Make selecting the right surface a straightforward choice!
If you’re planning a complete home makeover or simply want to give one or two rooms a new lease of life, the flooring you choose can have massive implications on the final finish as well as the practical use of the space.
Nowadays, there’s a whole world of materials, finishes, patterns and colours to choose from when deciding on what flooring you wish to put down ranging from laminates, to engineered wood, carpets, rugs, tiles, vinyl and even treated and finished floorboards. But as well as these choices, you need to factor in how lighting, wall colours and furnishings will be affected by your choice as well as the practical use of the floorings.
Each room will have different demands so there’s never a one-size-fits-all answer to the question. So to make this seemingly difficult decision seems less arduous, here’s our breakdown of how to choose the ideal floors for the various rooms in your home.
First off, always identify the main use of the rooms in question. For example, a bathroom will require a flooring that will deal will moisture and water a great deal more than others. Showering, bathing and washing will inevitably lead to spillages, so exposed wood or even carpets will not last long in such an environment. For areas that will be exposed to moisture at regular intervals, go for a surface that is nonporous such as tile as this will give you a surface that will last for years and look stunning if done right.
In rooms that will have to deal with high traffic such as hallways, kitchens and reception rooms, consider using a surface that is hard wearing and less prone to discolouration. Again, tile is a very good material in these instances although in colder climates, can make a place feel pretty chilly in the winter months but great for keeping a place cool in the summer heat. If tile is not for you, engineered wood or a high quality laminate could be a better bet. Wood flooring is very popular nowadays and its easy to see why. The investment may seem a little on the expensive side but the finish will make any home look incredible and a high quality product will last a long time.
If you have pets and have rooms that will be used for accessing the outdoors, think about surfaces that are easy to clean. Utility rooms may get caked in dirt and mud if the family dog decides to come back from a long winter walk and shakes itself dry. The kids may come home from playing football and leave their dirty boots on the floor so again, a carpet isn’t going to be suitable when a good quality tiled floor or vinyl is crying out to be installed.
Once you identify the rooms needs, the choice of material becomes far easier and this makes the shortlist of flooring choices for each room quicker and easier.
Flooring is never cheap so if you have a large area to cover, the choice may be limited by the cost to purchase and install your new floor. Thankfully however, there are some really great flooring choices on the market that are affordable alternatives to the more expensive options that will still give a great finish and last for many years to come.
If ceramic tiles or engineered wood was cheap, most homeowners would more than likely choose to put these two surfaces down. Both offer a huge range of finishes and colours and are both hardwearing and beautifully finished. But for those that cannot splash the cash, cheaper alternatives are out there. Nowadays, there’s a huge range of excellent quality vinyls on the market that offer the buyer finishes that look just like real wood or tile. What also makes vinyl a great option is it’s hard wearing, waterproof and can offer a finish as close to that of more expensive floorings.
If vinyl is not your thing, there there are many ranges of laminate floorings on the market that offer a more cost-effective alternative to engineered wood. There are however, many cheap and poorly made versions out there so do not be seduced by the cheap price tags. Laminates are notorious for splitting and breaking up if laid poorly, so if you do decide to go down this route, choose very carefully. As the saying goes, you certainly get what you pay for!
Better still, have you considered what lies beneath your existing floor? Many homeowners are now turning to specialist firms who will sand, treat and finish your floorboards to an incredibly high standard. Most UK homes still use floorboards and if given the right treatment, fillers and finishing, can look absolutely stunning. A real wood floor without even having to lay down any new surface? Perfect!
Finally, carpets which are still a popular and cheaper flooring option tend to be much more affordable than most other flooring options however, where and how carpets can be used tends to be more limited if high usage and cleanliness are your main concerns. Today, carpets are becoming less common as home owners shift towards more contemporary and hard wearing surfaces.
The flooring you choose can have a huge impact, not only on the final finish of the rooms look but also the ambience and feel of the space. This can turn out to be both positive and negative.
Wood floors look great but if the room is large with high ceilings and lacks many soft furnishings, the acoustics will be very loud and sound will bounce off the walls, creating the feeling of an echo chamber. For some, this is not a problem but for others, it can make the home feel soulless and lack the cosiness many people seek. If this is you, a carpeted floor may be better or a slightly softer vinyl could be a wiser choice as they can soften the effects of the sound bouncing around the room.
If you insist on having a hard floor such as a tile or wood laid down, placing rugs, drapes or cushions in the room will help to absorb some of the sound and reduce the acoustic impact the new floor creates. The underlay (substrate) you choose to place below the new flooring will also have a small yet, noticeable impact on the sound as well.
Most home owners do not consider just how much the floors in their home affect the overall lighting of a room. In a south facing room, daylight will flood in naturally, making the space feel light and airy, so the choice of a darker wood finish is no problem. In a room that is north facing or lacks windows however, a darker floor may make a room feel enclosed or smaller if poorly chosen.
Light reflects off the floors just as much as the walls, so choose a floor that not only compliments and contrasts with the existing furnishings and decorating, but creates the ambience that you seek. White or lighter coloured tiles can really brighten a room and are great for kitchens and bathrooms but you may not want to have that same look and feel in your lounge or reception rooms.
If you insist on installing darker wood in rooms that lack light, then consider upgrading the light fixtures to ensure the room is lit sufficiently during darker days or the evenings.
Colours & Patterns
Finally, if you’ve now reached the stage where you know the type, material and budget range of flooring to lay down in your home, don’t blow it by choosing the completely wrong colour or pattern!
Way back when, garish artistic patterns were all the rage on carpets and tiles but nowadays, interior designers use accessories and furnishing to create the overall look and feel of a room with patterns and colours across a range of soft materials. Your new flooring should perfectly compliment the existing room decoration to give you the ideal canvass on which to make the rooms interior design develop.
Most floorings nowadays offer a great range of beautiful finishes from light to dark stained woods, natural stones, marbles, travertines and porcelain tiles. The choice is endless but if you narrow down your choice by material, the final selection should be fairly straightforward if you follow the above guidelines.