Frequently Asked Questions – Answered
Choosing Wood Flooring
What is engineered wood flooring?
An engineered board is, quite simply, a timber board which consists of more than one layer. By placing each layer so that the grain runs perpendicularly it becomes virtually impossible for the timber to swell or shrink with changes in humidity and so it dramatically increases the stability. The top layer of an engineered board (the lamella) is solid wood, usually hardwood, and may be anything from 2 to 6mm thick; obviously the thicker the surface layer the more times it can be sanded and refinished to remove the ravages of wear; the thickest wear layers are equivalent to those on solid timber boards. The lamella is securely bonded to one or two further layers – this may be a multi-layered plywood or a sandwich with either a softwood or hardwood core.
Engineered boards should not be confused with laminate or veneer. Laminate uses an image of wood on its surface whilst veneer uses only a very thin layer of wood over a core of some type of composite wood product, usually fibreboard.
Engineered timber is now the most common type of wood flooring used globally and the technology has enabled the production of much wider boards as well as the application of an enormous variety of really interesting finishes.
What are the benefits of engineered wood flooring?
No matter how well seasoned, oiled, waxed or lacquered it may be, wood remains hydroscopic. This means that when the humidity is high it will absorb some of that moisture, swell and rise or ‘crown’ in the middle. If that same piece of timber is placed in a dry environment – as happens when using heating or air conditioning – it will release its moisture, dry out and shrink. Lay pieces of timber side by side in a confined space and those changes in humidity, over time, may well result in them bowing, warping, cupping or gapping – gaps between the planks. This is what can happen with a solid wood floor, wall or ceiling.
Engineered boards are like solid timber planks with lots of benefits:
* They are far more stable than solid wood planks so there is far less likelihood of eventual problems and much wider boards can be produced.
* Engineered boards are usually available pre-finished which means a reduced installation time and no surprises on site.
* Unlike the vast majority of solid timber planks, engineered boards can usually be fitted over underfloor heating.
* Engineered boards make far more efficient use of slow-growing, lamella layer timbers (oak, walnut, etc).
* Engineered boards offer alternative, easier methods of installation.
What is solid wood flooring?
A solid wood floor is floor laid with planks or boards which have been milled from a single piece of timber, usually a hardwood. Since wood is hydroscopic (it acquires and loses moisture from the ambient conditions around it) this potential instability effectively limits the length and width of the boards. Solid hardwood flooring is usually cheaper than engineered timbers and damaged areas can be sanded down and refinished repeatedly, the number of timbers being limited only by the thickness of wood above the tongue. Solid construction timber is often used for sports floors and most traditional wood blocks, mosaics and parquetry are also of solid construction.
What is an oiled finish?
Oil penetrates deep into the wood and brings out the true beauty of both the colour and grain as well as providing protection for the product. In addition to providing a natural look, oiled products lend themselves to being spot repaired in the event of surface damage.
Most oiled products require an additional coat of oil or Hardwax Oil, a mixture of sunflower, soybean and thistle oil, carnauba and candelilla wax after installation. This is micro-porous, water-repellent, dirt-, wear-, and stain-resistant against wine, beer, cola, coffee, tea, fruit juices and milk; it will not crack, flake, peel or blister.
What is a lacquered finish?
Can my wood floor be reused or recycled?
Floating floors with a click system joint between planks can be laid without bonding them to the sub-floor. These floors can be uplifted and re-laid several times. Nearly all VidaSpace floors can be sanded and refinished to prolong their life and change their appearance, if desired, so the floor doesn’t need replacing when you want to redecorate – something which is unique to wooden floors.
How long is the Warranty on my wood flooring?
This can vary depending on the specification of your product and whether the product is being used in a residential or commercial setting. Typical residential warranties are between 10 and 20 years.
What is the difference between a solid and engineered wood floor?
A solid wooden floor is milled form a single piece of wood and is uniform throughout. An engineered floor has a hardwood top layer with cross-laminated layers of timber beneath to add structural stability. This reduces movement and increases stability under exposure to varying temperature and humidity in the environment.
How do I order a sample?
