Laying out the options

With flooring being the first thing you feel underfoot every morning, it’s important to consider all factors when specifying a floor that works within your home. Here, leading suppliers Quick-Step and Abingdon Flooring provide their insights into the options when it comes to LVTs 

Above all else, flooring has the ability to make life a little easier. One that’s difficult to look after or which scratches easily will soon become tired and drab, regardless of what room it’s in. But in open plan spaces, easy maintenance is even more important. Increasingly, Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) – vinyl planks or tiles – are being chosen in open plan living for this very reason. They are easy to clean and the best examples have a tough finish that adds stain and scratch resistance – ideal for the trials of kitchen areas, as well as day to day life.  

From a design view, LVT are versatile and this is another reason for choosing it in open plan areas. Available in modern tile effects like concrete, traditional stone tiles, wood planks, herringbone and much more, LVT make it possible to embrace different flooring looks within the same area. In many instances this simply isn’t practical in original natural materials, and it would certainly be very costly to carry out.  

As long as you choose one vinyl range from a single manufacturer, an LVT floor is likely to respond to climatic conditions in much the same way. This means you can mix materials – framing kitchen areas in a smart concrete and using a more laid-back wood plank in more relaxed areas – giving a personal touch and breaking up the space effectively without fear of incompatibility. Of course, you can also use the same wood or stone LVT for a fully flowing floor throughout your open plan area, knowing that it’s going to be easy to look after and tough enough to withstand the odd knock.

The unique considerations of open plan living certainly make it harder to use original materials. But that’s not to say that there aren’t occasions where the allure of natural floors can come up trumps. For some homeowners the originality makes the extra care needed worth the price and the ‘lived in’ feel that only comes with real wood is certainly unmistakable. In living and dining spaces where a warm and welcoming feel is needed, it can be hard to better a genuine wood floor. 

Fortunately, most of the wood floors you find today will use an engineered construction where a hardwood top layer – often oak – is teamed with a softwood base. The result is a wood floor that’s easier to install, less susceptible to climate, and still gives that all-important original natural look. 

A few years ago, if you wanted to keep wood floor maintenance to a minimum the only choice was a glossy lacquer that took away some of the floor’s natural appeal. Now, the best finishes give that desirable matt look but offer all the durability and maintenance of a hard wearing lacquer. It’s really the best of both worlds – a wood floor that looks natural but that stays relatively easy to look after. Of course, no matter how good the finish, wood is still a natural material, so it needs a closer eye on it in terms of care. Whether that’s an effort worth taking will ultimately be decided by your preference for originality. 

There’s perhaps only one place where wood is off limits, and that’s the bathroom. It’s simply not capable of withstanding the rapid changes in temperature and humidity. For obvious reasons, ceramic is a popular option here, but it’s not without its drawbacks as it can be difficult to install and tends to be noisy, so it’s worth considering LVT floors again. If installed properly, LVT can bring a smart wood or stone effect – maybe even a striking marble look if it takes your fancy – that’s relatively simple to install, water-resistant, cost-effective and great for bathroom use. 

If the thought of a plastic floor doesn’t sit comfortably with you, then the latest laminate floors are also an option for bathroom use. With textures that look and feel just like the real thing, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between genuine wood and stone, but with the best options guaranteed for bathroom use, you’re certainly going to benefit from a floor that’s easy to look after. With laminate, there’s no porous surface to contend with, it’s almost a case of fit (which is pretty simple too) and forget. Unsurprisingly, laminate’s durability and easy maintenance makes it a great hard flooring option in kitchens, dining rooms, hallways and living areas.

While hard flooring dominates the downstairs and wins in bathrooms, there’s no denying that the UK is still firmly committed to the warmth and feel of carpet when it comes to bedrooms. The choice is absolutely huge with wool, polyester and polypropylene yarns giving something at every price point. Really, where you go with carpet is down to your budget, and the look you are after. 

Stain-resistant polypropylene is affordable and practical, but can lack something of the modern finesse of the best polyester yarns which have a super silky feel. Just like wood, wool has a natural look that’s seemingly impossible to recreate. The best wool carpets do come at a price though however blended wool yarns offer a more affordable option. But it’s always worth paying attention to the mix as the actual wool content can be as low as five per cent. In these instances, a man made polypropylene carpet might be a better option as it has a similar appearance, and you’ll likely benefit from some kind of stain protection.

This article was supplied by Quick-Step and Abingdon Flooring