Anything that isn’t a carpet, rug or natural flooring is classed as hard flooring. Here’s all you need to know about wood, stone, ceramic, porcelain, composites, laminate, vinyl and linoleum…

A guide to choosing hard flooring 1

Image: Amtico (amtico.com)

A good floor can last a lifetime. Read our guide to choosing a product that is durable, beautiful, easy to maintain - and perfect for the room you want to put it in.

Seek out stone

distinction marble tiling in a bathroom by British Ceramic Tile

Image: British Ceramic Tile

Locally quarried stone is an environmentally sound choice - or why not opt for reclaimed? Suppliers will have ranges that can be used inside and out so you can create a seamless run between interior and exterior.

Limestone, travertine, marble and slate are hardwearing but they are also porous. They will need to be sealed to protect against dirt and staining.

Work with wood

A guide to choosing hard flooring 2

Image: Dinesen 

Real wood improves with age and works beautifully across open plan spaces.

Quick-growing bamboo is a sustainable alternative to those woods used to produce solid and engineered boards. It is cheaper than hardwood and durable enough for bathrooms.

Choose sustainably sourced timber from suppliers with Forest Stewardship Council accreditation.

Solid or engineered wood?

light wood flooring in a kitchen by floors of stone

Image: Floors of Stone

Solid wood boards are made from a single piece of timber and can be refreshed by sanding.

Engineered boards have a skin of solid wood bonded to layers of plywood or have a three-ply construction with an MDF core.

They can be laid over most floor types, including concrete, and have a tongue-and-groove design that is clicked or glued into place.

Engineered flooring is more stable making it a better choice for kitchens, bathrooms and more suitable for underfloor heating.

Lay laminate

junckers wood hard flooring in a modern office

Image: Junckers

Laminate flooring is made by producing an image of wood, ceramic tiles or stone onto plastic and bonding it to a board backing.

Specialist laminates are suitable for bathrooms and kitchens.

Vote for vinyl

linoleum wood effect flooring by Floors of Stone in a country style kitchen

Image: Floors of Stone

Vinyl lookalike flooring is available in wood, ceramic and stone designs and is a good choice for areas where the real thing might not be appropriate.

Luxury vinyl flooring is a high-end product that can be used in any room. It uses 3D printing technology to produce designs that are incredibly convincing.

 Vinyl can be glued or installed as a floating floor, but not all designs are suitable for underfloor heating so check with your supplier.

Look out for linoleum

pattern linoleum flooring by Feature Floors

Image: Feature Floors

Marmoleum is an eco-friendly linoleum made from natural materials including linseed oil, resin and chalk. It is available as sheet flooring or as tiles and in a huge choice of colours and patterns.

Try tiles

A guide to choosing hard flooring 3

Image: British Ceramic Tile

Porcelain tiles that resemble wood and stone are popular and wood-effect tiles can be made in narrow lengths to replicate planks.

They are waterproof, stain resistant and easy to clean so a good choice for kitchens, bathrooms and hallways.

Check out composite

concrete square tiling by the british ceramic tile company

Image: British Ceramic Tile 

Concrete is the ultimate modern material and is made using recycled aggregates. It needs to be poured by a specialist and sealed and finished for a matt or hi-gloss effect.

Concrete requires a stable substrate so check with a manufacturer that it is suitable. It is hardwearing but requires underfloor heating to keep it warm.

Micro Concrete has the look of polished concrete but can be laid over any surface.

Search for salvage

aged parquet flooring by carpetright in a kitchen

Image: Carpetright

Give new life to salvaged flooring wherever you can. It is full of character and warmth.

Look for aged herringbone oak parquet or reclaimed terracotta hexagon floor tiles.

Words: Andrea Manley, Edited by Julie Butterworth

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