Floating v Glue Down Installation

THE INSTALLATION METHODS

There are two methods used to install wood flooring; you can ‘float’ the planks so they sit on top of an acoustic underlay, without any glue being used, or alternatively you can glue the wood flooring down to the existing sub-floor.

It is possible to either float or glue-down wood flooring to the following: existing wood flooring, particleboard, plywood, concrete, old ceramic tiles and old vinyl flooring. Laminate flooring must only be installed using the floating method.

Glue Down Installation

Main Advantages:
– Best for acoustic performance, especially for reducing ‘footfall sound’ in the actual room you are walking in.
– Deals with minor sub-floor unevenness better than a floating floor.
– Visually more appealing as smaller size trims can be used between the wood and other floor coverings, such as a tile angle.
– No trims are required against window or slider joinery.
– Best method for underfloor heating as it ensures better transfer of heat to the floor surface.
– ‘Solid’ feel underfoot.

Disadvantages
– Costs more than a floating installation due to higher labour costs and adhesive cost.
– More time-consuming compared to a floating installation.

Floating Installation

Main Advantages:
– Suitable for DIY installation.
– Quickest and most cost effective installation.
– Good at reducing sound transfer to rooms underneath.

Disadvantages:
– Many poor quality underlay’s do not address the typical ‘drummy’ sound of floating floors.
– Larger trims are required to finish between your wood floor and other floor coverings. These trims are designed to hold the floor down & allow expansion (trims are about 17mm wide).
– Aluminium trims are also required up against floor level window joinery & slider joinery; to hold the floor down in those areas.
– Poor quality wood flooring can squeak when installed floating – especially if the click-lock mechanism is not licensed. It should always be a genuine Uniclic or Valinge click-system.
– The sub-floor must be very level for a floating type of installation.

CONCLUSION

If you can afford it then we recommend that you glue your timber flooring down for a premium result. If you decide to float your timber flooring then the quality of the underlay is paramount; we recommend European made underlay such as Selit Aquastop with a high impact sound reduction rating and good compressive strength.

Engineered vs Solid Wood Flooring

This guide describes the benefits of engineered wood flooring compared to solid wood flooring, and we also address some of the myths about both types of wood floors.

Due to its inherent advantages, most of the natural wood flooring installed in Europe and New Zealand is of ‘engineered’ construction. Engineered wood flooring is 100% real wood and is made in two ways: either 3-ply (top layer of hardwood, with 2 backing layers of spruce or birch etc), or multi-ply (top layer hardwood with multiple backing layers made from plywood). Often it is supplied prefinished, with the colour and finish already applied to the hardwood surface.

LIFE-SPAN

ENGINEERED WOOD

Most engineered wood floors will last you over 35 years to a lifetime, depending on wear and tear. The 2.5mm to 4mm or even a 6mm hardwood top layer can be sanded several times over the life of the floor. If your floor has a natural finish then you’ll be maintaining the finish regularly by adding more oil to the floor – scratches can be repaired this way, meaning you may never need to sand the floor at all and your floor will last a lifetime.

SOLID WOOD

Solid wood planks can only be sanded down to just above the level of the plank tongue. This means that only about 5-6mm of wood is available for sanding. Furthermore, when installing the solid wood floors they must be aggressively sanded in order to ensure the surface is completely flat. You can easily lose several millimetres of precious wood during this process. Solid wood planks should last from 50 years to a lifetime.
We believe the lifespan of solid wood when compared to engineered wood is consistently over-stated, most engineered wood flooring will last you just as long.

COST

ENGINEERED WOOD

Most engineered wood flooring is supplied prefinished, with the colour and finish (lacquer, UV oil or natural oil) applied in the factory. The cost to apply the finish in a factory is inexpensive, resulting in a very competitive, finished floor that is ready to live on after installation.

SOLID WOOD

By comparison most solid wood flooring is supplied as raw wood planks, and must be finished on site; this involves messy & time-consuming sanding and application of several layers of finish at great expense.

SOPHISTICATED WOOD TREATMENTS

ENGINEERED WOOD

Premium engineered wood flooring comes with a huge range of surface treatments and finish options. Interesting new textures are released regularly. Popular options include smoked oak, thermo-treated wood, band sawn, planed, scraped, cross texture, fossil sawn, distressed, aged, brushed,the list goes on. These textures and finishes are applied in advanced factories in Europe where craftsmanship, passion for wood and the latest technology combine to produce beautiful and distinctive wood flooring.

