Choosing a Floor
When you first decide to examine your options for flooring you'll probably take into account a few factors that are really important to you. Let's take a quick look at them.
Budget: This is often the number one, top of the list factor that influences choice. Budgets are often quite restricted for a number of reasons but a common one is that you've just bought your house and after professional fees and removal and other relocation costs you're feeling as though you can't face paying out another substantial sum.
Finish, or what I like to think of as 'The Look': Which area of the house you need to work on and the way you live your life should always be factored in when you think about 'The Look'. If you live out in the country with three children and a couple of dogs then the thought probably furthest from your mind will be 'carpet in the entrance hall'. After all, you have what I would term a heavy traffic family and you know all too well how that affects carpeting. 'The Look' will begin to fade almost before you get used to it.
Disruption: Quite a lot of people don't really think about the disruption element of new flooring until it happens. Floors can't be laid under furniture, for example, although in a lightly furnished room it might be possible to push everything up to one end and then lift it all back over the unrolling carpet halfway through the job. Vinyl flooring needs the same sort of approach. Travertine flooring usually involves a lot of cutting of edge pieces to fit tiles properly along room edges and the adhesive and grouting takes time to fix. Wood flooring also has a waiting time, because wood should be stored in the intended environment for at least 14 days before it's laid as flooring. After that the adhesive needs time to set and the protective coating can add another 2 days before the room can be used.
Durability: If you're disruption-averse you'll want it to be a long time before you have to go through it all over again. Wood floors require re-sealing at regular intervals, again rendering a room unavailable for use for days. At longer intervals you may need to have a wood floor sanded to bring back the original pristine appearance. Carpets are generally replaced every few years and vinyl flooring, while much more durable than it was 30 years ago, should never be thought of as permanent because it's more prone to accidental damage than some choices.
Sustainability: If you're at all eco-conscious you'll want to know that your flooring isn't harming the planet. Vinyl flooring is manufactured using toxic chemicals and will never biodegrade (well, maybe in a million years - even a plastic carrier bag takes 10,000 years). Most carpets available are made with either Nylon or a polymer or a mixture of both. Pure wool carpets are quite rare and wool is often mixed with nylon to add durability. Pure wool carpets should be regularly cleaned by a specialist. Wood is a completely natural material but is sourced by cutting down what are usually broad-leaf trees such as oak because of the need for hardwood. Travertine is cut from quarries using diamond saws and, unlike most other materials, goes down and stays down, requiring very little maintenance.
Some people like a change and don't mind some disruption, others want to be able to buy once and never need to buy again. A family will manage to live around a carpet being fitted or decide to take a week away while a hardwood or stone floor is laid.
I believe that all decisions regarding flooring should be as well informed as they can be and you, as a consumer, should be provided with information that will help your decision. That's why I've tried to put as much as possible in one place.