Written by: Ralph El Eid is the Business Development Manager at COLORTEK
Most homeowners would agree that form and function need to marry when it comes to flooring in the home. It’s vital that a floor looks and feels good.
Visually, your flooring choice needs to complement other aspects of your home and may even provide a stunning focal point to a room. It needs to feel great underneath your feet, too.
However, your flooring also needs to be highly practical. It needs to be able to cope with all that is thrown at it (sometimes literally!).
Children, pets and furniture can all have an impact on flooring. Wear and tear in high-traffic areas is to be expected, and it can be a challenge to work out which flooring will cope best with your lifestyle.
Cleanliness is also a point of consideration. COVID-19 has prompted more people to consider which floors may be more washable and the easiest to keep hygienic.
It can be a difficult balancing act, juggling form and function, so here’s some advice to help you find the perfect practical decorative flooring.
Evaluating your needs
It’s vital to first consider where the high-traffic areas are in your home. These are the areas where people tend to move rather than sit. These areas are exposed to more wear and tear than others. These typically include:
● Hallways and areas near outside doors
● Kitchens/food preparation areas
● Utility and laundry areas
● Stairways (and the routes leading to them)
● Downstairs WC (and the route leading to it)
The entrances, exits and junctions within your home receive the most footfall. Rooms where practicality is less of an issue are likely to be lounges and sitting rooms, bedrooms and at-home work spaces and offices.
The busiest areas are also likely to need the most frequent cleaning.
Outdoor shoes, or wheelchair and pushchair wheels will inevitably bring dirt, grit and mud into the areas close to your home entrances. Grease and crumbs will certainly plague both your food preparation and dining areas. Elsewhere, in lower-traffic areas, you are more likely to have to deal with dust and pet hair.
Durability is a consideration, too. Both footfall and frequent cleaning can affect the functional lifespan of a floor covering. Replacing flooring can be both costly and highly disruptive, so it pays to think about this before you make your choice.
For durable, easy-to-clean but attractive hard flooring, these are your main options:
● Quarry tiles
● Vinyl tiles
● Polished concrete
● Epoxy coating
They all have their unique qualities well worth exploring in greater detail.
Hardwood flooring has been a classic choice for centuries. While options have increased more recently with plenty of innovation within the flooring industry, hardwood has kept its popularity.
Hardwood’s main draw is its natural beauty. No two floors are ever completely identical, which gives it plenty of character. There are plenty of choices from light to dark, including oak, cherry, walnut and mahogany that all have their own distinctive charm.
Hardwood flooring is also very ambient and has a homely, warm appeal. It is a timeless choice that marries well with many kinds of decor.
Hardwood floors can cope with the wear and tear you’d expect in a typical family home. Many types of wood can be lightly sanded multiple times to even out appearance and remove light scratches. But, being softer than some other flooring materials discussed here, it is more prone to damage from deep scratches.
Regular sweeping and vacuuming and light mopping will keep a wooden floor clean and hygienic. However, you do need to be mindful to not get it too wet and to clean up spills quickly as this can cause the wood to contract. You can also use a gentle soap and water cleanser designed for wooden floors to maintain the good appearance of a wooden floor.
Terrazzo can be a very contemporary-looking flooring. However, it’s actually been around for centuries. It was very popular in Europe and the USA post WW1 and it enjoyed a huge revival in popularity more recently, too.
If you’re not sure what terrazzo is, it’s a composite made using aggregate chips of a material like marble, stone or recycled glass combined with a concrete or resin. It can either be poured directly, which is the most straightforward installation method, or you can buy ready-made terrazzo tiles.
Terrazzo is a designer’s favorite because there are almost limitless possibilities when it comes to its colors and finishes. It allows for creating something completely unique. You could opt for a very bold statement floor using terrazzo or something neutral.
Properly installed terrazzo is non-porous, meaning that it offers excellent hygiene and can be washed often. It’s also very durable; for this reason, you’ll often find it being used in commercial buildings.
Quarry tiles are another traditional choice. They are made using hard-fired clay and set in place using grout. A thin-set adhesive coating then needs to be applied.
