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Tongue and groove flooring: a new way forward

Tongue and groove flooring is an innovative design which has allowed for much easier installations of the world’s most popular flooring materials.

Tongue and groove flooring: a new way forward

Juliet Taylor


November 4th, 2022

“Tongue and groove” is a type of floorboard joint which allows the boards to fit together seamlessly. Each plank made in the tongue and groove style will have a long and short edge – one with a tongue and one with a groove. The tongue slides into the groove of a second plank and the floorboards will fit together.

Tongue and groove flooring is a type of floating floor. Floating floors are pre-adhered flooring materials which are installed over the top of an underlayment or subfloor. They do not require nails or glue to be fixed into place, as they form a unit over the top of the original floor. You can install floating floors over the top of many different pre-existing floors such as concrete, vinyl, laminate, hardwood and even carpet. Tongue and groove is one of the most popular cuts of floating floor because it is so easy to install.

Tongue & groove flooring is the holy grail for a DIY-er. This is because it is cheap, readily available, comes in a variety of materials, and simple to install. Cleaning is easy and the groove can even be watertight when correctly installed, so you don’t need to worry about spills or water damage. There are a huge number of materials that you can purchase in the tongue and groove joint. The most common materials for tongue and groove floors are wood, laminate, vinyl, engineered timber, hybrid, and bamboo.

Pros and cons of tongue and groove

Tongue and groove is one of the two most popular floating floor joint systems. The click fit system is your other option. Some advantages that tongue and groove flooring has over the click system are:

  • More affordable – Tongue in groove flooring is easier for manufacturers to produce.
  • Greater durability – Tongue and groove flooring is almost watertight when glued down.  
  • Greater quality – Tongue n groove flooring is less likely to warp, loosen and squeak.
  • Minimal effort to install – tongue and groove clamps together simply and intuitively.
  • Aesthetic – Tongue and groove flooring is beautiful. Floors with a tongue and groove joint floors appear seamless, clean and modern. They are also safer as there is less chance that you will stub your toe or stumble over an uneven joint.

However, tongue and groove flooring is not perfect. Some of the disadvantages to tongue and groove flooring are:

  1. Repairs can be tough – If you don’t have a proper access point, it can be difficult to repair or replace only one damaged plank. You might need to remove multiple boards depending on the installing method, if you used glue or nails, and where the damaged plank is situated on the floor.
  2. It needs to be fitted correctly to get the benefits – Click system flooring is easier for an inexperienced DIY-er to install. For tongue and groove flooring to be watertight and as durable as possible, you will have to make sure it is fitted properly. This may mean installation by a professional contractor. Tongue and groove flooring also usually needs nails, glue, or a floating system.

Tongue and groove flooring ideas Australia: Prices, sheets and standard sizes

07. 3600mm x 800mm x 19mm Flooring Particleboard Yellow Tongue – Bunnings

bunnings tongue and groove yellow plank

Particleboard flooring is an affordable classic that has many uses in domestic and residential buildings across Australia. The tongue and groove particleboards pictured above are available from Bunnings for $51.40. They are particularly well suited to platform construction and can serve as a sub floor as well as fitted floor construction.

06. Solid 98 x 19 Cypress pine tongue and groove – Blacktown Building Supplies

tongue and groove plank blacktown builders cypress pine

Cypress is one of the most affordable timbers around the world. It is extremely popular in Australia for its lightweight constitution and durability. You can purchase planks of the cypress tongue and groove timber pictured above here from Blacktown Building Supplies for $8.20 per metre.

05. Jarrah solid flooring 130 x 19 – Blacktown Building Supplies

blackbutt tongue and groove flooring ideas

Jarrah is a native Australian hardwood similar to merbau known for durability and its deep red-brown colour. It is an extremely sought after material due to the high demand across the globe and the general need for sustainable timber collection. You can purchase tongue and groove Jarrah planks here from Blacktown Building Supplies for $15.22 per metre.

04. 2400mm x 1200mm plywood flooring tongue and groove – Plyco

plywood tongue and groove flooring plyco

Plywood is a durable material which is used for both structural and non-structural flooring. You can purchase the colour coded PVC tongue and groove plywood boards pictured above here from Plyco for $87.06.

03. 1820mm x 136mm x 14mm rustic blackbutt flooring– Flooring Online

Blackbutt timber is another native Australian favourite, used for flooring from Brisbane to Perth. You can purchase the engineered Blackbutt flooring pictured above here for $178 per square metre.

02. 130mmx 19mm Spotted Gum timber flooring – Timber Floors Online

timber flooring engineered timber ideas hardwood spotted gum

Spotted gum is another Australian classic. Purchase the quality T&G spotted gum timber pictured above here from timber floors online for $115-$152.

01. Parquet Engineered timber

herringbone flooring engineered timber tongue and groove

Parquet is a gorgeous type of engineered timber floor that comes in a variety of repeating geometric patterns. The most common parquet flooring is herringbone, such as the floor pictured above.

How to lay tongue and groove floors – How to install tongue and groove flooring on concrete

Concrete is a straightforward subfloor that is easy to work with if you use the tongue and groove floating floor system. This will also make sure that the floor is durable for years to come as it will prevent the pooling of moisture.

Laying tongue and groove flooring on joists is a pretty common task for older houses. You will have to take great care to make sure that the floor does not become squeaky. Your best bet would be to hire a professional if you are not experienced yourself. This will ensure the longevity of your floors.

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