To order a sample of any of our products, click ‘Order A Free Sample’.
What are the Showroom opening times?
To find out the opening times of any of our showrooms, please click here.
Can I fit wood flooring over underfloor heating?
What is a floating floor installation?
Who can install my wood floor?
Generally, we recommend that a competent professional installer is appointed to install VidaSpace floors but for those who wish to install their flooring themselves, we are happy to give guidance on how to achieve a successful installation.
What are the expansion gaps?
Wood is a natural material which passively changes its moisture content to reach equilibrium with its environment (hygroscopy). At times of the year where humidity is higher, wooden floors will take on moisture from the air and this causes some expansion. Equally, when humidity decreases, the floor will contract slightly The expansion gap allows for this expansion to occur without creating any tension in the floor from the wood pushing against walls, door frames, pipes etc.
How much wastage shall I encounter for?
The area(s) of installation will dictate the wastage on any installation, with small areas requiring more wastage than open spaces. For planks we typically advise on 8-12% wastage and patterned floors, such as herringbone or chevron, may need 15-20% wastage. Always consult with the installer for accurate wastage calculations.
Why is there a colour variation on my flooring?
Wood is a natural material and each piece of each tree will vary in colour and grain structure. Colour variation is dictated by the age, location, exposure, soil pH and multiple other factors during the growth of the tree.
How much wood do I need to order for my project?
The order quantity will be the net measure of the areas where the product is to be installed plus the wastage allowance (see above).
What is meant by prime, select, nature and rustic grade in wood?
For a full explanation of the different wood grades available, and to download our information sheets, please see our page on wood flooring grades.
Care and Maintenance
How do I care for an oiled wood floor?
How long will my wood flooring last?
A properly installed and maintained wooden floor will last for many years (and decades). Havwoods offer varying specifications of product which have different designed lifespans.
Can I install wood floors in a pet friendly home?
Wooden floors contribute to a healthy living environment for all of the family, including pets. It is important to keep pet claws trimmed to reduce any abrasion that these can cause. Maintenance products can be applied to all of our floors to reduce the appearance of minor scratches over time.
Is my wood flooring water/liquid proof?
All VidaSpace wood floors are tested for stain and spillage resistance When floors are being installed into commercial spaces or busy kitchens, it is often a good idea to apply maintenance products soon after installation to ensure that the surface finish is maintained in these more demanding areas.
How do I maintain the durability of my flooring?
Day-to-day cleaning involves sweeping your floor and cleaning with a spray-mop and the correct cleaning solution for the surface finish. Periodic maintenance can be carried out on all floors through the application of a maintenance product, such as a refresher for lacquered floors or Liquid Wax Cleaner for UV oil, natural oil and hard-wax oil finishes.
What should I do if my flooring gets damaged?
Dents and scratches may occur over time these can be fixed with the application of maintenance products or easy to use repair kits.
Can my wood floor be sanded and refinished?
The vast majority of VidaSpace floors can be sanded and refinished multiple times over their lifetime. Each time a floor is sanded, the appearance can be tailored to fit the decoration scheme of the room/area where the floor is installed.
How do I care for a lacquered wood floor?
What is FSC®?
What is PEFC?
What is the difference between Genuine Reclaimed and Reproduction Reclaimed?
Reproduction Reclaimed is wood that has been harvested under normal conditions and then produced in the mill to imitate old reclaimed wood. Quite often this is used with engineered backing rather than in a solid format.
What are fire ratings?
The New Zealand the Building Code (NZBC) requirements for internal surface finishes are given in Clause 3.4(a). These are given as Group Numbers when tested is the performance determined under the conditions described in ISO 9705:1993 ‘Fire tests– The full scale room test for surface products. The Group Number is a numeric representation of the performance achieved during the test and is used as a standardised benchmark for the assessment of surface finish performance. The Group Number requirements are repeated within the Acceptable Solutions C/AS1-C/AS7 relevant to each risk group.
In Europe, the reaction to fire, of construction products and materials are classified using the criteria and test methods described in EN 13501-1. There are five classification levels A1, A2, B, C, D, E and F (from least to most combustible).
