Flooring choices – room by room

Thin wooden floor boards in living area

There are many things to consider when choosing flooring for your home. The type of room and its use is the first and most obvious factor. What look or atmosphere are you trying to create? How durable does it need to be? What’s your budget? These are important initial questions. But perhaps you’re also concerned about using natural and or sustainable/environmentally friendly products. Perhaps someone in your household suffers from allergies, some floor coverings are more suitable than others. There are lots of products available on the market to fit all criteria.

Dining area with parquet floor and cow hide rug

Sitting room / dining room / lounge

In houses nowadays, the sitting room, dining room and lounge areas are often designed to be open plan. This means that the flooring is often the same throughout, giving a seamless flow to the space. These areas form the main living spaces of the house so flooring should have a sense of warmth.

Soft surfaces such as carpet spring to mind. It provides the desired comfort and warmth – and is available in an endless array of colours and pattern to suit any decorating scheme. There’s also the option of seagrass, coir, sisal, jute and water hyacinth for a natural look and feel.

Laminate flooring

 For this there is a perfect laminated solution that’s been available for decades. There is choice of laminate flooring for all rooms with an increasing range of designs available than any other floor. This material has been continually developing and now offers great flexibility in terms of colour, finishes and price range. It’s very durable too, so great for families or pet owners. With its click groove design, it’s relatively easy to install – whether by a professional fitter or DIY enthusiast.

You might also be lucky enough to find some parquet or lovely old floorboards under a battered, dated carpet. New wood or reclaimed boards could also be installed. These can be buffed, sanded, stained or painted.

Or how about coconut timber? Coconut palm wood is made from matured (60-80 years old) coconut trees that no longer bear fruit – looks great and environmentally friendly too!

Bamboo is another flooring material gaining in popularity. As it’s a quick-growing grass, not a true wood, it is sustainable product.

To soften these harder surfaces or define spaces, lay rugs to break up the expanse of laminate or wood. For safety reasons, ensure that they wont move or slide with non-slip backings, clips or tacks.

Hallway laid with encaustic tile floorcredit

Porch / hallway

The part of the house that receives the heaviest traffic in most houses. The flooring material must be durable and easy to clean. Again, you could consider laminate or wood products. Or perhaps stone or ceramic in this area. A patterned surface such as encaustic tile is ideal as dirt doesn’t stand out as easily as it would on a plain floor. It’s also often the first room you enter, so making a statement is no bad thing!

Natural stone kitchen floor

Kitchen

The kitchen isn’t called the heart of the home for nothing. In many homes, it’s a gathering space – the place where we meet, chat, cook and eat.

Durability and hygiene are key. There are food spills, dirty foot and paw prints to contend with – so cleaning it needs to be a straightforward operation. Again we’d highlight laminate and wood as possible choices.

Natural stones such as limestone, slate or marble are good options for this area too. Also ceramic tiles and composite stone such as terrazzo. If you’re going for naturally cold materials such as stone or ceramic, consider the benefits of underfloor heating being installed at an early stage of the design process.

Vinyl tiles are a very affordable option. They are easy to lay, easy to keep clean, waterproof and are very hard wearing. The range of prints available do a good job of imitating other products such as ceramic tile, stone and wooden floorboards – at a fraction of the cost.

Linoleum has seen a resurgence in recent years. It’s manufactured from flax seeds combined with other natural plant materials. It is an anti-static and hypo-allergenic compound making it a good flooring choice in homes where people have health issues such as asthma or allergies. It’s available in a range of colours which don’t fade and is fire-resistant which is a great safety advantage for kitchen spaces where blazes can start.

Perhaps you like an industrial feel kitchen. You could use reclaimed materials – or introduce materials more normally associated with factory or workplace environments like polished cast concrete, steel or rubber.

Bathroom floor laid with bright yellow rubber flooring

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Bathroom / cloakroom

The first and most important consideration – is it waterproof? Who wants soggy, rotting carpets?!!

Fortunately, there are some excellent waterproof options available. We can sing the praises of laminate flooring here again. It also has the feel of cleanliness that many people like in this area – and even though the material is in itself man-made, the various natural colourways lend themselves to natural decorating schemes that are popular in this room.

You could also opt for painted floorboards in this area which in addition to being waterproof, also allows the introduction of any colour of the rainbow.

