Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Flooring is one of the most important finishes of the interior. It has to be aesthetically pleasing, be appropriate for the intended use, be comfortable to walk on, and be safe. Also consider the durability of a flooring and its environmental sustainability. The cost of flooring varies greatly; keep your budget in mind when making your selection. Once you have made your floor choice for each space, add this into your chart of your wall finishes and ceilings.
The floor of your home can be sunk lower in an area or raised up. Lowering or raising your floor in an area creates a separation of that area without walls. Consider accessibility of an area if you are planning to raise or lower a part of the floor.
The variety of types of flooring available is too great to cover comprehensively here; below is a list and some attributes of the most common choices.
Wood flooring can be either solid or engineered. Engineered wood flooring has a wood veneer over a wood composite core, which makes it more stable than solid wood floor. There are many different wood species available. Choose a domestic species rather than a exotic one to be more environmentally sustainable. Not all wood species are appropriate over a heated floor. Wood flooring expands and contracts depending on the moisture content in the air, which sometimes results in cracks getting larger during the winter. Engineered flooring doesn't expand as much as solid wood flooring. Wood flooring scratches relatively easily and might not be suitable for pets. Wood flooring is expensive to purchase and the installation is costly as well.
Bamboo flooring comes in either stranded, horizontal or engineered flooring. Stranded bamboo flooring is made by shredding the bamboo into strands and then compressing them into sheets using a resin binder. Horizontal bamboo floor is made by cutting strips and gluing them together to make planks. Bamboo behaves much like hardwood floors. It expands and contracts depending on the moisture content of the air. Bamboo grows quickly and can be harvested every five to six year, which make it a easily renewal
Laminated flooring is available in many colors and finishes. It is durable and more scratch resistant than wood flooring. Water resistant laminate flooring is also available and a great choice for areas where moisture might be a concern such as kitchens, basements, and entries. The cost of laminate flooring varies widely as does the quality. A lower quality is appropriate for bedrooms and other rooms where there isn't a lot of wear. However, choose a medium to high quality for rooms with lots of traffic.
Cork flooring is very comfortable to walk and stand on as it provides some cushioning. It is available in different colors. Cork flooring is relatively soft and heavy furniture will leave dents in the flooring. It feels warm to the touch.
Ceramic, Porcelain and stone tiles are available in different textured finishes, colours, and patterns. Tiles generally feel cold to the touch and are hard, which makes them very durable although hard impacts can crack them. Some tiles have a recycled content, which makes them more environmentally sustainable. Tiles can also effectively add to the thermal mass for passive solar heating. Consider installing in-floor heating underneath tiles.
Carpet, whether wall to wall or carpet tiles, helps to control the noise in spaces. It reduces the sounds of footsteps and absorbs other sounds as well. Carpet adds a soft texture to a space giving it a warm feel.
Some carpets contain a percentage of recycled content and are recyclable which improves the environmental sustainability of carpets. The main drawback of carpets is their cleanability.
SPC, Stone Plastic Composite or Rigid Core Vinyl Flooring, is completely waterproof. SPC flooring mimics the appearance of wood or tile floor. It is durable and appropriate for moist areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, entries, and basements.
Vinyl is a cost effective solution for wet areas. It comes in a variety of colours and finishes. It is easy to install and suitable for floors with lots of movement such as in seasonal homes.
Concrete is a cost effective, durable solution for homes on a slab. The concrete for your slab can be polished and textured to serve as a finished floor. Different finish textures and colours are available. Like tiles, concrete feels cold to the touch, but offers an efficient thermal mass for passive solar heating. Concrete has a high embodied energy and is not environmentally sustainable, but if existing concrete is finished as flooring it reduces the need for additional flooring material.
Next week we will have an enlightening look at lighting!