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What's underfoot? - Choosing the right flooring for your home


Flooring needs differ depending on the room to be furnished - in practical rooms such as kitchens hard flooring may be preferable to the soft flooring such as carpet that is typically used in bedrooms. When choosing flooring there are six main features to consider:

Flooring is a practical part of your home. As well as selecting a colour and pattern that suit your room scheme, make sure you find out about the durability of the flooring you are selecting, as it will be difficult to change it later, especially once you have installed other furniture.

By room
Bedroom flooringHallways and stairs are high traffic areas subject to ongoing wear and tear and therefore hardwearing hard and soft flooring is recommended. Focus on safe, practical and durable flooring. Generally plain flooring is recommended on stairs as patterns can cause misjudging of the stairs. If noise is likely to be a problem soft flooring is recommended to absorb the noise of footsteps.

Practical, easy to clean flooring is recommended in kitchens. While hard flooring is stain resistant and most easily cleaned, some prefer the warmth and comfort of soft flooring, in which case a removable rug is recommended. Similar flooring is recommended in dining rooms, although rugs must be used with care as they can become tangled with chairs.

Flooring in bathrooms and laundries must be waterproof, easily cleaned and quick to dry. Underfloor heating may be preferable to standing on cold hard flooring, especially in mid winter. Some hard flooring, such as marble, can become slippery when wet, so if planning to install this type of flooring ensure bathmats are available for users to stand on without fear of slipping.

Living rooms and bedrooms should have comfortable, visually appealing flooring, as the floor will often be a major part of the colour scheme. Rugs can be used to protect high traffic areas and add ambiance to the room scheme. Carpet is ideal in children's bedrooms for its warm properties; however avoid rugs as they can prove to be a nuisance to children when playing.

Choosing carpet
Wall to wall carpet became common during the Industrial Revolution and is now common in most homes for a wide variety of reasons including warmth and noise reduction. Carpets were traditionally made from wool but today synthetic and wool blends are common.

Wool is generally considered to be the premium carpet fibre. It is tough and durable, absorbs moisture, sound and falls, retains heat and warmth and is very resilient to soiling, crushing and fire damage. However, other synthetic carpet and floor materials are available that may fit into your budget better.

Carpet performance is determined by the density and weight of the carpet pile. Different areas of your home will require different grades of carpet, depending on the amount of traffic in each area. A heavy duty carpet is recommended for high traffic areas such as open plan lounges and living rooms. For added durability an extra heavy duty carpet should be considered in hallways and stairs. A medium duty carpet is suitable for less used formal lounges, dining rooms and children's bedrooms/playrooms.

As with other decorating materials, in general the more you pay for carpet the better the quality. When purchasing carpet durability should be one of your key considerations, as you do not want the disruption or expense of replacing carpet any sooner than is necessary. The materials the carpet is made from have more influence on the durability and quality of the carpet than the method used to make the carpet.

Carpet can be patterned or plain. Plain carpet will make a small area appear larger, while patterned carpet will make a large area feel smaller. Patterned carpet may be the best choice if you have children in your home, as it will hide stains better than a solid floor colour.

When buying carpet, make sure your budget allows for a good quality, strong, durable underlay - it will help your carpet last longer, keep your room warmer and make your carpet feel nicer on your feet.

Choosing the correct flooring

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