The co-relation of wall and ceiling surface finishes derived from Australian or European classifications to the Group Number requirements of NZBC Clause 3.4(a) can, without the need for further testing, be taken as described in the following table. https://www.building.govt.nz/building-code-compliance/c-protection-from-fire/c-clauses-c1-c6/surface-finishes/
A-Z of Timber Flooring Terms
This A-Z of timber flooring list will help ensure that you have a full understanding of the specifications, characteristics and requirements of the timber flooring product you choose. Timber flooring, like any specialised industry, has many technical terms that can be a little confusing or even intimidating if you are not familiar with the lingo.
We’ve put together a list of the most common terms you will come across when choosing your timber flooring product to help you navigate the in’s and out’s of the timber flooring world.
The process of stocking one material to another. Adhesion is affected by the condition of the surface. The surface should allow a certain amount of penetration, be chemically clean and not too smooth, hard or non-porous.
Annual Growth Ring
The layer of wood growth formed on a tree during a single growing season.
The backing is the underside of a floorboard. With engineered boards this will be ply or soft wood.
A parquetry pattern typically created using herringbone, basket weave is any pattern where the wood flooring is laid in a way that makes the wood appear to be woven.
The edge of a plank, which has been chamfered off in the manufacturing process to create a groove or ‘v’ joint between boards when they are laid.
Timber lightened in colour by the application of either wood bleach, or a white stain, or both.
Commonly used for referring to parquet flooring individual strips, for example ‘herringbone blocks’.
Boards refer to wooden flooring. Boards are available in many different sizes. Boards are further differentiated according to intended use (interior or exterior) and construction type (solid, engineered or 3-layer).
Simple or intricate designs, which frame and customise a flooring installation.
(refer to ‘Feature Strip’)
Bowing is the effect where the boards have bent upwards/downwards at the sides. This results in a U or bowl shape. Bowing may occur as a result of the boards being dry on the top side and becoming damp on the underside due to a lack of ventilation. Bowing is to be expected, especially in spaces where boards with large widths are used.
A manufacturing process applied to the timber to add textures to the surface, usually carried out by copper brushes.
Sometimes defined as a bevelled edge, a chamfered edge is where a right-angled edge has been cut away to create a symmetrical sloping edge, often at a 45° angle, between two adjoining faces.
Refers to the characteristics present and structural properties of raw timber being of ‘character grade’. Typically, character grade timber will include both heartwood and sapwood and allows a wider range of colour variation. Knots are larger and you should expect checks (cracks across the growth ring). Filler will be used, the colour of which is carefully selected to complement the wood rather than to match it exactly. (Read more about timber flooring grades here.)
These are cracks across the growth ring of the timber. These usually occur where there are also shakes (see ‘Shakes), most often at the end of a board and may be cut off.
A parquetry pattern of wood flooring blocks that when laid, create a chevron or ‘V’ shape.
See ‘Select Grade’.
Click system is a method of installation of timber flooring. Planks that have a click system have specially-profiled edges that allow the planks to “click” into each other. Click system planks are typically faster to install than planks with a traditional tongue and groove profile.
Visual changes in the colour of the wood species caused by the exposure to light, deprivation of light and air, or some chemical reaction.
VidaSpace floorboards are available in an engineered construction. An engineered board construction is made up of a solid timber top surface (known as the lamella or wear-layer) and ply or soft wood layered in opposing directions forming the base and core of the floorboard.
Individual strips with the centre of the strip higher than the edges. The opposite of ‘cupping’.
A concave or dished appearance of individual strips with the edges raised above the centre. The opposite of ‘crowning’.
Damp-proof course. See DPM.
Damp-proof membrane (often abbreviated to DPC, damp-proof course) is a horizontal barrier in a wall designed to prevent moisture rising through the structure by capillary action – a phenomenon known as rising damp.
(refer to ‘Vapour Barrier’)
The seperation of layers in a laminate or engineered floor, through failure of the adhesive or between plies, or between layers of stain and/or coating.
