It’s no secret to house-builders that specifying and finishing properties is a bit of a balancing act. On the one side, the property has to look great and push the right buttons with the target demographic. On the other: the budget. Sourcing all fixtures, fittings and finishes from the finest Chelsea boutiques is never an option.
That same balance applies to flooring, with the added caveat that this aspect of the décor is very much defined by the age, lifestyle and tastes of the eventual owner. Repainting and replacing fittings is relatively easy for the buyer. Tearing out the flooring is a different matter.
Below we explore the modern home room-by-room and look at some of today’s best options when speccing the floors.
Recipe for success in the kitchen
Berkeley White Oak – engineered wood flooring
The kitchen is possibly the hardest room to spec because it comprises so many elements – kitchen units, major appliances, worktops and splashbacks, as well as the flooring. Consequently, it may be harder to choose a floor fitting the wider décor theme, be that warm and rustic, modern and practical, or perhaps pure luxury. Another factor is whether the kitchen is a discreet space or part of an open plan concept.
Wood and stone flooring can be found in varieties that play well to either modern or more traditional kitchen spaces, bringing natural hues, patterns and textures into the home. Stone tiles may have slightly irregular surfaces and edges meaning wider grouting lines, which can collect dirt. However, many of today’s stone flooring materials can be sealed against stains making that less of a worry.
Like stone, engineered wood is a very attractive option in a kitchen with underfloor heating. The real wood wear layer looks fantastic, but in truth it can scratch and dent slightly more easily than other surfaces. For this reason, a water and stain resistant laminate is a sound alternative. Next generation laminates are a game changer in the kitchen. They come in a range of colours and styles emulating the look and feel of genuine wood, they have a surface resilient enough to withstand most dropped pots, and best of all are good value.
Ceramic or vinyl tiles lend themselves well to the kitchen scenario, and again a whole range of colours and styles are available. They are generally easy to clean and maintain, don’t stain easily and are good with underfloor heating. Ceramic can crack and chip, and some tiles don’t stand up well to years of heating up and cooling down if near an oven.
In an open plan scenario, a stone or ceramic kitchen zone juxtaposed with wood flooring in the living area is relatively budget-friendly and can deliver a lovely aesthetic with complementary décor such as wooden worktops. Polished concrete is on-trend at the moment, bringing an ultra-modern, ultra-urban aesthetic, but is pricy.
Creating liveable space in the living room
Harlech Rustic Oak – engineered wood flooring
The entry and living areas of the home are often where the décor for the rest of the property is defined. Therefore the specification decisions made here are likely to affect choices and budget constraints through into the kitchen, dining area and on into other rooms in the house. Open plan layouts may seem desirable but in some ways they add to the decision-making – will the flooring be used to create zones, or will a continuous floor surface be used to augment a sense of freedom while highlighting the extent of the space?
Where budgets allow, engineered wood flooring is the surface of choice for living areas in many newbuilds and conversions at the moment. Unlike solid wood, there’s no risk of it warping when laid over underfloor heating, it’s tough enough for high levels of footfall, and dust and pet hair is easily swept up. Natural wood floors can also be sanded and refinished many years into the life of the property. But most of all, buyers today think that wood finish looks great. As a specifier, the main questions are which colour and finish to go for. Richer and darker tones with a tooled or distressed finish lend to traditional or rustic schemes, while lighter woods and flat greys are more airy and contemporary. Parquet and herringbone patterns are on-trend and with certain demographics and could provide the touch that helps move a property.
Traditional carpets are not as popular as they once were but they do offer a cost-effective option. At slightly higher prices, natural floor coverings are an attractive substitute, such as woven jute, sisal and seagrass, and are largely hypoallergenic. For the eco-home market, bamboo flooring is 100% sustainable, has a 25-year lifespan and is compatible with underfloor heating. Like engineered wood, it’s a lovely choice for living and hallway areas.
Continuous flooring schemes that take in the hall, living room, dining room and sometimes the kitchen area are increasingly common – particularly in flats – and can help bring down material and installation costs. In a luxury context and for restorations, porcelain and ceramic tiles with traditional Arts and Crafts patterning make for highly desirable entryways, complemented by a nice set of specifically designed border tiles.
Making a splash – Bathroom floor options
Brecon Warehouse Oak – moisture-resistant laminate flooring
It’s hard to believe, but 20 years ago carpet and lino were standard bathroom floor coverings when newbuilds were specced. Today there’s a far greater range of more suitable flooring materials that deal better with water and humidity. They include everything from porcelain and ceramic options through to luxury vinyl tiles and engineered wood panels.
Alongside budget, target market is probably the most important factor for the specifier. Homes aimed at young families will need bathroom flooring that isn’t too slippery, and is capable of coping with splashes, spills and other mishaps without the worry of discolouration, damage or warping. Luxury vinyl tiles or even rubber can be solid options in this market, as well as a tough ceramic or the new moisture-resistant Brecon laminate from Woodpecker.
Non-slip bathroom surfaces are a key requirement in homes aimed at older residents – ideally using materials that are easily cleaned and maintained. A softer surface is also desirable in the event of falls, such as vinyl tiles – which can come with stone or wooden textures for better grip – as well as slip-resistant rubber surfacing.
Porcelain patterned tiles are a risky choice because, like carpet, colours and patterns really come down to personal taste. For the luxury bathroom, stone can give an impressive and natural feel, and many stone tiles can now be sealed for stain resistance. As with the above options, moisture-resistant laminate works well with underfloor heating and can lend a warmer, heritage feel or provide a more contemporary finish.
Bedrooms with a softer touch
Harlech Raw Oak – engineered wood flooring
When speccing a new or renovated home, neutral carpets in contemporary colours offer plenty of benefits. Number one among these is price. Homebuyers still largely expect carpet in the bedrooms as it looks and feels warmer and more comfortable than harder surfaces, and deadens noise very well.
Wood floors have become increasingly popular in bedrooms, with oak delivering a warm and traditional look and feel, which can be augmented by a choice of distressed finishes. Blonde woods give a more contemporary look, but greys, whites and blacks are riskier choices in most speccing scenarios. Again, it’s down to the buyer’s taste. For the wood effect but at a lower cost, for instance in a high turnover rental property, laminate flooring is a versatile option.
Potential buyers who see wooden flooring in the bedrooms of a home are often impressed, but will also be able to see the potential of area rugs if they want to personalise the space, boost comfort levels or dampen down noise.
Conserving conservatory flooring
Wembury Spring Oak – laminate flooring
Depending on the layout of the house and garden, a conservatory can form a second sitting room or it may be more of a portal leading to the garden, complete with muddy boots, watering cans, pet toys and stray garden tools. In either case, the most appropriate flooring is usually ceramic tiling or a laminate. Both are available in hardwearing varieties and with next generation laminates you have the benefit of a low cost option that is water and mud-resistant. As well as being resilient and easy to clean, ceramic tiles and laminate floors can introduce continuity to the space through natural colours and textures. Luxury vinyl tiles are another option, and can offer the same benefits.
Continuity can be an important theme when considering the transition from an indoor space such as the conservatory, kitchen or living room to an outdoor area such as the patio, decking or back lawn. When speccing certain properties it may be appropriate to apply surfaces that are similar in colour and texture both inside and outside. A conservatory or dining area that appears to continue out onto a back patio when the doors are open can generate a sense of freedom and openness that is attractive to modern homebuyers.
Find flooring for every room in our wood and laminate collection.