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Understanding the Different Types and Materials of Flooring

19/06/2023
different types of flooring

Flooring is one of the most important aspects to consider when looking to improve your living space. The type and material of flooring you opt for can enhance (or break) your home’s appearance, comfort, durability, and even value.

This makes understanding the different types and materials of flooring available and what sets each apart from the others vital. However, you can quickly get overwhelmed by the number of options available.


Luckily, we’ll walk you through several flooring types and materials, from laminate to resin, and advise you on choosing the flooring that best meets your needs, budget, and style.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate is a durable, easy-to-maintain flooring material that mimics the look of other materials and comes at an affordable price.

It consists of four layers: a wear layer that protects the floor from scratches and stains; a design layer with a high-resolution image of the natural material (stone, wood, etc.); a core layer for stability and strength; and a backing layer to prevent moisture damage.

It’s popular among homeowners thanks to its ease of installation, looks, durability, and versatility. You can install it over most existing floors with a click-lock system and choose from many colours, styles, textures, and finishes.

It’s a viable choice for kitchens and bathrooms, which are susceptible to moisture, stains, and water, and also living areas prone to high traffic levels. Some laminate floors also have antimicrobial and scratch-resistant features, too.

However, it can be noisy or hollow-sounding when walked on. It also can’t withstand sharp objects and high temperatures and is difficult to refinish or repair if damaged.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is a flexible, easy-to-clean flooring material that comes in various designs and colours. It can mimic the look of high-end materials at a fraction of the cost.

Three layers comprise vinyl: a wear layer for scratch and scuff resistance, a printed layer with a realistic picture, and a backing layer for cushioning and comfort.

Vinyl flooring is an excellent choice for areas susceptible to spills, moisture, and humidity, but also any living space that needs a soft and warm surface. Note that it’s not as resistant to dents and tears, though.

You can install it over most existing floors with a glue-down or click-lock system. However, vinyl isn’t eco-friendly.

It's made from synthetic materials and emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It can also become slippery when wet, fade, and curl under extreme temperatures.

Carpet

Carpets are a soft, warm, and comfortable flooring material that comes in various colours in textures. They’re great for creating an inviting atmosphere in your home and tackling the challenges of colder seasons.

Woven or tufted fibres, cut or looped in different patterns, make up carpets. They form a pile on top of a backing. The fibres can be natural, like wool, or synthetic, like nylon or polyester.

You can install them over existing floors using tack strips or glue. They’re common in living rooms thanks to their insulation, noise reduction, and cushioning properties; they’re the perfect choice for any living space that needs a soft and cosy surface.

However, carpet floors are prone to staining. They’re not suitable for environments exposed to moisture and spills. We also advise against them if you have children or pets (unless you invest in a stain-resistant material!)

They can also be challenging to clean and maintain since they can trap dust, odours, and allergens.

Wool Carpets

Wool is a natural fibre. It’s durable, soft, and stain-resistant. It’s among your best options for cold climates and a viable choice if you have children or pets.

Nylon Carpets

Nylon is a synthetic fibre known for its strength, durability, and stain resistance. Unlike other carpet materials, it can withstand high traffic, making it a more viable option for living rooms.

Polyester Carpets

Polyester is easy to care for, durable, and more affordable than other carpet flooring materials. It’s a great choice if you have pets or children.

Olefin Carpets

Olefin carpets stand out thanks to their water and stain resistance. They should be your go-to choice if you live in an area prone to flooding or high humidity.

LVT Flooring

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is an affordable and more durable alternative to vinyl. It’s also easy to clean and maintain.

Several layers make up LVT: a rigid core, an image layer, a wear layer, and a UV-protection layer. It can also mimic the look of higher-end materials, such as wood and marble. It comes in two types, planks and tiles.

Its ease of cleaning and maintaining and multiple resistances make it a versatile flooring solution. It can withstand impacts, scratches, scuffs, and stains. It’s also resistant to temperature changes and water.

LVT is easy to install. Since it comes in many colours and styles, you can create a floor that matches your living space’s design. However, it isn’t as warm or eco-friendly as natural flooring materials, and it emits VOCs and has a unique odour when new.

Lino Flooring

Lino is better known as linoleum. It’s a flooring material with a burlap or canvas backing covered by natural material and mineral fillers.

Lino is durable, resilient, and comfortable. It can withstand high traffic, scratches, stains, and water while providing insulation and noise absorption.

It’s also eco-friendly, biodegradable, renewable, and can improve indoor quality by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi. You can buy it in sheets or tiles of various sizes, colours, and patterns and install it over existing floors using glue or nails. Its versatility makes it perfect for a living space.

However, while it’s affordable, you may need to wax and polish it regularly to maintain its shine and protection.

Wood Flooring

Wood flooring is an elegant, highly durable material that can bring warmth and cosiness to any living space.

It comes in many different species, each with its characteristics and appearance. However, the most common species include oak, cherry, teak, and maple. You can choose from various shapes, styles, and finishes to match the design aesthetic of your interior.

Wood flooring is resistant to most damage types except water and moisture. It’s not wise to use it in moisture-high environments. It also requires regular, proper care to maintain its appeal and resistance.

Solid Wood

Planks of wood make up solid wood. You can sand and refinish it many times, but it’s more sensitive to humidity and temperature changes.

Engineered Wood

A thin layer of wood on top of a base of plywood or other materials makes up engineered wood. While it’s more stable and resistant to moisture, you can only sand and refinish it once or twice.

Concrete Flooring

Concrete flooring is an affordable flooring solution for residential and commercial use. You can customise it to create different textures and designs.

Concrete is very durable. It’s impervious to temperature changes and most damage types. It can also withstand high traffic, impact, and abrasion. And it’s easy to clean; you only need to sweep and mop it with mild cleaners.

However, it can be cold and hard underfoot and has a slight odour when new. So, if you have kids, ensure you prioritise their safety.

Resin Flooring

Resin flooring is applied as a liquid and cured to form a hard, seamless surface. It’s versatile, durable, and highly customisable.

There are three types of resin: epoxy, polyurethane (PU), and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Each has its characteristics and advantages.

Epoxy is hard, strong, and resistant to chemicals and electrical currents; PU is flexible and resistant to high temperatures and impact; and PMMA is fast-curing, hygienic, and resistant to moisture and abrasion.

You can also customise your resin flooring to create your look and combine it with other materials, such as quartz, to enhance its looks and performance. But note that the more layers you apply, the more expensive it’ll be to cover your floor in resin.

It’s suitable for a wide range of applications and is easy to clean and maintain. However, resin floorings can be cold and hard underfoot and aren’t eco-friendly.

What Are the Best Types of Flooring?

It depends on your needs. For instance, prioritise water and moisture resistance while renovating spaces prone to spills and moisture. In this case, avoid carpet and hardwood floorings.

If durability is a concern, natural materials are the best, especially stone and concrete.

If comfort is your priority, carpet and cork are cosy and warm—ideal for colder climates. Try to avoid carpets if you have children or pets, though.


If budget is a concern, stick to more affordable flooring materials such as laminate, vinyl, or LVT. You should also compare installation costs and methods to save money and time.

What Are the Most Popular Types of Flooring?

The most popular flooring type in the U.K. is carpet flooring.

Experts project the carpet market to reach $1.6 billion (£1.3 billion) by 2026. Other popular flooring options in the U.K. include wood, laminate, vinyl, and tile.

Different Types of Flooring for Different Environments

There are many types of flooring to choose from, each suitable for a specific environment. Let’s break them down for you.

Residential Flooring

Let’s break down the different residential flooring materials for you.

Kitchens

The best floorings for kitchens should be stain- and water-resistant and impervious to scratches, scuffs, and high foot traffic. You can also use some less resistant materials as long as you properly seal and maintain them.

We recommend opting for LVT, laminate, linoleum, or tile. Higher-end options include polished concrete and stone, but be sure they meet your style and budget.

Living Rooms

Living rooms are where you’ll spend most of your time winding down. Choosing a comfortable, harmonious material is best.

Most flooring materials meet those criteria. So, pick what best suits your style and budget. If you have children and pets, we recommend focusing more on stain-resistant flooring materials.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are prone to high levels of humidity and spills. Pick an easy-to-clean, water-resistant material such as tile or LVT. Consider comfort, durability, and style too. Cork and concrete also work well.

Bedrooms

Go for carpet flooring if you want to keep your bedroom simple and be able to walk barefoot in it; it’s warm, well-insulated, and comfortable.

But, if elegance is more your thing, look for a more stylish material such as LVT or wood.

Hallways

Hallways can be prone to high foot traffic. Consider flooring materials that can withstand it and are easy to clean, like LVT or tile.


Carpets are also a great option if you live in colder regions, but be sure your hallway isn’t exposed to dirt, mud, or moisture.

Stairs

Since you may add other elements to your stairs, such as rugs, you can create a suitable staircase with any material as long as it suits your style and preference.

Still, we recommend avoiding slippery and noisy materials, such as hardwood and laminate.

Commercial Flooring

Commercial flooring is designed to be much more durable than residential flooring because it’s subject to very high foot traffic.

