How important is underlay?
The role of underlay is sometimes overlooked. Underlay improves underfoot comfort, absorbs crushing forces on the pile, overcomes minor imperfections in the floor and it improves the acoustic and thermal insulation properties of the carpeted floor.
There are three main types of underlay: felt, foam and rubber. Like carpet, all types are available in various grades and qualities and these can be matched to your carpet and the wear characteristics of your home. Ask your retailer about the options available.
An underlay should be firm but comfortable. Poorly specified underlay will lead to stretching and rucking and may result in a breakdown of the carpet backing. As a guide, if you stand on the underlay you should not be able to feel the floor with the heel of your shoe.
If you are replacing your carpet, don’t be tempted to use the existing underlay. It will have the same wear patterns that appear in your old carpet and these will quickly resurface in a new carpet. Carpet manufacturers’ warranties also require their products be installed over new underlay.
Ask your Choices Flooring consultant about an appropriate underlay whether it be Dunlop Comfort Choice® Underlay or Airstep Underlay.
If i bend the carpet and see the backing does this mean the carpet is low quality?
No. All carpets, except woven carpets, are made with spaces between the tufts (ends). Remember, except when used on stairs, carpet is laid flat on the floor. You can feel the thickness or density of different carpets by sticking your fingers into the pile, but make sure you do it on a flat surface. As a general rule, thicker, tighter, denser carpets perform better.
If i know the weight or other technical specifications, can i compare products?
Using technical specifications of a product can give you a guide, but there are many other factors that can alter the comparison. For example, two carpets made to the same specifications but made with different fibres will perform, look, and feel differently in the same environment.
Does following a rating system ensure i'll get the right carpet?
A rating system developed by a manufacturer is their own evaluation of products based on their set of standards and “testing” methods. These rating systems can’t be compared across manufacturers since most are based on opinion and not strict testing methods.
What's twist carpet?
Twist is the number of turns put into the carpet fibre or yarn. Almost all carpets have twisted yarns. As a general rule, the more twist or turns on a fibre, the better performance you can expect. Yarns that are twisted tighter have a different feel compared to those that are looser.
Which is better: wool or nylon carpet?
There are various qualities of wool and nylon carpets available across a range of price points.
Should i buy plush or twist pile carpet?
A plush pile carpet is very luxurious and comfortable to live with. A twist pile carpet has the added benefit of minimising the appearance of tracking or foot marking. We recommend that you select products depending on your lifestyle and the foot traffic in your home.
What's the difference between a broadloom metre and a square metre?
A broadloom metre is actually 3.66 square metres, i.e. 1 metre cut from a carpet roll, which is normally 3.66 metres in width. It’s always a good idea to compare the square metre cost of carpet against other floor coverings such as ceramic tiles, luxury vinyl or timber as they are specifically priced by the square metre and you can determine a better comparison of value.
What causes a carpet to shed?
Shedding results from the type of fibre used in the manufacturing of the carpet. Carpet that is manufactured with staple fibre has shorter fibres in the yarn and will shed for a short time depending on the amount of foot traffic and how often you vacuum. BCF, or Bulked Continuous Fibre, is the other type of fibre used in the manufacturing of carpet. In terms of durability there is little difference between the two. Wool is naturally a staple fibre; nylon and polyester can be either staple or BCF and olefin is usually BCF.
I'm interested in a carpet with a formal look; which styles should i consider?
A plush carpet with its velvet appearance would be the perfect carpet style to achieve your formal look. A patterned carpet can also add additional style to a formal room.
What is berber carpet?
While many people commonly refer to loop style carpets as Berber, the term Berber actually means a flecking of colour that originates from the natural flecking found in wool.
Is nylon static?
Anti-static technology is built into the carpet itself to ensure a static-free environment.
Does wool have stain resistance through it?
No it doesn’t. Spot cleaning is recommended because a stain is harder to remove if allowed to dry—don’t rub into the carpet, rather use pressure to soak up the liquid as soon as you notice a spill. While nylon carpet is treated with stain resistance, it’s still recommended to clean up spills as quickly as possible—again, don’t rub into the carpet, rather use pressure to soak up the liquid.
