Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean my wooden floors?

We find the best way is to sweep or vacuum your floor (using the soft setting) first.  When washing and maintaining it use a specialised cleaning mop that works with a floor cleaning fluid particular to your coating type (available from Swinard Wooden Floors).  Alternatively you can use a microfibre mop with an old spray bottle filled with water; spray sparingly as you mop your floor. The secret is to use as little water as possible whilst keeping the mop moving freely. Do not use solvent-based products or steam cleaners on our wooden floors.  See under Cleaning and Maintenance for full details.

How do I repair a scratched timber floor?

This depends on how deep the scratch is. It is best to ring us first to assess the damage. Sometimes it can be easily fixed, or your floor may need to be sanded and re-finished. See under Sanding and Finishing for further information.  To protect your floor from scratches we recommend attaching protective pads to the base of all furniture.

Do stilettos damage wooden flooring?

They often leave small dents and while these can be unsightly they do not usually damage the structure of the floor.  

Can I use a steam mop on my wooden floor?

Please do NOT use steam mops on our wooden floors.  They can cause severe damage and the floor will need to be sanded and recoated. 

How many years wear should I expect to get from a wooden floor?

With a good quality product, such as the ones we recommend, you should have at least thirty years of use, providing an appropriate maintenance programme is followed. See under Cleaning and Maintenance for full details.

Will sun affect my timber floor?

Yes. As with all natural materials, sun will change the colour of timber. In some instances, where strong sunlight shines directly on to timber, the heat can cause it to shrink and crack. UV protection, in the form of blinds or special glass is recommended to protect not only your timber, but carpets and all soft furnishings. See UV and Sunlight for further information.

Can you repair a wooden floor?

Yes. We specialise in repairing all types of wooden floors. We can work either directly with you or through your insurance company. See under Sanding and Finishing for further information.

Can I have underfloor heating with a timber floor?

Yes. There are, however, several criteria that have to be adhered to. First, it must not be above 24°C (that is pretty warm!). Secondly, when you turn the heating on, it must be increased gradually over a period of time, to allow the timber to adapt. The same must be done when turning it off. See our Underfloor Heating instructions elsewhere in this website for full details.

Is timber flooring suitable in “wet areas”, such as laundries, kitchens and bathrooms?

In most cases, yes. However, some insurance companies will not cover timber flooring in “wet areas”, so you should check with your insurance company first. Also some prefinished engineered flooring manufacturers will not guarantee their product for use in “wet areas”. We will only suggest ones that are appropriate at the time of quoting. Polyurethaned floors that are finished in-situ are the most suitable for “wet areas”, in that they form a barrier against water. However, we would like to point out that nothing is ever completely water tight. Flooding in any area will damage flooring - timber, vinyl, carpet etc. See Controlling your Environment for further information.  

What is a solid timber floor?

A completely natural timber product milled into floorboards. Once installed, they are sanded to form a flat surface and finished in either polyurethane or oil. They can also be stained to any colour you wish, prior to being finished. See under Sanding and Finishing for further information.

What is a prefinished engineered floor?

A multi-layered, (usually 3) precision made flooring consisting of a 14mm timber veneer with a stabilising base. It is comes finished in numerous (5/6) coats of high quality UV hardened satin lacquer. The boards fit together perfectly and so no filler is required. See under Prefinished Engineered Wooden Floors for further details and timber species.

Is prefinished wooden flooring cheaper than solid timber?

There are many variables when choosing a floor, and therefore the cost depends on the product you chose and the subfloor of the house it is being installed in. For example, prefinished timber can be more expensive to buy, but quicker/cheaper to install and of course it does not need to be sanded and finished on site afterwards. Timber species also vary in price and this needs to be taken into consideration.

Is solid timber better than a prefinished engineered product?

Not necessarily. There is a different look and feel to the two types of timber flooring and it is very much a matter of personal choice.  

How thick is a solid timber floor?

It comes in a number of different thicknesses – 13mm, 19mm, 25mm etc. We recommend a minimum of 19mm.

What is a laminate floor?

