Questions People Ask
What do all the flooring terms mean?
Flooring falls into the following types.
1 Solid Timber Floors for direct fix 12-19mm thick
2 Solid Timber Floors for installation over plywood 10mm thick
3 Parquetry Blocks 14-19mm thick for direct fix
4 Engineered floors with a thick veneer
5 Floating floors which may or may not be re-sanded
The most common long term flooring choices are item 1 above.
A well installed solid timber floor is an investment in a durable floor choice.
Why do you focus on Australian timber?
The average Australian timber is twice as hard as the average northern hemisphere timber. Simply put; the local product is better suited to our conditions. Timbers grown in humid climates do not always adjust well to local conditions. Additionally local timbers have a proven track record having been in use for many years. Newer products have yet to prove themselves and we would prefer not to be a testing ground for these.
Why are there different sizes and thicknesses?
The early flooring option was to install timber over plywood. 10mm thicknesses works well over a plywood base. For the last decade we have used directly fixed Sika systems over a moisture barrier membrane. Adhering 10mm to concrete presents difficulties because concrete is not level and the timber can bend into the shape of the concrete. The end result is a floor that requires a lot of sanding. Even then we are not pleased with the results generally.
We therefore recommend 12-19mm timbers for direct fix and 10mm over plywood. 12-19mm timbers are therefore more cost effective because there is no need to install plywood.
Timber is dynamic. It expands and contracts. If a board is wider than 85mm with some species and 105mm with others then the board must be made thicker. 125 & 130mm wide boards are usually 19mm thick. VCS do not recommend wide but thin boards. Cupping, twisting etc could present a problem. If you respect the natural properties of the timber you should have no concerns. As always all floors should be installed correctly using adhesives designed for the purpose.
What are the most popular timber choices and why?
West Australian, New South Wales and Victorian timbers are extremely popular. It?s very much personal choice as there are many beautiful timbers to choose from. Australian timbers are widely used and have a long history of successful application as flooring.
Praised for their consistency, ease of use, durability and availability are the following species.ALL AUSTRALIAN Chestnut Featured Rosegum Australian Oak Ironbark Sheoak Australian Reds Jarrah Spotted Gum Australian Whites Karri Light Sydney Blue Gum Blackbutt NSW Karri Dark Tallowwood Chestnut Plain Marri Tasmanian Oak Light colours, dark colours & medium colours are all represented.
We have heard that light colored timbers are soft and dark colored timbers are hard?
We are not sure where this idea comes from. It is simply not true. NSW Blackbutt is a light colored timber. It is harder than Jarrah. Most Australian timbers are very hard. An exception is Tasmanian Oak which has some softer species blended into the mix; even so there are many Tasmanian Oak floors around and many perform well. If you are looking for hardwearing floors please look closely at the Australian options. Family homes do take a fair amount of traffic and using timbers that do not dent as easily as others is a worthwhile consideration.
Would you re-sand a floating floor?
Floating floors are not stuck down to the concrete. They move on the underlay as you try to re-sand them. We would not attempt to re-sand a floating floor. A re-coat where a rotary sander is an option so long as the floor choice has a suitable existing coating in place.
What about re-sanding an engineered floor?
Engineered floors have hardwood cores and the floor may usually be adhered to a moisture barrier using a flexible polyurethane adhesive. Where the surface veneer is 4mm thick and the floor has been installed as outlined above we would usually recommend re-sanding as an option.
Do you have pre-finished solid timber options?
We do have options. There are now many options around but we have chosen a small range. You should bear in mind that in the majority of cases a pre-finished floor will require a full re-sand within 2 years. If you take this into account they are not as cost effective as a raw timber floor.
Do you recommend a gloss level for the finish?
We recommend a satin or matte finish. High gloss finishes will highlight every speck of dust, especially if the area is well lit. Large windows can create a strong reflection and this may obscure the floor.
A satin finish adds class. It is however personal choice. We stock all gloss levels. It is also worth noting that, as we comment later, the finish can affect the final appearance of the floor greatly. We are always happy to discuss coating options.
What is your policy on kiln dried timber?
All flooring must be kiln dried to suit the application. We ensure that the mills supply timber suited to average West Australian conditions. Thereafter it should be acclimatized to site. We see this attention to quality as an important part of our service.
