at if you want to go for something. It’s going to really bring out the natural character of the timber, and you’re not sort of distracted by a level of gloss. It almost looks like it doesn’t have anything on it. It’s quite an interesting product.

The other downside I think of that is that you have to stay off it for a few days in order for the several coats of sealer to dry. Generally, in a project we’re selling, we will do two but sometimes they need three. Sometimes the timber will really soak it up and it needs three coats and so that’s quite a few days where you’ve got to stay off it.

Floating floors

For most of our projects, we go with a floating floor. There’s two main types of floating floor. There is the engineered floor, which is basically a veneer of real timber on a plywood or it’s usually a plywood substrate. The good thing about that is it behaves like timber, it looks like timber for all intents and purposes, however, it is usually pre sealed, which means you don’t have to go through that horrible sanding and sealing phase. You can re-sand it so you can redo the surface if it starts to wear off. The veneer is about three to four mill deep so there’s a limited amount of time that you can sand it, but at least you have that option.

For the price, when we lay that, we usually pay between 100 and 120 dollars per square metre laid. The other option is the laminate floating floor. Now, in reality, laminate is not timber. It’s a photograph of timber grain on a substrate, which is usually MDF. Some of the products are so good that it’s very hard to tell the difference so we do use it quite a lot. If we’re going for a really high end project where we’ve got a decent budget, we will go for engineered, but we do use laminate a lot. I want to give you some tips on getting a really good finish using either laminate or engineered floor.

Thickness

Make sure that you’ve got a decent thickness. You see those cheap, nasty laminates at Bunnings and they’re eight mil thick, you can tell the difference. I would always go for a 12 mil minimum because I want a nice solid finish. I like to go for wide boards because I think that they have quality look about them. I like to go for a minimum of 190 millimetres wide.

Board length

And the other thing that I think is important is the length of the board. It’s basically called a longboard, but it’s actually laminate. They’re random lengths and they’re long, up to two metres long, which once again makes it look very much like a timber floor. It’s hard to tell the difference. So that’s a couple of the tips.

Now, there’s two main ways it’s installed.

1. It can be completely floating, so it’s just tolerance allowed at the edges of the room in order for the material to expand but otherwise, it’s clipped together and it’s floating.

2. You can go for direct stick and obviously direct stick doesn’t have that sort of hollow feeling. When you walk on a floating floor, you can tell because it sounds hollow, so you’re not likely to get the same amount of movement when it’s stuck down.

When the floor is going down, just watch the installation and make sure that they’ve closed in the gaps really well. The quality of the installation makes a big difference so just make sure it is installed really securely and nice tight joins between the planks and you’ll find that you get a really good look.

Edges

Now, how you finish it off at the edges is important because if you don’t think this through, you’ll end up with either a hideous scotia or a baid like a quarter round or something. Personally, I really do not like that. I have used that at times when that’s what the budget we had, however, if I can, I’ve got the budget for it. I will always put skirting boards down. Now you can take existing skirtings off and then reinstall them. Often you’ll end up with a bit of damage to the wall as the skirting comes off so you know how successful that is depends a lot. But, I definitely think that’s a preferable way to finish off your floating floor.

Board’s direction

You want to think about the direction your boards run. I actually like to run my boards across the room. Technically speaking, the boards should run in the same direction with a light source. So if you’ve got a long, say, kitchen living room and at the end you’ve got multifold doors opening, you should really run your boards with the length of the room. The reason being, I think this was sort of decided in Bondi days when we had real timber flooring. If they had the timber running across, often their boards would cup and if it’s running across, it’s much more obvious than if it’s running lengthways. If the underneath is not sealed and the top is, the moisture in the air causes the boards to expand but because they’re sealed on top, the top doesn’t expand at the same rate as the back of the board. If you’re using a floating floor, you won’t have this issue.

Installing in apartments

The other thing to think about is that when you are installing in apartments, you need to put in an acoustic underlay. Some apartment buildings have bylaws about this that tell you exactly what you’ve got to put in, some don’t, some ask for your specifications and that’s been the case with all of ours. We’ve had to put in the certification for the flooring that we’re using. Some say “Put it in and then get a sound engineer to do an acoustic test on it”, it’s called a tap test and it costs a couple of thousand dollars to do. The problem with that is if you’ve got four coats for the test and then if it doesn’t meet the building’s requirements, you’ve spent all this money getting this flooring down that doesn’t meet the requirements. That’s not really a great outcome if you end up having to meet those requirements.

Moisture

Lastly, look after the floating floor. Don’t let moisture sit on it, even if it does have a good moisture rating, it’s just not designed for puddles of water to be left on it. It’ll seep into the substrate and it won’t have a good outcome. Keep it really clean and dry, vacuum frequently because the dirt will scratch the finish.

In our project, when the floor goes down, we put floor protection on top of it straight away, because you do find that your trades don’t have enough respect for it. And before the job’s even finished, you’ll have a damaged floor if you’re not careful.

Okay, so there’s some of my best tips for timber flooring. I hope that it’s helpful. I will also include a little cheat sheet just to help you with your flooring choices.

If you’ve not done it already, I would love it if you would go and leave us a review. I had an absolutely gorgeous one left last week and sorry, I did read it, but I haven’t got it with me to read out. And of course, I really know who’s left the review because they’re pen names that are used in Apple. For that person that left that lovely review, thank you so much. I love reading them. I love knowing that I am making a difference to your renovation.

For those of you who are coming to She Renovates live, I am dying to see you and to spend the day with you soaking up all the magic of renovating.

So that’s it for me today and take care.

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