We have a number of types of laminate flooring and the quality of these varies considerably. It is not the same thing as vinyl imitation “timber” flooring, which is petroleum based. A laminate is basically constructed from a 90% wood base (such as an oil tempered hardboard) with a decorative “wood-look” layer on top (often photographic). In certain cases, where you are on a limited budget, it has its place. We have a number of approved products which we lay and are happy to show you samples of these. We would like to point out that you cannot resand or refinish a laminate floor, once it becomes worn it has to be replaced.
Naturally, we would not recommend it over a timber floor, which is superior not only in terms of its potential longevity and aesthetics but also because it forms part of the structure of your home. A timber floor is not merely a floor covering.

What is a “direct fix” floor?

Each timber board is glued and/or nailed to the subfloor.  There can be a variety of different underlays (for warmth, sound etc.) in between. See Methods of Installation for further details.  

What is a “floating” floor?

A prefinished floor is laid onto an underlay over an existing subfloor – e.g. concrete, chipboard or existing T&G. It locks together and is held in place by skirting, furniture etc. See Methods of Installation for further details.

Do I need trims and/or skirtings with a wooden floor?

Generally, but not necessarily. Again this depends on the look you want to achieve and the type of floor you have chosen. Trims/skirtings are generally used to finish off the edges of the timber - around doors, floor level windows, where one type of flooring meets another and around the edge of the room. A colour-matched filler can also be used.

When do I need to re-finish my timber flooring?

This depends on how much wear and tear your floor receives. As a general rule, a floor that is finished with polyurethane should be re-coated every 5-7 years. However, areas of high use (for example - adjacent to a kitchen sink or frequently used passageway) may wear down sooner. It is easy to spot where the polyurethane is becoming worn and it is better to address the problem at an early stage, as it can often be rejuvenated with a light sand and a fresh coat of polyurethane. At a more advanced stage, where it is “blackening off” (when moisture is in contact with the wood), the whole floor may need to be sanded back to raw timber and up to three coats of polyurethane applied. This work will be done by a specialist floor sander/finisher. See under Sanding and Finishing for further information. Oiled floors have a regular maintenance programme that needs to be followed in order to keep the oil finish at the required level. This can be done by yourself. For further information see under Cleaning and Maintenance.

What is the difference between an oil and a polyurethane finish?

This is again a preference choice. Both types of flooring finish are extremely durable and, if cared for properly, should last a lifetime.
An oiled floor looks more natural, has its own lustre but less sheen, and requires regular coats to maintain the oil level in the timber. Oiled floors only need to be “topped up” with oil.
The water-borne polyurethane we use comes in a satin finish and is usually considered easier to maintain as it coats the timber in a lacquer and only needs to be swept and wiped down. These floors will need to be re-sanded and have further coats applied over the course of time. Polyurethaned floors are more suitable for “wet areas”, as they form a barrier against water. However, we would like to point out that nothing is ever completely water tight. See under Sanding and Finishing for further information. 

What kind of polyurethane is used?

We use a top quality water-borne polyurethane, made by Pallmann's in Germany.  It comes in a satin finish and is extremely durable and non-yellowing. See under Sanding and Finishing for further information. 

How long does it take?

This depends on the size of the floor and the type chosen. The subfloor needs to be prepared first and then the floor is installed. That’s it for prefinished flooring and you can walk on it straight away. With solid timber once it is laid the finishing process begins. First it will be sanded, then filled (if required) followed by a coat of polyurethane; a further two coats being applied on subsequent days.
As a rough guide, 30m² of rectangular flooring will require subfloor preparation on the first day (depending on your subfloor), it will then take 1 day to install and 3 days to sand and finish. However, you will need to allow the polyurethane time to harden before moving furniture on to it. See Installation and Site Requirements for further details.

Can I lay a wooden floor myself?

Our staff are certified floor installers, with many years of experience. It is not an easy job and extremely difficult to correct if badly installed in the first place - it generally requires replacement of the whole floor, timber included. Whilst there are many sets of instructions readily available on the internet, we naturally recommend that you entrust a major investment in your property, such as this, to the experts. It is one thing to install a straight forward area of flooring, however, it is another to detail and finish it well.

Do products come with a guarantee?

Yes. Our installation methods come with a guarantee, as do all the products that we use. See under Guarantees for copies of the various guarantees we offer.

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©Swinard Wooden Floors Limited, PO Box 7134, Christchurch 8240     T 03 329 9669     F 03 329 9660     M 027 432 4946