Wooden Floors and Laminates

Solid Wooden flooring Durban and Cape Town

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We specialise in Solid Wooden Flooring, Laminates, Parquet flooring, Dustless Floor sanding and Sealing and repairs to wooden floors.

Wooden floors exist in many different forms from Swiss Parquet, Parquet, Sprung or Suspended Floors or wooden floors that are adhered to the substrate. They come in many different types of wood and each one has its own unique characteristics and pro and cons. From the menu bar on the right you can navigate to the different types and read up and view pics of the different styles. Alternatively you can use the search bar above to the right to search for something more specific. There are articles on this site of jobs we have completed with pics and the various challenges we overcame in the installation.

Solid wooden floors were very popular in years gone by and in about the ‘70s were all covered up with carpets and other types of flooring. They are making a strong come back now and are very popular due to their warmth, charm and the ability to maintain them relatively easily and cost effectively. Take a look under your carpets and you may find some very nice teak flooring that can be restored back to its original beauty at a relatively low-cost.

For a free, no obligation quote, on all your wooden floor requirements please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Parquet Flooring Installer Durban and Cape Town

Parquet flooring Installer Durban and Cape Town

Parquet flooring was very popular many years ago but a lot of it was covered up with carpets back in the 70’s. It seems crazy now that one could cover the parquet flooring with carpets, but that was the thing of the day and fashions come and go. I’ve recently refurbished several parquet floors by sanding them down and re-sealing them after old carpets have been lifted and they still hold their charm.

There are various types of parquet floor one can get using different wood that gives a slightly different grain, colour and texture. Of course you should always purchase your parquet flooring from a reputable supplier to ensure that you are getting top quality. Your floor will need to last many years and you don’t want to spend the money on installing it only to have to re-do the work later. Also as timber ages it naturally darkens so to try to match the colour of timber with new pieces is very difficult.

Parquet flooring comes in tiles which are made up of the small strips you see. So they are not all laid individually but rather as a sort of tile which is about 300mm x 300mm squares. It makes it much easier to lay and will result in a better finished product because of course there is less room for error in laying them. They are glued down to the floor using a suitable adhesive. Again the floor needs to be completely flat in order to achieve a good quality result. If the floor is not flat, screed it first to remove low and high spots first and then lay your floor.

The individual strips are normally laid perpendicular to each other to give it effect but some very interesting patterns can be found such as herringbone, triangles and inserts are also possible. Parquet flooring is very versatile and you can lay the tiles in just about any pattern you wish and the choices are limited only by your imagination.

For the budget concerned folk out there an alternative to buying new parquet flooring is to use second-hand parquet flooring. I have seen many houses have their old parquet flooring ripped out and discarded. This timber is still sound as most of the older houses used good quality teak in their floors. With a little cleaning and sanding those parquet floor tiles can be made to look like new. Don’t discount the value of second-hand tiles.

To finish the floor, you should sand it using the floor sander, fill any gaps with a suitable gap filler, sand again and then move up to finer grits remembering to sand into the corners with a smaller rotex style sander. A good quality polyurethane should be used either in mineral based or water based. Water based is of course more easily applied, less messy and one can apply multiple coats in the same day as it dries very quickly. Remember to sand lightly with a fine grit paper between coats to get rid of the hairs which stand up after applying coats. This will result in a smooth finish. The polyurethane comes in either high gloss, matt or satin. The choice is yours.

For a free no obligation quote or advice on your parquet flooring please complete the form below or call us on 082 496 5444.

Solid Wooden Flooring Installers Durban and Cape Town

Solid wood flooring installer Durban and Cape town

There are two ways one can install a solid wooden floor. One is to apply the boards directly to the concrete substructure using adhesive and the other is to suspend the floor with joists or batons. This is sometimes referred to as a sprung or suspended floor.

