With summer on our doorstep, the last thing we want to do is spend time caring and worrying about what could happen to our floor. It’s been a long winter and those weak sun rays are beckoning and enticing us to open our doors and embrace life. With that comes muddy footprints from the small versions of the family, street-scape bits and pieces, and remnants of long hazy days at the beach. But how do you make the right choices to inhibit all of life’s challenges and protect one of your most expensive interior decisions?
Firstly, always go back to your needs and your wants. Ask what is your lifestyle in context to your flooring, what do you need, then get to what do you want. The two can be combined effectively so you achieve both, but only if you start this way round. Review your givens; children- small and large, pets,-shaggy or clawed, husbands- messy or tidy!
Your light source is also an important factor, how much light do you get and do you need to protect your flooring from it? We have exceptionally strong UV light that can fade and distress products. Do you need to consider Solution Died Nylon or Laminate rather than wool and hardwood?
Next review your space. Are you trying to create open and airy, or warm and cosy? Do you need to provide flow and expansiveness by possibly sticking with one type of flooring and layering with rugs or carpet areas; or does your space lend to compartmentalizing, allowing you to switch between products and colour variations?
Dark colour absorbs light so remember this when colouring a space, not just for flooring but space in general. I love a dark broody colour, but not in an area that holds a lot of natural light; this I feel defeats the purpose of having that light, it should be used properly and with respect. One place I often look at using this colour is hallways, think of these areas as the spine of the home, they are not spaces we sit down in or spend long periods of time, they’re often they are devoid of natural light and therefore need to be treated slightly differently from the rooms that lead off it.
By treating these areas with strength in colour, you are inherently making the other rooms feel lighter and brighter, the eye will read this change of light more significantly than if they were all treated the same hue.
When reviewing durability, I can only suggest that anything natural will wear more so than something man-made – eeek I hear the wool farmers say! By all means, continue to use wool, but it does fade and it is susceptible to UV light and break down from that, however, there is many a wool carpet that has stood the test of time and if fading is not an issue it is still an extremely durable product.
If you are keen on using wool, I often suggest going for a loop pile finish or a product that has a mixed weave alone the lines of Cav Brem Levante – it hides a multitude of sins and has a gorgeous natural mix of colourways that disguise the elements of fading and light damage. It offers good midtone colour from which to build your scheme.
If you are in the world of small children or messy pets, stick with Smart Strand Rhino Carpet. It is a perfect offering softness underfoot and the decadence of silk without the inherent staining or fading of natural fibre. It’s cost-effective, durable and sustainable; you truly can trash the carpet and get away with it! With probably one of the largest colour ways in this product I do seriously recommend this as a family-friendly option. To maintain longevity this is your choice of carpet and investment, choose a neutral floor colour such as SmartStrand Ingenious Flair – Slate Tile; that can pull together the other items in your house.
Of course, there is a huge range of well-branded carpets from wool to Solution Dyed Nylon, cut pile to twist and mixed weave; but I think what is really important to touch on is the advent of Luxury Vinyl Tile. I know this immediately takes your mind to the 1970s vinyl tiles and back twitching shades of brown, however, this is not the case. The explosion of love towards hardwood flooring created a market for companies to develop a product that was price sensitive, effective, durable and stylish – this is Luxury Vinyl Tiles. DON’T freak out thinking it only comes in tile format, that is a misconception; it is plank form and short form, so a variety is available and because of this, the ability to be creative in flooring pattern is amazing; parque, chevron, diagonal etc. It’s a digitally formatted photograph between the backing of the tile or plank and a clear wear layer, this has meant that Luxury Vinyl Tile designers need only photograph the desired wood look to create a natural looking and durable product for a third of the cost of a hardwood floor.
I know we all are sceptics, I certainly was towards LVT, but companies have actually been able to create wear layer texturisation which means the product not only looks real but it feels real. This is a technique that plays not only into cost-benefit but also sustainability.
LVT is also stable as it’s not natural, it is synthetic. It is resistant to moisture and climate change so perfect for running through wet areas. This is one product you could take right through your project and cover off all the issues associated with busy households, then all you need to do is layer, layer, layer!
Laminate is not vinyl – it is not 100% synthetic – laminate is a thin layer of wood normally 6-12mm laid onto a pressed board like MDF it is extremely durable and a great option for the budget. It offers all the qualities and traits of a wood finish mixed with the positive attributes of a man-made product. While not recommended to be used in bathrooms and laundries its certainly a more stable product than natural timber and can be laid quickly, much like LVT.