The type of flooring you choose for your home will make all the difference between contrasting looks, feel, warmth and quality. You have to think about your budget first, then about how you want each room presented in aesthetics and comfort. Below we breakdown the many different types of flooring and their characteristics.
Different Types of Flooring
Of all the different types of flooring available, the beauty of wood makes it one of the most popular for homes and it’s versatility is indisputable. It will fit in with your décor, traditional or contemporary, and there is a choice of solid or engineered, (a veneer surface of real wood glued to several layers of plywood).
You can select from stunning natural woods including oak, maple, cherry, walnut, mahogany and ash; the more exotic woods such as teak, mesquite and Jarrah come at a premium cost.
An advantage with solid wood floors is that they can be sanded and refinished many times, ensuring both durability and flexibility, and as every wood offers its own unique combination of colour and grain, you can be assured of individuality.
The downside is that wood is not waterproof, and although stains can be sanded out, bowing often cannot be avoided. Also, it is important to note that wood is not suitable for use with underfloor heating.
With so many options available, laminate flooring offers a variety of design solutions and is suitable for any room in your home or workplace.
It’s a multi-layer synthetic flooring product which has been fused together using a special lamination technique, and because of its flexibility, comes in many finishes such as embossed, textured or smooth, with various effects, including stone, wood, slate and tiles, often with a choice of a matt or gloss finish.
Not only is laminate flooring easy to install, it requires very little maintenance, is resistant to stains, waterproof and is easy to keep hygienically clean.
The downside of this type of flooring is that it is hard and cold underfoot and can be slippery when wet, although at extra cost, a slip-resistant layer is sometimes added. Another disadvantage is that as it’s synthetic, it’s not possible to sand or refinish scuff marks.
Vinyl flooring is extremely popular as it is resistant to heavy use, so perfect for your high-traffic areas. There is a wide range of different looks, including tiles, wood, stone, parquet, brick and chequerboard, all easily achieved without the painstaking task of designing and laying the pattern. As it’s available in various styles, thickness and textures, it suits any room or lifestyle.
Although there is a choice of different types of flooring, vinyl is perfect for homes with small children, pets and allergy sufferers as it is easy to clean.
Also, its water-resistant qualities make it is versatile enough to use in kitchens and bathrooms, however, due to its soft texture, it can be easily marked by pointed heels and sharp objects, the repair of which is not easy. If you have underfloor heating then you should check carefully because most vinyl flooring is not compatible.
With so many styles, patterns and fabrics available, it’s best that you plan which type of carpet will go where to ensure maximum lifespan. The more luxurious, softer pile is wonderful in bedrooms, whilst a low-pile, dense tuft is perfect for high traffic areas.
Wool is more expensive but offers exceptional qualities, including durability, insulation and noise reduction, whilst Polypropylene is tough and resistant to stains. Polyamide provides a great range of colours and Polyester is frequently used for textured or shag pile carpets.
Carpet flooring will immediately make your home cosy and amongst the many types of flooring for homes available, it remains a favourite. It is quickly laid by a professional, so is cost effective labour-wise, however, it does pick up stains and dirt easily and can be difficult to clean.
As carpets that are made from a cheap material do not have a long lifespan, you may find that buying the good quality, long-lasting type can become expensive compared to other types of flooring.
This is considered to be one of the finest types of flooring for homes available and is considerably harder and denser than limestone or travertine. The surface of marble is unique, which is one of the reasons why it is popular with chic hotels and luxurious locations.
You should choose wisely though, because this type of flooring will last forever as it is extremely durable as well as being glamorous and opulent.
As marble comes in many different colours, it will add a touch of class to any décor, especially as each section is both distinctive and unique, and as it is a natural stone, it is also eco-friendly and easy to clean.
The downside is that it can be expensive and difficult to install. Also, as marble is a combination of both hard and soft, it can be easily scratched and you must wipe up spillages immediately to avoid staining.
Overall, ceramic flooring is considered to be amongst the most hardwearing of the many different types available. It is also extremely versatile as it comes in a variety of designs, colours and sizes, and due to its strength, is ideal for high traffic areas such as hallways.
Ceramic flooring should be considered for your kitchen and bathrooms as it’s water resistant and non-slip; most designs are available in semi-matt as opposed to highly glazed, often with a textured finish.
Ceramic flooring is stain resistant, easy to keep hygienically clean, and should a tile get damaged, it is a relatively simple task for you to replace. As they come in all price ranges, there is always a selection to fit your budget.
It should be noted that the grout is easily stained and that ceramic flooring is extremely hard and rigid, making it relatively uncomfortable underfoot, and if a glass is dropped, it will be sure to splinter, creating a possible hazard for children.
A highly polished concrete floor looks amazing and with the wide range of colours and finishes now available, it’s no wonder why its popularity is increasing.
Firstly it is diamond ground, followed by treatment with a chemical densifier, then buffed using diamond-polishing tools with pads specifically designed to use on concrete.
Once completed it will provide a hard-wearing, stylish, high gloss finish that is perfect for any modern home; you can use it outside too, however, it should be noted that weather conditions can affect the colour.
Concrete floors are easy to clean and will not harbour dust mites, so perfect for allergy sufferers, and will also increase its good looks as it ages. A big plus is that, if there is any colour fading, this can be rectified with a polish.
It is however, very hard to fall on, cold underfoot and will most likely require maintenance, such as resealing; hairline cracks are to be expected.
This type of flooring can be a great investment, as it will last a lifetime and there is a huge amount of choice, including colour and surface texture.
Travertine is very popular with its earthy, weathered appearance, whilst slate is very much in vogue as, not only does it add style, it is also waterproof and affordable. Limestone flooring comes in a variety of qualities and depths and is usually quite pale in colour, so perfect for dark areas.
There are several different finishes, including honed and polished, creating a versatile look that will improve with age. The timeless appeal of stone flooring ensures a warm look, and as it is a natural product, it is also eco-friendly.
You should note that not only is installation labour intensive, stone flooring can also be expensive and it requires constant upkeep as it is susceptible to staining and is often slippery when wet.
If you are environmentally conscious, then cork could be the flooring for you. Compared to other different types of flooring, it’s natural and eco-friendly. It comes in a variety of different textures and colours, from natural browns through to black, white, red and olive.
If you prefer a light reflective surface, then a lacquered option is available, which also helps to protect it from scratches. Engineered cork flooring is an option; the difference being that the standard type is glued into place, whilst the engineered is put together like a jigsaw, with interlocking pieces.
As cork is a natural shock absorber, it provides safety for children and the elderly: you will also find that it has excellent soundproofing and insulation qualities.
Cork contains suberin wax, so it has natural insect-repellent capabilities, however, if the cork flooring has not been properly finished it will absorb water and spills. By comparison to alternatives, it can also work out to be more expensive.
You can choose from horizontal grain, vertical and strand woven bamboo planks, the latter being the strongest as resin is added during the compression which increases the strength. The variations in the overall finishes are very beautiful and it is hard to find a more inexpensive, strong and durable type of flooring material.
Technically, bamboo is a grass and not a wood, however, this does not stop it from making an excellent ‘hardwood’ style of floor. Indeed, bamboo has been found to be stronger than maple and oak.
Apart from its beauty, bamboo flooring is relatively simple to install, extremely durable, easy to clean and and hypo-allergenic. However, as with many types of flooring for homes, sunlight can cause it to fade and it is susceptible to water and spillage damage. You should also note that the adhesive glue used to create the flooring can release volatile organic compounds into the air, so risks to health, for example in asthmatics, should be considered.