Probably the most neglected element of a home, floors tend to get the last thought once all the decisions on paint, furniture and decor have been made. But few people understand the impact a floor has on a space and depending on what material is chosen, floors can truly transform a room for better or worse.
There are a few factors to consider when choosing a floor material for your space, namely the colour and texture of the material and how it relates to the rest of the design brief. You also want to think about cohesion—does the type of flooring you're considering suit the design style of the room? For example if your room is decorated in a modern minimalist style, perhaps rustic wooden floors aren't the best option for that space. Or if you're wanting to create a cozy feeling in a bathroom, you're not going to put a carpet in there but rather opt for water resistant tiles that mimic wood but are more durable.
Additionally you have to consider your local climate—humidity plays a big role in how laminated floors settle for example. If you're in a very dry, arid climate, then perhaps carpets aren't an ideal material to use on your floors as they retain a lot of heat.
The availability of the materials is also something to bear in mind. You want to make sure your contractor or supplier has enough material to complete the entire job and if they are importing them from outside your country, that they have received the entire shipment before starting on installation—you wouldn't want to change tile patterns half way through your house because there weren't enough tiles available.
Also consider that different rooms may require different types of flooring, for example, bathrooms and kitchens need non-slip tiles since those rooms are likely to get wet and slippery. Hiring a professional tiler for this job will be advisable as they will be able to help you chose a floor solution that is appropriate for these spaces.
Many homes in South Africa opt to install standard square tiles—they're affordable, easy to clean, durable and conventional. But I'd urge you to not settle for safe when it comes to your floors. There's a floor out there for every taste and budget.
South Africa has a wide range of income brackets and as such, there are also many flooring options that cater to every budget. Whether tile, laminate, vinyl or wood, you're bound to find a style and price point that suit your preference and budget.
The most popular in South Africa however, is definitely the laminate floors. Chosen for they affordability and ability to mimic the coveted hardwood floors, laminate flooring is ideal for families looking for a low maintenance flooring solution. Additionally, pets tend to find laminate floor appealing too and they keep them cool in the summer and owners don't have to worry about mud stains in winter or molting in summer. Installing it is also very easy and could even be done by a committed DIYer. If looked after properly and cleaned with the correct materials, laminate floors can last a long time.
Coming in at a close second place is the faithful a durable tile. Chosen for its ability to weather high traffic without losing its lustre, help keep the house cool in summer and be easy to clean during the rainy months, tiles are found in almost every South African home especially in areas like the kitchen and bathroom where some people even choose to carry the tile all the way up the wall. Coated with a special moisture resistant enamel, ceramic tiles are protected from the effects of direct sunlight, moisture and harsh cleaning products. With imported options at your disposal, there are a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from.
Vinyl flooring, similar to laminate flooring, is a less water resistant option but is very easy to clean. Using a strong adhesive, the panels can be directly adhered to the floor, creating a sound barrier which is ideal for duplexes or apartment buildings. It's available in rolls or tiles and can have almost any design printed on it such as wood or ceramics making it an affordable way to achieve a high-end look.
The most sought after floor material however is hardwood. Chosen by many South Africans because of its durability and stylish appeal—hardwood floors are usually the first option. Installing hardwood floors however can be quite expensive due to their ability to maintain a good appearance over time, so one would have to consider it an investment in your home as they certainly add value to the property once installed and if looked after properly. There are tons of textures and colors to choose from so your options are many. If your current home has hardwood floors that are unsightly, attempt to refinish them, add a stain and seal them to give them a new lease on life.
Modern styles should opt for the cool clean look of tiles to enhance the clean lines created by furniture in the space. If you're wanting something a bit warmer though—consider vinyl clip-together tiles that have a faux wood pattern to cozy up the space.
The minimalist style, similar to the modern style, requires a simple and elegant floor solution like lacquered concrete floors or stained hardwood floors.
While it obvious that the country style gravitates towards wooden floors, there is room to be adventurous in the colour stain that is used on the floors. There are a variety of options from greys to warm oak finishes. It is possible however to incorporate ceramic tiles in warm tones into a country style—even have underfloor heating installed to really add warmth to the space.
Mid century modern incorporates retro design styles and is ideal for creative executions of floors that you can get from vinyl. Imagine a graphic print or golf ball textured floor to add that retro feel into the room.
Understanding the commitment that comes with installing a floor, it's no surprise that most people hesitate when choosing one. But once you pick a floor solution that suits your space and your needs—you'll be happy you did.