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Timber Flooring

Timber Flooring

Historically one of the most common flooring materials, timber flooring continues to be one of the most popular. Many Australian timbers are ideal for timber flooring and imported species are also available.

Today, we have even more timber flooring options than we did in the past:

  • Traditional solid timber tongue and groove flooring is nailed directly to the floor joists. The timber floor is then sanded smooth and finished.
  • Floating timber flooring comes pre-finished and can be laid over an existing floor.
  • Engineered timber flooring consists of layers of timber veneer. The thicker top layer of natural timber of your choice can be sanded and refinished just as solid timber flooring is.
  • Bamboo flooring is another type of engineered flooring. It can be a natural colour or stained.

Licensing of Timber Flooring Installers

Most timber flooring is non-structural. For this reason, trade licensing requirements differ from state to state. A restricted builder’s licence may be needed in one state, while a carpentry licence may be required in another.

In some cases, timber flooring can be a structural component of a home. If this is the case, a licensed builder or a carpenter with a flooring “endorsement” or other specific licence will have to install your floor.

Scroll down to our state-by-state entries to find licensing requirements in your state or territory.

Types of Timber Flooring Jobs

Different techniques and skills are needed for different types of timber flooring jobs:

  • Solid timber flooring installers must know how to fix the boards so they do not buckle when the timber expands. After the floor is laid, a skilled tradesperson sands the floor smooth and applies a clear coating.
  • Floating floors must be laid on top of a flat subfloor. Often, the installer must first lay a medium-density fibreboard (MDF) subfloor first. A layer of insulating material is always laid on top of the subfloor, followed by the timber floor boards.

Whatever techniques are used in installing timber flooring, they require the specialised skills of a qualified or licensed tradesperson.

Timber Flooring – NSW

NSW Fair Trading regulates all building-related trades in the state. Fair Trading discontinued the special licence category of flooring in 2009. However, timber flooring installers still have to hold one of the following types of builder’s licence:

  • The individual, partnership or company you enter into a contract with must hold an appropriate Contractor’s Licence.
  • A Supervisor’s Licence is required for tradespersons supervising the installation work of others.

If you are having structural timber flooring laid, the tradesperson holding the Supervisor’s licence may hold a special classification of a Carpenter’s licence.

A trade licence is required for all building work valued at $1,000 or more, including labour and materials, in New South Wales.

Timber Flooring – Victoria

Builders and building-related trades in Victoria must be registered by the Building Practitioners Board. There are a number of building categories and sub-categories that can apply to timber floor installers. In most cases, you will hire a person or company that specialises in flooring installation. They will need to have a “Domestic Builder – Limited” (DB-L) registration card with one or more of the following sub-categories attached:

  • “DB-L C” is a Carpenter’s licence. This is needed for installation of floor boards.
  • “DB-L J” authorises the holder to undertake sub-floor works.
  • “DB-L Q” refers to “Sundry Works.” This is needed for a tradesperson whose daily activities include more than one single trade sub-category. Floor coverings, including timber veneers, are included in this sub-category.

In Victoria, registered builders are required for all jobs that cost $5,000 or more. Regardless of the cost, their registration card is evidence that they are qualified to install your timber flooring.

Timber Flooring – Queensland

In Queensland, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) issues building and building-related trade licences. All building work in excess of $3,300 (labour and materials) must be carried out by a practitioner licensed by the QBCC.

Depending on the type of timber flooring being installed, your practitioner may need one or more of the following licence classifications:

  • A Carpentry licence authorises the holder to install timber and sheet flooring.
  • A Floor Finishing and Covering (Hard Sector) licence entitles the holder to sand and coat timber flooring and install pre-finished flooring such as floating floors and bamboo flooring.

You will need to have structural timber flooring installed by a licensed builder in Queensland.

Timber Flooring – SA

The Department of Consumer and Business Services (CBS) governs licensing and registration of builders in South Australia. In SA, a builder is defined as any individual or company that engages in a wide range of building related activities, including restoration or renovation work such as painting, installation of built-in cupboards and installing timber flooring.