Rubber and vinyl are also great choices which can be laid as tiles or sheets. They’re both waterproof and warm underfoot. No shortage of colour or pattern choices here either. Styrene-butadiene (synthetic) rubber is resistant to fading and burning. Just the thing if you’re prone to knocking over your relaxing bath-side candles!

Or how about cork? Natural, fire repellent, noise deadening, non-allergenic, waterproof, warm and soft. It’s eco-friendly too as the material is renewable – harvested every few years from the trunk without actually harming the tree.

Carpeted bedroomcredit

Bedroom

The obvious choice for bedrooms is carpet. It’s soft and warm underfoot – perfect as you relax at night or take those first footsteps of the day!

As with the lounge carpets, you’ve also got all the similar flooring products made from natural materials such as seagrass listed previously.

You could add a touch of opulence to your bedroom by laying leather tiles. Leather is luxurious and warm underfoot – and looks fabulous. However it can be quite expensive – and best for small areas of light traffic.

Carpeted stairway

Stairs / landing / corridors

These are other areas of a house that get quite a lot of footfall. The action of going up and down a flight of stairs can be loud especially if the treads are bare wood or concrete. If you live in a flat with other flats above or if you live in a multi-storey house you can often hear people moving about above your head. It could range from softly creaking floorboards to kids sprinting up and down. Laying carpet greatly reduces the noise and can introduce attractive pattern and colour to an often overlooked area.

These connecting spaces might also allow the introduction of toughened glass panels which allows natural light to pass through into other rooms above or below.

Garden with patio area laid with concrete tiles

Outdoors – Garage, patio, balcony, deck

Obviously, this flooring has to be weather resistant. If your garden gets quite a lot of shade, you need a surface that discourages the growth of moss and mould – or one that it can be cleaned off easily.

Wooden decking is a popular choice for many – maintenance requirements will depend on the type of wood. There are also some ‘wood look’ composites and plastics available. These have the benefit of not requiring further attention once fitted and generally have very long lifespans.

Stone tiles are also an option. These natural material really suits the garden environment. You also have the option of carrying the same flooring out into the garden from the kitchen, lounge or conservatory areas. This gives a wonderful flow and helps bring the outdoors inside.

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Why opt for laminate flooring?

Bedroom with herringbone parquet laminate floor

It really doesn’t matter what type of project you’re working on, your choice of flooring is important. Choosing the wrong floor can ruin the overall look of a room.

The fact that the floor takes up so much space in a room means it’s neigh impossible for people to ignore or not notice. Therefore, if your flooring is shoddy, or doesn’t fit in with the overall style of a property, it will look terrible.

Fortunately, these days contractors and home-owners have plenty of choice. One of the best options is laminate flooring.

Whatever project you’re working on, this type of floor is ideal. Whether you want a stone, marble, wood or tile-effect floor you can find composite flooring with that finish and look.

Whatever colour, texture or finish you want, you can have it. These days, it’s even possible to buy black laminate flooring.

Some companies will even make you a custom floor. These can be quite expensive, but easy to order, and they can even be made at relatively short notice.

All you need to do is to take a very high-resolution photo of the surface you’re trying to recreate and send it off to the flooring firm. They then take that image, blow it up to the right size, and print it onto a composite wood surface. A transparent, hard finish is then applied to protect the image and make it hard-wearing. All you then have to do is lay it in exactly the same way you would any other laminate floor.

Black walnut laminated flooring in a dining room

Laminated flooring is durable

Modern production techniques and materials mean that you can now buy laminate flooring that’s highly durable. This is why laminate flooring can be used in any area of a home, and is suitable for use in commercial settings.

Naturally, you need to do your research and buy the right flooring for the environment in which you are laying it. In most countries, a grading system is used to help you to choose the right materials for the job. If you want to learn more about the different grades of laminate flooring, click here.

Laminate flooring in a kitchen

It can be laid over virtually any sub-floor

This type of flooring material is one of the most versatile available. It can be laid over most sub-floors. You can also lay it over underfloor heating.

However, the sub-floor does have to be perfectly flat to achieve a good result. Modern self-levelling compounds make it easy to create the necessary surface. These products only take a few minutes to lay, although they do take a few hours to cure and dry.

