Aesthetics vs Application and functionality. It is not also safe to simply follow the trends – By Dave Nemeth

It is a known fact that people like to buy into current trends and although the current trend is for consumers to couple on-trend items with their own interpretation, this can be risky when buying something like flooring. This is completely different to simply buying décor and lighting due to the fact that if the wrong flooring is chosen for the wrong application the entire project can be disastrous. Selecting flooring can be more complicated than most people think and it is all about getting the balance between something that is aesthetically pleasing, that won’t easily date and having the correct durability for the space. I have been into numerous spaces recently that look magnificent overall, yet on closer inspection, the flooring that was chosen is completely impractical.

There are a host of things that can make a floor impractical for a certain space with some of these being acoustics, durability, moisture resistance, slip resistance and visual appeal. There are so many choices and variations in flooring available today that it can become quite complicated to select the right floor for the right space and in many cases, inspiration comes from glossy design magazines. A very good example of where many interiors have failed in recent years is with the rise of the industrial look. This trend featured elements such as exposed brick work, retro Edison light bulbs, rusted and recycled metal finishes and of course concrete floors. Concrete floors are visually appealing but certainly not suited to many areas for a variety of reasons including the fact that they can chip and wear in high-traffic areas. They are much colder than many other flooring alternatives and they have very bad acoustic qualities especially when used in large areas. This is just one example of an application being used due to popularity and not on the functionality.

On the flipside, when it comes to bathrooms and kitchens we find that most people stick to tiles as there is still a misconception that tiles are the best solution for these areas due to them being so hard and resilient to form change in high moisture areas. The thing is that over the years there has been a lot of development in things like LVT’s – luxury vinyl flooring and even engineered wood and laminate flooring. The engineering in LVT’s is generally of a lock and fold style of joinery which provides a tight seal against water seeping through to the substrate. Choosing an LVT will still allow for creative freedom due to all the amazing new colours and finishes that these are available in. Vinyl sheeting is again popular and through innovative design, looks nothing like the gaudy designs of the 70’s and 80’s but rather resembles finishes such as wood, stone and even concrete and stone. This is a great choice for bathrooms and even restaurants and retail spaces due to its easy application and low maintenance qualities. It is a material like this that allows a space to have an “on trend” aesthetic whilst keeping its tactile quality for many years.

Kitchens generally have less moisture exposure than bathrooms, yet flooring needs to be resistant to spills and fats. Many kitchens still get tiled and whilst some are greatly suited to this environment, many become exceptionally slippery when exposed to fat or moisture. A fantastic alternative to this is engineered wooden floors as well as laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is one of the most popular flooring choices around. It’s easier to install than solid-wood hardwood floors and is much less expensive. Laminate floors get their name because they’re composed of different wood-based materials that are layered, or laminated, together then topped with a wood grain photographic imprint on the face of each board.

A variation on true laminate floors are engineered wood floors. Engineered wood consists of a real hardwood veneer attached to a number of plywood layers. This is a little more expensive than laminate because the top layer is real wood rather than a photographic imprint. This top layer of wood gives engineered wood floors a much more convincing sound, feel and look than laminate.

Both these choices will not only provide a good solution but in many cases actually, increase the value of a property.

Carpets have gone through various stages of popularity over the years and for a period of time, many interiors saw the majority of floor space covered in tiles which were heated with underfloor solutions. Living in an era where the majority of home owners are concerned with reducing power consumption and eco-friendly living, this solution is just not viable anymore. Carpets will, without a doubt provide the best underfoot experience as well as overall comfort and acoustic quality. Carpets come in a multitude of colours, textures and patterns but they also come in different grades and using these in the incorrect applications can also be a very costly exercise.

I think it true to say that whilst flooring can make or break the aesthetic appeal of an interior space it is also a science and certainly not something that you simply pick up at a DIY store and proceed to lay. It is vital that you consult with expert flooring suppliers and ensure that that you are using well-trained installers. By following these simple rules, you will not fall into the costly trap that many do.

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