SOLID WOOD

By comparison solid wood is usually sanded flat on-site, then a polyurethane or oil is applied to the flooring. Solid wood is almost always square edged, lacking the variety of floorboard edge types available with prefinished wood flooring.

FINISH QUALITY

ENGINEERED WOOD

As the finish is applied in modern state of the art factories using the latest European automated coating lines this assures durability and the finish coatings are applied in a very precise and consistent manner. It’s difficult to fault this method of finish application. There is no risk of sanding marks, coating lines on the floor, uneven coating texture, flaking finishes or other common problems associated with site-finished floors.

SOLID WOOD

As the finish is applied in the dwelling you have to rely 100% on the skill of the floor-sander and trust they will use high quality finishes. The range of finishes available to floor sanders in NZ is tiny compared to the vast range of high-tech industrial finishes available in Europe.
Humid weather can play havoc with curing times and if there is time-pressure and additional coatings are applied before stains have cured, the finish may not be as durable as it should be.

Often coatings are applied on-site unevenly, or sanding marks are visible – it is literally impossible to apply a floor finish in the home to the same level of quality as that which is applied on a modern production line.

QUICK & EASY INSTALLATION

ENGINEERED WOOD

Engineered wood flooring is the clear winner when it comes to convenience. As it is so stable, in most cases you can deliver and start installation almost immediately without having to worry about acclimatisation. The flooring can be walked on immediately after installation and you can move furniture onto the floor within 24 hours of completion (or immediately, if installed as a floating floor).

SOLID WOOD

Solid wood planks must be delivered a few weeks beforehand so the wood can acclimatise to interior humidity levels – otherwise you’ll run the risk that the floorboards will move too much after installation causing big gaps between planks, or cupping and warping.

Once the solid wood floorboards are installed & ready for finishing the delays continue. It can easily take a further 5 days to apply the finishes.

The process to acclimatise, install, sand and finish solid wood can take 3 times longer than the simple installation of a pre-finished engineered wood floor.

GAPS, CUPPING & WARPING

ENGINEERED WOOD

Gaps cupping and warping are less likely to occur with engineered wood floors as the multi-layered wood expands and contracts at less than half the rate of a solid wood floor. However some gaps are to be expected as wood is an organic material; boards may not be perfectly straight – it’s wood after all, and the boards are also subject to shrinkage and expansion from atmospheric and interior conditions. With T&G engineered wood flooring some gaps may be visible during installation, which can be filled with filler if desired. Humidity fluctuations may cause planks to shrink further over time. If a patented click-system is used you’ll not see gaps between the planks at time of installation, however over time the boards will still expand and contract and therefore some gaps may still appear.

SOLID WOOD

If you’ve ever looked at a solid wood floor installed in a villa in New Zealand, you’ll be aware that unsightly looking gaps can appear as the planks adjust to climactic conditions. The gaps can certainly be larger than what might be expericned with engineered wood floors.

Even worse, solid wood is at high risk of expanding too much after installation causing the planks to cup or warp, and the floor to fail. There is an especially high risk present when installing over concrete due to the amount of moisture present in the slab. Other risk factors include under floor heating and temperature and humidity fluctuations.

PLANK WIDTH

ENGINEERED WOOD

Wide planks from 180mm up to 300mm bring a sophisticated, generous atmosphere to your interior and are incredibly popular. Because of the multi-layered plank construction, these wide planks can safely be installed in difficult environments such as with under-floor heating or in humid climates, without any risk of gapping, warping or floor failure.

SOLID WOOD

Wide planks made from solid wood are a recipe for disaster. For this reason solid wood such as oak is often supplied in medium widths such as 150mm or less. Solid wood simply moves too much from humidity fluctuations, therefore plank width needs to be kept to a minimum to ensure the floor will not expand or contract too much.

CONCLUSION

Many people are attracted by the idea of having a solid wood floor, it is after all the traditional choice. The difficulties that may arise are myriad. Non-engineered solid wide-plank wood floors will inevitably continue to expand and contract after installation. Decreases in humidity in the exposed wear surface can cause cupping (concave curving) as the top of the plank dries out. Potentially, large gaps may appear between the boards as each board dries and shrinks. Increases in moisture content may generate excessive compressive forces around the floor’s perimeter, perhaps even causing the floor to lift in the most stressed areas. Solid wood will always distort.

