The soft/hard debate

Choosing your flooring is undoubtedly one of the most important elements of a self-build – but should you go for for carpet or hard flooring Selfbuilder & Homemaker’s Roseanne Field weighs up the pros and cons

decor from and is often the first thing people will notice upon entering your house. But making such an important decision can


be somewhat overwhelming, especially for the debut self-builder who might be new to the world of seemingly endless carpet choices and hard flooring varieties. Here are some pointers to consider as you decide which is best for your dream home.

The soft sell

Carpet used to be hugely popular but some view it as ‘old-fashioned’. In Europe in particular carpet has fallen out of favour, with many opting for hard flooring, for a variety of reasons. However, as Geert Van den Bossche, marketing director of Crown Floors points out, “in the UK the carpet market will always hold up strongly as people continue to want a cosier feel both upstairs and in the living room.” The warmth and comfort offered by good

quality carpet is unrivalled. This makes it a pop- ular choice for families with young children who tend to enjoy using the floor as their play space. The texture and density of carpet aids its sound absorption, making large rooms less echoey, and enables it to work as an extra layer of thermal insulation. Recent research by Canesis has found that

wool carpets “play a significant role in reducing the levels of common indoor air contaminants in buildings.” Studies have shown that levels of sul- phur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and formalde- hyde – pollutants introduced into homes by emis- sions from some building materials and appliances such as gas stoves – were ‘neu- tralised’ when exposed to wool carpet. Despite these potential health benefits, there’s

no getting away from the fact that carpet is much harder to keep clean than hard flooring. Spillages are likely to leave stains, and vacuum- ing will only lift a certain amount of dirt (it’s rec- ommended that carpets are steam cleaned at least once a year). This in turn can lead to prob- lems with those suffering from allergies as carpet fibres trap dust and other allergens. However, to negate this, Geert Van den Bossche advises choosing a shorter pile carpet. Carpet is also more likely to need replacing

before any hard flooring will, as it by nature wears out. How long it lasts, says Geert, will “depend on the residential wear warranty and

hoosing the flooring for your project is an important decision. It makes a good starting point to build the rest of the

Crown Floors Penrose Stone Signature

Studies have shown that levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde were ‘neutralised’ when exposed to wool carpet

the traffic the carpet will face.” He adds: “In the- ory, you could get up to 20 years of life, but you will likely need to replace before that in the hallway or on the stairs.” Another common misconception with carpet

is that ‘good quality’ means ‘expensive.’ In fact, manufacturing techniques are always evolving, meaning you don’t have to just focus on the top end of the market. “100 per cent wool will gen- erally be the most expensive,” explains Geert. Carpet is also considered not to be as eco- friendly as hard flooring. However, while this will vary, generally carpet is developed to be friendly to the environment. Says Geert, “Many consider wool to be the most eco-friendly as a

‘natural’ option, but manmade fibres can also hold a percentage of renewable material.” So where can and can’t you lay carpet “In

theory, carpet can be used everywhere except high moisture areas,” Geert explains. “Homeowners will tend to use it everywhere except the bathroom and kitchen. We recom- mend checking the residential wear warranty on a carpet before purchasing.”

The hard sell

The term ‘hard flooring’ covers many things – from tiles to timber and laminate to vinyl. Wooden flooring in particular is popular for its

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