Contemporary, rustic, glamorous, industrial, minimal. Whatever the style of your room, there is a hard-flooring option to suit. Not only are hard floors easy to maintain, they are well-suited to the Australian climate as they are cool underfoot in summer months yet can be warmed with underfloor heating in winter.
Hard floors are perfect for the Australian lifestyle and architecture. When bi-fold doors (or something similar) are thrown open, the line between inside and outside is beautifully blurred if the same product has been used on both surfaces. However, it’s the internal applications that have made the biggest impact in our homes lately, thanks to design and technological innovations.
For instance, where concrete was once used in industrial situations or as domestic subfloors, it is now being polished, buffed and tinted to produce stunning floors that are deserving features in their own right.
LINOLEUM & VINYL
Forget about the dried-up horrors you once uncovered during a renovation or the tired and torn lino you had in your kitchen in the ’70s. Linoleum and vinyl flooring has come a long way, both in terms of technology and aesthetics, since our grandparents’ day.
Forbo, for example, has earned the Good Environmental Choice Label for the renewable, natural materials (such as linseed oil, wood flour and pine resin) that go into making its Marmoleum and Artoleum ranges.
While not quite as durable as natural stone tiles, glazed ceramic tiles are non-porous, reasonably affordable and low maintenance. While some flooring options don’t work well outdoors because of exposure to the elements, ceramic tiles can create a seamless, organic interior-exterior flow.
There are almost infinite options when it comes to colour, size and design, so your selection will come down to the look you want and the size of your budget. Black and white tiles laid in a chequered pattern is a classic look.
Rugged, durable and waterproof, slate is a non-porous natural flooring option that comes in deep, dark colours, such as rich purples, blacks and greys, through to lighter greens and mottled hues. There’s a natural rippling to slate but tiles are also available with a smooth finish. Random, abstract cuts are an alternative to tiles or slabs. Slate flooring usually requires very little maintenance to keep it looking good.
Terrazzo, a mix of stone, marble, glass or even blue-metal chips in a cement-based mixture, may be used as an alternative to polished concrete as it can be laid seamlessly in slabs or as tiles. Terrazzo was once popular as a less-costly alternative to marble, but these days it is sought after for its large selection of colours and durability. Gosford Stone & Terrazzo, is a good place to start for a wide-ranging selection.
When it comes to flooring, stone can be used as tiles or slabs. There’s an imperfect beauty to stone, thanks to the subtleties that only Mother Nature can produce. The colours available range from cream to gold sandstone, through to dark, smoky bluestones and everything in between.
One of the main things to consider when it comes to stone flooring is how porous it is. Porosity varies greatly and will determine how your floor will need to be sealed and maintained. However, if finished correctly, cleaning should require little more than a sweep.
Pictured: Australian raw-sawn bluestone, from Onsite Supply + Design.
Concrete is a versatile product that can be polished to a smooth, shiny surface, tinted to practically any colour or acid-washed to create a soft mottled or etched look. Mixing decorative particles (such as marble dust) with polyurethanes is one way to add subtle texture to concrete. Visit ‘Boral Architectural Concrete’ for ideas and inspiration.
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>> buyer’s guide to dark flooring