In the first method it is imperative that the substrate is completely flat. If the floor is not completely flat, the boards will lift because they will go down under stress and over time will pull themselves up. If the floor is not completely flat you MUST screed it and get it flat. Or you can opt to install a sprung floor. However installing a sprung floor will result in the surface being about 50mm higher than it was or 30mm higher than the other method. Reason being is that there will be a baton underneath the boards to accept the floor board. So double-check where your floor will end up before choosing the method.

I will go into more detail about each method in two separate articles which you can search for in the search bar on the right, but for the purposes of this article I will just touch on the types of timber one can choose and a broad outline of solid wood flooring.

There are various types of timber that can be used for solid wood flooring. Each one comes with its own characteristics and properties. Some are harder than others, some are less prone to marking because they are dark coloured. What I find most important is to choose a timber that will not move much after installation. All timber will move as it expands and contracts due to fluctuations in temperature, moisture in the atmosphere and other factors. These will all vary with the seasons and in different parts of the country the variation will be different. It is always a good idea to bring the timber to site where it will finally be laid and let it acclimatise for a few weeks before installing. If the timber for instance was kiln dried and then stored in Durban on the coast, then later moved to Gauteng it will move because of differing temperatures and moisture in the atmosphere. So it should be allowed to rest for a few weeks before installing. In fact it should be allowed to rest before machining so that any movement can be removed through the machining process resulting in a flat, square, stable board. There is nothing more frustrating than laying solid wood floor boards only to find that later they have cupped or bowed slightly and unsightly gaps appear between boards or worse still they start to lift. It is not always possible to let them rest before machining but at least allow them to rest before installing so that any movement can be seen before installation and corrected where possible.

One can try to match the colour of the timber to the rest of the room. Saligna for instance is slightly pinkish in colour whereas teak will be a much darker wood and sometimes with dark heartwood and lighter coloured sapwood. You can get creative in matching the colours and interspersed dark with light. If you feel like get really clever you can use different types of wood in your floor but be careful to try to match the timber in their density so that all the pieces will expand and contract at a similar rate.

Your floor should be finished with a good quality polyurethane either in mineral based or water based. Water based is normally preferred as it allows you to apply several coats in the same day. Also it is better for our environment.

For a free no obligation quote or advice on your solid wood flooring please complete the form below or you can contact us on 082 496 5444.

Indoor Wooden Balau Pool Deck Built in Estcourt

Here’s an indoor wooden balau pool deck we built in Estcourt KZN recently.  The client had been doing some renovations on his house and had enclosed the pool with brick walls and windows resulting in an indoor pool.  He wanted a wooden deck around it to finish it off nicely.

Careful consideration was needed to ensure that any water from the pool could quickly drain away so as not to remain wet beneath the deck boards for too long.  Of course with an outdoor deck any rain water or pool water evaporates quite quickly and isn’t of that much concern.  Being indoors however this water can get trapped below the deck for some time resulting in premature failure of the timber.  Although the timber is H3 CCA treated, and as such can live outdoors with periodic wetting, it cannot remain wet constantly.  H4 CCA Treated timber is more suitable for damp conditions such as constant contact with wet soil.  But a fair amount of water on an ongoing basis is not a good idea.

In this instance the builder had done a great job in creating a small fall on all four sides of the pool so that any water dripping or splashing on the deck would fall back into the pool rather than sit below the deck.

The job was relatively easy as there was very little difference in distance between the walls and the sides of the pool.  If the wall is not parallel to the pool then it will result in a wedged shaped deck board either up against the wall or the pool.  To counter this one must “fan” the deck boards by making the gaps on one side 1mm smaller than the gaps on the other side effectively gaining 1mm per deck board.  After 20 deck boards you will gain 20mm to make up any difference.

In fibre glass pools one might also find that the edges of the pool are not straight.  Run a fish line along it to see if it bulges in or out and find the straightest side to start your decking.  If it does bulge then you will need to overlap your deck board on the pool side slightly to cover that and keep the deck boards straight.

