The wide range of materials on offer for flooring can make selecting what to lay a daunting task, especially if you want to install it DIY and stick to a budget.
When renovating a home, the choice of flooring can set the tone and comfort level for each area.
Evaluate the level of foot traffic through the space and the aesthetic you want to create, plus factors such as water exposure and how much time will be spent standing in each room.
Making a poor choice can result in an expensive refurbishment, so it’s also important to consider design elements such as paint and existing furniture.
While it’s smart to select the material to suit the specific needs of each room, in open-plan designs, using the same flooring for the entire house is best to unify the space.
Other factors to take into account are pets, kids and your regular activities.
If exercising in the living room is your thing, bear it in mind when choosing flooring. Image: Thinkstock
Choose the material
Tile is ideal for wet areas and comes in three main materials. Durable porcelain is resistant to chips and scratches, ceramic is the cheapest and easiest to cut DIY, while porous stone is costly and needs regular resealing.
DIY OR TRADIE? Tiling requires accuracy and patience, but have the waterproofing done by a pro.
Tile is ideal for wet areas in the home
Vinyl is a top choice in kitchens as it’s soft underfoot, durable, low maintenance and mould resistant. Made to last up to 20 years, vinyl comes in boards, tiles or sheets.
DIY OR TRADIE? Laying sheets is simple in small, angular areas. Self-adhesive tiles or boards are easier to install solo and damaged areas can be easily replaced.
Vinyl is a popular choice for kitchens
Carpet is great in areas that need heat and sound insulation, such as a bedroom. Modern machine-made tufted carpets range in price from low for acrylic fabrics, such as polyester blends or nylon, to high for pure wool.
DIY OR TRADIE? Carpet is easy to lay DIY but is inexpensive to have installed professionally.
Choose carpet in areas that need heat and sound insulation
Laminate is an affordable alternative to timber, ceramic or stone for any room in the home, as it’s durable and resistant to scuffs and stains. The boards are laid as a floating floor over a subfloor.
DIY OR TRADIE? Laminate does not need professional installation but for a neat edge on a DIY job, remove the skirting first.
Laminate is an affordable alternative to timber, ceramic or stone
Bamboo is becoming more popular for use in high-traffic areas. Unlike costly hardwoods, bamboo is highly sustainable, budget-friendly and looks just as good as more traditional timbers.
DIY OR TRADIE? As it is sold as a pre-finished product, bamboo needs no sanding, sealing or polishing, so it’s easy to install DIY.
Bamboo is a popular choice in high traffic areas
Cork is great in kitchens as it’s warm and comfortable underfoot and absorbs impact better than hard surfaces like tiles. It’s ideal for allergy sufferers, as it doesn’t absorb dust, and offers insulation and soundproofing qualities. It can also be dyed any colour.
DIE OR TRADIE? Laid like vinyl tiles, cork is easy to install DIY.
Cork is great in kitchens as it’s warm and comfortable underfoot
The flooring is laid on a structural layer called the subfloor.
The type of material used for a subfloor depends on various factors, such as how even the ground is and whether it will be laid on the first or second level of your home.
TIMBER or steel frames, or a concrete slab, are the most common subfloors.
Concrete is more often used at ground level, while steel or timber are popular for uneven blocks or second storeys.
PARTICLEBOARD or concrete sheeting is required to form a supportive surface over either steel- or timber-framed subflooring. These form an even base for any flooring to be laid straight on top.
Designed to provide cushioning, bounce and acoustic-insulation to flooring, underlay can be laid under bamboo or laminate floating floors and carpet.
It helps keep rooms warm in winter and makes a difference to the finished feel and result of the carpet, so invest in the best quality you can afford.
A versatile and affordable material, concrete can be a fabulous flooring option for living areas or kitchens. While it can look cold, its high thermal mass makes it comfortable underfoot.
While concrete finishes are often associated with an industrial look, grey isn’t the only option, as pigments can be mixed into the wet product or applied to the surface as stains or dyes.
The two finishes available are diamond polishing, which exposes the aggregate and adds shine, or sealing, where an epoxy finish uses a resinous, two-part material as a sealant.
For a flawless, smooth finish and minimal mess, laying concrete indoor flooring is best left to the professionals.
A versatile and affordable material, concrete can be a fabulous flooring option for living areas or kitchens