CONNOLLYS CUSTOMER GUIDE TO TIMBER FLOORING
Connollys commitment to customer service extends far beyond simply providing you with a timber floor. At every stage of the process, we strive to provide you with quality service like you have never experienced before. We do our very best to keep you as well informed as possible, and provide you with honest timings and meet all deadlines, while never compromising the quality of your flooring installation.
ABOUT TIMBER FLOORING
Timber is arguably the most environmentally responsible of all building products. It is natural, renewable, sustainable and most importantly, a solution to many environmental challenges. Timber flooring has a timeless elegance that instantly transforms any home – its beauty and durability often make it the first choice with many homeowners. Tiles and carpet trends seem to change on a regular basis, but timber flooring is always in fashion. Timber is also a great product for allergy sufferers. It is easy to keep clean and unlike carpet, there is nowhere for dust to be trapped.
Timber flooring derives from trees of all shapes and sizes, and as such is reflected in the lengths of individual boards – you can expect to see differences in lengths of the boards when installed. Knots and gum veins are natural features within the timber, and form a large part of the charm of a timber floor. All grades of flooring, from Select Grade to Feature Grade, will have signs of some of these features, however will be more prominent in the Standard and Feature Grades – when installed and finished correctly, it will visually be a far more interesting and natural looking floor. There will always be colour variation depending on species.
Since timber is a natural and living product, it is also a hygroscopic material, meaning it will take in and release moisture for the life of the timber. To avoid growth or shrinkage in floorboards, try to maintain a fairly constant relative humidity in the areas where the boards are being laid. Make sure there is no sitting water under your house. Any flooding of the floor or subfloor should be cleaned up as soon as possible to avoid damage. For a more detailed description about expansion and contraction of timber flooring please click here Acclimatising timber flooring
INSTALLATION OF YOUR NEW FLOORBOARDS
The best time to install your floorboards is straight after completing the installation of plaster, and before the fix (doors, architraves and skirting boards). The area into which the floor is being installed should be cleared and clean, ready for the works to begin. Try to keep the conditions inside the house as close to your normal living conditions as possible. On the day of installation, please ensure our tradesmen have clear access to the site, and where possible, have access to parking prior to arrival.
To fully understand the installation of your new floor, and to point out some of the key differences between a Connollys installation, and that of other companies, we have detailed the exact methods of installation and the quality products we use. There are different installation methods used for the many different products and substrates, so we have broken it down into each type.
SOLID TIMBER FLOORING OVER PARTICLEBOARD
The first part of the process is to completely sand the particleboard. We do this for the following reasons:
– To remove any ridges in the floor where the sheets meet.
– To remove the wax coating, existing dirt, plaster dust or contaminants.
– To create a good surface for the glue to adhere to.
This first step is essential in providing a quality installation. If it is overlooked or skipped because the contractor is not equipped or is taking a short cut, it will be to the detriment of your floor, and you may end up with an uneven floor or one with ridges in it. Additionally, glue will not bond correctly if it is only adhering to dust and wax.
The second part of the process is to carefully select each individual floorboard for colour and length. To avoid repetition in the floorboards when laid, it is important to blend colours. The boards must also be staggered, ensuring the joins are evenly spread out, and not in lines or side by side. Our installers take this meticulous approach to ensure a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing floor – when correctly laid out, it will be the highlight and showpiece of your home. Inexperienced contractors, or those that simply want to get the floor down as fast as possible, will simply lay the floorboards as they come out of the pack. This is bad practice. To understand why, consider the following scenarios:
– When the timber is milled into floorboards, colours are not separated or mixed when packed. One log that goes through the saws might be dark chocolate in colour. It produces 20 floorboards, and these are stacked together. The following log might have a caramel appearance. It also produces 20 floorboards and stacked together, on top of the dark chocolate pile before it. At the time of installation, if the boards are taken straight from the pack and simply laid, there will be a large section of chocolate boards followed by a caramel section.
