Types of Resilient Flooring
These floor-coverings are less noisy and kinder underfoot than hard floorings, but firmer than carpet. Resilient floors are made in both natural and man-made materials. Some are available in extra-broad widths to fit a large room without seams or joins, others come as tiles that are easy to lay.
• Comfortable underfoot.
• Practical alternative to hard flooring where soft floor-coverings are not suitable.
• Often easy to lay.
• Many suit a small budget.
• Those masquerading as traditional flooring are usually unconvincing.
• The cheapest ranges can prove a poor buy.
• Most are unsuitable with underfloor heating.
Cork – the bark of the cork-oak is light, warm and a natural insulator that deadens sound. It also swells when wet, so must not be exposed to damp. Colours are usually warm browns, but can be combined with a coloured underlay, which will glow through. Tiles are available either sealed or unsealed, and you should treat unsealed tiles with several coats of wax or polyurethaneafter laying. Suitable for any room.
Linoleum, or lino, is a natural product made from linseed oil, resin, wood flour and, spread onto a hessian (burlap) backing and cured to create a very flexible, hard-wearing flooring. Available in exciting colours and effects, for any room in the house except the stairs. Sheet lino is best fitted professionally (especially if you want a laser-cut inlaid design), but tiles are comparatively easy to lay, and you can buy coordinating borders and strips.
Rubber is back in fashion as a flooring. It is warm, very resilient and quiet, and comes in a wide range of colours. Some of the heavily studded surfaces can be difficult to clean. Contrary to expectations, it is not ideal for a bathroom or shower room as it can perish if saturated with water. Rubber comes in sheets (best laid by a professional) and DIY tiles, the latter of which can be used on stairs.
Laminates include woodgrain effects (often called wood laminate), marble and a host of individual designs. They need no sealing or polishing and can be cleaned with a damp cloth. They are suitable for most rooms except bathrooms where they could swell and start to lift if saturated.
Vinyl is often used to imitate tiles, wood or other traditional floors, but ranges now appear in delicious colours, with interesting effects such as glitter, mother-of-pearl and metallic — marvellous in the right setting, such as a child’s room or a contemporaryor warehouse conversion. Most vinyl can be laid by a competent home owner. Vinyl is more vulnerable to scratching, dents and burns than some resilient floorings and is unsuitable for stairs.
Rigid vinyl is available as tiles and complementary borders but can be quite unyielding underfoot. Flexible vinyl can be ‘lay flat’, which moulds itself to the sub-floor and only needs sticking down round the perimeter, or cushioned, which gives extra bounce. It is available either in sheets or tiles (including self-).
Other resilient flooring in natural materials include leather tiles (very expensive) and metal (expensive and noisy). There are vinyl and rubber simulations that achieve the same hi-tech look as metal.
An early type of synthetic floor was the thermoplastic or vinyl asbestos tile. It is essential to call in experts when removing these, as the asbestos content is hazardous to health.