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This lists and compares floorcoverings as an aid to choice.


Ceramic Tiles

  • Cold, unless UFH fitted
  • Hard
  • Slippery when wet, can be dangerous
  • Very tough wearing
  • Easy clean

Quarry Tiles

One of the longest lasting floorcoverings, with life expectancy over a century


  • Can be a visual treat
  • Can be made from broken tiles
  • Less slipppery than ceramic tiled floors
  • Less easy to clean
  • Laying mosaics is laborious

Stone Tiles

One of the longest lasting floorcoverings, with life expectancy over a century

  • Higher breakage than ceramic tiles during fitting, due to greater fragility
  • Some stone is slippery when wet (eg polished granite, marble), some is not (eg limestone, riven slate)


  • Very soft
  • Very warm
  • Most comfortable floorcovering of all
  • Particularly difficult to clean properly
  • Harbours dirt, dead skin & dust mites
  • Carpets sometimes smell bad after a while
  • Unhygienic in bathrooms
    • captures the urine aerosol created by flushing.
    • captures dirty feet residues

Carpet Tiles

  • very tough wearing
  • often washable
  • any damaged ones can be replaced

Bathroom carpet

This is a waterproof carpet with a watertight backing.

Lino & Vinyls

A variety of materials are available which are often generically referred to as 'Lino'.

Most common are vinyls, in sheets (supplied on rolls up to 3m or 4m wide) or as tiles. All are inherently waterproof, resistant to most household chemicals, and relatively easy to clean. The cheaper, thinner varieties are prone to damage from moving heavy items such as washing machines, and from contact with sharp objects etc. In tile form they may be prone to coming unstuck and suffering damage at the edges. Replacing the pre-applied adhesive with something better is often a good idea. This can be done with tissue paper & paraffin. Heavier and more expensive vinyls with thicker foam backing are softer and warmer on cold floors.

Traditional Linoleum is nowadays marketed as a high-quality (and relatively expensive) floor covering which may be chosen for its aesthetic or for its claimed health and environmental benefits. It is available in sheets and tiles, in various colours. They are generally tougher and more resistant to surface damage than vinyls, but more vulnerable to attack by chemicals, particularly oils and solvents. Marmoleum is a brand available in the UK.

Amtico and Karndean are synthetic materials[1] resembling hard vinyls or linos. They are generally tough, hard-wearing - and expensive. They are available in wide ranges of colours and patterns including many resembling wood, stone or tiles. Fitting requires expertise, due largely to the difficulty of cutting and the expense of the material.



  • Attractive (if in reasonably good condition)
  • Fairly hard
  • Warm
  • Damaged by dog claws
  • Use wood with correct moisture content, otherwise it will shrink and create lots of gaps
  • If varnishing, use a non-slip floor varnish, as some varnishes can be slippery when wet.
  • Avoid all tinted varnishes, these chip over time exposing light areas. This looks awful.
  • Very dirty historic softwood floors frequently clean up well with an hour's repeated mopping with a solution of washing powder and a tiny bit of bleach.


  • May be laid as boards or in tiled patterns, eg parquet
  • Tougher than softwoods

Hardwood laminate

  • A thin layer of hardwood on chipboard

Printed laminates

There are also laminate wood style flooring sheets available that are printed wood patterns on thin hardboard or MDF.

  • The pattern and its colouration don't quite look genuine, resulting in a job that doesn't look right.
  • The printing is very thin, and wears off relatively easily.
  • Because of these, combined with the cost and time it takes to lay a floorcovering, its hard to recommend these low end laminates.

Cork tiles

Cork 2824-2.jpg
  • Semi-soft
  • Warm
  • Decays if it stays wet or damp
  • Suitable sealers make it easier to clean


A shiny hardwearing dark waterproof surface often found in factories, institutions etc.

  • Available in black, brown & dull red
  • Warm
  • Very tough wearing
  • Made from hot rolled bitumen & clay
  • Some antimicrobial effect


There are various types of matting. Common problems include the tendency of mats to move frequently, and trip and slip hazards. Some types of mat have quite a rough surface too.

Mats can be easily rolled up and taken away, and are usually regarded as temporary floorcoverings.

A rubberised underside or a rubberised string grid under the mat can reduce movement and slip hazards, but trip hazard remains.


  • Ugly
  • Cold
  • Hard
  • Wear creates dust
  • Difficult to clean

Painted Concrete

  • Visually unappealing, but a real improvement on bare concrete
  • Wear and dusting are stopped
  • Paint wears through in time


Concrete Terrazzo

Traditional terrazzo is concrete with extra stones in the surface, and the result abraded down and polished.

  • Beautiful
  • Cold
  • Hard
  • Very long lasting
  • Important to use correct cleaners
  • Stains if mistreated and neglected
  • Metal crack control strips are built in to control & conceal cracking
  • Shallow depths can not be laid, so not so easy to retrofit.

Resin Terrazzo

Resin based terrazzo is a lower cost modern version of terrazzo. It is typically a quarter of an inch thick, based in resin, and looks like concrete terrazzo.

  • Beautiful
  • Hard
  • Important to use correct cleaners
  • Not as tough as concrete terrazzo
  • Easier to retrofit than concrete terrazzo

See Also

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