Floor Finishes for Your Perth Home
There are many flooring options to choose from for your Perth home. Tiled surfaces or polished concrete give a sleek modern look and work well in high traffic areas. In some situations they help keep indoor temperatures comfortable by storing heat. Timber and tiled surfaces are low maintenance and easy to clean. For allergy sufferers they’re also a healthier alternative to carpet, which can trap dust and other allergy causing particles.
Vinyl and Linoleum
Vinyl and linoleum are available in a huge selection of styles and colours and can be laid in sheet or tile form. Vinyl is relatively cheap and is low maintenance. It is however vulnerable to scratches, tears, stains and wear.
Linoleum is a natural product which is composed of flax and natural resin and is biodegradable and hypoallergenic. As a Registered Architect specialising in residential design, Antony Svilicich recommends linoleum for people with asthma. It does not trap dust or bacteria, which helps air quality and is low maintenance, durable and mildew resistant. However, being a natural material the colours/ pattern may not suit all decors.
Ceramic tiles are available in a huge selection of colours, styles and sizes. Not all ceramic tiles are equally wear resistant and high traffic areas like kitchens call for stronger ceramic. Ceramic tiles can also crack and chip. If they chip then the clay substrate will be visible and may stand out especially if the colour of the ceramic surface differs greatly from the base.
Porcelain tiles are a popular choice because they have the look of stone but are cheaper and are available in a huge selection of colours and patterns. Porcelain tiles are stronger than ceramic and are durable and low maintenance. Unlike ceramic tiles the colour of the porcelain tiles is the same throughout and if they crack or chip the colour/ pattern of the tile will remain the same.
Porcelain tiles are available in either a polished or honed (matt) finish. Care should be used when using polished porcelain in wet areas like bathrooms as slipping can occur when the tiles are wet.
Laminate flooring is made of synthetic materials with a timber like appearance. It resists staining, scratches, dents, fading and is durable and water resistant. Laminate flooring is available in a large selection of styles and colours such as timber, stone, and ceramic. It is relatively easy to install and can last up to 25 years.
Cork is one of the worlds most environmentally friendly flooring options. Cork tiles are soft, warm and quiet under foot. It is made from the bark of the cork oak tree. Being a natural product, cork tiles will offer subtle variations from tile to tile. It is easy to install and maintain and is hypoallergenic and mildew resistant and is recommended as a natural cost effective flooring option. Cork flooring offers a hygienic surface for easy heavy living applications. Cork floors are not as popular as timber and do not go well with all decors.
Solid timber planking is hardwearing and goes well with almost all decors. Timber creates a warm and natural atmosphere which is why Antony recommends it as a timeless flooring option which never goes out of fashion. Timber is not suitable for rooms with excessive moisture such as bathrooms, as it is susceptible to moisture and changes in temperature. It can be installed directly to concrete or on a plywood base.
If using timber, make sure it comes from certified sustainably managed forests. There are many cost effective and stylish Australian timbers from these sources to choose from which Antony can advise you on. You can get natural varnishes for timber floors, like tung oil or beeswax, that look great and don’t give off low level toxic fumes like standard polyurethane finishes do. Depending on foot traffic inside a home and the subsequent wear a timber floor may require resealing every few years.
Another alternative to natural timber planks is prefinished or engineered timber. Prefinished boards are produced by adhering sheets of real wood to a composite surface. Engineered timber has the advantage of being less susceptible to moisture and temperature change than natural timber. It is sold as a prefinished board and can be glued directly to concrete or a plywood base.
It is not as durable as natural timber and generally cannot be sanded more than twice. Engineered timber is commonly used in home renovations because as a pre-finished board it does not require sanding or a finish applied to it.
Bamboo is an ecologically friendly, renewable and rapid growth plant. It is harder than natural timber and is more resistant to moisture. It can be glued directly to concrete or a plywood base.
With the installation process of flooring it is essential to install a moisture barrier for newer houses under 5 years old and is always recommended for all timber flooring. There are two common forms of installation. Most flooring is installed by directly fixing the strip planking onto the concrete using polyurethane glues. Floating floors are more common for laminate and veneer flooring. This form of installation is ideal for sound proofing situations.
Polished concrete is a term which covers two distinct types of finishes:
- Trowel finished floors, with or without post applied finishes
- Ground and polished or abrasive blasted floors
Some of the finishes below can be used in combination with other finishes to achieve a wider range of results, to suit any style or taste.
Trowel finishes include:
- Steel trowel finish, where a normal hand or machine trowelled finish is used for the surface of the slab, usually with a clear sealer applied.
- Burnished concrete, where the surface is finely steel trowelled, bringing the surface up to a glossy finish free of any trowelling marks.
Coloured concrete can be used in either steel trowel or burnished finishes, to achieve various results. These can be applied as oxides in the mix, or as “dry shake” pigments applied to freshly screened concrete and then trowelled in, or by chemically staining the concrete. Chemical stains are used with either steel trowel or burnished finishes. Metallic salts are carried into the surface of the concrete by mild acids, making the stains deep and permanent. Saw cuts can be added to enhance or separate panels of colour.
Ground and Polished
Ground and polished finishes include:
- Exposed aggregate, where the normal grey concrete is ground back by several millimetres to expose whatever aggregate exists in the slab. This is often used by Perth architects in renovations of older buildings to reveal some of their history.
- Exposed selected aggregates, where the cement colour and aggregate in a new slab are carefully selected, so when the surface is ground back they produce desired effects.
Abrasive blasting of the concrete surface will also provide varied effects.
Toppings can also be used on their own or together with some of the effects listed above to provide interesting visual finishes that do not interfere with thermal performance. Terrazzo is one of many toppings which is also ground and polished. Other toppings may be left in the “as placed” or “as trowelled” state.
Note that some of these options require careful protection of the slab during subsequent construction works. Also note that many sealer finishes have toxicity impacts but environmentally preferred alternatives are available such as bees wax or other natural wax polishes. These will need regular buffing to maintain sheen, which Antony will be able to advise you on.