Patterned laminate flooring

It’s easy to install

One of the best things about this flooring material is that it’s extremely easy to put down. It isn’t necessary to hire a skilled carpenter. You can, with a little pre-planning, do it yourself. This, and the fact that the cost of the materials is so low in the first place, means that this is one of the most economical floor options currently available. Therefore, our advice is to look seriously at using laminate flooring for your next building or DIY project.

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10 common underfloor heating questions answered

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lounge area with poured resin floor with underfloor heating

Image credit: Resin Floors North East

Underfloor heating can leave many people puzzled when it comes to ascertaining how they work and how they can benefit those who have them installed. Here we’ve taken the 10 most common questions concerning underfloor heating and provided the answers:

'How Underfloor Heating Works' diagram

  1. What are my options when it comes to underfloor heating?

There are two types of underfloor heating available, electric and wet. Electric underfloor heating consists of heat mats, packed with electric wires that warm up once connected to the mains electric supply and thermostat.

barn conversion loft bedroom with wood floor and underfloor heatingImage credit: William Beard Flooring

Wet underfloor heating utilises plastic pipes under the floor that heat up using warm water from the central heating system.

L-shaped sofa in front of a fire with Indian stone tiles with underfloor heatingImage credit: Llama Developments

  1. Where can I buy underfloor heating?

Your local DIY store probably stocks underfloor heating kits that you can pick up off the shelf, but we recommend that you speak to an expert, such as The Underfloor Heating Store and visit their showroom to witness the benefits of such a system for yourself.

kitchen underfloor heating

  1. How much does underfloor heating cost to install?

Prices vary depending on whether you opt for an electric or a wet system, but you can buy electric heat mat kits from £74.99 or a wet underfloor kit from £239.99. Then there’s the cost of installation, tools and labour for electricians and plumbers: put aside £400 as a starting point.

Tiled floor with underfloor heating in a bathroomImage credit: VIP Plumbing & Heating

  1. How much does underfloor heating cost to run?

This varies on the size of the room and the system used, but you are looking at an average cost of £248 per year, based on 25m underfloor heating running for four hours everyday for a year.

Bedrom with grey walls, tall feature window and wooden floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: Architecture Live

  1. Which underfloor heating system is best?

Both systems can heat the room to the same temperature. However, bear in mind that a wet system is cheaper to run than an electric even though it requires more work to install.

Wet systems are also more energy efficient, a traditional central heating system requires the water it uses to be heated to 80°C, whereas an underfloor heating system requires just 45°-60°C and will still heat a room to a comfortable 21°C, with no cold spots. This will save you money in the long run and reduce your carbon footprint.

Grey and yellow kitchen-diner with underfloor heating Image credit: Avocado Sweets

  1. How long does underfloor heating take to warm up?

This all depends on the thickness of the floor, the insulation you lay down and how well insulated the room itself is. The general consensus estimates that it takes around 30 minutes to heat a wooden floor but can take a few hours with an un-insulated, concrete floor.

kitchen with vintage industrial stools on a grey rubber floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: Chris Dyson

  1. Can I install underfloor heating myself?

Anyone can install underfloor heating and treat it much like any DIY project. You will, however, require a qualified electrician or plumber to connect your system to the mains electricity or central heating system.

open plan, white-washed, light-filled lounge with wooden floorImage credit: The Bazeley Partnership

  1. What size of kit do I need for my room?

The Underfloor Heating Store recommends that you buy an underfloor heating kit that covers between 80-85% of the free floor space in the room to reduce the occurrence of cold spots. It is also important that you do not order too much if you are using rolled heating mats because you cannot simply cut the cables.

large kitchen with central island and polished tiled floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: DDWH Architects

  1. What floors can underfloor heating be used with?

You can install underfloor heating beneath most flooring solutions, tiles, vinyl, laminate and even carpet can all be laid over underfloor heating, just bear in mind that better insulation is required for thicker floors.

Cream fitted kitchen with tiled floor and underfloor heatingImage credit: P & P Maintenance Services

  1. Can I put furniture on top of underfloor heating?

Most free-standing furniture is fine to place on top of an underfloor heating system. Just be careful when placing items such as thick rugs or dog beds in the room because they can trap heat and cause issues.

Now you know the answers to the most commonly asked questions, it’s time to get your very own kit laid in the conservatory, in the kitchen or even the bedroom and enjoy toasty floors underfoot!

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