– When the timber is milled into floorboards, there will be inconsistencies in length. Board are random lengths when packed. Take the previous example – the first dark chocolate coloured log might be 1 metre long. The following caramel log might be 5 metres long. At the time of installation, if taken straight from the pack and simply laid, there will be a large section of short lengths followed by longer lengths.
Once the boards have been selected and cut to size, the glue is laid out on the particleboard. For solid overlay and wide board flooring, the glue is applied with a trowel, ensuring the entire surface is covered. The floorboards and the particleboard are laminated together and then nailed, either by secret nailing, top nailing, or a combination of both.
Connollys uses only the best glues on the market, which in our opinion is currently the Bostik Ultraset (this glue has been specially formulated for timber flooring – its properties include very high bond strength, while still remaining flexible and allowing the floorboards to expand and contract without breaking the bond). Using the wrong glues and cheaper substitutes will not provide the bond strength required, or the flexibility to allow for the movement of the floorboards while still holding them in place. Rigid glues, such as liquid nails, are too rigid and break when put under pressure by floorboards, resulting in squeaky floors or excessive movement.
Apart from using the wrong glue, incorrect application can be just as detrimental. It is essential that the application of the glue be in the correct amounts, and applied using the correct methods.
SOLID TIMBER FLOORING OVER CONCRETE
Solid timber over concrete is installed by first cleaning the slab, removing any dirt from the surface that might raise the height of the plywood. A moisture membrane is then placed over the concrete, and 12mm Australian or New Zealand made plywood over the top of the membrane. Note: we do not use cheap import plywoods in this process – although it would reduce the cost of an installation significantly, it would compromise the quality of the installation (delamination of the plywood would be a distinct possibility, causing the floor to lift). The plywood is securely fixed to the concrete using a minimum of 30 fixings per sheet, placed in a pattern that ensures every floorboard is securely held down to the concrete.
Once the plywood is correctly installed, the rest of the installation follows the same process as over the particleboard.
Engineered floors may be floated or permanently fixed. If permanently fixing to particleboard or concrete, the method is the same as a solid floor. Some engineered floors are designed to be sanded and coated, however the majority are pre-finished and only require installation.
Floating engineered floors requires the floor surface to be very flat and even. If the existing surface is uneven, some levelling may be required before installation can occur. Once the surface is flat, an underlay is put down. Underlays are available in three different types:
– Basic underlay – a basic underlay will normally consist of a plastic membrane with a foam top layer.
– Semi-acoustic – a step up from the basic underlay. The appearance is very much the same, but will have sound-reducing properties.
– Full acoustic underlay – the ultimate in underlays. These are usually glued in place, and the boards are either floated over the top or permanently glued down.
Once the floor has been installed, particularly in warmer months, it is recommended that windows be covered to diffuse direct sunlight from reaching the floors. This will help to prevent shrinkage in the boards.
SANDING AND COATING OF TIMBER FLOORS
Once the floor has been installed, we prefer to leave a minimum of 1 month before starting the sanding and polishing process. This will give the floorboards time to settle into their final position within the house.
Prior to the sanding process, the homeowner or builder must:
– Seal any access areas such as fireplaces and vents, which might allow dust to enter the room (use paper and blue painters masking tape to secure). Be mindful using tape in areas where it can become loose and fall on a freshly coated floor – solvent coating can melt the glue on the masking tape.
– Cover all non-moveable furnishings using paper, drop sheets or plastic (use blue painters masking tape to secure). Do not use tape in areas where it can come loose and fall on a freshly coated floor.
– Cover light fittings to prevent dust from gathering on them.
– Fold curtains into garbage bags and seal at the top. Cover windows with newspaper if the final finish is to be a satin or semi-gloss. This will help ensure an even gloss level.
– Unless specifically agreed to and quoted for, all furniture should be removed, together with all floor coverings, including staples, tacks, etc.