A process used to give a lived in look. Various techniques are used to create surface damage, dents, scratches and imperfections to edges and face. Boards are often then finished with oil to soften defects and give the appearance of a well-worn, though not necessarily period, floor.
The Douglas Fir is the hardest of conifer trees. Douglas fir wood is suitable for both interior and exterior applications, although VidaSpace only offers this for interior applications. Douglas fir is light to rosé in colour when untreated. Oils, lye, and soap can all be used to produce a variety of effects.
Where two pieces of flooring are joined together end-to-end.
A male projection milled on one edge of a strip, plank, slat or unit to be engaged with a female counterpart on an adjourning unit.
A multi-layered wood flooring board comprising of a surface veneer of real wood, bonded to a central softwood core and a counter balancing backing of softwood.
Boards of the same lengths are laid next to one another. The English pattern is a traditional pattern that works well in long rooms. For a timeless, classic appearance.
A strip of wood used at a threshold or to border a room or to otherwise serve as an accent. Usually of a contrasting colour or species.
(refer to ‘Border’)
Inherent markings, designs or configurations on the surface of wood produced by annual growth rings, rays, knots and deviations from regular grain.
A substance used to fill the holes and irregularities in planed or sanded surfaces before applying finish coatings.
A tree’s age rings may be wider or narrower depending on its location and soil. The width of a tree’s age rings indicates how quickly it has grown. Boards that have a fine-grained structure i.e. narrow age rings, indicates that the tree grew slowly.
Protective coating applied to a wood floor.
The wide irregular, conspicuous figure in quarter sawn oak flooring.
A method of installation where the flooring is not nailed or glued to the subfloor. Typically, the flooring panels are connected together by adhesive or mechanical connectors and recommended to be installed over underlay.
Full length boards also referred to as Room Lengths are as long as the room and can therefore be laid without joints. Our VidaPlank Douglas Fir boards have the option to be selected in full lengths.
This is a term used to determine the characteristics present and structural properties of raw timber. Boards are grouped into different grades based on the appearance of the wood grain. Ranging from a clean grain with no knots, to larger and more frequent knots. These groups are Prime, Select, Character, Nature/Rustic
The grain of a trunk determines the appearance of the board such as age ring structure, knot frequency, and wood colour.
When timber absorbs moisture it expands and contracts creating pressure on the boards and can cause small hairline cracks to appear.
A process used to undulate the surface of wood floors to create an uneven surface, which replicates foot traffic and wear characteristics of an old floor.
The property of a wood species or finishing material that causes it to withstand denting or being marked.
Hard Wax Oil
Surface-finishing treatment made from natural vegetable oils mixed with wax.
One of the botanical groups of deciduous trees that have broad leaves, in contrasting to conifers or softwoods.
High-density fibreboard, which is an engineered wood product. It is similar to particleboard and medium-density fibreboard, but is denser and much stronger and harder because it is made out of exploded wood fibres that have been highly compressed.
The herringbone pattern is a traditional design that dates back to the roman empire. The boards are laid at right angles to each other resembling the look of a fish skeleton. This results in classic and unusual floor designs.
The wood extending from the pith to the sapwood, the cells of which no longer participate in the life processes of a tree – usually darker than sapwood.
Horizontal Age Rings
Horizontal age rings are age rings that appear as U shapes on the end faces of the boards.
The amount of water vapour in the air (see ‘Relative Humidity’).
An instrument for measuring the degree of humidity or relative humidity of the atmosphere.
Hygroscopy is the phenomenon of attracting and holding water molecules via either absorption or adsorption from the surrounding environment, which is usually at normal or room temperature.
Invisible Screwing/Secret Nailing
Invisible screwing or secret nailing is a way the board is mounted without visible screws/nails showing on the top side. The advantages of this are a smoother appearance and that the top side of the boards is not damages by drill holes or hammers.
One of a series of parallel beams used to support floor or ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls.
Dried in a kiln with the use of artificial heat.
The portion of a branch or limb that has been surrounded by subsequent growth of the stem.
A finish containing nitrocellulose, often used as a sealer. Using a solvent with very low flash point, which causes it to be very flammable, creates the fast curing properties of this finish. Ambers little, cures rapidly, but may water spot and become cloudy when applied in high humidity.