A simple single deck board as a fascia board on the inside of the pool finished it off nicely.  It was oiled with a deck oil and this deck will require very little maintenance or re-oiling as it is indoors and won’t get any sun.

Call us on 082 496 5444 for a free quote on your decking requirements.  We also supply and install balustrades, pergolas, walkways, bridges, jacuzzi cladding and pool pump covers.

Wooden Flooring Durban

Wooden Floors Durban

Early plank style flooring

Many years ago, as late as 1625, most European houses did not have a wooden floor. Instead they had a beaten earth floor which of course created problems with water and dust, as you can imagine. Wooden floors were reserved for wealthier people and in those days consisted of joists with planks of elm or oak up to 600mm wide.

During the baroque era of 1625 – 1714, wooden floors became more elegant and included French parquetry and marquetry patterns which were made from hand cut pieces of hardwood laid in patterns of differing colours. They were then hand scraped, scrubbed with sand and polished. These of course were also reserved for the elite in society.

During 1607 – 1780 the North Americans started installing wooden floors due to an abundance of wood. These floors were generally not polished.

Wooden Floors Durban

French parquet style flooring

By the early 19th century, tongue and groove methods started to be applied by the wealthier clients but the random width plank system, face nailed to the joists, remained more common in modest homes. It was also during these times, due to the advent of tongue and groove, that floors could be sanded and levelled and sealed using shellac. Shellac was all that was really available to carpenters to seal wood in those days. It is derived from insect secretions and after being scraped from the bark of trees and processed, exists in solid form. When mixed with alcohol, it becomes liquid and can be applied. It dries very quickly. As there were no modern tools to perform these tasks it was very labour intensive and only the elite could afford this new technology.

The American Victorian Era of 1840 – 1910 saw mass production of wooden floors and consisted largely of “wood carpeting” which were roughly 35mm x 7mm strips glued to a heavy cotton backing made of canvas. They came in rolls of about 1m wide and were installed by tacking down each board every 300mm or so. Nails were set below the surface and filled, sanded by hand and varnished largely with slow curing tung oils from China. This was not that durable in itself so floors were hot waxed and buffed to a shine with a floor brush. All by hand. I know what a job it can be to level a floor using tongue a groove boards with a large grinder or floor sander. I can only imagine the sweat and tears that went into producing a top quality floor in those days.

Wooden Floors Durban

Modern day tongue and groove flooring

By the Edwardian era (1901 – 1914) tongue and groove flooring was the popular choice for domestic flooring. By the 1920’s and 1930’s wooden flooring was in competition with linoleum and cork floors which offered less maintenance. With the addition of alkyd resin, curing time and durability of finishes improved and emphasis was placed on hard solid durable floors. In the 30’s polyurethane was the choice for a no wax finish for floors which allowed wood to play a prominent role through the modern era of the 20’s to the 50’s. Wall to wall carpeting was still terribly expensive and a lot more expensive than wood.

With the housing boom at the end of World War II, came doom for the wooden flooring industry. Because the broadloom (wide and long carpets) cost could be included in the loan for veterans, solid wood floors were very quickly covered up with more expensive, and therefore more sought after, wall to wall carpets. So from the 50’s to about the 80’s hardwood flooring companies struggled to survive and had to adapt my installing carpets. Also ply wood was commonly used then below the carpets. As a result of this the labour paid to install floors decreased and of course the quality dropped as labour struggled to lay more flooring in a day just to survive. This resulted in poor quality floors being laid which made them unpopular. Parquet was then branded as cheap and common.

As we move along in time, and wooden flooring becomes more expensive than other types of flooring, because wood itself is becoming scarce, solid hardwood flooring starts, to my joy, becoming more popular and associated with the more elite end of society. Carpets are being ripped up to find Swiss parquet and parquet blocks, largely of teak which are being restored to their former beauty. A lot of new floors are being laid in solid hardwood too and are preferred over carpets or tiles. Tiles and carpets have had their day. Solid hardwood reigns, for now, but watch this space because the wheel turns and in a few decades I suppose wooden floors will lose their popularity as do all things with time.

