Which flooring options can you consider installing in your home?

25 March 2020

The choice of floor covering makes such a difference to the look and feel of a home. That’s why we often spend so much time deciding what we want.  Should we opt for carpet, and if so, what colour would be best?  Perhaps a laminate floor would look fresh and clean.  Or maybe we should opt for  luxury vinyl tiles which seem to be increasingly popular these days.  If your house is older, you may also have the choice of stripping back your existing floorboards, varnishing them and restoring some of the original character of the interior. There are a plethora of options and each has merits for a specific application – your home.

Carpets are the classic solution, providing a sense of comfort and luxury. They can be subject to a ‘yuck’ factor as a result of trailing indoors whatever is on the pavement outside, unless you are willing to operate a shoes-off policy in your home.  However, where there are suspended floors, carpets can be great for helping to reduce footfall noise. While carpet is not a good conductor of heat, it will let the floor breathe and air can permeate from the underfloor cavity through any gaps and then through the carpet.

carpet flooring
laminate flooring

Laminate flooring and luxury vinyl tiles have gained in popularity over the last 25 years. They offer an option that can be easily cleaned, cope with light spills readily and can be long lasting. Care needs to be taken to ensure the surface is appropriately prepared to provide a consistent and flat surface for the panels to be laid on or bonded to. Laminate flooring overcomes the cold sensation of traditional tiles on bare feet but does not necessarily provide the sense of luxury associated with some higher-end carpeting.

Many construction methods involve the use of suspended flooring with a cavity between the foundations and the floor. Many suspended floors comprise timber boards secured across joists. If these are made of pine or some other type of wooden plank, an option to consider is to sand and varnish the floorboards. This can produce an attractive solution showing off an original feature in the home. The objection to sanded and varnished floorboards may be that this may make the house cold. 

Sand and varnish floorboardss

The energy performance in homes with suspended floors can be enhanced significantly by the use of thermal insulation on the underside of the suspended flooring, and this approach can be used in combination with almost any floor covering. A range of options exist for installing underfloor insulation including the use of insulation boards and sprayed materials. As an example, underfloor insulation can also be applied using a robot to spray the insulation material. The disruption is minimal, there is no need to remove furniture and lift up the floorboards to apply the insulation. The installation only requires small access points and is completed in few days. 

A further common consideration in flooring is use of underfloor heating. A variety of technologies are available. A serpentine pattern of piping can be laid with polystyrene spaces and a floor covering such as boards, vinyl or carpet applied on top of this. Care needs to be taken to help ensure that the heat produced is not lost to an underfloor cavity. Insulation of the underfloor cavity can remedy this.

underfloor heating


You can read here the full article, which explores some typical scenarios and options for consideration within the context of cost, sustainability and practicality.


By Professor Peter Childs