What's the difference between wool and nylon?
Wool is a natural fibre and is great for insulation, i.e. it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. Recommended if you have an open fireplace. Nylon is a man-made fibre that can be solution dyed, i.e. the colour is right through the fibre like a carrot, or just nylon i.e. colour coats the outside of the fibre like an apple.
ARE SOME TIMBER FLOORS HARDER THAN OTHERS?
Yes, different species have different molecular structure and different hardness. All species are subjected to a Janka test. This test measures the force required to embed an 11.28 mm steel ball into wood to half the ball’s diameter. This method leaves an indentation; the more force required, the harder the timber and the higher the Janka rating.
CAN I INSTALL MY OWN TIMBER FLOORING?
Yes, but remember that not all timber flooring is the same. It is important to select a high quality joining system and a reputable brand to ensure that the flooring is easy to install and that warranties will not be affected.
SHOULD I INSTALL SKIRTING BOARDS DURING THE CONSTRUCTION STAGE, BEFORE INSTALLING TIMBER FLOORS?
No, it’s best to leave the installation of skirting boards until after the floating floor installation.
WHY ARE SOME OF THE SAME SPECIES PRICED DIFFERENTLY?
Some products are produced as one strip, two strip and three strip formations. The more strips used, the easier it is for the manufacturer to source product as they can use smaller off-cuts which lowers the cost.
WHY IS IT CALLED A FLOATING FLOOR?
Floating floors are held down by their own weight so they aren’t nailed down (they can be glued) but instead are laid on a thin layer of foam underlay. In effect, they are floating on underlay, not attached to the sub floor.
DO I NEED TO REMOVE EXISTING SKIRTING BOARDS?
Installing timber flooring requires a small gap (expansion gap) to be left between the timber and the walls, which is generally covered by skirting board, or Scotia , so ideally skirting boards should not be present prior to installation. If skirting already exists, installers may leave a gap between the floor and the skirting and later cover it with a Scotia.
WHY ARE VARIOUS SPECIES PRICED DIFFERENTLY?
Some products, such as Pine, are from plantation timbers that can be readily grown and sourced, and generally have a fast growth cycle. Timbers such as Merbau, Jarrah, and Tasmanian Oak, have longer growth patterns and are more difficult to source, and subsequently, are more expensive.
CAN I INSTALL TIMBER FLOORS IN MY BATHROOM OR LAUNDRY?
Timber floors are not suitable for wet areas such as bathrooms and laundries as moisture may cause joins to expand and buckle. If timber is installed in these areas it will invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.
CAN I INSTALL A TIMBER FLOOR OVER CONCRETE?
Yes, you can lay timber over concrete. If the concrete slab is less than five years old, a membrane between the slab and the timber can be applied so the moisture from the slab doesn’t damage the timber.
CAN I INSTALL A NEW TIMBER FLOOR OVER MY EXISTING TIMBER FLOOR?
Yes. As long as the existing floor is level, you can lay a new timber floor over the top. However, bear in mind that the new flooring will raise the total floor level from between 12 and 19 mm (depending on the thickness of the flooring type you have chosen).
CAN I PUT HARDWOOD FLOORS IN MY BATHROOM?
Hardwood floors are not recommended for use in high moisture areas such as a bathroom with a shower or tub.
CAN FLOATING TIMBER BE GLUED DOWN?
Floating timber can be glued down but can cause problems if boards are damaged and need replacing. The other problem with gluing is that it does not allow the boards to move as floating floors are required to. Customers are generally concerned with the hollow sound of floating floors but we would recommend using acoustic underlay.
DOES TIMBER FLOORING SCRATCH, DENT AND AGE?
Yes it does, just like real timber floors. It’s recommended you protect the floor from furniture with felt tips which you can purchase from hardware stores such as Bunnings and Safeway etc.
CAN I SAND FLOATING TIMBER FLOORING?
Yes you can—up to at least three times in its lifespan.
WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS OF LAMINATE FLOORING?
The only real drawback of laminate flooring is that it cannot be installed in a bathroom or laundry.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LAMINATE FLOORING?