For a quote on your solid hardwood flooring needs please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form on this page.

Solid Wood Floors – All Brown Teak End Matched

Solid hardwood floors

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These solid wood floors were installed in Hluhluwe in a house that was being renovated by the new owner on a farm. We used all brown teak, end matched. Most of our teak in South Africa comes from Zimbabwe and they are not allowing teak to leave the country without being machined there. So they were machined in Zim, exported to Gauteng and then shipped to Durban and then up to Hluhluwe. We always allow our timber to stand on site for at least two weeks to acclimatise to the humidity and conditions in their final resting place. This eliminates problems further down the line of boards swelling after installation which cause popping of boards.

Because it is quite difficult to get long lengths of teak, these boards were end matched. They varied in length from 450mm to 1m. To avoid waste in installation the manufacturer will machine them with tongue and groove joints on all four sides so that instead of cutting the ends off to line them up with a bearer, you can simply install them end to end between two bearers because they are tongue and grooved on all four sides. The amount of waste that would be created if they were to be cut would amount to almost half of the total floor area. With lengths of 3m plus, this is not necessary as the waste is far less as a percentage of the total wood being used.

Solid hardwood floors

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We had two areas to floor, upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs there was a mezzanine type floor that had been installed already with wood joists and shutter ply. We installed bearers on top of this and then nailed our floor boards on to them. Downstairs was a concrete substrate which we fixed bearers to using hiltis. It is vitally important to get this substructure of bearers completely flat and level. So spend a bit of time on getting this right as the rest of the job will run smoothly if this is done correctly. The easiest way is to install one bearer on one end of the room and another on the other end of the room with both being level in both directions and to each other. Then run fish line between the two in intervals of about 500mm. Now you can set all your other bearers flat and level to these two, the result being a completely flat and level substructure.

Once the bearers are down you can start installing the boards from one end of the room. We used a specialised hardwood floor nailer, which I have written about here. Because this machine, or tool, is designed at a 45° angle, it cannot be used for the first or last floor boards. On the first one you must use a 40mm oval nail through the tongue (pre drill the pilot hole in hardwoods such as teak) and counter sink it is so it is invisible. From here you can use the hardwood floor nailer. The last board, or last few boards, will also not be able to be installed using this tool as the wall will get in the way. You also can’t successfully nail by hand as you did on the first board, so you will need to face nail the board. That is to drive a nail through the face of the board into the bearer and then neatly close the hole with a suitable filler to match you wood colour.

The next step is to sand the floor flat. Even though these hardwood floor boards are machined precisely to fit snugly into each other through the tongue and groove joint, they do sometimes vary in thickness by a quarter mm and this needs to be sanded flat using a floor sander and 40 grit paper. Teak is extremely hard so this part was slow going. Once it is flat you can then use a 100 grit paper to get rid of scratch marks left by the 40 grit and get the wood to a smooth finish ready for sealing.

Solid hardwood floors

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Vacuum ALL the dust up and vacuum again to make sure that ALL dust is off the floor prior to sealing. We also use a flat broom. The same broom you see them using in shopping centres. This broom moves dust around in one steady motion rather than the normal sweep motion that causes the dust to become airborne and settle again where you have just swept. From time to time you need to vacuum the broom to get rid of the dust and continue sweeping.

3 Coats of a good quality polyurethane sealer is required. Sand lightly with a 200 grit paper to remove any hairs or fibres that would have been raised after the first coat. If using a water based sealer you can dilute the first coat with water so that it penetrates the timber. There are many sealers that can be used. We prefer the water based ones as they dry quicker than the others and are friendlier in their behaviour.

For a free no obligation quote on installing or just sanding and sealing your solid wood floors, please contact us on 082 496 5444 or you can use the contact us form below.

