All About Flooring
At Design In Motion we want to write blogs and give advice on subjects that are really going to help our clients and homeowners. After asking our Instagram followers which blog they would like to read next, ‘All about flooring’ was the winner! With this blog we hope to shed some light on most of the flooring options that are out there with their pros and cons so you can have more of an idea about what might work best for your home or project.
Wooden flooring is one of the most popular choices with home owners, as although it is a natural material and is restricted to colour, it really does go with all different styles of interiors. Wood is a beautiful material that brings warmth to any room along with variety in its natural, irregular pattern. When choosing a natural wood you have two options: solid wood or engineered wood. Solid wood is more expensive as it is what is says on the tin, wood through and through. Engineered wood on the other hand, is a veneer of natural wood that is glued to several layers of plywood so you get the look of solid wood without the added cost.
When choosing a wooden floor, you are restricted slightly with colour as wood is always going to be the colour of wood unless you stain it. However, there are many varieties of wood you can choose from such as oak, maple, cherry, walnut, mahogany, ash, teak, mesquite and jarrah. Some species of wood are more expensive than others but it’s really down to personal preference with which type you go for.
A great advantage of using a solid wood for your flooring is its durability and flexibility. Solid wooden floors can be sanded and refinished many times so you can keep it looking new for longer, although this is a messy job so make sure you take all your furniture out of the room before doing this.
A disadvantage of using a solid wood is that it is not waterproof and stains easily. You can sand away stains to some extend but if you have kids or dogs this may not be the best option for you as bowing and general maintenance cannot be avoided. Another factor to be vary of when choosing wooden flooring is to make sure it is suitable for underfloor heating. It wasn’t too long ago that you couldn’t use underfloor heating with natural wooden floors. Now there are some systems where this is not a problem but I would always advise that you check this before deciding on this material for your floors.
Laminate flooring is a more cost-effective option to wooden flooring and is a good alternative. The best advantage is the endless finish options available. As laminate is a synthetic product, you are able to choose from wood look laminate, stone look laminate, high gloss, low gloss, textured, different sizes of planks or tiles and much, much more. Not only do you get more options, but you also get the advantages of a lower price, the ease of installing it, the many applications it can be used in, it requires very little maintenance and it is very easy to clean and hygienic.
Although laminate is a good option for someone who has a lower budget there are some disadvantages to be aware of. The obvious disadvantage of laminate is that it is a copycat of the natural surfaces like wood and stone and due to this you don’t get the same look or feel as going for a natural product. Laminate flooring can sometimes feel hard and cold underfoot and you have to be very careful if you want underfloor heating with laminate as you can only have your underfloor heating up to a certain temperature and the installation is a little trickier.
Stone flooring is a great option and a great investment on any property as it will last a lifetime and there are so many options for you to choose from with the choice of colour, shape, size and texture. There are of course many different types of stone to choose from including travertine, marble, limestone, slate, porcelain, terracotta and many more. Travertine and porcelain seem to be the most popular with their earthy and neutral colours and textures. Most types of stone flooring can be used in different rooms but always be sure to check with the manufacturer or store you buy your tiles from to ensure they suggest the stone you are picking for the application its going in.
There are many benefits to choosing stone flooring, not only with the many varieties of stone but also with the different finishes you can get them in including polished or honed. Stone flooring is also perfect is you are wanting underfloor heating as stone can’t warp or bow like wooden flooring can. The biggest benefit I find with stone are the many different shapes and sizes you can get them in and the different ways of laying them. From a designer’s perspective this really allows you to be unique and create something special from a natural product.
With any material there are also a few disadvantages. Stone flooring can be a little more expensive in not only the material but also in the labour required to install it. Stone is a hard material which not only allows sound to travel around a room more easily but it also feels cold under foot if you don’t have underfloor heating.