Laminate flooring offers a surface that it scratch resistant, wear resistant, indentation resistant and stain resistant, much more so than timber flooring. Quality laminate floors are also easy to install and are sold with great warranties offering peace of mind.
CAN A LAMINATE FLOOR BE REFINISHED?
No. Because the top layer of each board is made of paper instead of wood, the floor cannot be sanded or stained to give it a new look, or to refresh a dull, worn surface.
HOW LONG DOES LAMINATE LAST?
Like many floor coverings, the better the quality of the laminate flooring purchased, the longer it will last and the better the warranty will be. Importantly, as is the case with most products, the better quality products will also include labour in the warranty and will not depreciate over the warranty period.
DOES LAMINATE FLOORING SCRATCH, DENT AND AGE?
Laminate is much hardier than timber—you would need to be quite rough with it for it to mark in any way. While laminate does not age, we would still recommend you attach felt tips to your furniture.
WHAT IS LAMINATE FLOORING?
Laminate flooring is an extremely hard wearing product that is made by fusing several layers of melamine and wear resistant minerals to a high density coreboard. Available in an enormous array of colours, styles, surfaces and qualities, laminate flooring is ideal for a family environment given it’s performance and natural resistance to wear, stains, scratches and indentations.
CAN FLOATING BAMBOO BE GLUED DOWN?
It’s not recommended to directly stick bamboo to flooring as any subfloor moisture cannot be allowed to pass into strand woven bamboo as it may cause cupping or bubbling.
DOES BAMBOO FLOORING SCRATCH, DENT AND AGE?
Yes it does, just like real timber floors. It’s recommended that you protect the floor using high density felt floor protectors. Castor wheels should also be used atop a protective vinyl chair mat.
CAN I SAND BAMBOO FLOORING?
Good quality bamboo flooring can be re-sanded providing an approved finish is used when re-finishing the surface
Luxury Vinyl FAQs
HOW IS LUXURY VINYL FLOORING LAID?
Generally, cushion vinyl is laid loosely so any imperfections in the floor don’t show through over time. It can also be glued down, but the flooring needs to be completely level. Vinyl tiles or planks are glued down so the surface needs to be completely level, which is done by applying a self- leveller to the floor if required.
IS LUXURY VINYL FLOORING EASY TO CLEAN?
Yes it is—just use a broom for sweeping and a damp mop for cleaning spills.
WHAT IS A SLIP RATING?
A slip rating is a standardised rating covering four different test methods for tiles to indicate the level slip resistance performance in various applications and conditions. The main methods used to test slip resistance in Australia are the ramp (‘R’ rating) and pendulum slip testing classifications. Based on the test results, manufacturers will classify tiles for use in specific locations.
Remember, some ceramic tile products will require more post installation maintenance than others. In some instances these treatments and a variety of other factors may change a product’s slip resistance performance such as:
- Poor cleaning practices
- Build-up of grime or cleaning material residues
- Exposure to chemicals which may affect the surface of the tile
- Surface wear which abrades the surface of the tile and reduces its natural slip resistance.
DO TILERS GENERALLY CHARGE EXTRA FOR LAYING LARGE TILES, PORCELAIN TILES, RECTIFIED TILES OR GLASS FEATURES?
Tilers generally will have a fixed rate for fixing standard ceramic and glazed porcelain tiles. Most tilers will however, charge additional rates for handling large format tiles (600 x 600 and 800 x 800) including glass, patterns, or hard structural tiles like vitrified porcelain. The extra rates are usually for things like time and use of wet saws. Always ask a registered tiler up-front what additional costs there may be and provide details on the type of tile you’ve purchased (e.g. size, tile type, tile edge etc.).
CAN TILES BE LAID OVER EXISTING TILES OR VINYL?
Yes, however you should always seek advice from a registered tiler first.
ARE TILES USED INDOORS DIFFERENT FOR THOSE USED OUTDOORS?
Yes. External tiles are exposed to harsher conditions than indoor tiles. For this reason, outside tiles need to be resistant to the elements. Depending on the level of exposure to the elements, tiles suitable for external applications will require a “Ramp Test Slip Rating” of R10 or higher (e.g. R11, R12 commercial grade).