Solid hardwood floors

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Solid hardwood floors

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Nailing Solid Wood Floor Boards

Nailing solid wood floor boards down can be a time-consuming job if done manually. When nailing tongue and groove floor boards down, one needs to nail the nail through the tongue at 45° and counter sink it slightly so that the next floor board can be slotted in over the nail making it invisible.

If this task is done by hand then one needs to nail it and then use a punch to counter sink it so that you don’t damage the tongue. As the hammer gets used it picks up small traces of oil from the nail and eventually it starts slipping off the head of the nail which will damage the board or the tongue. To avoid this one needs to occasionally sand the head of the hammer to remove that oil and to rough the head up a bit. Just a quick light sand will do the trick.

The nail that would most commonly be used for nailing solid wood tongue and groove floor boards down is a 40mm oval nail. The nail is fairly thick in diameter and if a very hard wood like teak is being used you may need to pilot a hole first so that the oval nail doesn’t split the tongue. With softer woods it is not necessary. You will also need to hammer the board tight up against the preceding board so that there are no gaps and then drive you nail in.

This is all very time-consuming so one would tend to try to use a pneumatic tool to drive these nails in. A normal brad nailer won’t work as you won’t be able to get the head of the nail to be counter sunk so that the next board can be installed without a gap. Also the brad nails are not ribbed so tend to pull out over time. They also have a very small head so can pull through the tongue over time.

There is a specialised tool for this job. It is a dedicated hardwood floor nailer. The video above is pretty self-explanatory in how the tool works. The nail is a hook shaped nail which is driven in at 45° and counter sunk. The nail is also wide but not thick. It is designed to enter the tongue with the width in the direction of the grain and the thickness, which is not very thick at all, against the grain. So splitting of the tongue is reduced to a minimum and the hook prevents the nail from pulling through the board. These nails are also ribbed so they do not pull out over time.

Solid wood floors

Nail for pneumatic nailer

The machine is also designed so that the shaft that pushes the nail in, is used to counter sink the nail. The same applies to a normal brad nailer, but because this tool is designed at 45° it is able to reach all the way into the corner of the tongue.

Because the tool is struck with a hammer, the tool also pushes the board tight up against the preceding board as it nails it down. So any gaps between boards are closed, slightly before the nail is driven through the tongue.

A very useful tool if you are laying many floor boards but cost prohibitive if you are not.

Please contact us for your solid wood flooring needs, laminates, wooden decks and wooden fences by calling us on 082 496 5444 or using the contact us form below.

Solid Wood Floors Durban

Solid wood floors Durban

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This client had existing saligna wooden floors which were suspended, or sprung, and she wanted to extend the floor to the other half of the room which was concrete with a linoleum covering. The total area was about 12 square metres. A small job in size but we needed to be careful to get it flush and level with the existing floor.

Saligna makes very nice floors in that it is relatively inexpensive as it is grown locally in South Africa. Saligna come from gum trees. It is a hardwood and relatively hard and dense so is moderately durable. It is not of course as good as teak or some of the other hardwoods, but it is cost-effective and does the job well. The sapwood is a pale yellow in colour, fairly well-defined from the light rose-brown heartwood. The grain is usually interlocked, occasionally straight and the texture is rather coarse. The wood weighs between 700-800 Kg / m³ when dried. It takes nails and screws reasonably well. So overall it makes a good flooring timber when taking into account cost and durability.

It is always a good idea to let the floor boards acclimatise on site in the area they will be installed, for about 2 weeks. Timber “moves” (expands and contracts) a bit in different climates and one wants all the movement to occur before installing the boards so as to limit any gaps that might open up after installation. This is particularly the case with saligna as it tends to “move” a bit more than other timbers. Saligna also prefers to be installed on a suspended system, as opposed to being stuck down to the concrete substrate, as it can then still move during its lifetime without cracking.

