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How to choose the right type of flooring for your dream interior design?

Updated: Oct 19, 2021



The type of flooring you opt for in your home will act as a backdrop of your design scheme. You should always choose flooring based on the design scheme of the room. For example, a white marble floor is the best choice for a minimalistic theme. Or a solid wooden floor goes well with a countryside, rustic theme. Your decision is likely to be directed by your home style and also led by your budget.


The varieties of flooring available in the market include vinyl, linoleum, rubber, laminate, engineered wood, solid wood, bamboo, cork, stone tile, carpet, etc.


1. Vinyl

Vinyl flooring, also known as PVC, is a printed plastic material that highly mimics hardwood and natural stone. It comes in planks, sheets and tiles.

Pros:

  • Incredibly durable

  • Comfortable

  • Water resistance. It works well in damp areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms and basements.

  • Sound absorbency

  • Pet safe due to scratch resistance

  • Anti-slip surface

  • Easy to install

  • Easy to clean and maintain

  • Excellent value for money. It is the half price of wood flooring solution.

  • Highly mimic effect of stone and wood. It comes in variety of looks.


Cons:

  • Fade in the sun. It is vulnerable to sunlight exposure.

  • Doesn't add value to your home. Vinyl doesn't last a lifetime that wood flooring would.

  • Can be damaged by sharp and heavy things due to its soft surface.

  • Hard to remove

  • Hard to repair


2. Linoleum

Linoleum flooring, also called lino flooring, is a flooring covering made from materials that are recyclable and renewable, such as linseed oil, tree resin and pigments. It comes in sheet or tile, which is a great alternative to vinyl flooring.


Pros:

  • Very durable. Lino flooring can last up to 40 years with proper care.

  • Holding colours and patterns extremely well.

  • Zero VOCs emission

  • Eco-friendly material. It is biodegradable and non-toxic which means that a linoleum flooring is safe for your health. It can also be recycled.

  • Little maintenance. It only requires occasional sweeping and mopping.


Cons:

  • Susceptible to moisture

  • Slippery. New waxed linoleum flooring can be slippery.

  • Can get dent by high heels and furniture legs


3. Rubber

Rubber flooring is a long-lasting resilient material that lasts an average of 20 years.

It comes in rolls, mats and tiles.



Pros:

  • Flexibility and durability

  • Comfort

  • Water and stain resistance

  • Little maintenance

  • Sound absorbency

  • Versatility. It comes in a variety of colours and options

  • Sustainability. It is harvested from rubber sap that comes out of rubber trees.


Cons:

  • Smell in the first couple of months after installation

  • Difficult installation


4. Laminate

Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic plastic flooring product fused together with a lamination process. It is a composite flooring material that lasts for 25 years and alternative to solid hardwood flooring. Its surface looks like wood or natural stone. The laminate surface finishes include solid coloured, gloss, matt, textured, embossed, leather, metallic finishes, etc.




Pros:

  • Stain resistance

  • Inexpensive

  • Easy to install

  • Easy to clean and maintain

  • Mimic of wood and natural stone


Cons:

  • Susceptible to moisture damage

  • Fake appearance

  • Hard and noisy underfoot. Laminate flooring does not absorb sound well and can have a hollow sound when you walk on it, particularly high heels.



5. Engineered Wood

Engineered wood is man-made wood that is formed by binding soft or hard wood waste like veneers, fibres, boards, etc. with adhesive. The engineered wood surface finishes include oiled, lacquered, hand scraped, whitewashed, smoked/fumed, stained/coloured, unfinished finishes, etc.

  • Oiled finish highlights the natural wood grain and provides a natural matt look. The wood is coated in drying oil to act as a protector against spills and dirt and wear and tear. The wood can be coated in a clear oil or a coloured oil. The clear oil remains the natural colour of the wood no matter how many times you sand it. The coloured oil looses its colour when you sand it.

  • Brushed and Oiled finish consists of removing the softer grains of the wood using a wire brush and then coating the wood with oil to create a highly textured surface with a rustic and aged look.

  • UV Oiled finish gives a slightly silky finish to the wood by exposing the oil to high capacity UV lights.

  • Lacquered finish gives a glossy, smooth look to the wood.

  • Satin Lacquered finish provides a glossy, silky and smooth look.

  • Matt Lacquered finish gives a more subdued shine to the wood.

  • Brush and Lacquered finish consists of removing the softer grains of the wood using a wire brush and then coating the wood with lacquer to create a textured surface with a slightly smooth.

  • UV Lacquered finish gives the wood added protection from sunlight and a silky finish by exposing the lacquer to high capacity UV lights.

  • Hand Scraped finish gives an aged/worn look to the wood. Hand scraped wood flooring come in a range of colour, helping hide any scratches on the floor.

  • Whitewashed finish adds lightness to the wood and highlights the grain.

  • Smoked/Fumed finish develops dark rich colours. It varies from gold brown to black colours.

  • Stained/Painted/Coloured finish adds the colour to the top layer of the wood.

  • Unfinished finish is only treated and dried. It's ready for you to add your own touch.



