flooring hero

Common ground

From material type to pattern lay, there are plenty of options as well as technical considerations when it comes to choosing beautiful and long-lasting flooring finishes for a home.

Photo courtesy Thynk & Rawson Homes

Flooring can make or break a space, and given the extensive array of options presented to builders and homeowners today, getting the material and style right is no easy task. From carpet to tiles, for each flooring type their width, height, finish and colour can be different. With solid timber flooring alone, there are numerous widths of boards, thicknesses and species to choose from, as well as various fixing types, including face fix and secret nail. 

Floors also take the brunt of everyday activities and are a longer-term investment than lighting or paint, so it pays to do your homework. Whatever design direction you choose to go with, whether it’s natural materials of timber and stone, composite or hybrid options, equal consideration should be given to aesthetics, comfort, durability and installation. 

 
kitchen Photo courtesy Thynk
bathroom 2 Photo courtesy Thynk

Up to standard

Laid correctly, flooring should flow harmoniously throughout a room, drawing visitors inside and setting the overall tone of the area. For technical considerations, Simon Croft, HIA Executive Director – Building Policy, says the National Construction Code (NCC) and associated Australian Standards are not overly prescriptive on selection of materials or installation requirements but have provisions that may influence the type of flooring chosen, particularly in wet areas, such as laundries (water-resistant materials).

‘The NCC applies provisions to achieve the minimum necessary standards of health and safety, including structural and fire safety,’ he says. ‘In most circumstances, floor coverings are considered to be a fitting and fixture, and their installation requirements and selection are not regulated by the NCC.’

However, Simon adds the NCC and referenced Australian Standards do contain requirements for waterproofing of wet areas, and grading of floors and slip-resistance requirements for stairways and ramps.

‘There are also structural requirements for timber and steel floor framing, concrete slabs, installation requirements for particle board floor-ing and other sheet flooring, and some fixing requirements for timber flooring,’ he says. ‘It’s also important to take into account heights and transitions between different materials, as subsequent floor toppings can affect stair risers, particularly at the bottom and the top of stairs, finished room heights and potentially step downs from internal to external finishes.’

While there are no rules as to what material or laying pattern a home needs to follow, it’s always good to consider what the room will be used for as well as the shape and size. ‘With so much to choose from builders and contractors need to stay across any requirements that might apply to various flooring types to ensure the installation meets the building code, standards and any implied warranties,’ Simon says.

 
laundry Photo courtesy Thynk & Masterton Homes
bathroom Photo courtesy Thynk & Montgomery Homes

Timber

Timber flooring is a common choice in a home and for good reason. It’s a renewable material and adds value because it’s highly sought after. The best timber choices are species that are tough and readily available, ensuring greater durability while reducing the price tag. Some of the most common varieties include oak, maple and cherry. 

For interior designer Di Henshall of Di Henshall Interior Design, timber is perfect for all living room areas including bedrooms because of its warmth underfoot, but there are a few technical aspects to keep in mind if choosing this option. 

‘Timber, being a natural product, needs to be sealed and protected from long periods of intense light,’ she says. ‘Plus [it] will naturally change colour over time. All timber flooring requires expansion joints, so this is something to consider when planning the space.’ 

According to Lana Gordon from flooring specialists THYNK Studio, timber continues to be a popular option but it runs the risk of scratching. This however can be minimised, she says.

‘If you lay [timber] vertically towards windows it creates the right lighting effect down the product, potentially hiding any blemishes.’ She adds that timber flooring can also be sanded and refinished when needed to give it a fresh makeover but for engineered timbers you usually can only do this once or twice in its lifespan.

As an alternative, bamboo offers a similar appearance and is gaining popularity. While considered a grass rather than timber, bamboo is a more eco-friendly choice in its finished product. It can be harvested without killing the plant and regrows in about two years – a lot faster than trees. 

However, some controversy exists regarding bamboo’s production and manufacturing, and its environmental impact. Many bamboo forests have led to deforestation to make room for the faster growing plant. Additionally, when turning bamboo into planks it is cut and ripped into thin strips before being laminated together with formaldehyde-based glue, a non-transparent resin that can cause health concerns. To ensure that your bamboo flooring is the most eco-friendly option look for planks that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved. 

 
kitchen 2

TIP: For the most durable bamboo option go for lighter colours because darker shades are generally softer and more likely to scratch. Unlike timber, if damage does occur bamboo planks will need to be replaced because they can’t be sanded and refinished.

 

Cork

Cork flooring offers the ultimate choice for homes, ticking most boxes. It’s an eco-friendly choice that can help to alleviate symptoms of allergies and asthma because cork repels dirt and dust mites better than many other flooring option.

It offers a wide array of benefits, acting as a natural thermal and acoustic insulator to keep the home warm and quiet, and is fire-resistant, releasing less smoke than vinyl flooring. However, as a downside to these perks, cork doesn’t react well to water. The finishing process helps to protect it against water stains and damage but high humidity can cause the cork to curl leading to tiles popping out. 

Cork is also an eco-friendly flooring option. It’s made from the bark of the cork oak tree but unlike timber flooring it can be harvested without harming the tree. It’s also biodegradable and will break down easily at the end of its life cycle. 

