Recently we’ve talked about replacing your roof and all the challenges that come with it. To make your home ready for any weather and comfortable for all, good flooring is also essential. Today we’re looking at different flooring options available on the market right now and compare their pros and cons.
Old-fashioned, reliable and classy, hardwood floors are still undisputed market champions. Timber floors offer warmth during winter, are good at absorbing noise and affect an air of peace and harmony like nothing else. Additionally, hardwood floors can be sanded and re-finished multiple times, allowing you to dramatically change the look of your home without spending money on a new floor. Hardwood floors also increase your home’s market value – quite dramatically so if you factor in easy installation, low maintenance and the fact that timber can serve you for many decades.
Timber does have its disadvantages, however. The most significant one is that it’s not resistant to water, warping and cracking under prolonged exposure. Modern engineered timber offers better protection but it is still not recommended for areas that risk getting wet like bathrooms or kitchens. Hardwood is also more prone to scratching and other accidental damage than its cheaper alternatives.
Laminate was first invented in 1977 by a Swedish company Perstorp. Its multi-layered planks consist of a resin inner core, fibre board, photographic appliqué simulating wood or sometimes stone and a protective materials above, all sealed together with lamination (hence the name). Modern laminate can successfully compete with hardwood flooring since it looks almost indistinguishable, is more resistant to damage and offers an attractive price. The protective cover is designed to withstand scratches, stains and common household chemicals without the materials underneath fading or distorting.
The downsides of using laminate flooring include loud hollow acoustics that not even insulation and sound treatment cannot fully fix. Laminate also has a shorter life-expectancy compared to timber and it can’t be sanded and re-finished once it starts showing signs of wear, you’ll have to replace it with something new instead. It also doesn’t add much real estate value, regardless of whether you choose an expensive high-quality laminate or some cheaper alternative.
Vinyl is plastic flooring that can be made to imitate a wide variety of natural surfaces. It is impervious to water and stains, making it a good choice for bathrooms and kitchens. Attractive price tag means that you can use the same material all throughout your home creating long uninterrupted lines that increase your space visually. Quality vinyl planks or tiles are extremely durable, scratch-resistant and easy to maintain, so consider this option if you have children or pets and want to avoid unnecessary stress whenever they play indoors.
At the same time, vinyl floors also tend to be rather cold and harsh against your feet, so maybe it is not the best option if you have kids in the house. It isn’t the most ‘green’ solution either, since vinyl doesn’t decompose naturally, produces toxic gases when burnt and there aren’t any popular recycling opportunities for it.
If you want to be friendly to the environment and don’t mind experimenting with your design, bamboo may be a perfect flooring material for you. It takes a lot less time to grow and harvest bamboo compared to timber, while the end result is denser and more durable than many different types of hardwood. Strand-weaving technique that is used to make bamboo flooring lets manufacturers affect a wide range of styles and colours during various stages of curing, staining and coating.
Just like hardwood, however, bamboo isn’t an option for wet areas as it can dent and distort from humidity. Also, as bamboo is a relative newcomer on the market, there aren’t as many options to choose from as there are with other floors and it can get rather pricey.
A somewhat old-fashioned but none-the-less effective solution for adding a soft touch to your interiors. Carpets work best in living areas and bedrooms, although with a little imagination they can also be fantastic mood-setters for hallways, studies or even bathrooms. Carpets come in so many shapes, forms, colours and materials, that you are guaranteed to find something perfect for your home, no matter how elaborate or specific your design gets.
Of course, a carpet requires a lot more cleaning and maintenance than any other surface, so be prepared for some extra work. Additionally, current home decor trends show that carpets have largely fallen out of favour with prospective home buyers, meaning that adding carpet is not the best way to increase home value.
Finally, let’s take a brief look at one of the oldest floor coverings in human history. Ceramic tiles can last for centuries. They are water-resistant and, depending on the thickness and coating, ceramic tiles can withstand quite a lot of stress. Ceramic tiles also offer you creative freedom in your design with an almost limitless variety of styles and textures. In a small space, like a bathroom, you can use the same tiles for walls and floor, making the room bigger visually.
As for the drawbacks of ceramics, the most glaring ones are their prices and how difficult it is to install them correctly. If there are pockets of air in the mortar under the tiles or if the tiles aren’t sealed properly, they become much more vulnerable to pressure and water damage and can crack.