Choosing the right floors for your home can be a bit of an ordeal if you're not prepared for it. A floor after all, is quite a permanent fixture in a home! In most cases it's not easily replaced once installed, and it can be very expensive to change your mind or fix mistakes later down the line. When deciding what you’re going to go for, there are a number of important points you’ll have to consider.
Choose a look
To get the obvious out of the way first, you need to decide what kind of look you want to achieve. This will be the first step for most people and is part of the picture in their head of their ideal surface, whether it’s a plush carpet or elegant parquetry. It may change from room to room; carpet isn’t the easiest surface to clean in a kitchen for example, but a general feel and preference towards a look will be there. Think about how your house will handle light distribution and whether the walls are closed and narrow or you have wide open rooms.
Choose a feel
Texture and comfort are generally next on people’s list of desires. Think about how you use your floor now, and how it might be used in the future. Do you wear shoes in the house? Do you have small children or elderly occupants? Some people prefer the spongy softness of carpet underfoot; others prefer the solid feel of hard floorboards. Don’t forget to consider the acoustics of your house too. How far is the sound of footfall likely to carry? A poorly insulated floor can be a big drain on heating and cooling bills. How well does the floor regulate heat? Will it leave you freezing in winter and boiling in summer?
The clean up
Once you’ve decided on the look and feel, you’re probably leaning towards one or two varieties of surfaces. The next thing you should consider is how easy the floor will be to clean and how durable it’s going to be in the long term. A floor that requires a lot of heavy maintenance to keep it looking great will ultimately become a burden, but a floor that looks terrible even after heavy maintenance will frustrate you even more. Scratch resistance an important consideration for just about every flooring type except for carpet, which is subject to its own set of unique maintenance requirements.
Once the ideal floor surfaces are firmly set in your mind, it’s time to see if it’s they're realistic. Hand-carved mahogany parquetry with mother-of-pearl inlay throughout your house might seem like a great idea, but for most this will be at the extreme end of the price scale. Vinyl is a much cheaper way to achieve a look like that, provided you can find a pattern that suits your requirements.
Safety and commonsense
Though the adage states ‘Safety first,’ most people tend to think of safety after everything else. Safety should still be an important consideration though, especially when dealing with very solid floors like stone or tiles. Slip resistance, moisture resistance and in some cases cushioning should all be weighed in with the rest of the decision making process.