Today’s designs are versatile, low maintenance and available in a range of options – here’s what you need to consider

Flooring is an essential element for setting the tone in a scheme and the latest hard-flooring products offer plenty of scope to make a design statement. Hard flooring is an umbrella term for products that aren’t carpet, rugs or natural  flooring, such as sisal, and includes wood, stone, bamboo, poured concrete and resin, plus porcelain and vinyl tiles.

Natural wood and stone are timeless choices and come in myriad types and styles. Locally quarried stone is an environmentally sound choice or opt for reclaimed. Real wood, whether solid or engineered, improves with age and works beautifully when the same material is used throughout an open-plan ground floor. Quick-growing bamboo is a sustainable alternative to wood that is available as solid or engineered boards. There are now some pretty convincing vinyl alternatives to real wood and stone that are warm underfoot, and the diverse range of designs gives the opportunity to have a lookalike floor in an environment where the real thing isn’t practical. Patterned ceramic and porcelain floor tiles are on-trend and make a great first impression in a hallway.

Salvaged flooring has character all of its own, whether it’s aged parquet from a grand building or the earthy tones of reclaimed terracotta. At the other end of the scale, concrete is the ultimate modern material and comes in a polished or more subtle honed finish. It’s hard-wearing but can be cold underfoot so factor in under floor heating at the planning stage. Strengthened glass panels set within a floor add a touch of drama that lets light travel between spaces – perfect for a landing.

 A guide to choosing hard flooring 1

Image: Amtico (amtico.com)

 

Wood

The beauty and character of natural wood makes it a popular choice for modern interiors and it’s available in a wealth of different species. Solid wood boards are made from a single piece of timber and can be refreshed by sanding. Engineered boards feature a skin of solid wood bonded to several layers of plywood or a three-ply construction with an MDF or HDF core. An engineered floor is more stable than solid wood making it suitable for use in kitchens, bathrooms and with underfloor heating. An oil finish gives a natural matt look, but the floor will need occasional re-oiling; a lacquer or varnish provides a durable protective seal. Laminate flooring is made by producing an image of wood onto plastic that is bonded to a board backing. Solid wood and engineered boards both start from around £30 per sqm but prices vary depending on the finish and type of wood.

 A guide to choosing hard flooring 2

Image: Dinesen (dinesen.com)

 

Tiles

When it comes to porcelain, ceramic and stone floor tiles, there’s an astounding selection of styles, colours and patterns. Limestone, travertine, marble and slate are hard-wearing, but also porous so they require sealing against dirt and stains. Porcelain tiles that resemble wood and stone are among the best-selling ranges, and wood-effect tiles can even be made in long narrow lengths to replicate planks. Waterproof, stain resistant and easy to clean, porcelain tiles are a good choice for a kitchen, bathroom or hallway. Large-format tiles are ideal for creating a seamless finish and even though they are heavier to manoeuvre into position, they are easier to lay. Patterned tiles are seeing a renaissance and geometrics are huge at the moment. Expect to pay from £20 per sqm for porcelain tiles rising to £50 per sqm for natural stone.

 A guide to choosing hard flooring 3

Image: British Ceramic Tile (britishceramictile.com)

 

Best Of The Rest

Concrete floors offer a contemporary look that is practical for open-plan spaces as long as the substrate has suitable stability – a manufacturer can advise you. Made using recycled aggregates, they need to be poured by a specialist, sealed and then finished with a matt or high-gloss polish. The Resin Floor Company’s Micro Concrete is a cement-based floor overlay that looks and feels like polished concrete and can be laid over any surface and, at just 2-3mm thick, is a good alternative to solid concrete. Poured resin floors are sleek, durable and come in a large number of colours. Eco-friendly Marmoleum is made from natural materials including linseed oil, resin and chalk, and is available in sheet or tile format in a huge array of hues. Luxury vinyl flooring is a high-end product that can be used anywhere in the house. It utilises 3D printing technology to give realistic stone, ceramic and wood effects but not all are compatible with underfloor heating so check with your supplier. Poured floors start at around £144 per sqm and Marmoleum from £30 per sqm.

 

Words: Andrea Manley

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