In any interior design project we put the flooring high up on the list although many people may think the floor under foot is of less importance than the colour on the walls or the finish at the windows, every element of the room adds up to complete the perfect picture.

Looking at wooden floors first in this series, wood is natural, warm, authentic, appreciated for its quality, endurance, tradition and style.

Solid Wood and Engineered Wood

Straight boards come in different lengths, widths, colours, grains depending on the timber origin.  Shinier lacquered, varnished or oiled through to more matt finishes.  Parquet floors can be laid in interesting patterns to become the feature themselves in a room.

This is a new parquet floor laid in one project, with a more vintage wood look. 

Engineered wood is a layer of real wood on top of a heat formed compressed wood composite and a base support later.  Engineered wood floors are cheaper than solid wood, generally easier to lay, and work for underfloor heated areas.

Different types of wood are harder than others. Both solid wood and engineered wood will wear through use – from scratches from walking traffic and furniture movements.  These can be treated by sanding and revarnishing or lacquering or oiling.

Practical considerations for choosing the type of floor – where the floor is to be laid, room use, the type of base or substrate, expected traffic, durability and maintenance requirements, and ultimately budget.  Style considerations – the way the boards run, width and length size for the room, pattern, colour, tone and sheen.

Seen as an afterthought but as interior designers we feel is of primary importance – laying a new floor you need to leave a small expansion space for the floor around the edge of the room. Normally this is covered by (e.g. a new floor) the skirting board which sits just on top of the wood board.  When a floor is laid in an existing space, and skirting is not removed and replaced then a thin beading strip is required.  We would always advocate replacing the skirting where possible for a much better look and finish, yes this is an extra cost, but the expense committed to the investment in a new wood floor and skilled workmanship makes it worthwhile.  If a bead has to be used then there is a skill to choosing one to complement the floor and skirting.


If original floorboards are in place they can be transformed and brought to life by proper expert renovation, this is cheaper than laying a new floor, avoids skirting and bead issues.  Gaps can be filled to improve draughts and insulation and then once sanded and lacquered or oiled can look like a brand new floor.  These are renovated floors we have done in two projects to give very different looks.

And a totally different look in this project:


Laminate flooring is a compressed fibreboard plank, covered with a photographic image of wood with a protective overlay.  Laminate is cheap  and very simple to install but even the best laminates do not look, feel, or sound like wood, and can be a negative for resale purposes, moisture can cause swelling so probably best kept for budget purchases or high traffic rental properties where the replacement expectation is realistic.  We would prefer to use one of the wood look tiles that are available.

Wood effect tiles

These are vinyl tiles and make a great alternative when use or budget requires, we have installed them in a number of projects and they are particularly good for rental properties as they give a great look for a larger area, are easy to maintain and clean, work in kitchens and bathrooms with underfloor heating.  Two refubished for rental projects using Karndean floors: