A flawless guide on how to pick fabulous floors by this freelance property journalist is today’s topic.
It’s a burning issue for us though as we have decided to upgrade our far from flawless flooring and call in an expert.
It’s a question that was sometimes put to me on valuations in my former life as an estate agent – now a freelance property journalist and copywriter – do we replace the flooring?
It’s often a question fudged by estate agents as they don’t want to risk losing the listing by giving what they perceive may be the wrong answer.
So let me give my list of perceptions of flooring choices, pros and cons, as a homeowner, ex estate agent and freelance copywriter whose niche is the property industry:
- Laminate – all the rage in the 90s, when everyone drove to worship at IKEA of a weekend whilst debating the Oasis-Blur Britpop argument. It was cheap, looked fresh, relatively easy to fit (particularly when Click Fit evolved) and made a suburban terraced in Stoke look like an Islington penthouse. I admit I fell for its charms. It was practical, affordable, hardwearing and if you could get your head round you are walking on a photograph of wood, you could sleep easily at night. It fell out of fashion though, just as Black Ash furniture did from the 80s and became synonymous with cheap makeovers. I personally think though, having fitted some Quick Step laminate, in our former home, last year, that it is unrecognisable from the 90s in quality and appearance. Laminate is a great choice for all home areas, but we’ve not gone for it on Friday.
- Carpets – ok I’ll come clean – unlike many carpets – our last home had hard flooring everywhere bar the staircase and landing and that was fine and dandy by us. Moving into a new build, with about as much choice as a Welsh fish and chip shop (reference from “Red Dwarf”), we were impressed with carpets initially – their cleanliness, warmth and feel underfoot, but, now, within six months, this smoke free, pet free family of four (I sound suspiciously like I’m about to flog us all on eBay) have left our mark on the carpet. Like a teacher, say, on the fourth day of term, in September, it looks tired and needs a lift. The carpet then is going from the hallway, and two living rooms downstairs. Don’t get me wrong I like carpet but I don’t think it’s the best choice for living areas, though it does keep houses warm.
- Hardwood flooring – the king of flooring in my opinion. We love it, but have decided against it. Why? Yes it looks stunning but it is difficult to fit, squeeze under skirtings and not so practical with kids – a spilled drink can bubble and distort. We had real wood in our hallway of a new build in Scunthorpe and it suffered, engineered wood (a real wood veneer sandwich) in our bedroom and both scratched and aged rapidly. Arguably, scratches and warps could class as adding character in a period home, but not in a home built in 2001?
- Linoleum or vinyl. Only to be used in small areas – downstairs toilets, bathrooms, ensuites. We have vinyl in the kitchen here and it is shocking stuff. Rips and dents galore. It’s the main reason we’ve taken the plunge to replace after just 6 months. It’s clean, cheap, hygienic but not for use in larger areas, in my opinion, of course.
- Ceramic tiles. Too cold for this climate. Unless you have underfloor heating. Enough said.
- LVTs. Admittedly he came a-cropper at Manchester United but I do think his flooring invention is great – maybe that’s what he was writing in his notebook during matches – some new designs. Louis Van Tiles or Luxury Vinyl Tiles, as he prefers us to call them, are the 2010 equivalent of laminate – all the rage – but with eye watering prices: price up Polyflor, Amtico or Karndean, but make sure you have someone at hand to mop your tears up. They are expensive. On a par, almost, with hardwood, but in my opinion, as homeowner, freelance property journalist or copywriter, they are worth every penny – as long as you get an excellent fitter, which we have. The preparation is key – I speak as an expert as I’ve watched professional fitters in action. The screed has to be ice rink glassy, with not a bump or speck of dust. Every discrepancy will show and bite you later as you stare at the faux hardwood expanse. Once fitted, they have major benefits too: they don’t shrink or warp with spillage. They’re pretty scratch-resistant. They’re easy to clean. They’re warm underfoot – not carpet warm, but not laminate or ceramic tile cold, but just right. We love LVTs.
This next Friday, then, this freelance property journalist will go all manual. I’ll be fetching and carrying, brewing up, shifting furniture, talking screed to Gary of Brabbey Flooring from Lancashire, who is going to transform the downstairs in a uniform pattern of Amtico LVTs.
Wish me luck.