Frequently Asked Questions
Please see below for some of the more commonly asked questions, if you need more information please call or email us.
Floor Types Explained
- What is Engineered Flooring?Engineered flooring is a made up of multiple layers fixed together, so that each runs crosswise to the other. It is generally composed of a surface layer (or 'wear layer') of decorative hardwood which is glued to a base of material such as plywood or HDF. As the surfaces of engineered and solid wood are both made from hardwood timber, an Engineered wood floor looks exactly the same look as a solid wood floor once installed - you would never know the difference.
- What are the benefits of Engineered Flooring?Engineered flooring has many benefits and for this reason it has widely become accepted as the preferred alternative over solid wood flooring.
With engineered flooring you achieve the exact same look as a solid wood floor and nobody would ever know the difference. Engineered flooring has a surface layer of real hardwood timber that is the ‘real deal’ - so just as with a solid wood floor, no two boards will be the same. As we all know, a natural wood floor is gorgeous to look at and can add considerable value (not to mention wow factor) to your home.
The main advantage is that the base layers provide excellent stability, greatly preventing issues such as cupping, warping and shrinkage which are common with solid wood flooring in NZ's humid climate. Due to its superior stability, most engineered flooring is also compatible for use over under-floor heating (which is not advised with solid wood flooring).
Engineered flooring also helps to conserve forests by using approximately one third of the amount of precious hardwood timber compared with solid wood flooring of the same dimensions. To explain this: With any wood floor, you can only sand back as far as the tongue, as this is what holds the flooring together. So with solid wood flooring, the beautiful hardwood timber that is located beneath the tongue area will never be seen and is essentially a waste.
Once an engineered floor becomes old and worn it can usually be sanded back and re-coated. This enables you to go for a complete new colour and look if desired, without buying another whole floor. Should repairs need to be done to specific boards within your engineered floor, it is often possible to remove and replace select boards only which minimizes cost.
In a nutshell: You get exactly the same look as a solid wood floor but with greatly increased stability and other benefits. No one will ever know it's not a solid wood floor!
- What are the disadvantages of Engineered Flooring?Engineered flooring can be quite pricey, being on average about 50-75% more expensive than laminate flooring
Engineered flooring has a hardwood surface (wear layer) which, being a natural timber, is susceptible to scratching and will show wear over time, especially in heavy traffic areas. Some people are happy with this as it tends to give the floor a character. However, if you want a floor that will still look near perfect in 10 years time, you are best to go for a laminate as they are much harder wearing.
Engineered floors, like most real wood flooring, are not waterproof and can be damaged by moisture or liquids. Installing and engineered floor in a wet area such as a bathroom is not advised but should you still wish to, it is recommended that a sealer coat be applied after installation to prevent moisture or liquid getting under the surface.
- What is Laminate Flooring?Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product fused together with a lamination process. The main core of the board is usually made of compressed wood chips, the more densely compressed the board, the stronger it is. Laminate flooring replicates the appearance of wood (and sometimes stone) by using a photographic applique layer under a clear protective layer. Modern technologies enable a very realistic imitation, not just in looks but with 3D texturing which replicates feel of real wood or stone.
- What are the benefits of Laminate Flooring?Laminate flooring can very closely replicate the look and feel of a real wood floor, but is also much cheaper than real wood flooring, being on average about 25-50% of the price
The largest benefit of laminate flooring would have to be it's durability. Because it is made of compressed wood this flooring type is very strong and most are highly resistant to wear and tear. A high quality laminate like our Balterio range is usually resistant to staining, fading, surface moisture, scratches, cigarette burns, stiletto marks and more.
Laminate flooring is very easy to care for, requiring no maintenance other than routine cleaning.
Installation of laminate flooring requires some knowledge but if undertaken correctly it is a fairly simple task, easy enough for a general DIYer or handyman. Reading the manufacturers instructions is highly recommended.
- What are the disadvantages of Laminate Flooring?Because laminate is so densely compressed it does not absorb sound the same as a real wood floor and therefore can be noisy to walk on. A good quality underlay can go a long way towards reducing the noise in this situation.