CAN ALL TILES BE USED ON THE FLOOR?
Only porcelain tiles (either full-bodied, vitrified or glazed porcelain tiles) can all be used on floor and wall applications. Some ceramic tiles can also be used on floor applications, but not all. This will be detailed within the product lists and labelling on the tile.
Tiles with a floor suitability indication can also always be used on walls.
DO TILES NEED TO BE SEALED?
Glazed tiles (glazed porcelain and glazed ceramic tiles) are already stain-proof and do not need to be sealed.
Polished porcelain tiles however are unsealed, and by the nature of the polishing method, become even more porous and absorbent of stains and require regular sealing to avoid staining. Innovative manufacturing of porcelain tiles has resulted in the creation of “nano” and “double loaded” pre-sealed tiles in all finishes. These polished, honed and matt finishes do not require sealing (although manufacturers recommend a sealing application beyond 10 years, depending on the level of foot traffic)
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GLAZED AND FULL-BODIED TILES?
Glazed tiles are coated with a liquid glass, which is then baked into the surface of the clay. The glaze provides an unlimited array of colours and designs and protects the tile from staining. Unglazed tiles are much the same, except their surface is not coated.
Full-bodied porcelain tiles do not show wear because their colour extends throughout the tile, which is ideal for high traffic areas.
HOW CAN I TELL THE DIFFERENCE VISUALLY BETWEEN A PORCELAIN TILE AND A CERAMIC TILE?
Firstly, there are two types of porcelain tiles: full-bodied/vitrified porcelain and glazed porcelain.
- Full-bodied/vitrified porcelain tiles are dense and incredibly hardwearing. The colour and pattern is present throughout the entire thickness of the tile.
- Glazed porcelain tiles are also dense and hardwearing in comparison to ceramic tiles.
All porcelain tiles are denser and can be quickly identified from a ceramic tile by their weight (when holding similar sized tile). Porcelain tiles are much heavier. Ceramic tiles are usually made using red or white clay and are almost always finished with a glaze. They are lighter, softer and easier to cut than a porcelain tile, and usually carry a PEI zero to three rating. Another quick test to determine a ceramic tile is by wetting it slightly on the back—you’ll find the water will absorb into the tile very quickly.
IS PORCELAIN TILE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CERAMIC TILE?
Yes. Porcelain tile is more expensive because it is a higher quality product. Porcelain is an extremely hard and non-porous product. It has a water absorption rate of less than 0.5 per cent making it very stain resistant.
IF I DROP SOMETHING ON MY CERAMIC TILE FLOOR IS IT GOING TO BREAK THE TILE?
Ceramic tile is a very durable flooring product when installed correctly. What will most likely happen is the item you drop, like a plate or glass, will break while the tile may just suffer a chip or crack.
ARE GLOSS TILES SLIPPERY?
Tiles are mostly installed in wet areas, and while gloss tiles are no more slippery than matt tile when wet, a non-slip mat in the bathroom is always a good idea.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PORCELAIN AND CERAMIC?
Porcelain is a full-bodied tile—it’s harder than ceramic and can be used on both floors and walls.
Glazed porcelain can be used externally but is dependent on the area of installation as it can be slippery when wet.
Ceramic is a clay base tile and is lighter in weight. While most ceramics are only used on walls, there are some available in a floor tile but the range is limited.
IS IT NECESSARY TO USE A PAD OF SOME TYPE UNDER MY RUG ON MY HARDWOOD FLOOR?
A breathable underlay that’s specifically designed for use on hardwood floors is recommended for use under a rug. Typically, these come in mesh or grid patterns and will help “grip” your floor and hold the rug in place.
ARE RUGS EASY TO CLEAN?
Depending on the fibre, you would treat most rugs as you would carpet. A shag pile rug hides more footprints etc. than a plush style rug. All rugs can be vacuumed or you can take them outside and shake any grit out.
Installation & Maintenance FAQs
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I VACUUM?
It’s best to vacuum your carpet at least twice a week, but if you can’t vacuum your entire house this often, try and at least vacuum the high traffic areas at least twice a week.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO INSTALL FLOOR COVERING IN MY HOME?
