Exploring the Various Types and Materials of Flooring
Flooring is an important aspect of designing or renovating a building. Not only does it improve aesthetics, but it also enhances the functionality of a space.
Various flooring materials are available on the market, from laminate, hardwood, and carpet to tiles.
We’ll explore the various flooring types and materials, highlighting their unique qualities to help you make an informed buying decision.
Laminate flooring is a low-maintenance composite flooring material. It’s made up of 3 layers: the base layer (plywood or fibreboard), the image layer, and the wear layer.
Laminate flooring usually looks like wood, but it’s not real wood. And you can also find variants that resemble stone or metal.
The flooring material is durable, thanks to its protective layers. It’s UV resistant and can be waterproofed. Also, it can handle high amounts of foot traffic.
Glueless Laminate Flooring
This is a popular type of laminate flooring, also known as click and lock. It’s designed with male and female edges that snap together when placed correctly. Because it doesn’t require glue or nails, you can easily remove and install it.
Glued Laminate Flooring
The glued laminate flooring comes as plain boards that require a flooring adhesive to secure them to the subfloor. It offers more stability and is suitable for areas with high foot traffic.
Pre-Glued Laminate Flooring
This type of laminate comes with a sticker behind the panels. You’ll peel the sticker and press down the panel to stick it to the subfloor. Unlike glued laminate flooring, this type doesn’t require any adhesives.
Vinyl flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring material that’s popular for its ability to resist moisture. As a result, you can install it anywhere, including the kitchen and bathroom. The flooring offers a variety of textures and colours.
And it also mimics the appearance of wood, marble, stone, tiles, and other luxury options.
The sheet vinyl flooring is a patterned wide roll with few seams. It’s suitable for large rooms requiring waterproofing at an affordable cost. You can glue it down, lay it over an underlayment, or bond it around the perimeter of the room.
Also known as vinyl composite tiles (VCT), vinyl tiles take the semblance of ceramic or stone tiles. Although they’re relatively inexpensive, the seams between each tile reduce the moisture resistance of the flooring material.
Luxury Vinyl Tile or Plank
Unlike vinyl sheets and tiles, luxury vinyl is thicker and designed with 3D printers to produce a realistic stone or wood appearance.
Wood flooring is a permanent type of flooring that’s made with natural or composite wood. Wood is versatile and available in different colours, styles, and species, such as oak, pine, and cherry.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Floors made from solid hardwood consist of solid planks pieced together in a tongue and groove style. Although it’s prone to dents and scratches, you can re-sand it numerous times, extending its lifespan.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
This water-resistant solid hardwood alternative has real wood on its top surface. However, you can’t re-sand or refinish it if there are dents.
Carpet is a natural or synthetic textile floor covering material. It provides insulation and underfoot softness and is more affordable compared to vinyl, laminate, and wood flooring. Although it’s easy to maintain, it stains easily and could be damaged by dampness or moisture.
Loop Pile Carpet
The fibres of a loop pile carpet are made into small loops to create a stain-resistant surface for high-foot traffic areas.
Cut Pile Carpet
The ends of the yarns are cut, creating a denser and softer material that’s easy to clean. Some variations include plush, Saxony, and frieze (shag) carpets.
Stone flooring is made from natural stones like limestone, granite, slate, and marble. It’s naturally hardwearing and resistant to humidity.
Marble is popular due to its luxurious look. It has a smooth texture and a translucent glow. But it can be slippery when wet and catches stains easily.
Granite is the most durable type of stone flooring. It’s resistant to scratches, spills, and stains, making it ideal for kitchens, boot rooms, and hallways.
Slate is a great heat conductor, water-resistant, and easy to clean. It’s quite cheap compared to other types of stone flooring.
Limestone lends its rustic appearance to any room it’s installed. It could be coarse or smooth and comes in different natural colours, from white to pitch black, which covers dirt, spills, and stains in busy rooms.
Travertine is the product of passing limestone through bubbling hot spring water. It shares similar characteristics with limestone and marble. However, it’s slip resistant, which makes it suitable for pool decks and bathrooms.
Concrete isn’t just a flooring material for patios, garages, and basements but also a decorative flooring surface. If properly installed and maintained, the flooring is strong, lasts long, and is fire-resistant.
When polished, concrete creates a glassy surface resistant to contamination, spills, and moisture. The flooring is durable and requires little maintenance.
In its natural form, concrete is plain. But staining with an acid or water-based stain creates a variety of colours and styles that add shine and richness that won’t fade or chip off.
