Hard flooring: a buyer’s guide
From marmoleum sheet flooring to composite surfaces, discover the many hard flooring options available
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, as well as some great hard flooring ideas for your home.
A good floor can last a lifetime. Choose a product that is durable, beautiful, easy to maintain and perfect for the room you want to put it in.
Seek out stone
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
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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 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
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.