The choice of floor finish can have a dramatic influence on the perceived ‘quality’ of a space. There is a great variety in the cost of the various finishes available, and floors are often an area in which our Clients who wish to save money elsewhere would like money to be spent. A marble floor could have the same technical performance in terms of hardness, slip resistance, acoustics, light reflection, heat conduction, etc as a floor costing less than half as much – even one with a similar appearance, but the fact that it is marble is what matters. The floor is often a place to show off.
When selecting a suitable floor finish, we like to start from first principles. First and foremost we ask how the room / space is to be used. Then, we consider any constraints. For example, if under-floor heating is to be installed beneath it, we may require a floor covering with good thermal conductivity. Cost is still often an important issue. Sometimes we are asked to build as cheaply as possible, but in the long-term it can often be more cost effective to spend a little more. For example, very cheap timber flooring may have a thin veneer and need to be replaced when it is badly scratched, whereas more expensive boards could be sanded down a number of times.
Obviously, floors in wet areas will need appropriate slip resistance, and to be of materials will not deteriorate due to moisture.
Once a material has been decided upon, there are other design considerations. Buildings can sometimes feel more spacious when a single floor covering ‘flows’ from room to room. A single floor finish flowing from indoors to outside through glazed doors can create a wonderful ambiguity between ‘in’ and out.’ Conversely, altering the flooring between rooms can enhance the sense of their different characters, creating a number of separate places. Features in the floor can be used to either create or celebrate ‘special’ places. For example, it is not uncommon to find decorative paving surrounding a garden feature such as a sundial or fountain, and there’s no reason why the same principle should not apply indoors. A border to the perimeter of a floor can enhance the sense of enclosure. ‘Routes’ can be suggested by incorporating lines or areas of differing colour, texture or material. Ambiguity can be introduced by allowing floor coverings onto walls or other surfaces. Sometimes a powerful effect can be created by such means for very modest additional cost. The colours used can compliment or contrast with those of the walls, doors, ceilings furnishings etc and will have a big impact on the overall ambience of the spaces
The floor should not be considered in isolation, but as an integral part of the overall design. In some instances – a modest bedroom for example, which will be mostly covered by furniture, this may not take long. In other areas, great delight can be taken in integrating the floor with the other elements.