Hard surface flooring with a fibreboard core and melamine wear layer.
Refers to the top layer of timber on laminate timber flooring.
Linseed oil is used to treat the surface of Douglas fir boards. Linseed oil is available in a range of colours and are completely natural and can create a very unique surface.
Treatment with wood lye is a type of surface treatment used for Douglas Fir boards. Wood lye is available with and without white pigments. Lye works as a natural, additional protection and in interior spaces, a treatment with wood lye lightens the floorboards and can be used in combination with soap or oil.
Wood containing an accumulation of mineral matter introduced by sap flow, causing an unnatural colour ranging from greenish brown to black.
The amount of moisture in wood expressed as a percentage of the weight of oven-dried wood.
Five fingers of wood to make up a basket; each basket is laid in an opposite direction to the next, each panel contains approximately 16 baskets.
Also known as pith rays or wood rays, medullary rays are cells that transport sap from the inside of the tree to the outside, radiating from the centre of the tree. Medullary rays run perpendicular to the growth rings. A natural feature of timber, they add character and beauty to timber through the creation of intricate and unique patterns.
(refer to ‘Rays’)
Our flooring is available in a range of grades with one of them being Nature which is also referred to as Rustic. Boards that are Nature grade are characterized by natural knots and wood structure.
Hardwood moulding used to cover the outside corner of a step.
(refer to ‘Stair Nosing’)
Oak wood is characterised by hardness and durability, making it suitable for use in many interior spaces such as public buildings. Oak is predominantly red-brown in colour, but it can also lean towards yellow or green tone.
An oil surface treatment makes a floor particularly hard-wearing and durable. Oils can also give various different appearances (light, dark, coloured).
A failure of finish to form a film over areas of low density, normally associated with the softer springwood.
Parquet or parquetry is commonly used to describe wood blocks/strips laid in a geometric mosaic pattern, particularly herringbone and chevron patterns.
The usual way of cutting a log, which gives a random mix of grain patterns.
Solid or engineered boards designed to be installed in parallel rows.
Board or panel made of cross-directional veneers and/or layers of wood for dimensional stability.
A type of finish used on hardwood to protect it from damage. Polyurethane finishes do not require waxing.
Floors that are sealed with a protective finish by the manufacturer to installation.
Refers to the characteristics present and structural properties of raw timber being of ‘prime grade’. Typically, prime grade timber has few, if any knots, sapwood, and filler. Any knots, sapwood, or filler the timber does have will be minimal in size. There will be less colour variation than found in other grades. Due to the restrictions on these characteristics, prime grade timber can be more expensive as prime grade planks are selected by eye and harder to source in high quantities. (Information on grades can be found here.)
A convex shaped piece of timber supplied in around 2-3m lengths in various hardwoods. Used to cover expansion gaps left around the perimeter of a wood floor.
For random lengths, we deliver boards of all lengths within a certain interval. This allows for the maximum to be gained from the high-quality wood in manufacturing the boards. Varying lengths connect rooms together seamlessly.
Strips of cells extending radically within a tree and varying in height from a few cells in some species to four inches or more in oak. The rays serve primarily to store food and transport it horizontally in the tree. On Quarter sawn oak flooring, the rays form a conspicuous figure, sometimes referred to as flecks.
(refer to ‘Medullary Rays’)
Timber salvaged from use in other locations to give the new environment an aged look and feel.
Ratio of the amount of water vapour present in the air, which the air would hold at saturation at the same temperature.
Some of our boards have a notch or relief groove milled into the underside. This is to help reduce tension in the board and provide more stability.
The rift cut is a special cutting process where the round timber is sliced so the boards show half-vertical age rings. Boards that are sliced with a rift cut present a high-quality top surface with minimal cracks.
Refers to the characteristics present and structural properties of raw timber being of rustic grade’. a term used in the grading of wood flooring. This grade permits almost unlimited natural colour variation via sapwood, heartwood and knots. (Find more information on our gradings here.)
