Choosing the Type of Flooring for Your Home

The type of flooring for a room must be selected with care. Whatever you choose will be staring you in the face for years, so you want to be sure it’s the right thing.

Choosing A Floor

One thing to consider is the floor covering in any adjacent rooms. Do you want the new floor covering to match it or provide a contrast? The purpose of the room will also effect your choice, as will the period and style of the rest of the house.

Price is another consideration. When you are estimating the cost, take into account the cost of installation and any preparation, such as installing ply or screed over floorboards, underlay for carpets, junction strips and finishing or sealing the surface.

Hard Floors

These are ideal for areas where there is heavy traffic, or where you want a finish that is easy to clean, such as in a bathroom or kitchen. Brick, concrete, stone, tiles or glass all offer hardwearing solutions that are good to look at, age well and are long-lasting. They can feel cold or accentuate noise in the room, but that can be minimised by putting down rugs or by installing under-floor heating.

Wooden Floors

These are another attractive and long-lasting solution. Wood is as fashionable today as it ever was and has a certain give that a hard floor lacks. It feels warm and ages beautifully but can be noisy, especially for people in the room below. Wood falls into two categories, hardwood and softwood. Pine and deal are both soft woods, less durable than hard and therefore cheaper.

Hardwoods include ash, beech, maple and oak, the most commonly used in the home. Wood floors can be solid or a laminate, which has a thick veneer of real wood over a plywood base for strength. All wood should be seasoned so that it doesn’t shrink or warp after it is laid and, to my mind, should be from sustainable forests.

Sheet Materials And Soft Tiling

These are easy and quick to lay, providing a relatively cheap answer to flooring needs. There are both natural (linoleum and cork) and man-made (vinyl) options.

If you care about the planet, steer away from the latter as its manufacture has the highest environmental impact. All of these are both lightweight and comfortable to walk on. Where these types of flooring score highly over some others is In terms of their easiness to clean. With the exception of cork, they also come in a staggering number of colours and designs.


The mass production of carpet began in the eighteenth century, and the industrial revolution made it available to a much wider market. It is by far the softest, warmest and quietist way of covering a floor, and there is a huge variety to choose from. Originally carpet was made of 100% wool but today 80% wool is often mixed with 20% nylon, or perhaps another synthetic fibre such as polypropylene, to give better wear. There are also 100% synthetic carpets.

When choosing a carpet, you have to take into account what it is made of, the way its made, the weight and density of the pile and what you will be using it for. It is not a good idea to use any kind of carpet in kitchens or bathrooms that are used a lot, because it can become dirty damp and smelly.

Carpet Is Usually Labelled As:

  • Heavy Domestic: For areas with heavy use, such as hallways and staircases.
  • Medium To Heavy: For family living rooms or studies.
  • Medium To Light: For living rooms.
  • Light Domestic: For areas that get less use, such as bedrooms.


An alternative to wool carpeting, which offers the warmth and quiet without the softness, is a natural covering such as coir, seagrass or sisal. These provide a practical solution to suit almost any style of house. They are hardwearing and attractive, and come in a range of different weaves and colours. These materials can be supplied in rolls to be cut and fitted like a carpet.

Like carpet, they will need underlay installed before they are fitted. Before being laid professionally, they should be unrolled and left for 48 hours to adjust to the humidity of the room. However, natural coverings are very difficult to clean and have a tendency to shrink if they get damp, so they are unsuitable for use in areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.

With flooring, you generally get what you pay for. The cheapest solution will tend to have the shortest life.

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