Don’t get floored by unsuitable floor coverings.

Don’t get floored by unsuitable floor coverings.

Last week’s blog was about taps, this week I’m covering floors (literally!)

I’ll consider the most popular coverings first. Most UK flats and houses have carpets in some rooms. But not all have underlay. Did you know that underlay can actually make your carpet last longer, thereby paying for itself? Especially on uneven floors, where it smoothes over and spreads out any raised wear points, such as floorboard joints, or on the nosing of steps. The result is a softer, more luxurious floor covering effectively for free! This is less significant on perfectly smooth floors without steps, or if you have poor tenants who make the carpet too dirty to clean.

Turned-pile carpet tends to be more durable than cut-pile, although I think cut-pile is nicer. Foam-backed carpet performs poorly and is on its way out. A modern alternative is felt backing, which is soft like foam, but doesn’t perish and fall apart.

Quickstep laminate on turned-pile carpet

Laminate flooring remains popular and can be very durable, but is far more expensive per square metre than carpet. It’s also hugely variable in cost, but for my money you get what you pay for. I only fit Quickstep Classic in my own properties, and advise clients to do the same (they don’t always listen, but that’s their prerogative). Quickstep is not cheap, but it clicks together in a way which inspires confidence, is easy to lay (thereby saving time on fitting), and is durable. The picture shows Quickstep Classic on the newly-laid closed-pile carpet in one of my properties.

At the other end of the scale, I was called in at short notice last year to fit laminate to a 90 square metre shop floor. Their own carpenter had bottled it, and they were due to open on Monday. It was Saturday! They had already bought the laminate from Ikea, and I could see from the chipped corners that it was very poor quality. I agreed on condition that if it came apart I could not be held responsible. Sure enough the joints soon failed in high traffic areas, and they will have to replace it again soon. Fortunately the shop has been a roaring success so they can afford better materials this time!

The other problem with laminate is that most are extremely susceptible to water damage. I have a rolling contract to replace laminate floors for an insurance company. Most damage was as a result of a leaking washing machine or radiator. Carpets could have been cleaned and dried, but the MDF in laminate swells and the joints blow. On this basis, I never fit MDF based laminate floor in a bathroom, even if it claims it’s OK for that purpose.

I’ll look at water-resistant laminate flooring, polished boards, vinyl, ceramic and stone tiles, engineered wood, underfloor heating, and suitable flooring for bathrooms over the next couple of weeks.


Leave a Reply