Choosing Timber Flooring

The decision to install timber flooring can be a quick and easy one to make, but what next? Timber can be any number of colors, sizes, grades and finishes, and the range of possibilities can be daunting. Here’s a guide to help narrow down decisions and make the process more manageable.

Floor Types

The 3 most common floor types are:

Floating – These are floors where timber has been placed directly over the existing one. The timber is not nailed down or fixed – instead, it is fixed to a high density fiberboard. Underneath the fiberboard, a rubber, foam or fiber underlay is placed under the planks to reduce noise. Floating floors have small gaps but little movement.

Structural – In this type of flooring, the timber is placed on bearers and joists. Structural timber floors should only be laid by a professional but it can be a long process as the timber needs to acclimatise to the environment in which it is being laid (which can take up to two weeks). Structural timber floors also need adequate ventilation in the sub-floor space so that timber does not warp.

Tongue and Groove – If you want tight fitting floors that have no gaps and little movement, tongue and groove is the one for you. Each board consists of one tongue and one groove, located on opposite sides, that fits into the boards above and behind during the laying process. You can create parquet patterns with a tongue and groove floor due to its versatility.


      If you can decide on a floor color, choosing the specific type of timber will be a much easier task. There are dozens of different types of timber, but most fall into either the brown, red or cream families. Within these families, you can further narrow to light, medium or dark, which will give you a very particular group to select from.


      Manufacturers typically offer three main timber grades. The least expensive wood will be the rawest, which means the boards will have holes, marks and other blemishes. This option is good for those who want a rugged, natural looking wood floor. A step up from that is usually called ‘standard grade’ and has less markings. Giving off a more polished feel, it is ideal for those who want a modern, yet still natural look. The most expensive timber flooring will be smooth and blemish-free, with only light markings.


      Finishing can potentially change the look of your timber, sometimes dramatically, so make sure to research or speak to a professional before applying anything. There are many products available, so you should be able to get the right finish if you do your homework.


      While you may spend a lot of time looking at photos or examining showrooms, when your timber arrives, it will not look exactly like what you’ve seen. Timber is unique from tree to tree, so the colors, patterns and textures are never going to perfectly match another. This is what makes timber flooring valuable and interesting, so expect a little diversity from yours when it arrives.