The most common types of floor tiles are either porcelain or ceramic. Porcelain tiles are the denser and more water resistant of the two, and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Glazed ceramic tiles – made from natural clay – are best for interior use and, because they are easy to cut and lay, are often the best choice for DIY. There are hundreds of types of tiles – from those that look like slate, stone, marble and terra cotta to tiles that are digitally printed to look extraordinarily like timber! Tiles are reasonably priced, durable, easy to clean, cool in summer and can be laid over underfloor heating to provide winter warmth. On the downside, they’re fairly unforgiving in terms of dropped crockery and can be noisy – neither of which is a reason to reject them, since rugs and mats can solve both problems.
Hardwood timber is one of the most loved and traditional forms of flooring – it is highly durable, stain-resistant, easy to care for, long-lasting and warm. Today’s timber floors are produced from sustainable resources and a well-laid tongue-and-groove floor will not collect dust nor conceal dirt, making it a natural choice for asthma and allergy sufferers. However, solid timber is not an ‘instant’ floor – it needs to be cut to size, properly installed, sanded and sealed.
A traditionally laid solid timber floor is not always possible – or even desirable. So what’s the alternative? Have a look at laminates! Today’s laminate floors are made to look exactly like real timber, stone or tile – in an amazing array of styles, colours and even textures – but at about half the cost and without the maintenance associated with the genuine article. Laminate flooring comes in exactly the style and shade you want, it’s versatile, simple to install, very hard-wearing and resistant to stains and spills, and, best of all, is really easy to clean and maintain. Laminate floors are ‘floating’, that is, they’re laid over an underlay material that provides cushioning and helps to absorb the sound, but, unlike timber floors, they are not nailed down, nor glued like tiles. Rather, the planks are ‘clicked’ into each other, providing an impenetrable surface for your floor.
For a truly cost-effective, quick and easy way to transform a room, consider vinyl flooring. Vinyl is hard-wearing, warm underfoot and easy to install and maintain. It comes in a variety of colours and designs, and a range of qualities to suit every situation and budget. Choose from sheet vinyl that is rolled out and trimmed to fit your space, or self-adhesive vinyl planks that look just like wood. Both forms are laid over an existing floor.