By Gareth Griffiths

You walk into a home or an office. What is the first thing you notice? According to experts, a significant percentage of visitors to a building for the first time will look at the floor. Unless, of course, Robert de Niro is in the room!

What’s underneath your feet easily becomes the most important part of any interior. Experts go on to share their advice as to choosing the most appropriate floor for a project – office or home.

Whatever you put on the floor, various colours, patterns and styles are available across all materials. Requirements like coverage, traffic, maintenance and durability need to be kept in mind – not only aesthetic considerations.

Three common types

The wood floor

A real classic. A wood floor provides durability and maintenance, along with warmth and style. It is a product for all seasons and ages beautifully with the building, as long as it’s looked after.

So what factors should we consider when considering a wooden floor?

  1. Wood type

Wood is sourced naturally – hopefully sustainably – then cut and made into flooring. Multiple colours are available with differing  grains and characteristics.

In South Africa, wood harvested from the humble pine tree is ubiquitous. But there are more exotic (and expensive) options such as light, plain maple wood, ash and beech are also light, but with warmth and tone variation, even chestnut.  Walnut is wonderfully dark and rich, but, arguably the most popular and varied wood for the floor internationally  is oak.

Don’t forget the legacy materials. Scour the second hand pages and stores to find some genuine old fashioned hard wood recycled flooring.

  1. Engineered timber vs. solid timber floors

Solid wood is one block of hardwood – top to bottom, while engineered wood is a composite of a more stable and moisture-resistant core board with a thin veneer of hardwood on its surface.

  1. The finish: to oil or to lacquer

Natural oil penetrates the wood and leaves a naturally matte surface, which ages and evolves with time into an interesting patina. Lacquer, which is available in a range of colours, gloss, silk or matte, impart resilience to aging, a hard wearing surface and resistance to damage and staining.

Carpeted floors

Giving a gentle, luxurious feel, there is nothing to replace a new carpet. Note, however, that you need to consider the place it will be used: thick, soft and/or luxurious types are not durable and highly unsuitable to high-traffic contract projects.  Choose from:

  1. Wall-to-wall carpet or tiles?

As the standard for most smaller residential projects, wall-to-wall carpets come in large rolls that run from one end of the room to the other. With fewer joins, vast and ranging designs can be specified like Superior 1020 by Vorwerk. With less waste, however, projects that use carpet tiles also benefit from a reduction in maintenance costs – one spillage means replacing one tile, not the whole room. While instead of a pattern-matching nightmare, the tiles can even become part of the design, as with the Fluid& carpet tiles by modulyss.

  1. Type of finish: tufted, knotted, woven carpet, synthetic fibre or natural?

Pull a thread through its backing before shearing to form exposed tufts and you have a tufted carpet. On the other hand, knotted carpets cut the thread after making small knots. This allows for a more durable finish. Note, however, that woven carpets keep their plush appearance for longer, and this makes them more suitable for both high-traffic and high-end luxury projects.

Synthetic or natural fibres … speak to your local supplier to see a wide range of options. The world is your oyster.

Ceramic flooring

Finally, if you are looking for fantastic natural waterproof and thermal protection, go no further than ceramic tiles. A highly strong and durable option, ceramic tiles come in a myriad of shapes, sizes and patterns.

Consider these options in tiles:

  1. Individual tile design: colours, plain or patterned

Bold, maximalist palettes and intricate patterns, like the Antichi Decori series by Ceramica Francesco De Maio, are a hot trend right now. However, while a striking accent colour might perfectly complement the bathroom accessories, ceramic tiles are likely to remain for longer than the soap dispenser, so a more neutral design scheme like Ultrawhite from Cotto d’Este could prove more stylishly durable in the long term.

  1. The rest of the design: shape, size and grout vs the size of the tile

Very popular at present, larger tiles mean fewer grout lines, which brings the illusion of more space.

Use these if you are flooring a small space or if you want to highlight the ceramic texture in large spaces. But there are often patterns to be created using smaller tiles – even mosaics – look at smaller and more geometric options.

South Africa is fortunate to be blessed with a large number of tile suppliers, who regularly update their ranges based on the best in the world.

Synthetic imitator flooring

Without demeaning this option, these types may have had their day. They can look amazing, but have the disadvantage of compromising durability for beauty. Vinyl flooring, however, gives the convincing performance of wood, carpet or ceramic, while allowing little wear and remaining completely waterproof – even underneath standing water. Of course, they are also kind to your bare feet, especially in the bathroom in winter.



1 Comment

  1. Lameez

    Wow stunning


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