Flooring might seem a little beyond your regular interior design update or residential styling exercise, but as a homeowner, it is helpful to know and understand the different types of flooring material available, particularly as there is an increasingly varied assortment of options these days.
This guide will provide you with a basic overview of the characteristics and pros and cons of each type of flooring material, taking into consideration the types of rooms a particular flooring is suitable for, the environmental conditions, and the wear and tear to which a type of flooring will be subjected.
If you’re thinking of changing the flooring of a particular space in your home, you’ve come to the right place. Read this guide, then review the aesthetics of each type of flooring material to see if it will fit in with the overall theme, colour scheme and design of your home, as well as suit your pocket.
Main types of flooring materials
- Tiling – ceramic and porcelain
- Wood – engineered and hardwood
Vinyl and tiling
Starting with vinyl and tiling, both types of material do come in a range of colours, styles and sizes to suit all types of design. Vinyl is a popular choice with DIY enthusiasts because it is easy to fit if the sub floor is level, relatively low cost and easy to maintain. It also has a double thickness, which makes it ideal for areas with high humidity and damp such as bathrooms and kitchens. It is prone to scratches and wear and tear but comfortable to walk on whereas tiling is more durable (porcelain being stronger than ceramic), but both offer low maintenance. For kitchen and bathroom areas, tiles can be coordinated with splashbacks but may be prone to cracks or chips.
Laminates and wood
Laminate comes in a number of styles and can look like natural stone or wood or even tiling, and will resist stains and scratches. In areas of high footfall such as hallways or family rooms, for example, it is ideal and very easy to assemble. It isn’t recommended usually for bathrooms or areas that can become damp, and once worn, will need to be replaced.
Wooden flooring is very popular, and engineered wood is a very versatile option because it doesn’t contract or expand with changes in temperature. It is ideal for lounge areas with central heat or open fires, or as decking for sunrooms, although it cannot be sanded down more than twice so do think about the change in colour over the years in relation to your design theme. Hardwood, on the other hand, can be sanded down, oiled and stained several times, and still keep its durability and good looks.
Concrete, cork and carpet
Concrete is ideal for basements and garages where heavy duty wear and tear is expected, and, now that it comes in a range of colours including polished aggregate options, is a durable and attractive flooring option to consider. It is cold to walk upon, and for prolonged standing can cause legs and back to ache, but it is very durable and waterproof, providing it has been poured over the proper substrate.
Cork comes in a selection of sizes, and you can use it to create one off designs, it cushions the feet, and it is mildew resistant and hypoallergenic, which is great if you have small children. With the application of an additional sealant, it is very suitable for use in rooms with high humidity.
Carpet comes in a range of materials, styles and colours, and is a very popular choice of flooring. Carpets are subject to wear and tear as well as staining, but there are a number of woollen or natural weave carpets specifically suited to areas of high footfall.
Bamboo and natural stone
Finally, it is worth considering bamboo as a rather exotic material for the floor. It is environmentally friendly, as well as being more resistant to water than wood, so it may be worth considering for various areas in and around the home. Last but by no means least, natural stone is also an option to consider depending on your budget. There are lots of choices, but tumbled marble is popular in bathrooms and wet rooms, as they give shine and a glamorous look to the room.
As you can see, no matter your requirements, there will be a flooring material to suit your property. The key is to understand the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of the different types of flooring, so do your research and consider your options carefully.