Solid wood floors Durban

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We installed 30mm batons, also in Saligna, to the floor using hiltis and then attached our floor boards to these using oval nails. One should always use the same wood as the batons, or one of similar density, so that they can “move” at the same rate. A nail gun with brad nails isn’t the best way to secure them as the brad nails aren’t ribbed and can pull out in the future. There are pneumatic nail guns available that take ribbed nails which make the job a lot quicker and easier.

The trick in doing these floors, as it is with decks, is to make sure that the top of your batons are flat and level. If your substrate is flat and level and can’t move, the boards will go down nicely and the floor will give you many years of warmth and enjoyment.

These were tongue and groove boards so each board’s tongue slips into the other boards groove to give a seamless finish. The nails are hammered in at a 45 degree angle through the tongue so they are concealed.

Solid wood floors Durban

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When these boards are machined the tongue and groove are machine slightly off center so that the boards can be sanded during their lifetime a few more times than if they were machined dead center. A board can only be sanded a number of times until the thickness between the top of the board and the tongue becomes so small that they start breaking off. This is particularly the case with saligna as it is not as hard as teak for instance and when it is sanded the sander removes slightly more wood than it would on a teak floor.

Solid wood floors Durban

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We sanded the floor flat, installed some skirtings to match and then sealed it using a Woodoc Floor sealer.

For a free no obligation quote on solid wood floors, laminates and floor sanding and sealing please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Solid Wood Flooring Installer Durban

 

Solid wood floors Durban

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Solid wood flooring in Durban, and for that matter throughout the world, has risen again in popularity over the last few years. Many years ago solid wood floors were quite popular and in the 1970’s these were replaced with carpets. Many old houses are no finding top quality solid wood floors beneath their carpets and renovating them by pulling up the carpets and sanding and sealing them. Solid wood floors add an air of class to any house and of course add tremendous value.

There are various different types of wood that one can use, all of which vary in price, durability, hardness etc. I’ll list a few of the most popular in order of cost with the most expensive at the top. This list is by no means exhaustive but will give you an idea of what you can choose from. I won’t list current prices as these can change from time to time. For a costing please contact me below or through the contact us page.

  • Teak
  • Kiaat
  • American White Oak
  • Ash
  • Beech
  • Maple
  • Cypruss
  • Oregon
Solid wood floors Durban

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Being solid wood floors they can be sanded many times, unlike laminates which can only be sanded a few times if at all. They are of course more expensive so one needs to carefully budget to ensure that the right choice will be made.

They can be installed in two methods. One is to glue them down to the substrate, normally the concrete floor using a suitable good quality adhesive. The other is to suspend then on batons about 30mm off the floor. Each method has its own pro and cons and at times one can only use the one method. For instance if the finished surface needs to be raised 50mm or so then a suspended or sprung floor will be required. If the reverse is true then they will need to be glued down. Also if the substrate is not completely flat, then it is better to suspend the boards. Gluing boards to a substrate that is not 100% flat it asking for trouble as the boards will eventually lift and the floor will need to be re-done.

Boards are normally purchased from a manufacturer and can either come straight-edged or with a tongue and groove on them. Normally those that are glued down come with a straight edge and those that will be suspended will come with a tongue and groove so that a nail can be inserted at a 45 degree angle to secure the board through the tongue so as not to be visible from the top.

Solid wood floors Durban

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Once the floor is down the gaps need to be filled and then sanded to get all boards flat to each other. Sanding will proceed until a smooth finish is obtained and then it will be sealed using a good quality polyurethane. Nowadays there are many water based polyurethane sealers which behave in a similar fashion to the old tried and tested two pack sealers which contain an activator to harden them. Normally three coats are put down with a light sand between coats to ensure a smooth finish. After the first coat, especially with water based sealers, the fibres in the wood will be raised and need to be sanded off before the second coat is applied. This is sometimes not necessary between coats 2 and 3 unless there is dust in the air that settles on the surface before it dries. The best test is to feel the surface between coats to establish if a light sand is required.

For a free no obligation quote, please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below.