Beautifully engineered wood? Sleek tiles? Or perhaps a unique-looking cork surface? We are of course talking about choosing different flooring options, which can be one of the most daunting tasks for any space, residential or otherwise.
There are so many materials to choose from, each with its own look, style, pros and cons. But of course other factors also need to be considered, like the type of room said flooring material is needed for – after all, selecting a flooring material for the living room will differ considerably from choosing one for the bathroom, for instance.
And wouldn’t it be better if you knew a little something about floors before you contact a professional flooring expert?
To help make choosing a new floor for your home a little easier, we’ve narrowed the choices down to the 8 most popular flooring options.
Which one will you pick?
Hardwood remains one of the best options when it comes to flooring options, seeing as it can fit in with any style, from traditional and country to modern and Asian. And let’s not forget that hardwood is durable, warm, and possesses a natural look and feel.
Oak remains the most popular choice for hardwood floors, yet cherry and Tasmanian oak are also becoming trendy options.
Best of all? Hardwood floors are available in a variety of colours and finishes, plus numerous styles like plank, parquet and pre-finished boards that you can install yourself.
Much easier to install than solid-wood hardwood floors (and also less costly), laminate floors is fast becoming a firm favourite in South African households. Laminate floors are so named because they're composed of different wood-based materials that are layered (or laminated) together, then topped with a wood-grain photographic imprint on the face of each board.
Engineered wood floors are a variation of true laminate flooring. Engineered wood consists of a real hardwood veneer attached to a number of plywood layers. This does work out more expensive than laminate, as the top layer is real wood instead of a photographic imprint. And it is this top layer of wood which gives engineered wood floors a much more convincing sound, feel and look than laminate.
The fact that bamboo is not a tree but actually a lightweight woody grass is one of the main factors which differentiates it from hardwood floors. This fast-growing, regenerating plant is known for its sturdiness, making it a highly durable option that resists swelling and contraction with changes in humidity.
Another advantage is the fact that bamboo takes just three to five years to reach maturity, while old-growth hardwoods can take 120 years to grow to full size.
Like standard solid wood flooring, bamboo flooring is pre-finished and engineered with tongue-and-groove joints.
Like bamboo, cork is a green flooring alternative. Its honeycomb-like cellular structure gives the flooring a cushiony feel underfoot which enhances its popularity. This distinctive structural characteristic also causes cork floors to absorb vibrations and sound, plus they bounce back if dented.
Cork flooring is available in pre-finished tiles in various finishes. What’s more, these tiles are ideal for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, as they have a natural, non-slip surface.
As ‘going green’ is the current trend, that explains linoleum’s popularity. This flooring option is considered eco-friendly because it's made from all natural materials (primarily linseed oil, rosins and wood flour) and does not deplete forests. And as linoleum is composed of natural materials, it creates no adverse health issues during production, installation, use or disposal.
Linoleum is also a prime choice for spaces that require the utmost cleanliness, like hospitals, for the bactericidal properties of natural linoleum stop microorganisms from multiplying. In addition to the health benefits, linoleum flooring is anti-static, reducing the potential for electric shock. It is also water-, ding- and scratch-resistant, plus is easy to clean, comfortable underfoot and available in tiles in a wide range of vibrant colours, which can be combined to create unique patterns.
Available in a wide range of choices, tile’s most popular options seem to be porcelain, terra cotta, natural stone, marble, granite, travertine or slate. If budget is a concern, porcelain is the most cost-effective choice. It combines the beauty and hardness of stone, yet costs much less and is much easier to maintain than marble, which is porous and must periodically be resealed.
For areas prone to heavy traffic (like entryways and hallways), glazed porcelain is durable enough.
Forming part of the 21st century’s ‘green’ choices is vinyl. It is especially popular for rooms that are prone to moisture issues, such as basements, bathrooms and kitchens.
Aiding in its popularity is the fact that vinyl is very easy to clean and ensures a softer underfoot feeling than tile. It is also available as sheets and self-stick tiles, and it is sold in a variety of widths and thicknesses.
Keep in mind that the thicker the vinyl, the more traffic it can bear.
Concrete has always been a popular choice for floors, yet with today’s wide range of sealers and specialty stains, ordinary plain and grey concrete can be stamped and stained to resemble anything from polished marble to tumbled stone.
And let’s not forget that it’s one of the best options for long-lasting durability and low-maintenance flooring. It's also the ideal choice for radiant heat.
➤Read more: Concrete floors, 38 beautiful examples
When it comes to South African flooring professionals, Johannesburg-based WanabiWood is a prime choice to consider. This dynamic, innovative and personalised wholesale company specialises in sustainable flooring and is proud to be a premium supplier and importer of sustainable flooring solutions to residential and commercial environments, both nationally (Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban, Eastern Cape and Western Cape) and internationally.
The experts at WanabiWood research, discuss trends, design, test and produce products within the flooring industry that offer beautiful results with as little impact on the environment as possible. Important factors that are always considered in the development process include:
• technical performance
• easy installation
• water resistance
• slip resistance
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