Timber flooring can add character, richness and warmth to any home; it can also create a cool and casual look if you prefer a rustic or country look in a home's interior. In some cases, timber floors can even increase the value of your home, and they are often much more durable and long-lasting than carpeting and many types of floor tiles. When shopping for timber floors, note a few details and some features that may seem unimportant, but which can make a tremendous difference in the appearance and even the comfort of the floors, so you are happy with your new flooring for as long as you own your home.
Timber floors can be very slick or have a rougher texture and surface. Timber can also be distressed; this refers to a process where wood is purposely beaten, sanded or otherwise damaged so that it looks old and weathered.
A rougher surface can be good for areas where you need added traction, such as hallways. Also, distressed timber is good for a very traditional, rustic look, while a very smooth and slick surface might work better in a home with a modern decor and style.
The underlayment of a timber floor refers to a material that is put under the wood slats, much like the padding that is put under carpeting. This underlayment softens the feel of timber underfoot, helps to insulate the floors, absorbs noise and protects against the timber absorbing moisture from the subfloor. Cork and foam are very good for softness and noise absorption, whereas a vinyl underlayment will help to keep water away from the timber slats so they're less likely to absorb moisture and then warp and bow.
Prefinished vs. site-finished
Prefinished boards are given their paint, stain or coating at the factory; site-finished boards have this coating applied after they're installed in your home. Prefinished boards ensure the look of the finish; you know exactly how the paint or stain colour will appear, or can see exactly how varnish or urethane will affect the appearance of the boards. This also allows for a more consistent look for all the timber slats.
Site-finished boards, however, offer you more options for that finish if you find that it's not to your liking once the boards are installed. Your installer can lighten the paint or stain or add more coats for a darker tone if you find that the finish is not what you expected after seeing the timber floors in your home.