Engineered wood is simply solid wood improved. Prefinished engineered wood is the clear winner in terms of aesthetics and offering a more sophisticated appearance. It offers more protection from gaps (although they’re still possible) and floor failure, superior texture and finish options, superior finish quality and considerable cost and time-savings. Engineered wood uses about 1/3 of the precious hardwood so it is also the safe environmental choice.

Gaps Between Floorboards

Gaps Between Wood Floorboards

We’ve all been to an inner-city villa and seen old timber floors that feature large gaps between the boards – unsightly gaps that are large enough to allow chilly air to flow up into the living room.

Thankfully, with engineered wood flooring technology those days are somewhat gone. However engineered boards are still made from real wood and therefore the essence of wood remains; gaps between boards are still likely to occur to some degree.

An intrinsic quality of wood is that it expands and contracts with humidity fluctuations – think of wood as like a sponge that expands when it is soaked with water, and shrinks once it dries out. The floorboard may also bend to some degree – again this is due to the organic nature of wood and is completely normal.

Therefore some gaps can occur either during or after installation. Everyone’s attitude to gaps differ – most people don’t mind small gaps as this is part of the charm of a real wood floor. Many people don’t want a wood floor that looks too perfect as then it is more likely to be mistaken for laminate flooring. However if gaps annoy you then you can request for the installer to fill some of the larger gaps.

The appearance of gaps can be much reduced or even eliminated with click-lock systems, especially if the floor is installed floating over underlay. You won’t typically see gaps with laminate flooring for this reason, because laminate flooring always comes with a click-lock mechanism. Click-lock floorboards are held together tightly so they can expand and contract as a single element.

By comparison tongue and groove board joining systems are more likely to exhibit some gaps between boards and also with other design elements, such as stair nosings.

Both tongue and groove and click-systems are widely used and accepted in the architectural and design community.

It’s important not to panic if you see gaps in your flooring. If some gaps are visible immediately after installation then they can be minimized with the application of coloured filler. If you see gaps appearing quite some time after installation then it’s best to just leave it alone, because in all likelihood the gaps will close up as climactic conditions and seasons change.

Interior climactic conditions also contribute greatly to how much each individual floorboard will expand and contract. Most manufacturers will state that in order to minimise floorboard movement you should keep interior humidity levels to between 40-60%.

Oil vs Lacquer Finish

Wood finish options available are Natural oil, UV oil, or lacquer (polyurethane).

NATURAL OIL FINISH

Natural oil finishes do not leave a film on the surface of the wood like polyurethane, instead the special 100% natural oils seep into the wood layer and harden, creating an incredibly beautiful and durable surface, leaving the wood pores open so you can enjoy the natural wood surface as nature intended. If you maintain the floor well you may never need to sand and refinish the entire surface of a Natural oiled floor, as scratches can easily be spot-repaired by the home owner – simply sand the scratch and apply more oil (this can only be done if the correct oil colour is available for touch-up’s).

Natural oiled floors develop a beautiful patina and character over time and often become even more attractive as they age.

It’s important to note that these finishes can age with ‘character’; this will depend on wear and tear – for example certain foodstuffs or liquids may leave a discolouration. Cleaning up spills immediately can help immensely. New generation finishes can often be applied as a top coat, to add a higher level of protection against potential staining.

Natural oiled wood feels wonderful to walk on with bare feet, and the open pored surface is warm to the touch and slip resistant. The open pored surface allows the wood to breathe, regulating moisture in the air, for a healthier home environment. Natural oiled floors have a great resistance to wear and are also suitable for commercial purposes.

Residential care: Mop every 2-3 weeks with Admonter or Ciranova Soap. Do not use any other cleaning product on oiled wood floors! Apply Admonter maintenance oil every 12-36 months, or Ciranova Maintenance Oil every 12 months depending on wear. View full care instructions on the product listing.

UV OIL FINISH

The oil finish is dried during production under UV lamps, making the wood surface very durable and easy to care for. UV oiled floors are a great compromise between natural oiled and polyurethane finishes – they give a similar appearance to a natural oiled finish, but are a bit more forgiving than natural oiled finishes if mistreated through a lack of maintenance. UV oiled floors tend to be more resistant to staining compared to natural oil finishes.