Vinyl flooring is extremely popular in commercial spaces as well as homes that require a durable surface, as it is very resistant to heavy use and is perfect for high-traffic areas. Not only is it very durable and easy to clean but it also comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and textures. There are a wide range of different looks you can choose from including wood, stone, tiles, brick, concrete, parquet and much more. Vinyl flooring also comes in either separate tiles or large sheets which makes it an easy material to install with less mess than other flooring materials. Another great advantage of using a vinyl flooring is it is water resistant unlike your wooden and laminate flooring and is best used in rooms like bathrooms, utility rooms or mud rooms.
Overall vinyl is a great option and is also very cost effective. If you are wanting something a little more special you can also find LVT (luxury vinyl tile) which is a higher quality vinyl and tends to come in more varieties of patterns and textures.
Although vinyl is a great material there are disadvantages to it too. For instance, vinyl is quite a soft material which on the one hand makes it soft to walk on, but on the other hand it can scratch more easily than other flooring. Pointed heals and sharp objects do not go well with this flooring and once it is scratched you cannot repair it very easily and would have to replace the damaged tile or sheet. Another disadvantage is underfloor heating cannot be used under most vinyl flooring due to the soft plastics that are used to make it.
Carpet is one of the most popular floorings used in the UK and is found in most homes, especially in the living areas. Carpet is great for absorbing sound and making a room look and feel very cosy with its soft material. With so many styles, fabrics and patterns available you really are spoiled for choice. A great advantage to carpet is it is a standard flooring that is easy to install with not much mess, so you don’t pay a premium to have it installed like some other flooring materials. On the other hand, carpet is very susceptible to picking up dirt and stains and is a bit more time consuming to clean than other surfaces.
One aspect to be mindful of when choosing a carpet is the percentage of wool it has in it. Wool carpet is much more expensive than your typical polypropylene carpet as it is more durable, is better at retaining heat in a room, good at absorbing noise and feels more natural underfoot. However, the disadvantage with a wool carpet is you cannot bleach it if you get a stain in it, you have to be more careful with what you clean it with and it can sometimes snag more than a polypropylene carpet.
Another aspect to be mindful of when choosing a carpet is to consider what pile you want. Loop pile carpets are very durable and are a good choice for high-traffic areas as they don’t tend to flatten over time; however, if you have pets these loops can get caught and snagged over time. Cut pile carpets are the more typical types are carpets you see and tend to be a little cheaper than loop piles carpets; however, this type of pile shows flattening by footprints and hoovering sometimes.
If you are looking for a carpet that is tough, resistant to stains, easy to clean and is better on price, then a polypropylene carpet is the right one for you. These carpets come in more styles and colours to wool carpets and you have more control over the pile you get.
Marble flooring is one of the most luxurious flooring materials available and is also one of the denser natural stones out there. This type of flooring is very traditional and classy in its style but only comes in limited colours due to its nature and therefore you either love it or you hate it.
The main advantage to using marble is its style. Using this flooring in a room really sets the tone and automatically adds interest, pattern and colour which means the surrounding materials don’t need to be as designed – you want the marble to be the showstopper.
There are a few things to be careful of when choosing marble. Although marble is a harder and denser material to your other stone flooring options, it is also more porous and doesn’t work well with acidity and chemicals. When you look at marble sculptures that were made hundreds of years ago you can see they start becoming softer around the edges and this is because of erosion by acidity in the rain and other natural elements. You have to take the same view when it comes to your flooring. Marble is a natural stone and with that you have to know how to best look after it. I would suggest you do your research in terms of cleaning products to ensure you aren’t eroding the marble and to also not put this flooring in a space that is likely to have chemicals near it, for instance makeup in a bathroom.
Of course with all of that being said, it would take a lot for your marble floors to erode, but if you are looking for flooring that will last a lifetime just be thoughtful as to where you are using this material.
Ceramic flooring is one of the most popular tiled flooring due to its ability to resist stains, it is easy to clean, is hard-wearing and is versatile in terms of designs. These tiles come in many different shapes, sizes, colours and patterns so you are spoilt for choice and due to the strength of ceramic tiles, they are great for high-traffic areas. Another bonus to these tiles is they come in a range of prices, from low to high, so whatever your budget is you should be able to find a tile that works for you.