Sanded and Filled
Describes an unfinished product which has been factory prepared for treatment. The finish is smooth and all open knot and shanks have been filled.
The wood near the outside of a tree, usually lighter in colour than heartwood.
A concave or half round shape of timber usually supplied in 2 – 3m lengths in various hardwoods. Used to cover expansion gaps left around the perimeter of a wood floor.
A latex levelling compound that is used to create a clean level subfloor when installing floors.
A separation along the grain, the greater part of which occurs between the annual growth rings.
A process used to darken wood floors during the drying process.
A special wooden flooring soap can be used for treatment and car of Douglas Fir flooring in interior spaces. Wooden flooring soap is available in a plain and white finish.
A term used to describe timber produced from needle and/or cone-bearing trees (conifers).
Solid boards are cut from one piece of wood and are therefore not glued or screwed to form the floorboard. Solid boards are the most natural form of wooden flooring.
The type of tree, such as oak, cherry or walnut
Boards are called Square-edged when the top edges are a 90-degree angle. Square edges give a flat appearance. Another edge profile is a beveled edge which makes the joints become more apparent.
Changing the colour of the wood through the application of transparent or semi-transparent liquids made from dyes, finely divided pigments or chemicals.
A finishing piece applied to the forward edge of stairs, step-downs and landings, creating a rounded quality finish. (Explore VidaSpace stair nosings and profiles here.)
What a floor covering sits on – either concrete, floorboards, chipboard or brick.
To install flooring anywhere in a space it is necessary to have a substrate in which it the boards are attached, whether it be glued or secret nailed etc.
Term to describe the surface look and feel of flooring. Texture can range from silky smooth to hand scraped and distressed.
A three-layer board, also called a multilayer board, consists of three glued layers of wood: a top layer (wear layer), a middle layer and a backing.
A finishing piece applied to a wood floor where it transcends to another flooring level or type.
Tongue and Groove
A tongue milled on one edge and a groove cut on the opposite edge, in a strip, plank and parquet flooring. As the flooring is installed, the tongue of each strip or unit is engaged with the groove of the adjacent strip or unit (see ‘End-Matched’).
The top layer (or wear layer) is the topmost and therefore visible layer of any engineered floorboard. The thickness of this top layer can range from 0.6mm to 6mm, depending on the product and its total thickness.
The finish materials in a building, such as mouldings, applied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling of rooms.
Is a layer of cushioning, made of materials such as sponge rubber, foam, felt or crumb rubber, which is laid beneath the flooring to provide protection and support. (You can find underlay for your timber flooring from our VidaSpace Accessories range.)
A product requiring sanding and staining/finishing after installation.
UV Cured polyurethane
Special polyurethane cured by subjecting it to a dose of ultraviolet light. See polyurethane.
Special hardwax oil cured by subjecting it to a dose of ultraviolet light. See oil.
A material, such as foil, plastic film or specially coated paper, with a high resistance to vapour, which is used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.
(refer to ‘DPM’)
Thin leaf of hardwood bonded on HDF to provide top face of engineered wood floors.
With origins in the French palace of Versailles and also known as the French pattern, Versailles is an intricate geometric tile-like pattern of precisely-cut timber blocks. Traditionally a labour intensive and costly floor to install, Versailles flooring became a sign of opulence. These days Versailles patterns are available in ready-made ‘tiles’, significantly cutting down installation time and cost. (See the VidaSpace Versailles products here.)
Vertical Age Rings
Vertical age rings occur when the round timber is sawn with a rift cut process. The age rings therefore appear vertical lines that run in parallel to the board.
Term used to describe board widths. (Discover VidaSpace wide boards here.)
The width of individual wood boards that make up a floor.
A method for imparting an artificial texture or distressed appearance to the surface of hardwood flooring.
The primary species from which the wood floor is made.
Get in touch to learn more about Timber Floors
The A-Z of timber flooring list covers the most common terms you will come across when researching and selecting your timber floor. If there is a term that you have come across that is not covered here, get in touch today and we can help you out! You will also be helping us to add new words to this list to in-turn help others who are needing clarification on any timber flooring terms.
0800 119 388