When it comes to choosing a floor for your interior there are several factors to consider. The flooring selection sets the tone for the room, quite literally. The acoustics in a room is often determined by the flooring surface. The warmth or inviting nature of a room can be set by the texture and color of the floor. The type of surface also is reflective of the utility of the room. Flooring is one of the most important factors in designing an interior space.
When faced with choosing flooring for new construction or for a remodeling project there are 6 basic areas to concentrate on. We’ll discuss these floor design aspects in more detail.
- Color and Pattern
Floor Design – Budget
Your flooring selection begins with what you can afford. If the sky is the limit, you may decide to go with travertine marble inlay with brass joints or exotic hardwood. If you are not in the market for precious flooring materials, you can opt for concrete, vinyl, laminates, or wall-to-wall carpet.
Stone and tile floors are labor intensive to install and require a strong structure to support them. While ceramic tile can be affordable, stone is costly. That said, they will both last a long time with proper care. Hardwood floors also require a fair amount of labor to install, which accounts for a good portion of the cost. And, they have to be refinished every 5 to 7 years, ideally.
Concrete slab flooring is relatively affordable, as is wall-to-wall carpet. Carpet does need to be cleaned and replaced, a cost to consider. The laminates are a bit more costly but offer many options and the look of hardwood for less. Resilient flooring has come a long way. Whether it is vinyl or laminate floor, the creative design possibilities are many, and they can fool some into thinking they are either stone or hardwood at a better price point.
Floor Design – Comfort
The desired comfort of your room is dependent upon the use of the room. A bedroom might feel cozier and be quieter with carpet. The same goes for a living room and a home theatre that requires proper acoustical treatment.
A sun room often benefits from a stone or tile flooring surface to absorb the heat from the sun and keep the space warmer in winter.
A recreational space or playroom might be most comfortable with the resilient flooring material. This is softer for children. There will be fewer accidents than a harder surface treatment, and space will be quieter.
While hard surfaces are better for cleanliness and allergies, they are not good for sound absorption. Carpet is great for making a room quiet, but it can harbour allergens, such as dust mites and mold if not routinely cared for. This can be uncomfortable for those who are sensitive.
Floor Design – Maintenance
Who doesn’t love the ability to just mop a floor or vacuum a carpet? These are easy routines that will keep all of your floors clean, smelling fresh, and in good condition. But, maintaining flooring goes beyond that. Here is what you need to consider for your floor design with the different types of flooring materials.
Stone and concrete can be mopped clean weekly. However, both can benefit from being resealed every year to prevent staining. These surfaces will last decades.
Tile, similar to stone, is easy to clean and will last a long time. It may require regrouting every 10 years or so.
Hardwood floors are easily swept and damp or dry mopped weekly. Yet, they do need to be refinished completely every few years, which involves sanding, staining (maybe), and sealing. This is costly, messy, and takes several days to do properly.
Vinyl and laminate flooring are simply swept and possibly mopped clean weekly and really don’t require much more. Both will eventually wear out and will need to be replaced – resilient more often than laminate.
Carpet gets is demanding when it comes to maintenance. While weekly vacuuming of your carpet can keep the fibers in good shape and keep allergens at bay, it takes more than that to maintain a carpet properly. It is recommended that the carpet be deep cleaned once or twice a year to restore fibers and remove mites, mold, and odors. Some carpet materials stain easily. And, the carpet does wear out, requiring it to be replaced approximately every 10 years.
Floor Design – Texture
There are limited options when it comes to texture in flooring. Either you like a hard surface or you like a soft surface. It is pretty simple.
The question is, how hard or how soft? A concrete or stone floor is a really hard, unforgiving surface. Anything fragile you drop on it is prone to breaking. A thick pile carpet is soft underfoot and very forgiving. Both are okay when it comes to walking barefoot, as so many people have now banned dirty street shoes inside the home.
But, there are in-between options. Vinyl is semi-soft. Laminates are floating floor systems with a thin layer of insulation beneath the planks. Carpet is available in sisal made of woven natural materials that are not really that soft but offer some good sound deadening. Carpet is also available in a tightly looped Berber.
Floor Design – Color & Pattern
The color of your floor is what determines if space is calming or energetic. Do you want a meditative space that invokes deep conversation or rest? Or, are you looking to excite and get pumped up to work or play?
Most homes are looking for peaceful environments where everyone can relax. This concept lends itself to earthier tones for stone and hardwood and warm tones for carpet. Sometimes less is more when it comes to color and pattern. Colorful carpet tiles and resilient flooring with many patterns might be better suited for a busy office than a home.
Bathrooms and Children’s playrooms can sometimes benefit from a great pop of color in the flooring. What better way to wake up in the morning than by stepping onto a colorfully patterned tile floor in the bathroom and the shower?
The kitchen is often best left to neutral tones due to all of the abuse these floors take.
If you need assistance with selecting your floor’s color, hiring a professional designer or picking up a home improvement magazine can give you some fresh inspiration. Better yet, visit a flooring showroom and have a look in person.
This is likely the most important aspect of flooring design next to the budget. What do you like? Take stock of your furniture, your paint and wallpaper selections, your window treatments, and how much natural daylight the room gets.
The bottom line is that the flooring has to compliment your overall style and décor. If you are going for a rustic or waterfront vibe, stick with wood, ceramic or porcelain tile, and sisal or low pile carpets.
If you want classic elegance, mix it up with stone in foyers, laminates in kitchens, hardwood informal entertaining spaces, and plush carpet in bedrooms.
Stick with ceramic or porcelain tiles for bathrooms either way. Resilient flooring is great for playrooms and home gyms where you want the space to be vibrant yet easy on the feet and body.
Whatever your preference in flooring material, always keep our northern weather in mind. Choose materials that are going to be able to handle moisture from snow and possible chemicals used to clear roads and sidewalks. It is highly recommended that you speak with a flooring professional to get all of the facts about the longevity and maintenance of the different flooring materials. Be a well informed consumer, and always use a skilled installer for best results.