Quarry tiles provide a charming, rustic look that may or may not go beautifully with your decor, depending on your style. In particular, they can look great with certain styles of kitchens or utility rooms. Quarry tiles are a practical choice in these areas because they are incredibly hard-wearing. In fact, they are often the floor of choice in professional kitchens.
However, they are not the lowest maintenance option here. They need to be resealed regularly; otherwise, they can retain marks and stains as they are quite porous. The grout between tiles also needs occasional scrubbing to keep it hygienic and looking great.
Vinyl tiles didn’t have a good name for a long time and were often accused of looking cheap and too much like plastic. However, all that has completely changed and there have been some huge advancements in vinyl flooring. Today’s luxury vinyl tiles look incredible and can closely mimic many other finishes, including wood and clay tiles.
Vinyl flooring is more than durable enough for domestic use and will cope well with spills and foot traffic. It’s also really easy to wash and keep hygienic because of its water-resistant quality. If you prefer to wash floors frequently, then vinyl flooring would be a strong contender amongst your choices.
Concrete flooring has long been popular in commercial buildings but is becoming increasingly popular in homes, too. It is a fashionable choice, with a stunning, sleek and minimalist finish that suits many modern homes.
Polished concrete is exceptionally durable, which explains its popularity in industrial and commercial settings. But it is also useful in a busy family home to have a flooring that takes minimal upkeep but offers maximum protection against damage from spills and scratches.
Sweeping and mopping are all it takes to keep a polished concrete floor both clean and looking good. As for durability, a properly installed concrete floor is almost certain to last many decades, or at least, as long as you can imagine living in your home.
As such, polished concrete is the ideal marriage of form and function. The natural color of concrete floors is grey, which is ideal as a neutral base. For this reason, it’s a very popular choice with architects and interior designers.
However, if you prefer something more interesting, unique or bold, then stained concrete is highly recommended.
You can achieve just about any desired color or look through staining. Designs can be intricate or audacious or very minimalist. It is possible to decorate concrete floors with bold, colorful graphics through staining. The stain penetrates well, meaning the effect is long-lasting, too.
Epoxy is a modern technique where a plain, unpolished concrete floor is given a smooth coating. The range of possible colors and finishes are almost endless.
This kind of flooring serves as a blank canvas for your designs. You can add swirls or patterns, pearlescent, glitter or metallic finishes, use color shifts and much more to create a completely bespoke floor for your home.
An epoxy coating is non-porous and highly resistant to damage or penetration from oil or water. High-traffic areas are recommended to have an epoxy coating installed as these sections require highly durable materials.
The finish is high-gloss and very smooth (although not slippery as anti-slip additives are used). All in all, it is as practical as it is beautiful.
It’s also simple and fast to use an epoxy coating in your home. And with experienced, professional engineers installing it for you, it will last an incredibly long time. It’s a seamless floor covering with a considerable lifespan and it offers ease of cleaning.
Picking the right option for you
All the hard floorings described here are long-lasting, hygienic and beautiful. Which one you choose will depend largely on the look you wish to achieve.
For instance, do you want something timeless and traditional? If so, hardwood or quarry tiles are probably your best choice.
Do you want something bold and completely bespoke? Then by using terrazzo, polished and stained concrete, or epoxy resins, you’ll be able to do just that.
In terms of endurance and practicality, it’s hard to beat polished concrete, terrazzo or epoxy coatings as well. They require very little maintenance once installed, other than a sweep and mop as and when needed. All of these flooring options are relatively low maintenance and much easier to look after and clean regularly than a carpeted floor, for example.
For more help and design ideas, don’t hesitate to contact your local decorative floorings specialist. They will happily help you choose the best option for your home and lifestyle.
Ralph El Eid is the Business Development Manager at COLORTEK – Wall & Floor Fashion. EQUIPAINT is the franchise owner of COLORTEK in Dubai (U.A.E.) and Doha (Qatar); an international paints manufacturer specializing in the widest range of decorative paints and seamless concrete & resin flooring, with a unique showroom concept, and thus an ideal destination for homeowners, consultants, architects, interior designers and paint applicators.