Hard flooring buying guide

Hard flooring adds a clean, fresh look to the home. It’s both practical and decorative, easy to maintain and, with care, looks good year after year.

Hard flooring is easy to clean, which is perfect for people with allergies, as dust, mites, mould, pollen and animal hair are less likely to build up on hard floors. It’s tough and wears well.

Free samples of the majority of our flooring ranges are available on our website and in our shops, and we offer a complete flooring service that takes care of everything from free measuring and estimating through to fitting. You can book an estimating appointment for vinyl flooring here once you've chosen your design

Wooden flooring

Wooden Flooring

There’s something strikingly elegant about a solid or engineered wood floor. The beauty of natural wood is that it offers infinite and unique variations in knotting, markings, grain and colour. Our display samples will give you a good idea of what it will look like, but once laid, it will have a character of its own. It's quite usual for it to have small knots and splits and these blemishes add character!

An oiled finish will give you a very natural and different look compared to a lacquer finish, though the latter is more water-resistant and easier to maintain, so is a wise choice if children and animals are likely to take their toll on your floor.

The lighter the colour, the more light will be reflected, but wear and tear is likely to show more readily. You should expect that once your wood is exposed to normal sunlight, it’s subject to colour change - part of its beauty! Wet areas such as bathrooms are really not suitable for wood flooring.

Wooden flooring can be softened using rugs, which are also a lovely way to create zones in large rooms. They’re easily updatable, so you can refresh your décor without replacing your flooring.

Wood expands and contracts with extremes of temperature, to the extent where small gaps may appear temporarily. We’ll ask you to pick the finish you’d like to cover the gap left around the perimeter of your floor to allow its expansion. Wood flooring needs a level surface and this will be included in your estimate.

If you have a new concrete floor, it needs time to dry out completely. Wood flooring should be placed in the area where it is to be installed to enable it to “acclimatise” or adjust its moisture content to correspond with that of its surroundings. When acclimatising wood flooring, the packs should be stacked to enable air to circulate around them. They must never be opened during this period, and expect pre-finished wooden flooring to take 48 - 72 hours to acclimatise.

 

Laminate flooring is made by laminating an image of wood onto a board backing. Good quality laminate can be very convincing, and is a great way to get the look of wood at an affordable price. It’s durable, chip-proof and scratch resistant, which makes it low maintenance. It is easy to install, especially the type that comes in interlocking planks and needs no glue.

Laminates should not normally be used in ares where it's likely to become wet. The exception to this is the Quickstep Impressive range that's designed to withstand moisture if used with Quickstep underlay.

Laminate Flooring

Engineered wood is strong, stable and easier to lay than solid wood, so you can achieve a cleaner, sharper finish. It’s made of layers of wood boards glued together and topped with a layer of timber, from walnut to oak to cherry or maple. It’s good at resisting warping, buckling and cracking, even during seasonal variations in temperature and humidity.

All our engineered wood flooring has a wear layer which is thick enough to allow the floor to be sanded at least once. Underfloor heating is not usually considered suitable for solid wood flooring, but it's fine for engineered wood with its good resistance to heat.

Vinyl flooring

Luxury Vinyl Tiles

Luxury vinyl tiles - are an excellent alternative to natural materials and can be used anywhere in the house. They’re designed to be tough, durable, hygienic and easy to clean, and so are ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.

Amtico - is our best quality of vinyl tiles. It's a great investment as it looks beautiful and comes with a lifetime, 100% replacement guarantee - which is fully transferable should the property be sold. Amtico floors are made up of tiles and strips that can be combined to make different designs, including checker board, parquet, and bordered design layouts. It’s possible to create individual designs for any room, and there's plenty of scope for creativity.

Most Amtico tiles are made up of several layers of vinyl, finished with a 1mm wear layer. The wear layer offers outstanding performance, which in normal domestic use, will last as long as you want. Spacia is Amtico’s other brand offering a stylish, practical alternative at a lower price. Suitable for all areas of the home, it's just as easy to maintain and comes with a 25-year warranty.

John Lewis Vinyl floor coverings are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a plastic material. Available in a wide range of designs, styles and widths, it's cushioned for comfort and insulation and impervious to water, making it ideal for kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also hardwearing and long-lasting, as long as the subfloor (concrete, floorboards, etc) is well prepared before laying. It's often necessary to have your floor levelled and smoothed first, otherwise the vinyl could show undulations and crease when warm. John Lewis vinyl is available in wood , tile, design and smooth/plain patterns.

Harvey Maria floor tiles are easy to clean, slip-resistant and 100% waterproof. The tough durable finish is also resistant to scuffs and scratches, bacteria, dust mites and allergens, making them a good choice for the family home. Tiles also work well with underfloor heating. All Harvey Maria floors are suitable for bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, hallways and conservatories and include patterns from designers such as
Neisha Crossland, Dee Hardwicke and Cath Kidston.

Harvey Maria Floor Tiles

Other types of flooring

Marmoleum, often referred to as linoleum, is made from natural materials including linseed oil, resin, wood flour, cork, clay and chalk.

This product comes in over 40 colours available in tile form in a variety of size,s so that you can create exciting layouts. It's ideal for wet areas, very hardwearing and becomes more durable as it matures. We provide a design service in our shops for Marmoleum, and it also comes with a 15-year guarantee.

 

Marmoleum Flooring

Looking after your hard flooring

Unfortunately, new flooring will not be immune to scratches, especially from high heels or pet claws! Floow this advice to help you to take care of your new flooring:

  • Get a good quality doormat to protect your floor against grit and water. Ask one of our Partners for advice on the best type for your floor
  • Use felt pads or castor cups to protect your floor from furniture dents, marks and scratches
  • Mop up water straight away so that it doesn’t mark the floor (beech and maple woods are especially sensitive). A lacquered finish to wood flooring seals the joints between the boards and gives better protection against water
  • Wash floors using a soapy cleaner specifically for wooden floors, use the minimum amount of water and a dry mop
  • You can buy anti-slip polish for lacquered wooden floors, but ensure you colour-test a small area first
  • Remove built-up polish with a specialist stripper, available to buy in our stores and on line. We also sell touch-up kits and polishes
  • Rubber-wheeled cylinder vacuum cleaners are gentler on hard floors than upright cleaners. If you already have an upright cleaner, make sure you use it on the right setting to avoid damaging your floor, or use the attachment tools.
  • Wood flooring is subject to colour change when exposed to normal sunlight, so it’s a good idea to move or rearrange carpets, rugs and furniture periodically, in order to avoid distinct lines between the exposed and unexposed areas of the floor.

Treating hard floor stains

Hard flooring is very resilient, but you should always mop up spillages straight away. Some stains will need immediate treatment.

  • Use white spirit to remove rubber, oil, shoe polish, soot, chocolate and grease
  • Use 50/50 turpentine and water to remove crayon, lipstick and ink
  • Harden chewing gum with ice in a polythene bag before scraping it off carefully
  • Wash away blood or beetroot with cold water.
  • Avoid stain-removing agents and rubbing at stains too hard, as both can damage the lacquer.