Solid timber floors and engineered timber floors are experiencing a renaissance in terms of popularity, and they are a common feature in every modern flooring catalogue, but is there any wonder why?
People have been styling their homes with timber floors for a millennia, mostly because they add a timeless, classic appeal to any space in which they’re installed, and they’re highly durable when laid in the right environment.
But what, exactly, distinguishes the classic natural woods from the new, fancy-pants engineered timber floors? Which of the two might be most cost-effective for you, and most suitable for your home?
Well, we here at Infloorings have written this article to give you the lowdown on timber floors of both the natural and engineered variety, so you can make a more informed decision around which you’d prefer in your home, even if you’re just dreaming for now about having a smooth, gleaming wooden floor under your feet.
Solid timber floors
Once upon a time, solid timber was the bread and butter of the housing industry. It was used for everything from structural beams, to upright posts, and (not surprisingly) the very floorboards beneath which our forefathers walked!
Over time, however, wooden flooring was carpeted over to keep our toesies warm, and eventually it was superseded structurally by concrete flooring, which provided a longer lasting and more stable subfloor.
Yet today, people are stripping back their carpets and exposing their floorboards, or having them installed fresh for the deluxe feel that natural woods add to our houses.
But what, exactly, is a solid timber floor?
As the name implies, solid timber floors are au naturel, fair dinkum woods that hail directly from sustainable hard-wood forests. They are shaped into planks of various lengths and treated shortly thereafter so they’re ready to be fitted into a neat, shiny floor in your home.
Thicker than engineered timber, solid timber can be sanded and subjected to treatments many times over compared to its engineered cousin. Solid timber is 100% real timber made using a traditional tongue and groove method.
The planks are typically delivered and installed in a raw state, at which point they can be sanded back and polished until they have that nice glossy finish we all dream about: you know the kind. Wooden floors that reflect the warm lighting, creating a romantic, atmospheric mood, while feeling smooth and supple underfoot. Yeah, that kind.
And don’t worry about how many times you might need to sand and polish natural solid timbers; these floors can be subjected to this process many times over (depending on its thickness) to regain that same dreamy surface coat for which you originally had them installed. Sounds grand, doesn’t it?
One factor you may want to take into consideration when purchasing a solid timber floor, however, is that wood can expand and warp at a later date if it isn’t properly protected against water exposure during its manufacturing stage.
This is why we strongly recommend that you source your solid timber from a reputable provider.
For example, Australian Select Timbers only stock woods that have been kiln dried during the manufacturing process to ensure all our solid timber products are moisture free, thereby insuring their integrity and minimising the chance that they will expand or warp later down the track.
Engineered timber floors
Australian Select Timber Hickory Impressions Classique Danehill
A solid timber plank is harvested and shaped from a single piece of wood whereas a plank of engineered timber is not: herein lies the key difference between the two products.
Unlike solid timbers, engineered floorboards are comprised of two or more layers that are bonded together through a heating and pressurising process that virtually moulds them into a single unit.
The uppermost layer makes up the surface of the floorboard and is therefore the part of it that is visible to the eye. It can come prefinished but also in a raw state depending on your needs.
Typically, beneath this top layer there is then two or more layers of plywood which increase the overall stability and flexibility of the floorboard.
This engineering process also doubles as a preventative measure, safeguarding the floorboard from humidity-related issues which have been known to afflict solid natural woods.
In terms of appearance, engineered timber floors might not live up to the standards of natural wooden floors. After all, there is no substitute for the classic, lush feel of a real solid timber floor. But this is not to say that engineered floors are a slouch in the looks department.
While engineered floors lack the warmth of authentic solid timber floors, they still look incredible, and what they lack in appearance they certainly make up for in terms of durability and longevity.
Typically, engineered floors are wider than the slim, gleaming slats of solid timber floors, nor are they quite as long. But they compensate for these dimensional drawbacks with a much cheaper price tag and by typically outliving their natural cousins. Find out more about the Australian Select Timbers Engineered Floor collection.
Both solid timber floors and engineered timber floors possess traits that make each of them unique, endearing and appealing in their own right.
The timeless solid timber floor adds a sense of style and décor that will never age with the passing of time whereas the engineered timber floor is less expensive and is generally more durable. They are both awesome in their own way!
As such, we cannot recommend that you pick one over the other: instead, we advise you to think about your personal preferences and suggest that you pick the type of wooden floor that best suits your lifestyle in terms of functionality and performance.
Just remember, make sure you select and purchase products only from credible flooring experts.
We stock both solid timber floors as well as engineered timber floors here at Infloorings, so if you’re window-shopping for either product, make sure you drop in our Rockdale showroom and speak to one of our flooring consultants today, or ring up and have a chat so we can help you pick the most suitable flooring for your home.
Also, if wooden floors aren’t your thing and you’re hoping to explore some other options, we’ve got other comprehensive catalogues featuring laminate, bamboo and vinyl flooring alternatives too!