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Variation in timber flooring

Timber is an amazingly diverse natural product, and is always in demand as a surface material for this very reason. An individual species of timber can have an enormous range of colour and feature, not only between trees in the same forest, but also in boards sawn from the same tree. For this reason it is nearly impossible to demonstrate the variances of a species in a single sample.

As a customer, you need to recognise and understand that when purchasing a particular species of timber, colour and grain variation will most definitely occur. That is the reason that most customers are drawn to the romance of a timber floor in the first place. Australian species timbers in particular are renowned for their depth of variation in both colour and grain. Please consider the following when choosing your timber flooring:

  • Size of sample: small samples will give only a tiny reference to the colour and grain variation of an individual species. Always try and look at multiple samples and if possible, display floors of the species you are interested in. Remember even in these instances, your floor will be unique in its own colour, grain and textural appearance. Being standard grade in appearance, your floor will have all types of inclusions such as knots, insect trails, gum veins and even holes that have been filled during the manufacturing process.

  • Age of sample: All timbers change colour to a certain degree over time. If you are looking at an older sample, chances are it has matured in colour and become darker. Timber flooring straight from the pack will always be lighter in appearance and will give a better indication of what your floor will look like initially. Be aware that as soon as the timber is exposed to UV light, it will start to mature and change colour (oxidise), typically becoming a deeper, more even tone, and that this process will continue for many months after installation. The image below is a demonstration of this colour change. Note that where the rug has been placed the timber has not been exposed to UV light and consequently has not started to oxidise, remaining the original installed colour. Moving the rugs will eventually lead to the floor evening out, but this will typically take just as long (or even longer) as the rug has been placed for.


Living with timber

Your new timber floor will add warmth and character to your home. Its natural beauty and desirability will make you the envy of your friends and neighbours. However living with a timber floor is a relationship built on two sides, look after your floor, and it in turn will look after you. Here are some items to consider before, during and after the process of selecting and installing a beautiful, natural timber floor.

  • The Australian climate is one of the harshest and most diverse on earth. Temperature variations of up to 30-40C are not uncommon throughout the country from season to season. Humidity also varies dramatically from region to region. Your timber floor is a natural product and as such will react and respond to these changes in climate and environment. Room temperature should be 15-28 Celsius and the recommended relative humidity (RH) should be in the range of 30-65%.

  • Depending on the climatic conditions, slight surface cracks (checking) may occur as your timber floor absorbs and/or releases moisture. This is a natural transformation of your timber floor during its life and is not considered a defect.

  • There may be some slight noise associated with your timber floor when walked upon. This will vary depending on any subfloor unevenness and your prevailing environmental humidity. Slight noise is common and not considered a defect. Excessive, prolonged noise could point to either subfloor, expansion or environmental control issues and should be investigated immediately.

  • Your timber floor is a natural product, containing variations in colour, shade and grain. This is simply the natural beauty of your floor. In nature no two trees are the same, therefore no two boards on your floor will be.

  • Your timber floor will age and change colour (mature) due to exposure to UV light. This is most prevalent during the first 3-6 months after installation. Your timber floor will typically darken and become more even during this time. We recommend that you periodically rearrange rugs and furniture during this time to allow your floor to mature evenly. (see image above)

important! evaporative cooling systems

Evaporative cooling is an effective, energy efficient method of keeping your house cool, particularly for those that live in the drier parts of Australia. However the very nature of the way an evaporative cooling system works has consequences for your timber floor. Timber flooring is a product of nature, and as such relies on environmental factors to help keep performing to its potential. Relative humidity (%RH) is one of these factors and if it falls outside the recommended range then issues can occur with your floor. Incorrect use of your evaporative cooling system will raise the humidity within your house to a level that the timber cannot cope with. Consequences such as noisy floors, cupping and lipping are inevitable if the situation is not managed correctly.


Timber is hydroscopic. It will continuously absorb moisture and lose moisture as it finds equilibrium within the seasonal environment. This causes movement (growth/shrinkage) in the boards however in normal scenarios this is typically invisible. In situations where the atmosphere within the installation area seasonally varies between very dry and very wet, the timber will try and keep up, and this is where performance and appearance concerns can occur.


We strongly advise that where evaporative cooling systems are in use:

  • That the manufacturer’s operation instructions are followed at all times

  • That additional allowance for expansion is provided during flooring installation

  • That every room with a cooling vent has a window open at least 100mm during operation

  • That rooms with connecting timber flooring are not shut off from each other during operation

  • That a humidity measuring device is used to ensure that the Relative Humidity (%RH) does not rise above maximum recommendation – 65%RH

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