Timber flooring versus tile flooring

Published: 21st July 2008
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The challenge
The timber flooring versus tile flooring debate rages amongst enthusiasts. However awareness of some of the following facts when building or renovating your home will no doubt clear some of the confusion and make your decision easier, and better!

What you'll learn
Timber floors have pros and cons
Tiles or other non-timber options
Classic structural floors
What are floating timber floors?
Some timber flooring tips
How to choose the best wood

The timber flooring cons
We must begin with the important issue which faces the entire earth and mankind with imminence:

Natural resources are being depleted, greenhouse gases fill the atmosphere and desertification due to deforestation is rife.
It's at this point that you must realise: Timber flooring is made of out trees!

While this is a point on the board for tiles which are generally made from non-precious resources, there is an option for the responsible earthling who loves the soft glow of polished timber floors:

Choose flooring certified as coming from sustainably managed plantations. Better yet, use recycled timber! This adds a beautiful element of character to your home and the pleasure of knowing you've supported both the environment and future of our children.
(In fact, don't buy anything unless it's truly 'Green'!)

The timber flooring pros
When installed by a timber flooring professional, likely one registered with the Australian Timber Flooring Association, wooden floors create a non-allergenic environment. This is essential to the health of some youngsters today (not to mention us as well!) and is a score for timber over tiles as grouting does not age well and is harder to finish non-allergenically around architrave and skirting.

Another long-term trend which is a pro for the timber flooring camp is the fact of added value to your home. Homes renovated with elegant timber flooring have consistently taken on substantial value and this trend is a long term pattern over decades, no mere fad.

Classic structural floors
Having timber floorboards laid on bearers or joists of your house foundation is the classic style of structural flooring.
The boards range usually from 100 to 150mm wide and most often implement a tongue and groove locking mechanism.
While timber boards can be as thick as 30mm, the standard thickness is 19mm.
Various tree species are used (you've surely heard of brush box and jarrah) however the serious renovator can have their wood oven tested before use to determine suitability.

What are floating timber floors?
This is a builders term for floors laid over the existing solid floor. So the timber floor 'floats' on an underlay, without being nailed to the original structural flooring.
One advantage of this style is that any movement in your floor is less likely to cause gaps in between the boards.
The floating style also allows for the use of 'faux' timber boards, which is an affordable option still offering the ambience and color of timber flooring.

The conclusion is yours
With pre-conceptions and misconceptions aside, you are now in a better position to decide between timber and tile floors. A mix of both in a home is often appealing, and allows you to place your choices according to room use. For instance, tiles in a laundry offer the durability and appropriate aesthetics for a room which is not usually lounged in. Just make sure they're non-slip tiles!
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Paul Vincent was born on timber flooring. He's even done some wood flooring oven testing. However you know he's not bias because he's Italian, and they love their tiles! His father was a tiler and grout is in his blood. So see what he comes up with in reviewing this age-old debate.

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