UV oiled floors are cared for in a similar manner to Natural Oiled wood floors.

Residential care: Mop every 2-3 weeks with Admonter or Ciranova Soap. Do not use any other cleaning product on oiled wood floors! Apply Ciranova Maintenance Oil every 12-24 months depending on wear. View full care instructions on the product listing.

LACQUER / POLYURETHANE FINISH

Acrylic matt lacquer (polyurethane) entirely seals the pores of the wood, providing excellent wear and chemical resistance. This acrylic lacquering is elastic and absolutely uncomplicated in care. An additional “anti-scratch” coating makes the floor extremely durable and resistant.

Lacquers have become very natural looking in recent times – ask us about Supermatt lacquer or Pureline lacquer.

Lacquer finishes will eventually require refurbishment, involving a full sanding and several coats of new lacquer.

Residential care: Use Admonter Clean and Care or BONA wood floor cleaner, apply by mop every 2-3 weeks. Vacuum or sweep in between times.

Quiet Floors

CREATING FLOORING FOR LIVING

We’ve searched far and wide to source innovative, class-leading acoustic solutions for our customers. Solutions include advanced adhesive that provides superior acoustic performance over concrete and premium underlay from Germany.

Acoustic Adhesive

New generation MS hybrid polymer adhesives offer a superior acoustic performance.

Best results are achieved when using Parabond Parquet 480 as a combined moisture barrier & adhesive; the thicker layer of adhesive used to ensure moisture protection dries to a rubber-like consistency, providing excellent acoustic performance.

Parabond is made in Belgium and is imported exclusively by Vienna Woods.

Acoustic Underlay

For peak values in acoustic & load.

Thanks to the innovative TwinFoam™ technology, SELITPRO® 2.2 mm combines peak values in acoustic and loading capacity. This is reflected in an optimum walking noise and impact sound reduction as well as a reliable protection of the floor under load and in use, as well as falling objects.

The SELITPRO® 2.2 mm AquaStop is equipped with an AquaStop surface and optimally protects the floor against moisture with a sd-value ≥ 200 m.

We also stock 3mm Aquastop underlay.

SELITPRO® underlay is made in Germany and imported exclusively by Vienna Woods.

Mapecem CR

This 4mm thick cork/rubber underlay provides excellent acoustic performance and is an ideal solution when a high performing underlay is required.

We typically glue the underlay to the substrate and then glue the wood flooring directly to the underlay.

Perfect for apartments where a glued down wood floor is desired.

Under Floor Heating

Under floor heating creates one of the most challenging environments in which to lay a floor. The wider the plank, the more potential for expansion and contraction of the wood floor. Heating the floor can cause further plank movement.

Excessive plank movement can lead to twisting, cupping and warping. That’s why it’s vital to only use perfectly engineered wood flooring with underfloor heating.

Quick Tips

It’s important to follow manufacturer guidelines when installing timber flooring with underfloor heating. Follow the specific manufacturer’s process to slowly heat the concrete slab prior to the start of flooring installation.

Ensure the heating coils or cables cover ALL areas where there will be timber flooring.

When using the heating system the floor surface temperature should not exceed 27 degrees Celsius. Note that rugs may cause hot-spots in the timber flooring that may compromise the structure of the floorboard.

Key to Success – Engineered Plank Construction

The construction and quality of the floorboard is the key to success with underfloor heating. Only engineered floorboards should be specified for use with underfloor heating systems.

The term ‘engineered’ means a floorboard made up of 3-layers or multiple layers of wood; similar to plywood. This engineered board structure is approximately 70% more stable than solid wood flooring (meaning it expands and contracts much less than solid wood floorboards do).

Unsurpassed Stability – Admonter Engineered Plank Construction

While the engineered floorboards described above will perform adequately with underfloor heating, for a more advanced solution we recommend the Admonter 3-ply engineered floorboard. This is an evolution of the engineered flooring structure, a 3-layer plank consisting of upper and lower layers of the same thickness. This structure provides perfect tension to keep all forces in check and ensure that your Admonter engineered wood flooring will remain perfectly flat when used with underfloor heating or in any other challenging environment, such as in very humid or dry climates.