What is Acclimatization?
Timber should be stored on site inside for a period of time to allow the floor to adjust to the site conditions. This is the way that quality floor installers make sure that the floor is ready for installation. If a batch of timber is delivered one day and installed the next it will adjust after installation. This can result in gapping or tensioning in the floor.
It seems to be an unnecessary waste of energy when this could have been avoided initially by taking the time to acclimatize the product. If you try to rush a natural process you will lose every time. All solid raw timber floors require attention to acclimatization. The period will vary according to the timber and the location.
Remember timber may only be dried to the average moisture content for a city.
Do you want an average floor or a well installed floor?
Not everyone recommends a moisture barrier. The moisture barrier is a system designed to stop moisture coming through the slab and transferring into the timber. Many accidental events can cause this to happen. [Leaks and overflows etc.] A moisture barrier is an economical and reliable system of protection. We always recommend a moisture barrier where a floor is installed over concrete. It is a must have. The moisture barrier question relates to the long-term success of the floor. Why choose an installer who takes a short cut in installing your floor?
Why use flexible adhesives?
Timber naturally expands and contracts. Flexible yet strong adhesives will allow natural movement without affecting the bond. Rigid adhesives try to hold the timber firmly in place. Timber exerts huge force when it moves. This can result in micro-fracturing in the rigid adhesive and eventual failure. Our contact with many contractors who do insurance work has demonstrated time and time again that a floor held down using a Sika flexible adhesive over a moisture barrier is almost impossible to lift whereas rigid adhesives lift easily in comparison.
Just as coatings are flexible to allow for some movement, so the adhesive should be flexible. Timber will take on and lose moisture through the seasons. It will expand and contract. We strongly endorse a flexible system.
It may take a little longer to install a floor correctly but again, it is your floor. Short cuts really shouldn?t be an option if you want a good result. Floors should be installed using not only the correct adhesives but also using the correct amount of adhesive.
Will the coatings stop the timber taking on or losing moisture?
Coatings are designed to let the timber breathe so that timber will still move no matter what coating is used. Depending on the season and environment the timber will either take on or lose moisture. We have all seen a door that sticks in winter and moves freely in summer. It happens every year. In the first year timber will go through a settling period as it adjusts to the house. In almost every case you won?t notice this effect if the timber was supplied kiln dried, allowed to acclimatize and installed over a recommended moisture barrier using a flexible polyurethane adhesive.
Why do timber samples look different in each showroom?
Many people are unaware of the major effect that sanding and coating application can have on a timber. Take a piece of dry timber and wet it; the colour changes significantly. Coatings have a similar yet much more pronounced effect.
While timber is essentially the same in appearance when raw, the coating changes the look of the timber markedly. Some finishes will significantly darken the timber and some will keep a floor light. Some finishes will highlight the red tones in timber whereas others highlight brown tones. Lighting will also highlight differences.
If you like the look of the timber on display you might ask about the finish used on the sample. Only that finish will allow you to achieve that finished look.
Can you supply coatings to achieve lighter or darker floors?
We supply coatings that keep floors light and coatings that will darken the floor. We even supply oils that significantly deepen colours. All of our finishes and sealers are trade grade which makes them tough and hardwearing. Heavy duty coatings also have the distinction of being manufactured to provide an even finish that looks exceptional.
Based on your experience, what would you look for if you were buying a timber floor?
1 We would ask to see the timber in a larger sample. It is impossible to know how a timber would look based on a 600mm x 600mm sample. Each timber has good variation in colour which is best shown on samples of 600mm x 1500mm or greater. For example Jarrah has tones from dark red through to light red and brown. A small sample will not show this variation.
2 We would ask to see a sample of the timber in the raw. Then we would check the wear layer. This is the amount of timber above the tongue and groove. This needs to be 5mm or greater. This area is the amount that can be sanded. Since a well machined and installed floor will lose about 1 -1.5mm in the initial leveling you need this wear layer to ensure the floor will last many decades. [a 5mm wear layer floor re-coated regularly according to normal procedures could last 70 or more years.]
3 We would always purchase 12mm or greater thickness of timber to unsure that the timber was stable.
4 We would ask about the moisture content. This should be in the range of 10-12%. The timber should be kiln dried. If someone tried to tell us that the timber did not need to be acclimatized or that it did not need to be kiln dried then we would keep walking.
