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3 Questions To Ask When Choosing a Floor Finish

By Laura Anderson

Whether you’ve got kids, pets or just really sharp stilettos, a hard-wearing floor surface is a must-have in the home.

But where to start with all the options out there?

The industrial revival look has brought concrete back in vogue, while carpet can have a warming effect. Or do you go with timber floorboards for timeless appeal and flexibility with finishes?

Wayd Munro, Director and Builder at Focus Build, says there are three main questions to ask when choosing flooring for your home:

1. What Kind of Foot Traffic Will the Room Get?

Firstly, you’ll need to work out which rooms need finishing and the kinds of traffic they will endure. A hallway will experience more foot traffic than a guest bedroom, for example, so you need to consider more durable surfaces for this type of space.

In terms of durability, Munro says concrete slabs and ceramic tiles are the most hard-wearing surfaces, although tiles can chip easily.

Timber floors are a softer surface, so they can scratch. But they can be easily sanded back and refinished. Carpet is softer again, but unsuitable for people with allergies, and also the quickest to stain.

However, if you’re considering carpet flooring in the bedroom, you’re unlikely to get as many food and drink spills as you would in the kitchen or dining areas.

So it’s important to not only consider the foot traffic a room will receive but also the activities that will be taking place there.

2. How Do you Want That Room to Look & Feel?

Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference. If you’re scared of stains, carpet may not be the surface for you, but if a cosy look and feel is what you’re after, you can’t rule it out.

Munro says that the industrial trend is having a major influence on flooring, with the most recent trend being concrete – stained or polished. Linoleum is also seeing a revival, with new and better quality versions hitting the market.

“People are getting quite funky and seeing what was traditionally used in commercial and using that for residential,” he says.

Whether or not concrete is a passing fad, Munro isn’t concerned either way, because it’s one of the easiest flooring types to resurface.

“The good thing about concrete is once you get sick of it you can tile over it, carpet over it or place timber over it,” he says.

Polished or stained floorboards are an old favourite, having stood the test of time for many years. They can also be painted and stained in any colour or tint you like, making them a versatile option too.

Munro says timber flooring is also easy to change up, as it can be sanded back and refinished up to four times.

“A traditional style timber floor, which is a 19-20mm thick timber floor… you should be able to get about three or four sands out of.”

Tiles and carpet, on the other hand, will need to be stripped and replaced to achieve a new or fresher look. This can be timely and expensive, depending or whether you DIY or hire someone to do it for you.

3. What is your Budget?

When you’re renovating, you need to budget every step of the way, and that includes flooring.

Munro says it’s hard to order floor finishes from cheapest to most expensive, as each finish comes with a full suite of options ranging from budget to high-end.

“Each product you can go from cheap to expensive depending on the material you choose within that range,” he says.

“I’ve done timber floors where we’ve got creative and used plywood, then I’ve done timber floors that have used the highest grade (timber).”

But as a basic guide, Munro says:

  • An unfinished concrete slab is the cheapest;
  • Next up are tiles, linoleum or carpet – depending on the tiles, linoleum and carpet used;
  • Timber flooring is usually the priciest.

Munro’s Final Flooring Tips:

  • If choosing timber, Tasmanian Oak is great if you don’t have kids, because it takes stains really well. If you do have kids or pets, Munro recommends Ironbark for a more hard-wearing option.
  • If choosing carpet, wools and goat hairs are rising in popularity. They are more expensive but will last longer and look better than acrylics.
  • Technologies in underfloor heating mean that climate is no longer so much of an issue. “In the past, you would never have done polished concrete in Tasmania because it’s so cold, but now you can just warm the slab with underfloor heating.”

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