Solid and engineered floors, what are the differences?


A solid timber floor, is literally timber all the way through the plank. It has advantages in that it generally offers more flexibility when installing; as the installer can machine timber profiles for joints, make up stairs treads etc., and the choice of sealant can still be decided after the installation. It is also arguably easier to repair a solid timber floor, and as there is generally more timber above the tongue, should last longer. Solid timber when glued down does not make the noise that is generated with an engineered or laminate floor. Solid wood is less stable than engineered flooring when being installed, and more care and expertise is required for the installation. It is not recommended to install solid timber above under floor heating, unless using a specialized product like Elastilon, and even then gaps of up to 2-3mm can be deemed as normal in a solid timber floor with or without under floor heating.


Engineered hardwood flooring is a product made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core and is available in almost any hardwood species. The product thus has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer (laminate flooring). The "engineered" product has been designed to provide greater stability, particularly where moisture or heat pose problems for solid hardwood floors.

Under floor heating

Laying solid timber flooring above under floor heating is not generally recommended, unless laid on Elastilon , as this allows for the excessive movement that is induced through the heating of the timber. Even then 2-3 mm gaps between boards can develop, and would be deemed normal in this installation. Engineered flooring would be the preferred product for installations above under floor heating. An important fact to remember is that due to the thickness of timber flooring (18mm - 22mm normally), it takes a substantial time for the heat to be transferred through the floor. Thus the under floor heating needs to be turned on, and left on for a few days before the heating really becomes effective. In addition, under floor heating needs to be regulated to no more than 27 degrees Celsius , and any temperature changes made, should be done in small increments over a period of a few days. To minimise movement of solid timber floors above under floor heating, humidity/ climate controls should be installed.


In order to maximize the durability and beauty of your hardwood flooring, we recommend the following practices as part of your floor's normal care and maintenance.
Place doormats or rugs at entrances to collect moisture, sand, grit and other potentially damaging substances from being tracked onto your hardwood floor.
Dust mop or vacuum with a soft accessory to keep your hardwood floor clean from dust, dirt or grit. Hardwood flooring cleans easily with a dry mop.
For sticky spots, use a soft damp cloth to gently scrub the floor. If necessary, use a generic hardwood floor cleaner. Do not use steel wool or other abrasive scouring pads.
Do not use harsh detergents, abrasive cleansers, or corrosive chemicals to clean your floor.
Avoid excessive water. Use mats in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room to protect against spills. If a spill occurs, blot it up immediately with a dry cloth or slightly damp mop.
Use only colorfast and non-scratch carpeting or pads on your hardwood floor.
Protect the floor from furniture legs using floor protectors and do not walk on the floor with high-heeled shoes.
Although hardwood flooring has effective UV inhibitors in its pre-finish, it is recommended that it not be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.

What is the difference between pre finished and unfinished flooring?

A. The pre finished hardwood floor is end matched with a tight micro-beveled edge, and has up to 10 coats of aluminum oxide finish applied in the factory. The unfinished floor comes with a square edge and must be sanded and sealed on site using sanding machines and a sealant of choice. Pre finished flooring once scratched is harder to repair, and cannot be spot repaired the way an oiled or sealed floor can. Generally it is easier to replace the entire plank with a pre finished floor, which is best done by a recommended installer.

Glue down versus nail down

A nail down floor is generally installed on timber batons fixed to the concrete sub floor, using the secret nailing method to fasten the floor through the tongue to the baton. This traditional method allows for a cavity space between the floor and the concrete, but should not be installed above bare earth, as was the practice when our grand parents were growing up! Times have changed, and modern kiln dried flooring does not allow for the moisture that rises from the earth, even if the floor is vented on the sides. The nail down floor is obviously more noisy when walking on it, and gives a traditional feel, that is sought by many.
The glue down floor is cheaper to install, as there is no construction of the sub structure required. What is critical is the quality of the concrete screed, and the fact that this is level. The floor follows the level of the concrete screed, and thus adjustments in height cannot be made as with a nail down. The glue down is also very quiet to walk on, and gives a wonderfully solid feel under foot. The glue down is best used where height presents a problem in existing or new homes, or where a quick installation is required.
With both applications, a moisture test of the concrete screed is essential prior to the installation of the wooden floor, one cannot tell by looking at a screed as to the moisture content! In addition a moisture barrier is required for all ground floor installations, and care should be taken prior to the installation to ensure that all sliding doors, windows etc, have been correctly water proofed. No timber floor likes moisture from below, and cupping and de lamination will occur if substantial amounts of moisture are trapped between the floor and the concrete.