While cork is usually grouped with other hard surfaces like timber and bamboo, it’s actually a lot softer under-foot. This makes it pleasant to walk on but it does dent easily when heavy furniture is placed on it. To prevent this put coasters or pieces of carpet beneath the furniture to help preserve it.

 

Tiles

For wet areas of the home, such as bathrooms and laundries, tiles are a popular choice due to their durability, cost-effectiveness, versatility and low-maintenance. But given the sheer variety of colours and textures available, they can also add a dramatic and personalised flair to a project. 

It’s generally stated that one flooring choice is the best way to create the feeling of a larger space and therefore, larger tiles or planks of wood are often the first choice. 

‘Porcelain is a clean, sophisticated, timeless look that is virtually maintenance-free. When using the large sheet format, consideration needs to be taken around access and transportation to the site,’ Di explains. ‘Porcelain is brittle and needs to be cut with a wet-saw, and floors will need to be prepared, making sure the surface is completely flat and even.’

However, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t always mean bigger is better. When it comes to the bathroom it’s best to stick away from the current trend of large tiles, which can complicate the grading of shower recesses. 

It’s also important to consider whether your flooring choice will transition from indoors to outside if this is part of a home’s layout. Tiles in this instance are an excellent choice because the product has an external equivalent. 

‘Slip-resistance is another factor to consider and there are effective sealers available for tiles on the market,’ Di says. ‘Glare should also be considered. The full northern light on a gloss surface or a light coloured tile will reflect light much more than a matt or darker floor.’

With regards to the NCC requirements for tiles, there are a number of things that should be taken into consideration, such as floor wastes and grading of floors to floor wastes, waterproofing requirements, location and installation of shower screens. There are also different types of floor wastes now, including strip drains, traditional type square wastes and even hidden tile types. In setting up the structural floor for the wet area, setting up step downs for flush finishes in showers need to be taken into consideration early rather than trying to alter the structural frame or slab afterwards. It will also eliminate the need to build up levels in the bathroom to achieve the step-free shower recess.

 
dining

Popular laying patterns for large format tiles include straight (stack) bond, and for rectangular tiles an offset (brick) bond or herring-bone are common choices, creating a classic look.

 

Concrete

Polished concrete is becoming increasingly popular as a flooring inclusion inside the home, it adds an industrial feel to residential builds and offers an array of benefits. 

It’s an ideal flooring choice for those who suffer from allergies as it’s dust free and easy to clean, and is an environmentally-friendly option especially when manufactured out of recycled materials.

Materials with high thermal mass such as concrete slabs have the ability to store and re-release thermal energy, regulating indoor comfort by radiating or absorbing heat. Thermal mass is useful in most climates, staying cool during summer by dissipating the heat coming into the home through windows, and warm during winter. Warmth in concrete can be made more efficient when paired with insulation and underfloor heating.

While concrete flooring is usually set in a singular slab, there is the opportunity to create alternate layering patterns. 

 
stairs Photo courtesy Di Henshall and Anastasia Kariofyllidis
Di Henshall Interior Design Photo courtesy Di Henshall

Carpet

While perhaps not as glamorous as a Tasmanian Oak herringbone laid floor or a Moroccan jewel-toned tile, carpets exude a feeling of comfort and warmth, so are generally used in rooms for relaxation, such as bedrooms. The beauty of this flooring type however is that the options are endless, from colour, texture, pattern to price. 

Lana Gordon says that the choice of flooring often ‘comes down to the use rather than the look… [and] carpet is the ideal inclusion in a home to help reduce noise and provide an additional safety component’.

When selecting carpet you’ll need to determine the homeowner’s needs. Do they have young children or pets living indoors? And just as important is moisture, hygiene, maintenance and desired comfort level. 

‘Some carpets are more suited to pets, [because there are] certain weaves in the carpet fibres that could be pulled easily by a pet. And low-allergen carpets are great for children,’ Lana explains. 

New carpets can be a source of chemical emissions. Customers should ask retailers about selecting lower-emitting carpet adhesive or about airing out the carpet before it is installed. 

The floor is the largest statement piece in a home and is often the most challenging to replace so it’s important that your clients are aware of the benefits and disadvantages of their flooring choice. This will help to ensure that the material they choose is the one that’s best suited to their needs and lifestyle. 

 

Thinking for you

Tiles, carpets, timber flooring and window furnishings supplier and installer THYNK Studio offer a wide range of products, specialising in providing the latest in interior design services. THYNK offers an all-encompassing, appointment-only service to home builders and con-sumers alike across various locations along the Eastern Seaboard. 

The company recognises that inherent to every builder’s success is a personalised service, so THYNK ensures that it integrates its sys-tems and processes to suit each unique home builder and their clients.

‘Our selections are designed to ensure you experience the personalised one-on-one appointment, providing selections assistance and quoting,’ says THYNK Studio’s Lana Gordon. ‘Working with home building companies of all sizes to supply and install flooring, THYNK provides builders with the convenience of a one studio location with a variety of services.’

THYNK is a family-owned and -operated company with over 40 years’ experience in the building industry. ‘We aim to provide the highest level of customer service, and with family-based hospitality at the heart of our values, we invite our clients into our home so we can help to bring theirs to life,’ Lana says.

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