The floors in our home go through a lot – from stains and spills, to general wear and tear from decades of use beneath our feet. Floor materials are naturally durable and hardwearing, but some more so than others, so there are materials which are more suitable for certain rooms in your house than others. Whether it’s tiles in the kitchen or thick carpet in the bedroom, your flooring choices are often based on both your personal taste and lifestyle needs. Those with children or pets might not want neutral coloured carpets in their home, but what are the alternatives? If you’re confused about which flooring is best for your home, read on for some of the pros and cons of each material, and how they might fit in with your lifestyle.
Which material to choose?
Choosing flooring for your home can be a big decision; unlike painting a wall or hanging curtains, there’s often a lot of disruption that comes with installing a floor, not to mention the cost of labour and materials. Because of this, you want to be sure you’re getting it right, so you can enjoy a long-lasting, great looking floor for years to come. As discussed, some materials work better in specific rooms, and it also depends on your lifestyle and how much foot traffic an area gets. Below we will go through each of the common floor materials and where they might be best suited.
Tile flooring is most commonly made of ceramic or porcelain, which is extremely durable, water resistant and easy to clean. They are almost always glazed, which adds an extra level of stain resistance, making tile flooring a popular choice in kitchens and bathrooms. Tiles can withstand high footfall and won’t wear down in the way that carpets can, but they don’t have strong impact resistance, so if you drop a heavy object then be prepared for potential cracks.
Tiles are very low maintenance, and can be easily cleaned with a quick sweep or mop. You may need to apply a sealant every four to five years to keep them water resistant and looking their best, but apart from this they don’t require much upkeep. This material is also naturally resistant to humidity and can withstand a lot of heat, so you can see why they make the perfect flooring for bathrooms or kitchens. Laying a tile floor can be complicated and you will need to have grout laid in between the tiles for a watertight finish; however, once installed a tile floor can add substantial value to your property, especially if you choose statement patterned tiles or mosaic.
Real wood flooring is a classic option that never goes out of style, and comes in a wide variety of species, from oak flooring to ash, maple or walnut. It offers a wide range of shades too, from either the naturally occurring light to dark colour variations of different wood, or you can choose to apply a stain to get your desired finish.
Like tile, wooden flooring is also extremely durable and easy to maintain; you can keep wooden floors looking their best with regular sweeping and the occasional clean with a mop designed for use on wood. Costs are slightly higher compared to linoleum or carpet, but a real wood floor is much more resistant to everyday wear and tear and it can be restored to its best by simply sanding down the top layer and applying another coat of sealant.
Wooden flooring injects some timeless style into almost any room in your home, the only place you’re advised to avoid using solid wood is the bathroom, as the moisture and humidity can wear down the material.
This material is also a great choice for pet owners or those with allergies; unlike carpet, wooden flooring won’t trap dust or pet hair and you can easily sweep or mop up any dirt or spills. If you’re on a tighter budget then try engineered wood flooring, this is made by compressing several layers of plywood and placing a thin layer of hardwood on top.
Engineered wood is slightly less durable than solid wood, and can only be sanded a few times before the top layer wears away. However, it is easier to install and still provides the classic look of wooden flooring for a slightly lower price.
Stone flooring has been a popular choice in homes for centuries, and remains in high demand today. Like wood, it comes in a wide variety of natural materials from marble to limestone, slate, granite or sandstone.
Natural stone is arguably the most durable of all flooring materials, and surviving examples of stone flooring from Egyptian, Roman and Ancient Greek times are evidence enough! As it’s so hard wearing, stone floors are also very low maintenance and don’t require much work to stay pristine. Just make sure you consider which type of stone is being used; some cleaning products are too acidic for materials such as marble, so it’s recommended you use gentle dish soap and a soft cloth instead.
A major advantage of stone flooring is that every piece is unique, creating a stylish look you can guarantee won’t be replicated elsewhere. Stone tiles are also very adept at temperature control, staying cool in warm weather and retaining heat in cold weather, making them the perfect flooring for warmer climates or if you choose to install underfloor heating.
Like wood or tiles, natural stone is also very hygienic, and won’t retain dust, skin or hairs – it can scratch easily however, so you might want to think carefully if you have pets or young children.
It’s rare to find a home without at least one carpeted room, and the soft comfort of carpet makes it the perfect choice for the living room or bedrooms. Carpet comes in an almost endless range of materials and styles, from luxurious shag pile to wool, velvet or hard-wearing nylon. Carpets prices can vary wildly, but there is sure to be an affordable option for every budget and style, and it’s much cheaper than tile or wooden flooring.
As you might expect, carpet fibres can stain easily, especially in light, neutral colours, so it’s not the best choice for an area with with a lot of footfall such as the hall. You might also want to consider a different option if you have young children or pets, carpet is prone to trapping pet hair, and family life can be hectic so it’s important to have flooring which doesn’t require much upkeep.
Referred to as ‘lino’ for short, linoleum flooring is made from materials including linseed oil, pine resin, ground cork dust, wood flour, and mineral fillers like calcium carbonate. It is usually overlaid onto a canvas or burlap backing, and pigments can be added to the mix to create the desired colour. Linoleum is extremely durable against dents or impacts, and it remains undamaged by oil making it the perfect choice for a kitchen or garage. Despite its durability however, it is a flexible, soft material which makes it very comfortable underfoot but rather susceptible to scratches from furniture or pointed heels. Coloured linoleum flooring can also fade in the sun and take on a yellowish tinge, so it would make a good choice for a basement kitchen or bathroom.
Cork flooring has grown in popularity as an eco-friendly choice, and cork is naturally fire resistant and doesn’t release any toxic fumes or chemicals if burned accidently. Cork flooring gives a cushioned feel underfoot which makes it ideal for children’s playrooms or homes with elderly residents. It’s also a very good insulator of both heat and noise, so installing cork flooring could even save you money in the long run. However, cork as a material is rather delicate so this type of flooring probably won’t last as long as linoleum, wood or stone. Heavy furniture can cause permanent dents in the cork, and even though it is sealed, high humidity or moisture can cause cork to warp or discolour.
If you’re in need of expert floor installation in your home, get in touch with Cooper and Williams. Whether you’re after modern tiles, traditional wooden flooring, vinyl or carpet, our extensive showroom is bound to have something for you. Plus, from the bottom to the top of the house, if you have any roofing problems then let our roofing specialists take care of them for you. For more information about any of our services, visit our website today.