Construction

During construction, and depending on the type of building and budget, some types of flooring are used as a structural or base layer to support other flooring materials.

Concrete is a common option thanks to its stability, but plywood is also used as a subfloor or an underlayment due to its cost-effectiveness and ease of installation.

During construction, professionals use temporary, easy-to-replace flooring solutions to protect the underlying structure and themselves. These include corrugated plastic sheets and carpet tiles.

Offices

Laminate, vinyl, hardwood, and engineered wood are perfect for offices. They’re popular thanks to their durability, comfort, style, and easy maintenance.

Sports

Safe, durable, and comfortable materials are best for sports centres. Synthetic rubber, vinyl, and wood are popular options because of their resilience, durability, traction, and shock absorption.

Factories

Factories in the U.K. use hygienic, safe, and durable materials that can withstand temperature changes, chemicals, abrasions, and harsh industrial conditions. Epoxy, concrete, and vinyl are best for this.

Costs of Different Types of Flooring

It’s a great idea to learn how much flooring materials cost to make an informed decision when renovating your house. These costs are per square metre (m²).

  • Laminate: It costs from £5 to £15.
  • Vinyl: It costs from £20 to £60, depending on its characteristics and added features.
  • LVT: Budget LVT ranges from £13 to £23, while high-end can cost as much as £60.
  • Epoxy: With epoxy, the more layers used, the greater the cost. You can find flooring solutions for as cheap as £20, but some can reach upwards of £150.
  • Carpet: There are many types of carpet, so the costs depend on the material you use and how its woven. Expect from £13 to £50 in Kent, though.
  • Wood: Wood comes in many types and costs. Engineered hardwood veneer costs from £20 to £110. Solid hardwood is more expensive and costs from £30 to £130.
  • Stone: Stone flooring is more expensive than the alternatives. It costs from £50 to £80.
  • Tiles: Ceramic tiles range from £15 to £25. Porcelain tiles cost from £15 to £30. There are other tile materials, though.
  • Marble: Marble is a luxurious flooring material, so expect a price range of £20 to £60.

What Flooring Type Costs the Least?

The most affordable flooring materials are roll vinyl, laminate, and concrete.

What Flooring Type Costs the Most?

Natural floorings cost the most. That’s wood, marble, stone, and the like. Similarly, epoxy can become expensive if you apply many layers of it.

What Flooring Types Are the Best Value for Money?

LVT combines affordability with functionality and durability. It mimics the look of higher-end materials and is resistant to many types of damage.

What Types of Floorings Are the Easiest to Install?

The easiest floorings to install are those you can install over existing floors and use click-lock or glue-down systems. These primarily include LVT and vinyl but also some types of carpet and engineered hardwood.

What Types of Floorings Are the Easiest to Maintain?

Water- and stain-resistant, smooth-surfaced flooring materials are usually the easiest to maintain. These include tile, laminate, epoxy, LVT, and vinyl. They require minimal polishing and maintenance, unlike natural flooring materials.

What Are the Easiest to Clean?

Tile, epoxy, LVT, vinyl, and laminate only require regular sweeping and mopping with mild cleaners to keep them clean and hygienic.

What Types of Flooring Are Best for Kids?

Investing in a hygienic, comfortable, durable, stain- and slip-resistant flooring material is a good idea if you have kids.

Preventing accidents and messes should be your priority, so carpets aren’t a viable option. We recommend cork, rubber, laminate, or LVT flooring solutions.

What Types of Flooring Are Best for Pets?

Similarly to kids, pets can be messy. It’s best to avoid flooring materials that can stain or hold onto hair or odours if you have one in your household. You should also consider a material that can withstand scuffs and scratches.

We recommend any flooring material other than carpet.

What Types of Flooring Are Best for High Traffic?

Living rooms, entryways, hallways, and kitchens are high-traffic living spaces susceptible to dirt, stains, and more. As such, you need a material that can withstand high traffic and is easy to clean and maintain.

We recommend sealed natural materials (wood, stone, etc.), laminate, tiles, and LVT.

What Types of Flooring Are Best for Water?

Some flooring materials are more resistant to moisture and water than others. These include LVT, laminate, vinyl, and epoxy. They work in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements just fine.

Conclusion

The number of flooring types and materials available can make choosing what to use in your next renovation or construction project difficult.

When choosing a flooring material, it's best to consider your specific needs, budget, and your house’s design style. While wood, marble, and stone are elegant and durable, they can be too expensive for most homeowners. If that’s the case, LVT, linoleum, and laminate are also viable.

Get in touch with us if you need further guidance concerning flooring materials or are looking to give your floor the treatment it deserves!

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