Yorkshire Post Life & Style Section – 28th Jan 2015

Flooring choices are fundamental and a considerable investment. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall advises how to ensure you do not make an expensive mistake.

Jamie Hempsall, SBID, BIID

Jamie Hempsall, SBID, BIID

In the midst of the winter gloom, many of us want to get a hint of spring by freshening up our homes. Flooring often forms a part of that decision and is certainly critical in the success or failure of your look and feel.

It is important not to simply replace your flooring with something similar, but to take time to consider the use of the room and people who might therefore be enjoying the ambience.

Your key considerations should be:

  • The volume of traffic that the room will be subject to and, therefore, how durable your product needs to be.
  • Is there likely to be moisture regularly present (such as a bathroom or utility room)?
  • How slip resistant does your floor need to be?
  • Does the floor need to act as a sound barrier? A particularly important consideration in upstairs rooms and for those in apartments.
  • Do you want a maintenance free finish?
  • Do any of the occupants have asthma or allergies? Some carpets are more hypoallergenic than others and generally harder floors can be more easily cleaned and, therefore, less problematic.
  • What sub-floor will your surface be laid upon? For example, if you have under-floor heating, then engineered floor boards can be a better choice than solid wood.
  • Overall budget – including installation.

The flooring types have very differing properties, so here are my guidelines to help make an informed choice:

RESILIENT FLOORING

Items such as vinyl (e.g. Karndean or Amtico) and linoleum can bounce back to their original form after something is dropped on them; helping preserve both the floor and the object. These make a good alternative to hard surfaces such as tile.

They are often flexible to lay, hardwearing with minimal maintenance; good in areas with moisture and most finishes are bacteria resistant. Prices can suit most budgets.

Resilient flooring such as Amtico bounces back to its original form after something is dropped on them

Resilient flooring such as Amtico bounces back to its original form after something is dropped on them

PORCELAIN & CERAMIC TILES

 These are relatively easy to maintain and perfect in areas with moisture or immediate access from the outside. Without under-floor heating they can feel cool and you need to consider slip-resistance. They require a level sub-floor. Fitting costs can be as much as the cost of the tiles, but properly laid tiling can last a lifetime, so is money well spent.

Tile is the ideal solution in wet areas

Tile is the ideal solution in wet areas

WOOD

Always gives a warm architectural finish and colour can be altered with staining. Wonderful for a more informal area, must be in good repair for visual interest. Will require regular maintenance depending upon finish, but if cared for can be a very long-term and richly rewarding companion.

Wood may stain if in regular contact with moisture so finish and careful cleaning is important. Can be temperamental if used in conjunction with under-floor heating where veneer engineered boards might be a better option. Needs professional fitting to ensure safety and longevity. One of the more expensive flooring options.

Engineered Wood Floors are specifically designed to work in conjunction with underfloor heating

Engineered Wood Floors are specifically designed to work in conjunction with underfloor heating

LAMINATE

A firm favourite in the last decade as a cheap and easy to fit flooring solution. Unsuitable for damp areas and can sound hollow when walked upon, so not recommended in flats or upstairs bedrooms.   Some systems are suitable for owner installation. Laminate is easy to maintain and available at a variety of price points.

CARPETS & RUGS

A particularly good solution in cooler areas as they add warmth and comfort; they also help reduce noise. Carpet may not be as durable as other surfaces, but stain resistant treatments definitely help prolong its life. Available in a variety of price points, but a good quality underlay and professional fitting are essential for carpets.

Rugs are ideal used in conjunction with other surfaces to provide warmth and design contrast.

Carpet adds warmth and helps reduce noise

Carpet adds warmth and helps reduce noise

STONE & MARBLE

A very permanent solution and ideal in wet areas. Cooler than most other finishes, but ideal with under-floor heating as it retains warmth. Expensive and must be laid perfectly. Ideal for bathrooms; hallways and garden rooms.

Marble is a beautiful, permanent solution

Marble is a beautiful, permanent solution

Opting for a flooring type does not complete the design decision. You can add more interest by combining items of a similar nature. For example, using different types of hard surface such as tile and steel or breaking up a block of colour with boarders in a contrasting colour or pattern.

Whatever your choice, good preparation and fitting are essential. Your subfloor needs to be as flat as possible (often over-boarding problem areas can be a simple and cost effective solution). This will help make for easier installation and ensure the longest life possible for the flooring you choose

Jamie Hempsall is a multi-award winning interior designer.

@JamieHempsall

Article as it appears in the Yorkshire Post 28th Jan 2015