There are several things you need to think about when you choose flooring for your home. Flooring endures a lot of wear and tear, and take the weight of furniture. The appearance of flooring also affects the over-all look of the home, and the materials will affect insulation and resistance to damp.
Here is a simple guide to help you choose the flooring material for your home. This checklist can help you decide what to get, and what factors to weigh when discussing options with your interior designer or construction experts.
1. The Look
There is a wide variety of flooring materials, so it’s possible to find one that perfectly matches your design preferences. In terms of appearance, the most important consideration is color.
The color must harmonize with the rest of the room. What color of furniture will you be using? What about the paint on the walls? You also need to think about your windows and the amount of natural light that will penetrate the room, or the lighting systems you will be using. A pale and polished floor has a tendency to reflect more light than darker floors.
Another thing to consider is the type of room and the wear and tear it will go through. Very light colors will show dirt and scratches more readily, so these may not be suitable if you have lots of children—unless you choose a material that is very easy to clean. Patterned flooring will help hide the dirt, but this must also be weighed against the design aesthetic.
Different flooring materials also have different textures. Slate has a rippled surface, terrazzo is smooth, cork seems smooth and organic.
Different kinds of rooms see different kinds of activity. Living rooms endure more traffic and tend to get dirtier and ‘scuffier’ than bedrooms. Kitchens and bathrooms frequently get wet and are at higher risk for rot because of the damp.
That’s why it’s important to think about the durability of the flooring materials, vis a vis the functions of the room. Choose more hard-wearing materials for a living room, and marble—which is durable but prone to staining—is more appropriate for bathrooms than kitchens. Remember that the appearance of the materials will change over time, and what looks good in a showroom may not be as pleasing after it’s been exposed to the elements.
It may not be instinctive to think about comfort when choosing flooring, since very few people will actually lie down and sleep on it! However, flooring does contribute to the feeling and experience of calm, in terms of its warmth, quietness and softness of tread.
For example, many people like to walk barefoot in their homes. Consider this when choosing the material, and also designing the home. In this case, it’s important to have underfloor heating for a hard floor, and avoid cork (which is more prone to becoming affected by the temperature of the air in the room).
Flooring materials also affect the noise in the room. Carpet and cork can help soften the noise, and is crucial if the floor is made of lightweight timber joists.
Another factor in peace-of-mind is over-all safety of the floor. Slippery surfaces are a no-no for families with elderly or young children (note that 50% of all accidental deaths at home are caused by falls).
When you choose flooring materials think about the sub-floor on which it will be built. Does your home have suspended timber floors, very common in old homes? This sub-flooring has a tendency to move and thus should not be combined with flooring materials that are made of ceramic, brick, or clay (these will crack over time). Concrete sub-flooring can be used with many flooring since it’s a more stable material. Also check if the sub-flooring is resistant to damp. If not, avoid any material that is vulnerable to dry rot, or instruct the construction experts to put damp-proofing membranes or ventilation systems.