How to choose flooring for your home

Choosing flooring for your home can be a confusing experience. Lino or laminate? Bamboo or wood? The options can be daunting but we try to break it down for you below.

The best place to start when choosing flooring for your home is to speak with a professional – this will ensure you get the right information for your home and lifestyle.

Choosing the right floors for your high-traffic areas is key. © Getty

We spoke with Anthony Carter from Carpet Court to get the lowdown on the different types of flooring available and the benefits and drawbacks of each type. We also asked Anthony for a handy list of questions to ask the professionals when you’re wondering what flooring to choose.

1. Vinyl (lino) flooring

Vinyl flooring is a great budget-friendly option. © Getty

 

 

Vinyl flooring is water-resistant making it a great option if you live by the beach or have a young family who might pitter-patter their wet feet around the house after a bath. It’s also inexpensive and is quieter than timber flooring, making it a good solution for homes with kids or pets.

What is vinyl flooring?

According to Anthony, vinyl has superseded lino flooring but is the same durable surface, which stands up well to heavy foot traffic.

It is very comfortable underfoot and quieter than timber flooring.

How much does vinyl flooring cost?

Around RM6.50 per sq ft

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • If it gets damaged the only way to fix it is to replace the whole floor as it’s laid in one large sheet instead of slats like other flooring materials
  • Not easily removable

Use it if…

You’re looking for a durable surface to stand up well to heavy foot traffic.

Anthony says: “It is very comfortable underfoot and quieter than timber flooring, which can be an important factor for homes with kids or pets. It also costs a fraction of other flooring options and is easy to install and maintain. It comes in a broad range of colours and patterns to match every decor, including lifelike wood grains and tile effects.”

Read more: 3 questions to ask when choosing a floor finish

2. Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring can have the look and feel of wood without the expense. © Getty

Laminate flooring is easy to clean and self lay so if you fancy yourself a DIY enthusiast this could be the flooring option you choose to update your investment property – the tenants will like the easy-to-clean nature of it. It’s affordable and tough wearing, so is an ideal flooring solution for young families.

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate is a great, budget-friendly option for most areas of the home.

Anthony says: “Laminate flooring combines the visual effects of wood visuals with easy maintenance, creating a budget-friendly alternative to timber flooring. Laminate flooring is great for busy households because its surface is covered with a protective layer that resists fading, abrasions, and stains – all of which can be everyday challenges with families and kids.

“It is also easy to clean, although it is not recommended for wet areas such as bathrooms.”

How much does laminate flooring cost?

Around RM6.50 per sq ft

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Extremely scratch-proof
  • Water-resistant
  • Inexpensive
  • Comes in a variety of designs
  • Easy to self lay
  • Simple to remove and replace without damaging the existing flooring
  • Can be replaced slat by slat if the surface becomes damaged

Cons

  • Not recommended for areas of extreme moisture like bathrooms or laundries
  • Not appropriate for apartments as it provides little to no soundproofing for residents surrounding your home and this particular material is not compatible with acoustic filters.

Use it if…

You’re looking for a cost-effective and easily removable flooring solution. It has a much better reputation than vinyl and won’t damage the existing floors in your home.

Read more: Caring for your laminated flooring

3. Bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring is great for high-traffic areas. © Getty

Sustainable warriors will love bamboo flooring as it’s a fast-growing and renewable material. It is also more tough than most timber floors so ideal for kids and looks stylish too with its distinctive finish and texture.

What is bamboo flooring?

Bamboo is a durable, eco-friendly and cost-effective floor covering that still adds the warmth, character and beauty of a natural product.

Anthony says: “It is harder than most timber floors, which means it will withstand kids playing with toys and trains better than most floors, and is great for allergy sufferers as it does not collect dust and dirt particles.”

How much does bamboo flooring cost?

Around RM20 per sq ft

Pros

  • Won’t scuff or scratch like other flooring materials
  • A cost-effective alternative to solid timber
  • Can be used in damp climates where solid timber is not recommended
  • Bamboo is a fast-growing and renewable material source

Cons

  • It’s thinner than solid wood and as such doesn’t have the thermal benefits of timber

Use it if…

You’re looking to transform any space with a low environmental impact. With an individual look different from any other hard flooring, bamboo is a real style statement and offers a distinctive finish and texture.

Read more: 5 sustainable flooring options

4. Solid timber flooring

Timber flooring will add warmth and natural texture to your space. © Getty

Solid timber flooring is ideal for all spaces in a family home, is sound-proof and easy to care for. However maintenance can be expensive, so if you expect a lot of wear and tear from pets and young ones, then you might like to reconsider this option.

What is timber flooring?

Exactly what it sounds like – solid timber planks. This also includes parquetry flooring which is a mosaic style design of smaller pieces of solid timber.

Anthony says: “Wood flooring creates a warm and stylish atmosphere that can be ideal for all areas in family homes.

“Modern processes mean there are no more tricky gaps between floorboards, making them safe for small feet too, and most floors come with a protective finish that means they are easy to clean and don’t require much in the way of maintenance.”

How much does timber flooring cost?

It really varies when it comes to solid timber, but it costs around RM20 per sq ft

Pros

  • Natural and renewable material source
  • Extremely durable if sealed properly
  • Easy to clean and care for
  • Sound-proof

Cons

  • High foot traffic areas need regular sanding and stripping for both appearances and moisture maintenance
  • Not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms or humid climates
  • Maintenance can be expensive

Should I use it?

If it’s in your price range and you can afford the regular maintenance. Solid timber flooring retains heat beautifully in cold climates and will give your home a warm and natural ambience. Not recommended for moist areas or humid climates though.

Read more: 6 Hard-Working Types Of Flooring You’ve (Probably) Forgotten About

Questions to ask

Here are the top questions you should ask before deciding on the right type of flooring for you.

How much does it cost?

Make sure you budget correctly when choosing flooring because there can be hidden costs in flooring such as installation and maintenance.

Can I use it in my kitchen, bathroom and laundry?

Kitchen flooring needs to be hard-wearing, while the bathroom and laundry flooring need to be able to stand up to moisture. Always ask if your flooring of choice is appropriate for where you want to lay it. Climate, sound control and heavy foot traffic can also have a significant impact on the correct choice of flooring.

How do I maintain it over the years?

It’s important to ask about the upkeep of your flooring. For example, lino and vinyl flooring is a very cost-effective option but may not be easy to repair if it becomes damaged. Solid timber flooring is extremely durable but only if it’s properly sealed after installation. Be sure to ask about the future of your flooring to save yourself money both now and down the track.

How durable is it?

Budget flooring options will save you money in the short term but when their more durable counterparts outlast them by 20 or 30 odd years then it’s important to consider replacement in your budgeting.

Is it easily removable?

This is perhaps the most important question if you’re planning on selling your home in the future. Difficult to remove lino flooring could be a deal-breaker for a potential buyer of your home.

Just remember to take your time, ask lots of questions and talk to several different professionals. Do your research. Ask people in your area what type of flooring they have or speak to builders who work in your city. Don’t forget to provide your flooring professional with lots of information as well. The more they know about your home and needs, the better equipped they’ll be to help you find the best flooring solution. 

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