Quick guide to flooring

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It should come as no surprise to most people, but floors are the part of the house that takes the most wear and tear. They have people trampling all over them day in and day out, shoes pounding down on them, dogs and cats bolting across, dirty shoes trailing over them, seats, tables, wardrobes, and other such furniture dragged across them, and stationed upon them. Floors have to be sturdy.

Cost is of course an important factor in the type and quality of flooring material. It has to be affordable, while at the same time offering sufficient wear to last a decent amount of time, especially considering the time and hassle involved in moving all the furniture out the way to get the floor decorated. Fortunately there is at least a wide range of options available. What you go for is of course entirely dependent upon your own personal circumstances.

In a typical house for example (if there is such a thing as a typical house), the hallways, stairs, and landings are subjected to the heaviest amounts of traffic. Bedrooms typically experience the least traffic (although some teenagers might disagree). Living rooms fall somewhere between these two extremes. Each of these areas are also more visible than others. This will effect the quality and price of the flooring that you are willing to buy for each room. While a cheap carpet might do fine for a little used guest bedroom, something more elaborate and exclusive looking would surely be preferable in the living room.

Of the numerous options available for flooring, here are a few of them with a quick note.

Carpets

Carpets are of course good at creating a feeling of warmth in a home, and they also literally help to keep the heat in by providing excellent insulation (along with a good underlay). As much as a 6th of all heat in your home would disappear through your floors if they weren’t adequately insulated. Carpets also reduce noise, with uncarpeted floors being ten times noisier.

Hessian backed carpets are the best quality, and wear for longer. They need an underlay, and are more expensive. Foam backed carpets are cheaper and have the added advantage of not requiring an underlay. Felt backed carpets can be laid with an underlay or without depending on taste. As a general rule a carpet costing less than £12 per square meter will do for the short term, lasting maybe a couple of years. Meanwhile a good hard wearing carpet might cost closer to £20 but will save a lot of time and money in the long term.

Real Wood Floor

Perhaps the most expensive option is to go for real wood, and it does have many advantages. It looks stunning, exudes quality, is hard wearing, can be cleaned easily, and lasts for years. Unfortunately, prices range from upwards of £30 per square meter. Furthermore professional installation is a must, raising costs even further and adding another £20 – £40 per square meter to the costs.

Laminate Flooring

Though a lot cheaper than a real wood floor, laminate flooring still gives the same wood effect, and also has a layer of protection against scratches and impacts. Obviously this makes laminate an ideal choice for families since it can stand up to the strain of everyday life. Laminates click together and so most keen DIYers could probably fit a floor in a weekend, with a little help (two people at least). Laminate flooring ranges from £10 upwards per square meter, but also requires edging and underlay.

Natural fibers

Having been undergoing improvement over the past few decades, natural fibers are undergoing something of a second renascence. Nowadays there are limitless choices when it comes to natural fiber flooring. Jute, paper, seagrass, sisal, wools, coir, and even bamboo are all on offer, each providing something different, each unique, and yet all with the same characteristic simplicity that comes from its ‘naturalness’. Texture and style has never been so economically friendly. Asides from looking good, natural fibers are of course biodegradable, and some of the variants can last as long as 15 years.

Choosing

Which type of floor covering you go for is such a personal choice. Again style is something that is personal and everyone would choose something unique to them, but here are some suggestions to bear in mind. Though it’s easy to overlook flooring, always make sure it is included in any décor plans so budgeting can be done before hand. This helps avoid nasty surprises. If you’re planning on selling your house then avoid patterns, since they might not be to the taste of potential buyers, and put them off. If that is the case, then choose something that’s plain. Patterned floors helps to make a room appear smaller and also hides dirt. Using the same flooring in all the main rooms makes the space flow more seamlessly, and adds continuity. Rugs and mats can be used for added protection in high traffic areas such as halls, and can be changed about as often as you wish.

So, good luck with your flooring project. Have fun choosing it, and may it last a while.

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