Checking on Timber Floors, what are the causes? Checking is the appearance of fine splits in the surface of a timber, this can be found in Solid Timber, Timber Lamellas & Veneer Timbers. Checking appears on the surface only and does not go all the way through the timber.
What Causes Checking? Trees are living cells which naturally contain Cells of water, Timber is a living organism. When the timbers are processed for finished goods, such as Furniture or Flooring, this process is known as Kiln Drying, which can be done through slow drying using air, or even chemical in some case may be used. This drying process removes moisture & stabilizes the timber for processing into finished goods. During the process the cells will release the water & the timber will shrink, the typical moisture content for Australia Timbers are between 8%-12% this would be the most stable range. However, timber is a natural product and these figures will change constantly according to the environment, as the natural timber takes in and releases moisture due to climatic changes. When the Environment has a low Humidity, the seasoned timber will release its moisture to compensate for the climatic changes, this in turn causes the Cells to Shrink & in some case the timber may shrink to such an extent that it splits, it may be fine Hairline Cracks or even larger Cracks/Splits may occur, this is known in the industry as “CHECKING”. The Cracks /Splits are more apparent in Satin/ Gloss Finished floors and not as visible in Oiled Finished Floors. As the Timber absorbs Moisture again through Climatic Changes the Checking/Splits may close-up. Damage in the coating will be permanent.
How Does This effect Your Flooring? Floors are finished with two typical kinds of coating:
The First Methods used are lacquers, which are more commonly finished in a Factory also known as Pre-Finished Flooring, the product Harmony Timber Floors use are Aluminum Ceramic Oxide, cured & dried under Ultra Violet lights. The Brands used are Treffert, Klumpp or Bona Traffic, all are European products & all are recognized to be the best in the trade. These come in a low gloss and also what is known as Invisible Lacquer’s which have a very low Sheen & resemble Oiled Finish Floors, for the Lacquered Floors we offer a twenty Five Year residential warranty and all that is required is to keep your floors Clean, see “How to Maintain Your Harmony Timber Floors”.
The Second Method is UV, oil or Hard Wax Finishes, this is a more Natural looking floor, the same will occur, however with this type of Coating the Checking will or may not appear as Dramatic as a Lacquer Finished floor, but finishes have their Pros & Cons The Oil Floor requires Continual ongoing maintenance which requires that you use a cleaner that has an Oil additive to feed the floor, plus you will need to Re-Polish /Burnish your floors every few Years to maintain its Beauty, . for the Oiled Floors we offer a twenty Five Year residential warranty, you are required to Follow Strictly, the Cleaning Instructions see “How to Maintain Your Harmony Timber Oiled Floors”.
NOTE: There are Timbers Species which are more Prone to Checking, some of the Common Species are Australian Spotted Gum, Australian Blackbutt & also Kempas, however Checking can occur in most Timbers, it really depends on the environment
Can You Prevent Checking? You can certainly help Checking and the best method is to retain an Environment with a relative humidity of between 40%-60% throughout the year, this can be done by installing a Humidifier/s which has a constant setting, Some timbers are more prone to checking than others (eg.Spotted Gum, Blackbutt & Kempas), however it can occur in all species (even the hardest eucalyptus) if the conditions are extreme enough. Use proper window protection, such as blinds, tinted window, direct sunlight is the worse enemy of Timber Flooring in Particular Australian has a Harsh Climate & if you leave your floors exposed to direct Sunlight you will have problems.
Checking & Warranty: Checking is not a defect and is not covered under any Warranties, See Australian Standards AS2796 Timber Hardwood -Sawn & Milled Products, In Feature Grade Timber Checking can be as wide as 2mm and as long as 250mm