Epoxy-coated concrete has a glossy finish and is resistant to stains, moisture, spills, and chemicals. Also, it’s slip resistant and can be installed in kitchens and bathrooms.
Resin flooring is an exceptionally hard-wearing surface ideal for areas with high foot and vehicle traffic and exposure to chemicals and spills. It’s aesthetically pleasing, durable, and has an anti-slip property.
Epoxy Resin Flooring
Epoxy bonds to the concrete base, protecting it from chemicals, wear, and water ingress.
Polyurethane is a thermoset resin; it withstands direct heat and high temperatures. Hence its suitability for industrial kitchens where ovens and other hot appliances are used.
PMMA (Polymethyl Methacrylate)
PMMA is popularly known as acrylic glass in the UK. It can be customised to meet industry needs, such as resistance to electricity, chemicals, and slip.
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is made from several PVC vinyl sheets mixed with other compounds to improve its hardness. Its multiple layers offer stability, which prevents moisture absorption and expansion of the flooring material.
This LVT required the application of a special adhesive to stick it down to the floor. The bond is permanent and secure, offering the stability needed for high foot traffic areas.
Loose Lay LVT
Loose lay doesn’t require glue or locks during installation. It sticks to the floor by friction, but you can apply glue at the room’s corners to keep the planks in position.
Rigid Core LVT
The rigid core LVT has a highly stable core layer resistant to moisture, expansion, and contraction.
Linoleum flooring, shortened to Lino, is a combination of several organic materials such as wood flour, linseed oil, cork powder, and pine resin. It’s eco-friendly, versatile, and durable.
Materials Used in Flooring
The materials used in flooring could be natural or synthetic.
Natural flooring materials are renewable, durable, and resilient. Some popular options are:
- Wood: It can be soft or hardwood, but the latter is more preferred. Some commonly used hardwoods include oak, walnut, and maple.
- Stone: Exudes luxury and comes in various textures, patterns, and colours. Marble, slate, and granite are among the natural stones used in flooring.
- Cork: This renewable material is extracted from the bark of the Cork oak tree. It’s anti-allergen and sound-proof and provides insulation.
Synthetic flooring materials mimic the appearance of natural materials, but they aren’t renewable. However, they’re resistant to stains and moisture. It’s also manufactured to suit the preferences of customers. Common types of synthetic flooring materials are:
- Vinyl: It takes the appearance of most natural materials, allowing you to choose your desired flooring at an affordable cost.
- Laminate: This is a cheaper alternative to hardwood but can be made to look like stone.
- Carpet: This is the softest type of flooring. The fibres can be made with wool, nylon, or polyester.
Types of Flooring Finishes
Flooring finishes protect the underlayment and enhance the appearance of the floor surface. The common types of flooring finishes available are:
- Wax: It’s used on hardwood and natural stone flooring to prevent scratches, stains, and scuff marks.
- Epoxy: This finish is best for commercial areas with heavy foot traffic and exposure to chemicals.
- Polyurethane: It’s excellent for hardwood and could be water or oil-based. Most synthetic floorings are finished with polyurethane.
Flooring finishes are available in a wide range of colours. However, you should choose one based on the size and purpose of the room, your decor, and the flooring type.
- Light or grey tone is best for a relaxing room
- Red or black portrays elegance
- Brown gives a rustic feel
The common styles of flooring finishes are:
- Traditional: It’s classic, timeless, and involves intricate patterns like parquet and herringbone.
- Rustic: It replicates the appearance of reclaimed or aged wood
- Geometric and patterned: They introduce a bold element to the room. Examples include medallions and geometric shapes.
Top Flooring Choices
The top flooring choices available are wood, vinyl, and carpet. However, it’s up to you to decide the best flooring for your space.
Popular Flooring Options for Homeowners
Hardwood flooring is a classic feature in most homes. It’s timeless and has found its way into modern home designs. Irrespective of your interior design, hardwood blends in naturally.
Suitable Flooring for Different Environments
There are flooring options for residential and industrial buildings. For instance, vinyl is water-resistant and suitable for a home kitchen, while resin is resistant to heat and chemicals and suitable for an industrial kitchen.
Flooring Options for Residential Buildings
The best flooring options for residential buildings are vinyl, carpet, tiles, hardwood, linoleum, concrete, and laminate.
Kitchens require flooring that can withstand wear and tear because it’s a high foot traffic area. The best kitchen flooring options to choose from are ceramic tiles, natural stone, concrete, sealed hardwood, vinyl, and linoleum.
Living room flooring should be comfortable underfoot and easy to clean. Some great choices are carpet, stone, hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl.
