Churchill magazine

Different options when picking out a new floor

Updated on: 11 February 2021

A man puts down some wood floor panels.

With so many great flooring options on the market, we’ve put together a guide to help you choose the right one for you.

Solid hardwood floors and eco-friendly flooring

One of the oldest flooring options - a hardwood floor is refined, timeless and durable. A solid strip hardwood floor usually uses strips of wood about 2cm (0.75 inches) thick, 7cm (2.5 inches) wide and anywhere from 30cm (12 inches) to 215cm (85 inches) long. Traditional woods include oak and maple, although more exotic woods are also available.

You might find old floorboards under carpets or tiles that just need sprucing up. This is a pretty straightforward DIY job that would involve hiring a floor sander, following the instructions and then finishing with a wood stain, varnish or wood paint of your choice.

Engineered wood floors

You can also get the look of hardwood by using engineered wood floors. These are made using a veneer of hardwood in the species of your choice, with three to five thin sheets of cheaper wood below. Because engineered wood floors don’t contract or expand with heat or moisture, they can be a good choice for kitchens, bathrooms and basements.

If you want to make your home greener, you could also go for renewable flooring like cork or bamboo. Cork is also an excellent insulator from sound so may be great for upper floor areas.

Carpets and rugs

Carpets are comfortable, warm and energy efficient. They come in a huge choice of colours, patterns and textures and suit just about any decorating scheme. Different types of carpet may suit different areas of your house:

  • Twist pile is less likely to show footprints and vacuum cleaner marks.

  • Long or velvet pile gives a sumptuous feel.

  • Wool carpets are warm, soft and environmentally friendly.

  • Nylon is hard-wearing.

  • Polypropylene is highly stain resistant.

If you buy a carpet, it’s advisable to get an expert to fit it and often you can factor this, and any underlay you may need, into a deal. Whether you have young children or pets is also an important factor in deciding whether or not to have carpets – hard floors are easier to clean.

Laminate floors and vinyl

Laminate floors that look like wood are a great family option as they combine practicability with durability and good looks. They’re great for high traffic areas such as hallways, with superior stain and scratch resistance. They can come in plank or tile format, and have easy click fixtures that allow them to be laid and walked on straight away. Waterproof options are also great for kitchens and bathrooms.

Vinyl floors are available in a range of stylish patterns, and are a good way of emulating more expensive flooring options such as terracotta, marble or ceramic tiles. They can also mimic wooden or metallic planks and are great in kitchen or bathroom areas.

Natural tiles

These can be expensive, but should be durable and stylish. Choose from terracotta, natural stone, mosaic, polished porcelain, granite, limestone, marble and slate. You could lay these yourself, although you’ll also need filler and may have to cut some tiles to size, which may require a special cutting tool.

Painted floors

It’s possible to paint straight onto concrete, wood, vinyl and ceramic tiles. Although the paint isn’t the most durable option for high traffic areas, you can improve the last with three coats of clear urethane. You may also have to prime wooden floors before you paint them. Don’t forget that it may take a few days for the paint to dry before you can walk on it.

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