- How much can you afford to spend?
- Do you need a strong floor to cope with pets, children etc?
- How long do you want the floor to last?
- Does the floor need to be cleaned easily and quickly?
- Do you suffer from allergies?
Marble - Everybody's Dream flooring
Undoubtedly - and you probably don’t need me to point it out - marble and granite will be at the top of your budget, and as a rule of thumb the darker the colour the more expensive it will be. If long life is a must, then it is worth spending the money; once laid, polished and sealed, maintenance is low, and its looks will never fade. Unlike some other materials, their polished surfaces reflect light, giving you a lighter, brighter room and some of the colours & patterns are truly stunning.
They are however, cold & hard underfoot, and extremely dangerous when wet. Sound bounces off hard surfaces in a big way, so if you have an open-plan living area, you would need to use other measures to address this. It is not ideal for the kitchen, anything dropped that’s breakable will undoubtedly do so, and anyone falling will have a very hard landing.
Ceramic Tiles and Stones - Cheap but not so Durable
If you can’t quite stretch to marble - or you don’t have a choice - ceramic tiles and stone are the next hard wearing option. After adding in the costs of grout, mortar, etc. ceramic is less expensive and a huge range of designs are now available.
But, it does have many bad points. Again, cold and hard underfoot, ceramic floor tiles are more porous than marble and is therefore more susceptible to cracking or chipping.
Because of the density of the material, and depending on the surface finish of the tile, dirt can accumulate quickly, a good sealant or a good deal of mopping are advised in heavy traffic areas.
Unlike granite or marble, most stone and ceramic surfaces are matt and dull, thus absorbing light; something to consider if you have a dark hallway or a small room.
Laminate Wood and Vinyl Flooring - Beauty and Durability all in one!!
If you don't have a lot of time on your hands but want your floors to look good, the above are a good choice for you, as is laminate wood and vinyl flooring. This leads us neatly onto the next section.
If you fancy a wood look for your floors, you can choose between hardwood floors and laminate surfaces. Hardwood floors are exactly as they sound. Planks of hardwood that are arranged to create a singular surface. You can make any pattern you like with hardwood floors, but intricate patterns, will incur more costs. Hardwood floors will last a long time; however, they are quite expensive and repairs can be costly to fix.
Laminate floors are also just as they sound. Thin strips of wood are laminated to particle board backings in order to create a hardwood floor ‘look,’ without the more difficult installation, and higher costs. Laminate floors will last if properly cared for, and are fairly easy to repair if a piece should become damaged. Costs between hardwood floors and laminate floors are hardly comparable, if you are on a budget and want the great look of hardwood floors but without the cost, go with a good-looking laminate, most people will never know the difference.
Laminate is another light reflector; if you currently have a ceramic tile floor, in your bedroom for instance, and then have a laminate floor fitted, you will be amazed at the light difference. If you buy from a company who know what they are doing, they will deliver the packages a few days before fitting, this enables the boards to ‘acclimatize’ to the air in their surroundings and stops any chance of warping. Also, some companies will charge a fully inclusive price i.e. under-lay, fitting, edges, etc, some won’t though, and it’s best to establish this from the start.
Vinyl flooring has come a long way since ‘lino,’ and there are some really effective designs and good quality options available here. In rooms that are prone to humid conditions, such as kitchens and bathrooms, vinyl is a good option; it resists moisture and is easily washable. It is soft underfoot, warmer than all the other coverings mentioned, it absorbs sound and is relatively cheap. But, it will not last as long as the other options, and replacement, and removing the adhesive from the floor surface is a nightmare. The finished floor will only be as good as the fitting; it may be an idea to ask for recommendations, as a badly fitted floor will not only look awful, it will also harbour dirt.
Carpets - Not Recommended
I haven’t mentioned carpet yet and to be honest I don’t really want to! There are companies I know that sell loads but I wouldn’t personally recommend it. Think of the dust! Think how much healthier we are without dust mites and allergens in our homes. If you are prone to allergies or sensitive to your indoor air quality you will know to stay well clear of any fibrous flooring. But personal choice plays its part and if you like the feeling of woolly tufts between your toes then there is nothing to beat it.
Rugs are the final topic, and an embellishment to whichever floor you choose. They can make or break a room, make a statement or just be there to walk on. There are, among others, Persian, Turkish, Indian and Chinese varieties to choose from, modern and traditional styling to suit all tastes and budgets. They will absorb the sound from your echoing marble floor and will be something soft to put your toes on first thing in the morning.
Finally, take into consideration your home's floor plan and décor. Choose a flooring option that fits well into the space and matches your vision for the room as a whole.