Choosing flooring is one of the most important decisions to make when building a new home. Today, there are many more choices available than just carpet or timber flooring and some of those choices are more cost efficient. It’s very popular in Australia to install hard flooring in the living and hall areas for easy cleaning and indoor/outdoor living. Traditionally, timber flooring has been the first choice, but modern methods of tiling, and other more sustainable materials have become more prevalent. The cheapest floor covering is timber laminate at around $50 a square metre installed. However, it doesn’t wear that well and can sometimes look a little cheap.
Bamboo flooring is eco-friendly and sustainable and fashionable for those reasons. It is also a good alternative to timber as it is hardier and more resistant to impact damage. As it is a fast-growing grass, it isn’t suitable for wet areas like bathrooms or kitchens. Bamboo flooring is made by weaving the bamboo fibres into an adhesive base which is then compressed into a strong plank. Bamboo flooring can be up to 30% cheaper than timber, at around $140 installed. However, it has fewer colour choices than timber.
Timber flooring can be engineered timber or natural planks. This is the most expensive type of hard flooring and requires regular maintenance. While it looks beautiful and can be a focal point in a room, it can be easily damaged. It shrinks and expands with temperature changes, it splits and cracks, needs to be sealed and treated, and it's easily damaged by moisture and spills. Pet claws and high heels can dent timber flooring and every few years, it needs to be resealed. This is a major job, especially if sanding needs to be done as well, and requires the household to move out for a few days. Timber flooring costs around $170 a square metre installed.
Timber-look tiles made from porcelain are an excellent alternative to timber or bamboo. Tiles are hard wearing, resistant to dirt and stains and have a long life. Modern techniques enable tiles to replicate any type of wood, even packing cases and recycled timber. The tiles are designed to mimic the variations and imperfections of wood and are sometimes hard to tell apart. Timber-look tiles are a superior product to the natural timbers that inspired them. They are resistant to heat and cold, can be used in wet areas and require no on-going maintenance.
Tiles are ideal for use with underfloor heating and areas with good indoor/outdoor flow. In large areas, noise can be an issue, and tiled floors can be softened with the use of curtains, blinds and large rugs. Berstan Homes managing director, Mark Bryson, recommends hard flooring in living rooms, hallways and utility rooms, and carpet in bedrooms for sound and warmth qualities. High quality wool or nylon carpet is about $150 per square metre installed.
Mark says there is a huge variety of timber-look tiles now available and recommends National Tiles as his preferred supplier.
A large rug over the tiled floor brings a cosy feel to the room and suits families with small children. Mark says Carpet Call has a great selection of rugs including clearance rugs at bargain prices.