The downside to ceramic flooring is it is hard and cold underfoot; however, this is the case with most tiles. One thing to consider with any tile is the colour and thickness of grout you go for. Although ceramic tiles are very durable, grout can easy stain so it’s always wise to think about the colour of grout you go for with your tiles.
Concrete flooring is a relatively new idea in the flooring world and has been adopted by many buildings, both commercial and residential. Concrete flooring brings an industrial, simplistic look to any space due to its material, colour and its very versatility, allowing you to use this flooring in all rooms of a home if you want it to.
The benefits to using a concrete floor is it is simple and easy to put down, it comes in a variety of different finishes and colours, it can be used both inside and outside, it is easy to clean, it doesn’t harbour dust and so is perfect for people who suffer with allergies and it can be refinished.
Although concrete floors have a lot of benefits there are a few disadvantages to it also. Concrete as a material is not very eco friendly and is one of the primary producers of carbon dioxide. If you are wanting to build and eco friendly home or are concerned about the environment, this is not the material to use. Additionally, concrete is a very hard and cold surface and doesn’t help heat a home. You are also likely to have to reseal your concrete floors at regular intervals to maintain the look and small cracks are to be expected overtime.
Cork flooring is one of the more environmentally friendly flooring options you can choose as it is a natural product. Cork flooring has a unique look and can be used in most rooms in a home.
The advantages of using cork flooring are that it comes in a variety of different textures and colours including black, white, red, olive and your natural browns. There is also an option for a lacquered finish which help protect the cork from scratches and makes it easier to clean. However, the main advantage to using cork flooring is its soft absorbing material which is a natural shock absorber. This is great for children and the elderly as it is soft to land on and is also great for soundproofing and insulating rooms.
The main disadvantage to cork flooring is the expense. As it is a natural material it is a lot more expensive to make and therefore more expensive for a customer to buy. Additionally, although cork flooring is more eco friendly than other materials, it has to be imported from where it was grown. This means that although as a material it can be recycled and is natural, by the time it takes and the energy it takes to get to our home it isn’t so environmentally friendly anymore. Lastly, if cork flooring isn’t finished properly it can have the tendency to absorb water and bow so isn't ideal to use in bathrooms or areas of your home where water can spill onto it.
Bamboo flooring has similar properties to cork flooring in that it is a natural material and more eco friendly. There are many different patterns and colours to choose from and has a very unique look compared to other flooring materials.
One of the best advantages of bamboo flooring is its durability. You can choose from a horizontal grain, a vertical grain or strand woven planks. The latter is the strongest option as during the compression process a resin is added which increases its strength. Bamboo flooring has been found to be stronger than several wooden floorings such as oak and maple and this is why it is becoming more and more popular. This type of flooring is also simple to install, easy to clean, hypo-allergenic and looks beautiful when installed.
Although this type of flooring brings a unique and beautiful look to a space, as it is a natural material there are several disadvantages to consider. Sunlight can cause bamboo flooring to fade and it is also susceptible to water damage if anything is spilled on it. This type of flooring requires a little more care than others and isn’t ideal for those families who have children or pets due to these disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantages to this flooring is the glue that is used to create it. The glue can release volatile organic compounds into the air which affects the air quality in a space. If you have ill health or are asthmatic, perhaps this isn’t the best flooring option for you.
When it comes to flooring there are so many different options to choose from and so many considerations to think about. For example, what’s the best material for the space, is it eco friendly, how should we lay it on the floor, what colour is best, what finish, is it child and pet friendly, and much much more! It can become confusing at times with all of these considerations but it is such an important part of a space. To make sure you are getting it right we hope this blog helps shed some light on the different options available and the pros and cons of each.
At Design In Motion we want to be a port of call for people who are looking for help and advice on their interiors and the best solutions for them. If you are starting a project of your own and would like to know more about how we can help, get in touch on our contact page!
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