– Gas and electrical appliances are to be disconnected by qualified personnel, and removed.
– All pilot lights (including hot water systems) are to be turned off. Dishwashers must be removed.
If building or renovating, the start date for sanding and coating floors is critical, particularly in relation to other trades. All carpentry, electrical, plastering, plumbing and glazing must be completed before work on the floor can commence. It is recommended that all painting, except the final coat on skirting boards, be completed (the final coat can be applied to skirting boards after completion of the floors).
Please provide ample lighting and power to be available for our tradesmen. Sanding machines require significant amounts of power, and there should be no other trades using power at the same time. Connecting power must be sourced from inside the house – a builder’s pole at the front of the property will not provide adequate power to run multiple machines. If power is not available, a generator can be provided at an additional cost. This must be organised ahead of the start date.
When the sanding and polishing process begins, Connollys will need sole access to your property for a minimum of 4 days. Please discuss the time required to complete your floor with your Connollys representative – in some instances, and for larger jobs, we may require additional time to complete the process (hot and cold weather affects drying times). During this time it is imperative that no person enters the property – contamination, footprints, rejection in the coating and excessive dust are just some of the possible problems that can result from failure to adhere to this.
Any silicone or silicone-based product that comes into contact with the floor after sanding, and prior to any of the 3 coats required, will cause rejection of the coating. Silicone-based products include Fabulon, hair spray, fly spray, etc, and must not be used in the vicinity of the floor until the installation is fully completed. Silicone is often found on the footwear of plumbers and glaziers.
If installing carpet, wait until completion of the floors.
Arrangements should be made prior to works for alternative accommodation – the floor strictly cannot be walked on for a minimum of 24 hours after the application of the last coat. The coating must dry, and you are likely to encounter strong fumes if a solvent-borne polyurethane is used (water-based coatings do not have a strong odour). After the 24 hours has passed, it may be necessary to open windows and interior doors to air out the house before moving back in. Take care to prevent the floor from being exposed to outside elements.
Do not open any doors to have a look at the floor until the coating has cured. Opening a door while the floor is still wet will cause dust to end up on the floor in that area.
HAVING YOUR FLOORS PROFESSIONALLY SANDED & COATED
WHAT TO EXPECT
– Nails to be punched (when applicable) and nail holes, knotholes and gaps at the end of boards to be filled with the appropriate filler.
– Floors to be expertly sanded and 3 top quality layers of coating to be applied – our coatings will provide many years of service and beauty, provided it is properly maintained.
– As you live on the floor, it will gain a character and feel that is unique to your home. This is all part of the beauty and excitement of owning a timber floor.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
– A dust-free environment – even though modern sanding machines are fitted with dust collecting equipment and our floor sanders endeavour to clean dust away by meticulously vacuuming and wiping down surfaces, it is humanly impossible to totally eliminate dust from the working environment. As a result, there will always be some dust particles that settle on the newly finished surface. Most will simply disappear from normal foot traffic, and will likely be unnoticeable once furniture and curtains have been put in place.
– Removal of deep cuts such as those from carpet trimming knives or deep gouges in the boards.
– Removal of stains from within the boards and around nail holes, such as animal urine and water marks.
– Gaps filled between the boards – these gaps are left alone, as any subsequent shrinkage and expansion in the timber will cause cracking in the filler, causing it to fall out.
– Any areas filled with putty to have the same feel as the timber after application of coatings.
– Every knot or gum vein to be perfectly filled – they may be too small to take or hold filler. The filler may also shrink slightly. Some gum veins are like honeycomb and never completely fill
– The coating to look like a sheet of glass – there will be places where the coating runs into dips, cracks or joins.
– A furniture finish – furniture is made in factories with static machinery under controlled conditions, where most coatings are applied in a spray booth and not by hand.
