A fabulous floor forms the foundation of any room scheme, and can give your interiors a much-needed style boost. But it also needs to perform, so make sure whatever you choose suits your layout and lifestyle.
Depending on your style, taste and budget there are five main flooring options to choose from. We're going to talk you through the current trends, maintenance requirements and the advantages of each type.
Our love of solid timber as a flooring material shows little sign of slowing down, and it’s easy to see why; it’s tough enough to stand up to the demands of busy family life, long-lasting, and boasts natural good looks. And it’s flexible too; for those spots where softness is required, such as bedrooms and living rooms, you can easily lay an area rug over the top.
Native hardwoods blackbutt and spotted gum are two perennial favourites, but eco-friendly bamboo is fast gaining momentum as an indoor flooring material. When it comes to size, the current trend is for wider boards, which lends a casual, inviting look to a room scheme.
Timber is a fairly low maintenance flooring material; a weekly vacuum will generally suffice, plus re-sealing every couple of years, and more often in high traffic areas.
If you love the seamless look of continuous indoor-outdoor flooring, or need new flooring for a wet area such as a bathroom or laundry, tiles could be the perfect option. They’re extremely durable, easy to clean, and come in all manner of finishes, shapes and sizes.
Choose from natural stone, such as marble, limestone, granite and slate, or more affordable ceramic or porcelain tiles. Porcelain, in particular, has improved enormously recent years, with tile designs that mimic just about any surface, from wood and stone to concrete, but at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. Remember that tiles in wet areas or outdoors will need to be non-slip rated for safety.
If it’s warmth and softness you’re after, nothing beats carpet. Pure wool carpet is the most luxurious option, plus it’s naturally stain-repellant and will help regulate the temperature of your home to keep it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Wool-nylon mix carpets, which combine the beauty of wool with the toughness of nylon, are more affordable than pure wool, but they lack the natural appeal and temperature stabilising properties. If you have pets, young children or you’re laying carpet in a particularly sunny room, consider one of the latest synthetic carpets, which are extremely hardy as well as stain and fade-resistant.
With care, your carpet will last for years, but it’s important to choose the right design for the job. For hallways and stairs, seek out carpets with a high traffic rating that will last the distance, and keep sumptuous cut piles and chunky oversized loop piles for areas of low to medium traffic, such as bedrooms, living and dining rooms.
Carpet requires regular vacuuming to maintain its good looks, and spills and stains should be mopped up immediately.
Natural plant fibre flooring, such as woven jute, sisal and coir, is more affordable than pure wool carpet, plus it can cope with heavy footfall, and has a warm, textural appeal. On the downside, natural flooring is not suitable for wet areas and tends to stain if spills aren’t mopped up immediately.
The design options in natural flooring have expanded in recent years; as well as traditional browns and beiges, you’ll now find charcoals, silvery greys and designs that incorporate wool and linen for added softness underfoot.
Vinyl or laminate
Love the look of solid timber or stone but not the price tag? Consider look-a-like vinyl or laminate flooring, which is made by laminating an image onto a board backing. Not only does it cost a fraction of the cost of the real thing, but it’s tough, hygienic, suitable for all areas including kitchens and bathrooms, and can be installed by a competent DIY-er.
Check out our Amazing flooring designs and materials Pinterest board for more flooring ideas and inspiration.
Georgia Madden is a freelance interiors journalist and writer. She is a regular contributor to House & Garden magazine and a number of interiors websites. Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum is her debut novel.
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