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Floor coverings: Making the Right Choice

In the world of flooring, there is a product to suit every need. While traditional materials remain as popular as ever, many new options are gaining ground in our homes. Compare their features to choose the most suitable one for your home and let your creativity do the rest!

The beauty of wood

Wood flooring for the residential market is available in local or exotic species.

The boards, or planks, are sold either unfinished or prefinished. Unfinished wood floors require sanding and varnishing after installation, while prefinished planks are sanded and varnished at the factory, which eliminates the need to do this at home.

Two other types of product are available in the wood flooring category: engineered wood and laminate. Engineered wood looks very much like solid wood flooring. The planks are composed of two to five laminated layers of derivative wood products that are cross-layered and bonded together. The top layer is made from North American or exotic hardwood species.

Laminate flooring is made from several layers of synthetic materials (such as melamine resin) or recycled natural products (such as wood chips) that are bonded under high pressure. The top layer is not wood but a detailed photographic image creating the look of wood (and in some cases, stone).

Engineered wood and laminate flooring systems are known as floating floors and are easy to install by interlocking the tongues and grooves on the planks without the need for glue or nails.

Other materials in this category:

The elegance of stone tiles

Stone tiles are available in the same sizes as ceramic tiles. Polishing brings out the colour and veining. The more polished a stone is, the more care and maintenance it will require. A high-sheen finish is therefore not recommended for floors with heavy foot traffic; in these areas, a less glossy or a matte finish is more suitable.

There are several kinds of natural stone:
  • Granite is the hardest and most resistant. It has very little porosity and does not degrade from contact with acid or other chemical substances.
  • Slate has a naturally non-slip surface and is hard-wearing; however, it is porous and must be sealed to protect it from water infiltration.
  • Marble is also a porous stone, less solid than granite and less hard-wearing and stain-resistant. Dark marble is the least porous type of marble. Well-known types of stone in the "marble" category include Jura, Carrara, travertine and blue stone.

The practical side of ceramic tiles

Ceramic floor tiles come in a huge array of colours, textures and sizes and are suitable for any room of the house. The popularity of tiled floors has increased with the introduction of in-floor heating systems. Ceramic tile is long-lasting and easy to clean.

The tiles available on the market today are made to resemble a diversity of stones, including marble and slate. These tiles offer the rich look of natural stone combined with the low maintenance of ceramic.

Durability of vinyl and linoleum

Linoleum is a natural material that was used extensively in homes for many years; being so durable and easy to clean made it an outstanding floor covering. While linoleum remains a quality flooring product, especially appreciated for its eco-friendly properties, the market in vinyl flooring has grown tremendously in recent years and now offers a very wide choice of textures, colours, patterns and formats. While still available in sheet form (on the roll), both linoleum and vinyl are increasingly sold in the form of tiles and planks, which are much easier to install. Vinyl is affordable and capable of imitating the look of other more expensive materials such as stone and ceramic tile. See our page on vinyl floor covering for more information.

The comfort of carpet

Many people still choose carpet over other flooring options for the comfort and elegance it adds to a room. Since the arrival of nylon at the end of the fifties, synthetic fibres have come to dominate the market, reproducing the rich look and feel of wool but at a lower cost.

Most new carpets are treated to prevent stains and some have anti-static protection.

Floor coverings comparator

The following chart is designed to help you quickly compare floor coverings by room suitability, installation difficulty, maintenance, and cost.

Pro Tip about quantities

You've made up your mind? Use our calculator tools to determine the quantities you need to buy.
Ceramic tiles - Calculate

Green talk

It is important to understand that in our highly insulated, airtight homes, floor coverings can affect indoor air quality. Always check the composition of the flooring materials you are considering, and if you need to use adhesives, choose products with the fewest possible volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Heightened consumer awareness is leading manufacturers to pay more attention to reducing the environmental impact of their products.

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