TIMBER FLOORING THINGS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF
Downlights and direct lighting produce a cobweb effect on surfaces where clear coating is applied. When you look directly into the light source on the floor, you will see evidence of sanding between coats (the floor is sanded in-between each coat to remove any fallout that may have landed on the floor, and to create a key for the next coat to adhere to). The appearance is completely normal. A good example of this is to scrutinise the paint on your car – look at the spot where the sunlight reflects and you will see the cobweb effect, as described, in the clear coat.
You may witness slight markings on skirting boards from contact with the edger sander – this is why it is recommended to hold-off painting the final coat of skirting boards until after completion of the floors.
If trying to match in an old and new floor, you are likely to get some variation in colour and grain between new and old boards. Black Japan or stain around the perimeter of some older timber floors may produce a two-tone effect.
Sanding and finishing a beautiful timber floor is a skill acquired over many years. We trust you understand that since all work is done by hand controlled machines and applicators, there will be some evidence of this in the floor.
KEEP YOUR FLOORS LOOKING THEIR BEST
RECENTLY COATED FLOORS
Most floor coatings dry to 90% within 24 hours, but they will take approximately 10 to 14 days to fully harden. It is important to follow these guidelines:
– When necessary, you can walk on the floor in socks after 24 hours. Avoid walking on the surface with street shoes for at least 7 days.
– 90% of the curing takes place within 24 hours, but care should be taken for the first 2 weeks until the floor has fully hardened. Light furniture can be replaced in this time. Use protective felt pads, and avoid dragging furniture as it may scratch the surface.
– Heavy items such as fridges should be moved carefully, ensuring they are not dragged over new floors.
– Wait a minimum of 2 weeks before laying rugs – it is advised to wait at least 6 months to avoid ending up with light spots in the floor.
– Use floor mats. Shoes carry sand, grit and small stones, and will abrade the floor surface in the same way sandpaper does. Place mats at entrances, one on either side where possible. Consider removing shoes before entering your home.
– Like any quality furnishing or floor covering in your home, direct sunlight will cause discolouring over time and possible shrinkage. To avoid fading and discolouring, filter direct sunlight using curtains or blinds.
– Use a maintenance plan. The most important thing you can do to keep your flooring looking its best is to establish a regular maintenance/cleaning program. Just how regularly you need to maintain and clean the floor will depend on the environment the floor is situated in. Factors such as the level of traffic, the degree of grit carried onto the floor, pets and children, the condition of the immediate outside area, etc., all have significant influence on wear. We recommend the following:
– Use an anti-static dust mop to collect dust and dirt. Oates make a great microfibre mop.
– If using a vacuum cleaner, make sure to use a soft head brush attachment. Please pay attention to the head – often the brushes wear thin, and the floor may be scratched by any exposed plastic or metal.
– Lightly, but carefully, wash the floor. Avoid harsh detergents and abrasive cleaners. Apply with a well wrung-out mop. Wring out the mop in clean warm water and wipe off the excess, leaving only minimal moisture on the timber surface.
– If using water, take care to apply only enough to dampen the floor surface. Excessive moisture can make its way into the timber and cause it to swell. We recommend using a spray bottle, and only misting onto the floor enough material to adequately clean it.
It is advisable to apply a maintenance coat before the surface has been excessively worn. This will save the need for expensive re-sanding. Just when this maintenance coat will be required is again entirely a factor of wear and care – the greater the traffic, the sooner the need for a recoat.
Put the details of materials used, and date of application, on a sticker. Place this to the inside of a conveniently located cupboard for future record. This information is vital at the time of recoating, as it can save for expensive re-sanding if required – the applicator can determine the correct material that is compatible with the original coating.
We trust this guide will assist you in maintaining your timber floor, and to provide a thorough understanding of what is reasonable to expect from a Connollys professional installation.
We look forward to providing you with the very best service, and a floor you will be proud of for years to come. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our office on 03 9354 9998.
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No part of this document may be reproduced, either written or in any electronic form, without the written consent of an authorised Connollys representative.
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