When I was growing up the choice of floor decoration was oilcloth [a thin type of linoleum], or linoleum [lino] in the bedrooms and, in the living rooms downstairs, lino covered with a large rug or, if you had a better budget, herringbone hardwood flooring with a large rug in the middle. A stair runner lined the center of the stairs held in place with a brass stair-rod.
These ideas moved on into the 1970s with fitted carpets which had large swirly patterns: you were really somebody if you could afford fitted carpets! Fitted carpets came and stayed, the only real changes being the textures and fabrics, the colours and whether the carpets were plain or patterned. These all changed according to fashion. Cork tiles made a brief appearance as being the must-have flooring options in the bathroom and kitchen. They never really went out of fashion as they are practical and warm underfoot.
However, the late 1990s was when laminate flooring made its appearance and hardwood flooring came back with a vengeance. Floors to aspire to are now hardwood floors, with the whole of the living area having the same kind of flooring. Gone are the days of the unhygienic carpeting in the kitchen: this has been replaced by a multitude of flooring options, from recycled rubber to slate, stone, hardwood, laminates, and tiling.
Many bedrooms are also finished with laminate or hardwood flooring, brightened up with scattered rugs. In my own home, however, I have retained deep-pile carpets in the bedrooms and, in all the downstairs rooms I have installed hardwood flooring which has been stained and varnished to give it a deep timbre to bring out the beauty of the wood. It is so much easier to keep clean and I believe this is far more hygienic than fitted carpets everywhere which can harbour germs deep down in the fibres.
The number of DIY shops that sell both hardwood and laminate flooring is amazing when, if you think about it carefully, fitting flooring effectively so that it looks good and lies properly, is an experts’ job. It is certainly not something I would consider doing. After all, if you mess it up, hardwood is not a cheap option – if you are paying out that sort of money, as far as I am concerned, it is better to pay a bit more and employ an expert to fit it properly. In this case, the end result well justifies the means!
So, if you are choosing laminates or hardwoods, what are you going to be looking for? Good hardwood flooring will add value to your property and will last a lifetime. If it does start to look a bit tired, it just needs to be sanded down, re-stained and given a new coat of varnish. Solid hardwood flooring planks are available in cherry, walnut, maple, and oak. Also available are other woods such as teak and bamboo which, although not a wood but a grass, is very popular in these economically sustainable times.