Timber floors are an essential part of the development of the flooring industry in Western Australia. The early steps that were taken in the industry revolved around a timber product called parquetry, which is essentially small pieces of timber that are cut to a precise size and then adhered to concrete using a type of parquetry adhesive. Using this system allows the installer to produce some incredible results using a variety of timbers because these can be arranged in magnificent patterns to suit the imagination. Parquetry is however a time-consuming affair and as labor has become the single most expensive part of any job, so it has become necessary to develop the industry in a different manner. To understand, block parquetry requires approximately 25 to 35 pieces of individually laid timber per meter whereas with the modern type of strip flooring a person may install two square meters using just 11 pieces or less. [Some block, parquetry patterns require a lesser number of blocks however strip flooring is always faster] the actual development of strip flooring started out on a basis less to do with speed and time and more to do with the actual physical appearance of the floor. The fact is that parquetry while magnificent tends to suit large areas and can look quite busy in the average Australian home. Even larger homes do not always lend themselves to the appearance of parquetry. The original look of a timber floor in Australia was the floorboard and this has developed as the floor of choice around the country. Many government and a heritage buildings have both parquetry and floor boards. Indeed, Parliament buildings around Australia generally feature parquetry with intricate patterns and designs. There are magnificent designs in Canberra at Australia's principle government buildings.
Early attempts at fixing strips of timber directly onto concrete were disastrous as a result of the inability of adhesive to hold the long lengths of timber in place. Timber is a dynamic material that expands and contracts. It is constantly in a state of dimensional change as it takes on and loses moisture. This dynamic effect has a disastrous effect upon stiff adhesive products. While they may be effective in the short term they tend to fail over time. The interim system developed to allow for longer lengths of timber to be placed over concrete involved a combination of plywood and a board that was trimmed down in size. [Of course when the thicknesses are varied this affects the choice of widths thereafter] Originally floorboards were supplied in thicknesses varying from 22 mm to 19 mm however putting these over 12 mm plywood raised the floor height so much that this was considered to be ridiculous. The most sensible option was to trim the timber down to a thickness of just 12 to 13 mm. It was in this way that the original strip flooring or "Overlay flooring" was developed. Plywood can be fixed securely to concrete using a combination of adhesive and nails. In turn the overlay flooring can easily be fixed to the plywood using a combination of fine pins and parquetry adhesive. Thus a system was born that has come to be called "Plank on ply. " still, the system suffers and from height difficulties because the combination of 12 mm plywood and 13mm timber still achieves a height when taking into account adhesive and finish of something in the order of 28 mm whereas traditional floor heights of based around 14 to 16 mm. This creates a step up or step down situation. In The late 1990's experiments began using polyurethane based adhesives that have interesting properties. Polyurethane based adhesives are traditionally much stronger than the original parquetry adhesives even taking into account such an outstanding product as high solids parquetry adhesive. The other interesting strength that the adhesives have is their ability to remain flexible even when fully cured. Thus they have the ability to hold timber in place while at the same time allowing the timber to have a small degree of movement. This small amount of motion is sufficient to allow the timber to move naturally without affecting the floor by causing the floor to fail. As a result of this a whole industry has developed based on the use of polyurethane adhesive and floor primers which effectively seal the timber away from the concrete thus ensuring that there is nothing in the concrete that can adversely affect the performance of the floor. Currently the most successful timber flooring Systems are based around polyurethane adhesive formulations from Sikaflex, the Swiss-based industry leaders in polyurethane. All successful timber flooring Systems at the moment require that a moisture barrier be applied to the concrete. Only in this manner can long lengths of timber the securely fixed to concrete to achieve a magnificent timber floor. When the Sikaflex system is used a 10-year warranty is given to the floor. This outstanding system means that height differences are unnecessary because all of the floor heights in the House may be brought to an acceptable level, which means that the floor is more aesthetically beautiful and at the same time is safe. Thousands of meter's of timber flooring are installed over concrete every month thus allowing modern homes to have the look and feel that we associate with high-quality residences while using timber in its most modern and thoughtful manner. Every house can benefit from the use of a timber floor adding warmth and appeal. Consider such outstanding timbers as Jarrah, Marri, Blackbutt, Sheoak & more. These timbers are outstanding Western Australia species that combine incredible strength when compared with European timbers while offering a beauty and character that is unique to Australia. Certainly these are varieties of timber that are well worth using. VCS Products Pty Ltd strongly recommend the use of quality Sikaflex systems. As we have grown up with this industry since 1989 we are well placed to comment on what is available.