Pros:

  • Light weight

  • Affordable

  • Moisture resistance and temperature fluctuations. It can be great to be installed in kitchens because it doesn't expand and contract like solid wood.

  • Diversity. It comes in a variety of looks and colours.

  • Authentic look.

  • Installation over under floor heating



Cons:

  • Prone to cracks and wraps. It lacks the expanding or contracting feature. of solid wood

  • Prone to decay



6. Solid Wood

Solid wood is wood that has been cut from a tree.


Softwood is cut from gymnosperm, for example coniferous trees (pine, cedar, spruce, larch and fir). It provides around 80% of all timber and usually comes in long rectangle forms, such as planks, posts and rails. Softwood is commonly used in construction, in the roof and inner walls, structures, as well as in other building components, such as fixtures and fittings, doors.


Hardwood is cut from angiosperm, such as oak. mahogany, ash, beech and birch. It is typically used in furniture and flooring. Hardwood has a complex structure and it can show rings and grain. If you cut a hardwood tree horizontally, you will notice the annual growth rings. If you cut it vertically, you'll notice the grain.



Pros:

  • Timeless and classic look

  • Available in different varieties of species, colours and patterns

  • Value booster for resale

  • Easy maintenance

  • Better indoor air quality

  • Long-term investment

  • Durability. You have to replace carpet or vinyl flooring after a certain period of time, but you don't need to replace solid wood because it is ageless.

  • Good acoustics. It can absorb sound very well.

  • Sustainability. Solid wood is biodegradable, which means it is good to the environment.

  • Kid-friendly option. Solid wood is good for babies because it is non-toxic and harmless.


Cons:

  • Prone to water damage and mould. In humid and wet environment, solid wood-floor tends to expand.

  • Scratches. Floor can be easily scratched if you have pet at home.

  • Prone to termite attack

  • Limited usage. Solid wood is not suitable in the areas with moisture.

  • Cupping and crowning due to the moisture content intrusion. Wood can extend. The expansion results in damaging the board’s edges.

  • Clicking and creaking noises

  • High maintenance. Solid wood flooring needs to be polished every three or four years.


Installation

The installation of man-made and hardwood flooring requires the acoustical underlayment that helps absorb sound transmission including sounds from walking around it and protect against moisture mildew and mold. The underlayment also smooths out minor imperfections in your subfloor, leading to a more stable and supported floor. Before you lay down the underlayment, make sure your subfloor is level clean and perfectly dry.


Maintenance

Wood floor sanding is the process of removing the old finish from the surface of the floor as wooden floors tend to wear and tear due to everyday use and heavy footfall, helping remove imperfections. This means the wood will age over time. In general, solid wood and engineered wood can go through up to 4-5 sanding treatments during their lifespans. Once the finish is removed, the next step is to seal the floor and apply new coats of a protecting product.


7. Bamboo

Bamboos are a diverse group of evergreen perennial flowering plants in the subfamily Bambusoideae of the grass family Poaceae.



Pro:

  • Durability

  • Variety

  • Eco-friendly

  • A natural material

  • Easy to maintain

  • Low cost


Cons:

  • Susceptible to scratches and dings.

  • Susceptible to water damage.

  • Limited to a few tonal shades.


8. Cork

Cork is a natural flooring option that comes from cork trees.



Pros:

  • Flexible and soft

  • Environmentally friendly and sustainable

  • Mold and mildew resistance

  • Heat absorbency

  • Easy installation


Cons:

  • Prone to water damage

  • Fade over time.

  • Damaged by heavy use.

  • Expensive.


9. Tiles

There are natural stone tiles, such as limestone, marble, granite, lava, slate and quartzite, and man-made stone tiles, such as quartz, terrazzo, ceramic and porcelain tiles, commonly being used for flooring in interiors. The finishes of stone tiles include polished tiles, honed tiles, tumbled tiles and brushed tiles.


The pros and cons of tile flooring materials will be clarified in other posts.


Installation

The installation of tile flooring requires the tile underlayment membrane that is installed between tiles and the subfloor and boosts the durability of your tiles. The underlayment also smooths out minor imperfections in your subfloor, leading to a more stable and supported floor. Uncoupling membrane is commonly used when laying tile over concrete. Before you lay down the underlayment membrane, make sure your subfloor is level clean and perfectly dry.



10. Carpet

A carpet is a textile floor covering typically consisting of an upper layer of pile attached to a backing. The pile was made from wool and synthetic fibres such as polypropylene, nylon or polyester.


Pros:

  • Warmth and comfort

  • Safety. Carpet softens slips and falls, making a good option for home with children.

  • Available in different colours and style options


Cons:

  • Shorter lifespan than other flooring materials

  • Sensitivity. Carpet is easy to attract dirt and stains.

  • Allergies. Carpet is highly susceptible to allergens such as mold, dust mites.

  • Style & Trends

  • Maintenance. Carpet requires a high level of maintenance.



In conclusion, choosing flooring material is a long term investment. After weighing the pros and cons of these flooring materials, I hope it will help you choose the right flooring with confidence for your ideal home.


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