Depending on the size of your home, most installations are completed within one day. However, your local Choices Flooring store can give you a better idea once they see a plan of your home or following a free measure and quote.
I HAVE A NEW HOUSE AND MY NEW CARPET IS CAUSING MY NOSE TO BE STUFFY, IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY CARPET?
New constructions can generate a lot of new odours so it’s hard to tell what is specifically causing a reaction. The best way to eliminate all the new odours is to open the windows and ventilate the premise for approximately 48 to 72 hours.
HOW DO I TRANSITION DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLOORING FROM ONE ROOM TO ANOTHER?
A threshold cover is used when there are height changes in the flooring. Consult with your Choices Flooring Consultant about carpet trim options.
WILL CHOICES FLOORING REMOVE OUR EXISTING FLOOR COVERINGS AND/OR MOVE MY FURNITURE?
Yes we can, at a minimal cost. When you are ready to go ahead with your new flooring let your local Choices Flooring consultant know and they can provide a quote for you.
WHAT DOES CHOICES FLOORING INCLUDE IN THEIR INSTALLATION?
Preparing for installation may differ from Choices Flooring store.
The basic requirements are:
- Remove all breakables including computers and televisions etc.
- Unmake all beds
- Take out the drawers from bedside tables or chest of drawers etc.
- Empty bookshelves
- Wardrobe floors to be cleared up to one metre off the floor.
Choices Flooring can arrange to move billiard tables and pianos with an outside contractor or you may organise it yourself. Any cabinets/wall units requiring dismantling or that have electrical wiring need to be organised by the customer.
Other Considerations FAQs
WILL THE COLOUR OF MY CARPET LOOK LIGHTER OR DARKER ONCE IT IS INSTALLED IN MY HOME?
Typically, the colour of your carpet will look lighter once it is installed. Most carpet selections are made from smaller carpet samples, so seeing the colour in a large amount in an entire room or home will make it appear lighter. This is especially true if there are bare walls, windows and no furnishings.
WHAT TYPE OF CARPET WOULD BE BEST FOR AN ACTIVE HOUSEHOLD?
Areas in the home that have high activity such as family rooms, hallways, stairs etc. would benefit from a durable carpet such as a textured, loop, berber, cut and loop or pattern. These styles will also help disguise the appearance of footprints. Be sure to also select a colour that will minimize the appearance of dirt (i.e. stick to medium-to-dark neutral colours).
WHAT FLOOR COVERING WOULD BE MOST PRACTICAL IN A BATHROOM?
Tile, vinyl or flooring that is slip-resistant.
HOW CAN I USE FLOORING TO MAKE A ROOM APPEAR LARGER?
Selecting lighter colours that have a more consistent texture will visually increase the space.
CAN I SAVE MONEY BY BUYING A LESS EXPENSIVE CARPET AND PUTTING THE BEST CUSHION UNDER IT?
There is no question that a good cushion is critical to carpet performance, but remember that you walk directly on the carpet so you want carpet constructed to suit your lifestyle. If you buy a cheaper carpet that doesn’t meet your needs, you’ll have a cushion that feels great, but you may not be satisfied with the look or wear of your carpet.
WHAT TYPE OF CARPET CUSHION SHOULD I CHOOSE FOR MAXIMUM COMFORT?
Consider a thicker, plusher carpet cushion for a luxurious feel in bedrooms, the study and living rooms, where comfort is a priority. Higher weight or higher density products will help your carpet look newer for longer. Many carpet cushions are available that combine the best of both worlds—durability and ultra-plush comfort.
IS THE QUALITY OF MY CARPET CUSHION REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?
You may save on your initial carpet cushion purchase, but you’ll pay for it in the end by shortening the life of your carpet. Plus, you may be giving up some of the benefits that keep your investment looking and feeling good.
DOES IT MATTER WHAT THE CARPET CUSHION LOOKS LIKE?
No. Once the carpet underlay is installed, you will never see it again. The important factor is how it performs. Check out Choices Flooring’s underlay options in Dunlop and Airstep underlay.