5 We would ask about stocks. Holding good stocks of timber is a sign that the company is committed to their product rather than just a retailer drawing from a central store. While no one can stock everything it is reassuring to be able to walk into a timber store and also be able to see for yourself the quality of the stock. We would also look at where the timber is stored. It should be secure and dry rather than outside in a yard. [note; with engineered floors this is different as manufactured products are imported to central locations by necessity of freight costs.
6 We would ask the person giving us advice if they had ever installed their own floor or worked in that side of the industry. This is one of the best ways to avoid miss-information. Those who have worked in the industry for many years can provide accurate well founded advice that you can rely on.
7 We would take our plans with us. It is good to get an accurate measure and quote and let an experienced eye look over the plans and ask questions.
What is your view of DIY?
We have been assisting people with DIY for 20 years. We run regular courses to assist people. If you work to a system and take your time good results are usual.
Our workshops are as follows.
Timber Flooring DIY overview with Practical Sessions. Selected Saturdays and now shorter 3 hour sessions during the week through the year.
Timber Flooring Installation With Practical
Twice a month midweek. Allow 3 hours morning and afternoon slots available.
Timber Flooring Sanding & Finishing With Practical
Twice a month midweek. Allow 3 hours morning and afternoon slots available.
Get involved. Ask lots of questions. The workshops are excellent training.
Do you install?
The better flooring installation businesses prefer to deal directly with the client. When they know the timber has been supplied from VCS they are even keener as they are aware of our approach to quality. They also know that we will explain the need for the right thickness, the correct approach to acclimatization etc.
It is simply a matter of quality. We have a good list of installers and sanders and we are happy to provide options.
What about pricing?
Perth has a dense flooring market that is highly competitive. In fact competition acts to restrain pricing very nicely. If you compare product for product and quality for quality you will not find better prices. The only exception being run out products where someone is clearing out stock.
VCS offer reliable quality and outstanding value.
What is your stance regarding responsible products taking the environment into account?
Our mills were the first mainland mills endorsed under sustainability rules in Australia. Our coatings and adhesives are almost entirely of the reduced solvent or safer varieties. We are the only WA Company to stock Osmo oils. We supply Bona coatings which are regarded as the toughest and safest coatings available. Even our moisture barrier systems have been enhanced with developments that reduce solvent exposure.
We do not simply talk about acting responsibly.
We also recommend responsible use of hardwood. One of the finest long term usages of timber is in flooring. A well installed floor may last many decades; even 100 years. A badly installed floor or one that has all the life sanded out of it or that fails due to the lack of a moisture barrier will almost inevitably end up in the skip. By recommending timber be installed using the right thickness, using proven systems, using the principle of acclimatization etc we contribute to the responsible use of hardwood.
What grading is available?
The most popular grades are feature grade, rustic grade & standard and better grade. We also supply some timbers in select grade.
It should be remembered that Australian timbers are gum trees and that pockets of gum vein are almost inevitable. They add beauty and character. We generally recommend a floor with some gum vein but it is personal choice and we are happy to supply all grades.
Our grade is almost clear of gum vein, marks or knots. Up to 5% may occur however for the most part there will be nothing visible.
Standard & Better
One of our most popular and cost effective grades. This allows up to 20% gum vein, marks or knots. Our graders usually work to keep these to a minimum but as timber is natural you will see some up to as noted.
One of our most popular and cost effective grades and one of our most natural looking choices of timber. This allows up to 40% gum vein, marks or knots. Our graders are thorough with this grading. You should expect some significant feature which adds real interest.
This is sometimes called Signature Grade and is busy with features and knots. This is genuinely a rustic grade and will require some resin filling. However the floors look simply superb and natural when filled and coated. Signature grade black butt looks amazing.
Do you carry stock?
We warehouse stocks of timber in Perth. We can supply many items from stock. Supplies are dictated by the mill and natural supply/demand so that we usually recommend ordering in advance. The lead time on many projects is sufficient to allow time for most items to be ordered. We will store products sold at special rates so long as these are paid for according to our standard terms.
We also supply nosing, beading and trim so that we cover the finishing touches.
We can supply projects up to several thousand metres and down to just a few metres.