A laminate floor, being a man-made product, does not have the variety of a natural wood product. Plank patterns can be repeated as often as every 6 boards, depending on the brand. Care needs to be take when installing not to put the same boards next to each other or it will look unsightly. There is also very little colour variation between boards with a laminate, whereas there can be quite a lot of colour variation with a real wood floor.
Laminate flooring can't be sanded back and re-coated like a real wood floor so if in future you want to change your colour scheme or look you will need to buy a new floor.
If the surface of the laminate floor is punctured and the core gets wet, this can cause swelling. For repairs, there is only one option - that is to remove and replace the board at fault. In some cases, due to the joint system, this may not be possible. Also, depending on sunlight and age, the new piece may not match properly.
Floor Statuses Explained
- What is Pre-finished flooring?Pre-finished flooring is a term associated with solid or engineered timber flooring.
The word Pre-finished is used to describe flooring which has had finishing coatings applied in the factory as a part of the manufacturing process. In almost all cases it will require no further finishing after installation.
This idea of pre-finished flooring has been widely embraced worldwide as it is such a huge convenience, eliminating the noise, dust, smells and wait time associated with having a floor finished on site.
One downside of pre-finished flooring is that if you have a certain colour or look in mind it may not be available - pre-finished floors are generally not customizable so you are limited to the designs that are created from the factory. However nowdays there are quite a number of options available so you should be able to find something to meet your requirements.
The other factor is that pre-finished flooring is rarely available without beveled edges. (See beveled edge for information). So if you don't like the look of the beveled edge you may be best to have your floor finished on site.
- What is Unfinished (or site-finished) Flooring? Unfinished flooring refers to raw, natural timber flooring (whether solid or engineered) that is supplied without any finishing coatings applied. This type of flooring is usually finished on site after it has been installed.
- Pre-finished vs Unfinished: ConveniencePre-finished flooring much more convenient than a site-finished floor and a huge time-saver. The idea of the pre-finished floor has been widely embraced worldwide as it eliminates the noise, dust, smells and wait times associated with having a floor finished on site.
- Pre-finished vs Unfinished: FlexibilityAlthough pre-finished flooring is available in a wide range of colours and styles, it still doesn’t allow the same flexibility of choices as you get with having a floor finished on site. With pre-finished flooring each style usually comes in a set width, grade, colour and finish. For example, a particular colour might come in the standard width of 189mm wide, in a clear grade only and with a polyurethane finish. On the other hand, with unfinished flooring your options are unlimited - you can choose the width, species and grade of the timber, as well as the colour and finish type you wish, and any special effects that you might like (eg a sawn effect which is not commonly available with pre-finished products).
- Pre-finished vs Unfinished: AppearanceThe difference between a pre-finished floor and a site-finished floor is not usually detectable once installed. However, there is a common difference; a pre-finished floor usually has bevelled edges whereas a site-finished floor is often smooth. Note, this is not always the case, as some site-finished floors do have bevelled edges - it is really down to the preference of the buyer.
Because a pre-finished product is factory-finished and does not get sanded to a smooth surface after installation, it usually comes with a bevelled edge. This helps to disguise any minor height variances between boards that may be present after the product is installed. Unfinished floors do not require bevelled edges because they are usually sanded to achieve a flat surface after installation and before being finished. However, there are unfinished products with bevelled edges available for those who prefer that look.
- Pre-finished vs Unfinished: CostWith pre-finished flooring your finishing cost is obviously incorporated in the cost of the product so the only other cost you will need to factor in is the installation. This allows for a more predictable cost for the look you are after.
On the other hand, with unfinished flooring you are only paying for the raw product and the cost of the finishing will hit you later once the product is installed and ready to be finished. The cost of achieving the colour is up to the finisher and could vary quite a bit depending on what finish colour and type you opt for and how easy or difficult it is to achieve. This cost is more difficult to predict and can lead to the site-finished floor being more expensive than the pre-finished floor.
- Pre-finished vs Unfinished: DurabilityIt is difficult to compare the durability of the coatings of pre-finished flooring to those of site-finished flooring, as it depends on the type of coating used.
However we can tell you is that for utmost durability we recommend a floor that is finished on site. This is not because pre-finished flooring is of any lesser quality, but because a site-finished floor has a continuous coating on the surface which seals over all the joints. Having the joints sealed minimizes the risk of water getting down through the joints and causing damage to the floor.
