First steps in choosing the flooring for your home
With so many flooring options available including tiles, slate, timber, concrete, bamboo, vinyl carpet and other decorative finishes you would be forgiven for feeling a little confused. Whether you are designing a new home or simply planning to renovate, at some stage you will have to answer this question: ‘What style of flooring will be best for me, my family… and even my pets?’
There are many factors to consider before making this decision such as the type of ambience you are trying to create, ease of installation, budgetary constraints and most importantly how much time and expense you are realistically prepared to invest in cleaning and maintenance. Although the initial cost is one of the most pressing matters facing new home builders and renovators, how suitable the type of flooring is for the amount of foot traffic it will need to endure over the years and how well it will wear over time are equally important considerations.
It is recommended that you research the expected longevity and quality of your preferred flooring material, especially where a loan has to be taken into account and factored into the costing. Calculate the total cost including interest for the flooring with how long you anticipate it will last in good condition and without looking out dated. You may then want to compare it with one of the more expensive options that will wear over time more successfully and with enduring visual appeal for the best long term value. The best long term value may actually be the more expensive flooring that wears better over time and maintains its visual appeal.
Here are a few options worth considering:
With an option for every taste and budget, types include everything from terracotta to traditional ceramic; glazed, honed or polished porcelain and new large format and slim profile tiles. One of the main benefits associated with tiled floors is the ease of maintenance. Ceramic and glazed Porcelain floor tiles don’t require special cleaning solutions, are generally stain resistant and are easier to keep clean than most flooring options. Many polished porcelain tiles are now available already sealed, however to make the most of the format and colours, they often look best with coloured or light floor grout. Additional sealing after install is advised to help maintain the grout colour over time. The frequency of follow up professional cleaning is generally determined by the amount of foot traffic. Lighter grout colours will definitely need more attention than neutral tones.
Tiles are very easily repaired if damaged. You can simply remove the damaged tile and replace. Always ensure you store an additional box of tiles for future repair as tiles are only current for a limited time and can often have substantial differences between batches.
Tiles can also be quieter than floating timber or vinyl floors. They can absorb more noise than other types of flooring that often carry noise from room to room. Tiles also offer the advantage of being waterproof, so in the event you have a dishwasher or washing machine leak they can be easily cleaned without damage. For a continuous look, you may wish to extend your main floor tiling into your wet areas and use a non slip version to open out to your alfresco zones. Currently timber look tiles are very popular as an outdoor flooring alternative to stained decking.
Timber flooring Options
Hardwood – Solid Tongue and Groove
This traditional flooring system has been used since the 17th century and still continues to offer lasting beauty and durability. This flooring is constructed as a solid piece of wood and is designed to be laid directly on to joists, battens or over concrete. If this flooring is damaged it can be restored by sanding and re finishing. Hardwood floors come in select, natural and standard grades as well as a range of specialty options like reclaimed or colour washed finishes. Solid Tongue and groove flooring is one of the most expensive flooring options, so consideration should be given to the return on your investment.
Pre-Finished Engineered Flooring
This flooring offers all the benefits of natural timber flooring without the need for sanding and polishing. These boards usually comprise four to five layers of timber fused together into long sections that are prefinished and ready to install. Pre finished boards can be installed in half the time of traditional tongue and groove flooring. Although timber species for flooring is generally selected according to colour preference, it is also worth investigating the individual hardness rating as not all species are equally durable.
Parquetry offers the opportunity to add a stunning feature with your flooring as it is made up of small fingers of timber in tile form and comes in blocks that can be arranged in either mosaic and block patterns. This can be designed with as much or as little detail as your taste prefers.
Parquetry can be one of the most expensive flooring options due to the amount of craftsmanship usually required for both manufacture and install. However, even used just in an entrance, a stunning parquetry floor will add a feeling of warmth and quality to any home. It is worth noting that some companies are now offering prefabricated designs for these wanting to save time on on-site labour costs.
As this technology evolves with time, timber look vinyl flooring is fast becoming a popular alternative to traditional flooring options. The flooring is actually a picture of timber impregnated on a board giving the look and sometimes even the texture of natural timber. It is a much cheaper option than real timber floors and a lot more durable particularly in moisture prone areas unlike hardwood timber.
The laminate usually consists of 4 layers that are heat pressed together in one large sheet, then cut into various sizes. The boards have a specific joining system to ensure the floor is structurally stable. Easy to maintain, the floor need only be swept to remove dust and wiped over with standard products for cleaning.
Vinyl floors are available in various designs, shades and styles and are generally simple to install in comparison to other flooring like stone, hardwood or tiles.
Increasingly popular, bamboo is an environmentally friendly flooring resource that is easy to install. Like hardwood timber, bamboo flooring is also a favourite for allergy and asthma suffers due to its resistance to mould and dust mists. However make sure you choose one manufactured with low VOCs and installed with low VOC adhesives.
Bamboo flooring comes in many textures and is available in colours of natural or coffee. It is usual to expect lighter flooring to become darker, and darker flooring to become lighter in the first few months after install as the bamboo settles. One of the biggest disadvantages of bamboo flooring is that it is more brittle than hardwood. These floors are extremely easy to dent and scratch. Walking on them with high heel shoes will likely leave a dent in them. If you own a dog or cat, you should be aware that the claws can easily leave little scratches.
Carpet is a very popular floor covering particularly for those desirably cosy zones like bedrooms, media zones and family areas. It offers warmth, versatility, insulation and is available in a variety of colours, finishes and patterns. If you live in a busy home with lots of traffic, you know how loud wood or laminate floors can be. Carpet reduces echoes by absorbing the impact of foot traffic and soaking up room sounds. The most popular carpets on the market today are solution dyed and are highly stain-resistant, meaning clean up is easy. With just a damp cloth or a quick vacuuming, your floors look as good as new.
First and foremost, a carpeted floor is a safe floor. The soft surface and cushioned under-padding not only reduce the impact of a fall, but also the likelihood of it happening in the first place. Carpet is inherently slip-resistant, meaning it’s harder to slip and fall. For an extra touch of luxury and comfort you may wish to upgrade your underlay for from felt or foam to premium rubber.
Polished concrete is rapidly becoming the ultimate flooring material for business and is slowly gaining acceptance for the residential market. Recent advances in polishing equipment and techniques mean that contractors are now grinding concrete floor surfaces to a high-gloss finish that never needs waxes or coatings. While Parador flooring is an alternative concrete look flooring product with a stylish aggregate look and durable finish. Consideration should be given to the fact that it is not yet as widely used as other more traditional flooring and this could be a deterrent for resale dependant on the type of property. Although, if superior durability and long term performance is an important requirement for you, then the benefits of polished concrete should be carefully considered.
Whatever flooring appeals to you visually, it is worth investing a little time in what will be the best solution for your home. To walk on some of the latest in flooring fashions visit a Stylemaster Homes display this weekend.