In South Australia, anyone who operates a business or supervises building works must hold a valid Contractor’s licence with a nominated Building Supervisor.

  1. A Building Supervisor licence ensures work carried out is supervised by an experienced, licensed tradesperson and adheres to building standards. A Building Supervisor cannot contract or subcontract labour.
  2. A Building Contractor can carry out building work, enter into contractual agreements and appoint subcontractors. Building Contractors must also be registered as Building Supervisors.

Building trade licences in South Australia can be limited to “standard conditions” of work that limit the scope of work they can carry out. Timber flooring installers may be limited to one or more of these standard conditions:

  • Additions, Alterations, Renovations
  • Alterations and Renovations
  • Carpentry
  • Floor Finishing

A Carpentry licence should be sufficient for installing structural flooring as well as solid timber flooring. A Floor Finishing licence will be required for sanding and finishing a solid timber floor.

Timber Flooring – WA

All builders and related tradespersons are required by law to be registered with and licensed by the Building Services Board in Western Australia. Under the Builders’ Registration Act 2011, individuals, partnerships and companies that undertake building work valued over $20,000 or that requires a building permit must have one or both of two types of licences:

  1. A Building Practitioner is authorised to carry out building works or be nominated as a nominated building supervisor for a Building Contractor.
  2. A Building Contractor is authorised to enter into contracts, appoint nominated supervisors and hire subcontractors.

There are three types of Building Contractor licences:

  1. Individual
  2. Partnership
  3. Company/Body Corporate

Timber flooring installers are not usually required to have a trade licence in Western Australia, but for major building and renovation work, may need to work under the supervision of a licensed Building Practitioner or Contractor. To be sure you are dealing with a professional service:

  • Get several detailed quotes first
  • Ask for contact details of previous customers
  • Ask to see photographs and other evidence of competence

Many professional timber flooring installers in Western Australia also belong to a professional trade organisation such as the Australian Timber Flooring Association (ATFA).

Timber Flooring – Tasmania

In Tasmania, the Department of Justice “accredits” building practitioners. There are three broad categories of Building Practitioner:

  1. Low Rise
  2. Medium Rise
  3. Open

These categories reflect the practitioner’s level of training and competence.

In Tasmania, all building work that costs $5,000 or more (materials and labour) must be carried out or supervised by an accredited building practitioner. If your timber flooring project costs less than $5,000, your installer should be able to provide you with evidence of their competence and demonstrate their level of professionalism by offering you a detailed quote. They should also carry adequate insurance.

Timber Flooring – ACT

In the ACT, builders and practitioners in related trades are licensed through the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA). Four types of builders’ licences are available. A timber floor installer may hold one of these two licence classes depending on whether or not structural work is involved in their work:

  1. A Class C Builder (low rise) can perform building work on structures 2 storeys or lower. A Class C licence restricts the licence holder to work on a limited number of residential building classes and non-habitable structures such as garages, carports and sheds.
  2. Class D builders are authorised to do non-structural building work only. Most timber flooring installation jobs are non-structural in nature.

Class D building licences can also include “endorsements” for a limited number of activities. For example, a solid timber flooring installer may also be endorsed to do sanding and polishing of floor boards as part of their regular activity.

Timber Flooring - Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, the Building Practitioners Board is responsible for registering builders and monitoring their compliance with BCA, state and local regulations.

The Building Practitioners Board does not require practitioners to be licensed for doing renovations that do not increase interior floor space. If you are having a new timber floor installed over an existing floor, your installer may not be required by law to have a Building Contractor’s licence.

Many building-related trades in the NT are self-regulated through Contractor Accreditation Ltd (CAL), a non-profit organisation established by the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce, the Master Builders Association NT and the NT Small Business Association. The CAL accreditation scheme, though voluntary, is similar to accreditation or licensing schemes in other states.

When hiring a timber flooring installer in the NT, the most important thing is to make sure they operate in a professional manner. A good installer will:

  • Have a business licence or ABN, if they are a sole proprietor
  • Give you a detailed written quotation
  • Offer contact details of previous customers
  • Show you evidence of previously completed work
  • Be fully insured
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