- Pre-finished vs Unfinished: What should I choose?To decide whether to go for a pre-finished or unfinished floor, you really need to weigh up your priorities. If you are on a tight timeframe, want better convenience and a more predictable cost, a pre-finished floor may be your best option. On the other hand if you have a specific look or finish type in mind that is not available pre-finished, and the cost, timeframe and convenience is not a worry - then buying unfinished flooring and having it finished on site may be your best option.
Although unfinished (or site-finished) flooring has a number of benefits over pre-finished flooring, pre-finished flooring still remains for the most part, the more popular option due to its convenience and time-saving properties.
Finish Types Explained
- Acrylic Lacquer / PolyurethaneAn acrylic lacquer (or polyurethane) finish provides a very tough, durable coating to the surface to which it is applied, protecting the underlying surface from stains, wear and damage. It is one of the most common finish types for flooring because it is very low-maintenance.
- UV Cured OilOil finishes work by penetrating the wood surface and working in the cell structure to protect and nourish the wood. They give a soft lustre to the wood, providing a more natural appearance than a polyurethane.
A UV Cured Oil finish is cured using a UV light, a quick process that provides a good sealed coating to the floor and ensures a consistent finish. UV Cured Oil finishes offer the soft natural appearance of a typical oiled floor while having the easier care requirements of a polyurethane finish.
- Natural OilOil finishes work by penetrating the wood surface and working in the cell structure to protect and nourish the wood. They give a soft lustre to the wood, providing a more natural appearance than a polyurethane.
A Natural Oil finish is applied in several coats and allowed to dry naturally between coats. Typically 2 or 3 coats of oil are applied. Natural oil finishes require more maintenance than a polyurethane finished floor and are not as durable, but they also have some added benefits. When a Natural Oil floor is starting to show signs of wear it can be replenished by simply adding another coat of oil - this will smooth over the scratches and revive the look of the floor.
- What finish type is best for me?Acrylic or Polyurethane floors are the most convenient for busy people or those on a smaller budget. There is no hassle of having to routinely apply more coatings. The floor is highly durable but will show signs of wear with age, as most surfaces do. 10 years or so down the track if it becomes quite worn you might consider getting it re-finished. Until then… just keep it clean and no worries!
UV Cured Oil floors are also very convenient, give you the beautiful natural look of an oil but are slightly less hardwearing than a polyurethane. UV Cured Oil floor is best suited for someone who really wants the look of an oiled floor but doesn't have the time to care for it routinely.
Natural Oil floors are more of a constant care, best for those who are energetic and have plenty of time on their hands, or those with a bigger budget who can allocate the care of the floor to a professional. A Natural Oil floor can be revived on demand - any time it starts to look dull a new oil coating can be applied to make it look like new again. In Commercial situations such as restaurants this is particularly useful to ensure the place remains looking tidy and presentable. In Residential situations, the need to revive the floor is likely to be a less frequent occurrence as there is generally much less foot traffic.
Edge Types Explained
- Bevelled edgeBevelled edges are commonly found on pre-finished wood flooring and also some unfinished wood flooring. A bevelled edge is especially important on a pre-finished floor because this floor type is factory finished and may have minor height variances between boards, which a bevel disguises very effectively. Unfinished floors do not require bevels because they are usually sanded to achieve a flat surface before being finished. However, there are some unfinished products available that come with bevels for those who prefer that look.
Bevels enable you to distinguish between planks from a distance and often vary in size between brands. Larger bevels, especially with lighter coloured floors, can be a hassle as dust and dirt that becomes trapped in the groove can become very noticeable. Smaller 'micro-bevels' are a popular choice as there is less of a cavity for dust and dirt to be trapped in, while still achieving the same look.
- Square edgeSquare edges are most commonly found on unfinished wood flooring, as unfinished wood floors can be sanded to achieve a flat surface before they are finished.
A square edge gives a flat, uniform appearance to a floor and makes it difficult to distinguish between planks from a distance. Some people prefer square edges over bevelled edges because it eliminates the likelihood of dust and dirt getting caught in the grooves. However, bevelled edges that are sealed correctly will be easy to keep clean.