THE HOME DECORATION AND IMPROVEMENTS MARKET IS FULL OF EXCEPTIONAL FLOORING OPTIONS, FROM CARPET, WOOD AND VINYL TO TILE AND LAMINATE – SOMETHING TO SUIT ANY HOME OR BUDGET.
If your home has no under-floor heating, carpet is an obvious choice to create a warm, cosy feel. There is a wide variety of styles, textures and blends to choose from that vary in price and quality. Different systems of yarn, colourations, designs, tone-on-tone prints, loops and tip shears have now come onto the market, so there is a great deal to consider when choosing a carpet.
Textured carpets such as chunky loop piles in a room with textured fabrics and wallpapers can create a sophisticated look. However, as attractive as carpet can be, it is not always practical in a kitchen or bathroom, or in a house with pets, so this needs to be taken into account.
The new generation of vinyl flooring is easy to install, long-lasting, easy to keep clean and extremely economical. Exotic wood effects in laminate and resilient flooring have become more sought-after and have the added benefit of saving on natural resources. But in many residences on the Costa del Sol and in Gibraltar, this kind of flooring is not particularly common and, instead, floor tiles and marble are more popular choices as they work better in warmer climes – especially in kitchens and bathrooms – while large sheet-like tiles can contemporise a room, giving a great sense of space.
Timber and tile flooring are currently very on-trend. Finishes are moving on toflat and unassuming, with limed or oiled timber floorboards and matt finish tiles offering a very natural look. Pale colours such as milky greys and creams help to create a soft effect and give the space a fresh modern feel. Gone are the days of traditional orange and red hardwood: driftwood
On a marble or tiled surface it is often pleasant to have an area rug to give a warm accent to the room. The beauty of a rug is that it can play a passive role
in a room or be the centre of attention. There are many styles to choose from, able to transform your home instantaneously.
The trend for an ecological home also incorporates flooring. The demand for commercial flooring that complies with stipulated energy and environmental standards has also helped lower prices for residential eco flooring, which has led to a growing number of new products and increased demand.
Many flooring manufacturers are now producing ecological materials, adding lines that feature high recycled content and raw materials obtained from sustainable sources. Some engineered wood floors eschew plywood base construction in favour of wood pulp mixed with stone dust to produce an extremely stable substrate composed of around 70 per cent recycled material.
The new buzzwords floating around in the world of flooring are “antimicrobial” and “antibacterial”, and this has brought cork to people’s attention as it is thought to possess natural antibacterial properties. Cork is non-toxic and is taken from the bark of the cork oak tree. It is a key ingredient in eco-friendly linoleum and is a sustainable material because the bark grows back and can be harvested over and over again.
In terms of leading trends for 2014, wider flooring boards look fantastic in modern open-plan spaces. White oiled and chalky finishes will continue to be popular, as well as rustic and reclaimed oaks. New and recycled parquet and decorative block flooring panels are becoming more sought-after, with some experts predicting a move towards more textured wood flooring finishes – making an interior such as scorched, brushed, fumed and washed wood floors more attractive.
Flooring does not just stop at the front door, of course: outdoor decking has advanced over the years and is now highly durable and able to create an elegant look on a terrace or around a swimming pool. Many companies in Spain have ventured into this market.
As Estepona-based Concept Building notes, many opt for hardwood timber decking boards when they are making plans for a new deck for their home. However, there are numerous options for creating a beautiful deck for your home, including plastic decking.
People often choose hardwood decking timber purely for its natural beauty, and it is not until they actually have it installed that they realise how much work it is to maintain. “Depending on the size of the boards you choose, there is a higher risk of cupping for wide boards and of course splintering,” warns Concept Building. “Wood is very sensitive to moisture absorption. Because of this, hardwood timber decking requires a thorough and regular oiling,
which can be costly, and most suppliers of deck treatment oils recommend this be performed at least twice a year.”
Recycled plastic decking, or eco-decking as it is most commonly known, is quickly becoming the premier choice for homeowners for many reasons, according to Concept Building. Made from wood fibres that have been recycled, together with recycled high-density polyethylene plastic, plastic is an extremely environmentally-friendly decking material, and it also offers a non-slip, low maintenance surface that is splinter-free.
Using hidden deck fasteners to fasten the boards together eliminates the appearance of nails or screws, and the materials in eco-decking are colour-fast, “which means they keep their beauty much longer than timber”.
The beauty and glamour of hardwood flooring can be seen in any interior design magazine but, as Felix Korsch from Marbella-based carpentry workshop Korsch asks, “in a region obsessed with marble flooring, should we change?” The fact, he says, is that hardwood floors keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. “And, if that isn’t enough, hardwood floors are easier to maintain, more hygienic and durable, good for the environment and, in some cases, if you end up selling your home, you can take the floor with you!”
Oak is becoming more popular as a material for flooring as it is unique in its colour and character. The wood is recycled so it is ecological and, contrary to opinion, does not make any noise and can even have under-floor heating beneath it if required.
As the wood is oiled, it is easy to maintain, and wear and tear only gives the wood more character. An oak floor needs to be installed correctly to ensure that when the wood expands and contracts the planks do not buckle or slide.
Gunni & Trentino are exclusive suppliers of a material that has the appearance of wood but is actually a mix of wood
and resin and does not require maintenance like traditional wood decking (i.e. no varnish needed). It does not chip, crack
or rot and will not be attacked by termites or lignivoros fungal.
It is resistant to water, frost and inclement weather, and can handle sudden temperature changes (if the placement indications
are respected). It is usable on both sides, smoothed or ruled, according to aesthetic needs, and both surface finishes
are non-slip, even in the wet. It requires no treatment to be protected against harsh climatic conditions and does not
blacken like most conventional woods.
One contemporary, fast-installation and easy-maintenance alternative to flooring systems is microcement. Available from Get Up Cement in Marbella (among other local suppliers) it is a cementitious-coloured micro topping, one to two millimetres thick, designed to be used in multiple thin coat applications. It is valid for interior or exterior use, is ideal for the refurbishing of old concrete, tiles and plaster, can be used vertically and horizontally, and has excellent adhesive properties… with the correct surface preparation, it will bond to almost all solid substrates including concrete, ceramics, marble, mosaics, tiles, steel, plaster, gypsum and wood.