Bathrooms call for waterproof floorings, such as porcelain or ceramic tile, natural stone, vinyl roll, stained concrete, and LVT.
The bedroom is a low-traffic area and requires flooring material that’s comfortable for bare feet. Some popular choices are carpet, hardwood, cork, linoleum, vinyl, and laminate.
Hallways take a lot of abuse, from dirty shoes to wet feet. So, they require hard-wearing flooring that’s resistant to moisture and easy to clean. These include engineered hardwood, vinyl roll, and luxury vinyl tile.
The best flooring for stairs should be non-slip, noise-proof, and waterproof. A suitable flooring is vinyl. Laminate and engineered hardwood would fit in, but they require noise-proofing.
Flooring Options for Commercial Buildings
Commercial buildings require flooring that can accommodate significant impact. The best options are concrete, epoxy, vinyl, and laminate.
Construction projects such as pavements and roads require aesthetically pleasing flooring that can resist damage. The commonly used flooring materials are concrete, PVC, epoxy resin, and linoleum.
Flooring options for offices should be resistant to wear and easy to repair and maintain without inconveniencing staff and clients. Some ideal flooring types for offices are carpet, laminate, ceramic tile, vinyl, and rubber.
Sports flooring should be able to absorb impact and reduce injury risks. The available options are vinyl, rubber, linoleum, maple hardwood, and polyurethane.
Factory floors should be non-slip and durable. The best floorings for factories are vinyl, concrete, and epoxy.
Cost of Flooring Materials
The cost of flooring materials in the UK varies based on location, type of flooring, brand, and quality.
|Flooring material||Price range per square metre|
|Hardwood||£35 – £120|
|Vinyl||£10 – £60|
|Carpet||£6 – £50|
|Laminate||£15 – £80|
|Ceramic tile||£15 – £80|
|Natural stone||£40 – £120|
|Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)||£20 – £70|
|Linoleum||£10 – £30|
|Concrete||£50 – £160|
Affordable Flooring Options
The cheapest flooring options available are vinyl, carpet, linoleum, tile, and laminate. They’re durable and cost-effective.
Expensive Flooring Options
The most expensive flooring options are hardwood, natural stone, concrete, and LVT. They add extra flair and elegance to any space.
Which Flooring Types Offer the Best Value for Money?
Vinyl offers the best value for money. It’s waterproof, durable, and can fit into any room. With little maintenance, vinyl can last up to 25 years. Another cost-effective flooring material to consider is carpet. It’s easy to clean and can last for 10 years.
Easy-to-Install Flooring Options
The flooring options with easy installation processes are pre-glued and glued laminate flooring, luxury vinyl tile, engineered hardwood, carpet, and cork.
Flooring Choices with Minimal Maintenance
The flooring options that are easy to maintain include ceramic and porcelain tile, natural stone, luxury vinyl tile,
Effective Cleaning Tips for Different Flooring
Different floors call for different cleaning methods. Here’s how to clean each floor type:
- Vinyl and Laminate: use a wet mop or neutral floor cleaner
- Carpet: regular vacuuming and spot cleaning
- Hardwood: regular sweeping and spot cleaning with a light cleaner especially made for hardwood
- Tile: use a wet mop and non-abrasive cleaner
- Concrete: use a stiff brush
Suitable Flooring Options for Homes with Children
If you’ve kids at home, you want to protect them from allergens and injuries. Therefore, suitable flooring to install includes hardwood, vinyl, laminate, cork, rubber, area rugs, and carpet.
Pet-Friendly Flooring Options
Pets could damage flooring with their claws and occasional spills and solid accidents, which would require thorough cleaning.
You can avoid the hassles of frequent cleaning and floor replacement with the following flooring options: natural stone, cork, luxury vinyl tile, vinyl, ceramic tile, and concrete.
Suitable Flooring for High-Traffic Areas
Spaces like the kitchen, living room, and hallway are high-traffic areas and require durable and easy-to-clean flooring. Suitable flooring options include laminate, concrete, engineered hardwood, porcelain tile, natural stone, and vinyl.
Water and Moisture Resistant Flooring Options
Water-resistant flooring provides a barrier that prevents moisture and water from seeping through. The ideal water and moisture-resistant floor options are tile, vinyl, and laminate. You can install them in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.
Choosing the right flooring for your building enhances its appearance and increases its resale value. We explored the different types of flooring for residential and commercial buildings, including homes with pets and kids.
And it’s important to use the right cleaning method for each type of flooring to prevent scratches and dents. Although some types of flooring are easier to install, you should hire a professional to get the best results.