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Four flooring options for the home

Choosing flooring for your home may seem like a daunting process as it requires you to strike a delicate balance between practicality, style and personal preference. There is a huge variety of products and materials available on the market, each with its own pros and cons. Our in-depth flooring guide examines sustainable flooring options to help steer you in the right direction

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Rubber flooring 

Rubber flooring is known for its durability, providing a non-slip surface, sound absorption, value and visual appeal.

Comfort

Rubber has a naturally cushioning feel.

Durability 

Excellent durability. Water- and slip-resistant. Staining-, mildew- and mould-resistant.

Warmth/insulation 

Year-round, warm, cushioning feel underfoot.

Cost

$120-$190 per sqm including installation.

Pros

  • Rubber is a better ecological alternative to vinyl and is naturally slip-resistant.
  • Resistant to fire and cigarette butts. In case of fire, rubber is non-toxic and won’t release carcinogenic fumes into the atmosphere.

Cons

  • Not suitable for use in strong or direct sunlight.
  • Solvent-based cleaners must never be used to clean rubber floors.

 Ideal for 

Kitchens, corridors and high-traffic zones.

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Cork flooring

The honeycomb-like cellular structure of cork gives flooring a cushiony feel underfoot. This feature also means cork absorbs vibrations and sound, and bounces back if dented.

Comfort

Cork is amazingly quiet and comfortable.

Durability 

Highly durable. Resistant to mould & mildew.

Warmth/insulation 

The natural insulating and thermal properties of cork ensure an optimal floor temperature all year round.

Cost

Ranges from $69.95 per tile for standard tiles to $130 per tile for customised finishes such as herringbone. Colour can also be customised for added cost.

 Pros

  • Ideal for anyone suffering from arthritis and joint pain.
  • Safe in bathrooms as it’s non-slip.
  • As acoustically insulating as carpet.

Cons

  • Can’t be steam cleaned.

Ideal for

Bathrooms and living areas and for anyone suffering from arthritis or joint pain. Also great for commercial spaces, lobbies, foyers, restaurants and classrooms.

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Tatami Mats

Tatami is a traditional Japanese flooring created by master craftsmen using techniques developed over 1400 years.

Comfort

The fragrance of the natural rush grass has a proven therapeutic effect.

Durability 

All tatami is handmade from natural rush grasses with edging made from polypropylene finished with either a foam backing or a non-slip waterproof fabric, making it extremely durable.

Warmth/insulation 

Tatami has a naturally insulating inner core, making it warm in winter yet cool in summer.

Cost

Small tatami (450 x 450mm) are around $290; large ones (900 x 2000mm) around $950.

Pros

  • Sourced from natural, eco-friendly and sustainable materials.
  • Absorbs nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde toxins known to cause ‘sick house syndrome’.
  • Regulates humidity, deodorises and sterilises.

Cons

  • Large cost difference between handmade tatami from Japan vs mass-produced synthetic products from China.

Ideal for 

Flooring in all areas of the home, plus as seating, decorative rugs or wall coverings.

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Bamboo flooring

This fast-growing, regenerating plant has the tensile strength of steel, which makes for a highly durable floor that resists swelling and contraction with changes in humidity. Bamboo flooring is pre-finished and engineered with tongue-and-groove joints, just like standard solid-wood flooring.

Comfort

Firm underfoot with no natural give like timber.

Durability 

According to the Janka Hardness Test, which measures the resistance of wood to dents and wear, strand-woven bamboo flooring is the most durable product on the market.

Warmth/insulation 

If you find hardwood floors cool underfoot then you will feel the same way about bamboo.

Cost

Around $110 per sqm.

Pros

  • A rapid regrowth rate (reaching full maturity and hardness in about 7 years) gives bamboo a plus point in the eco-friendly department.
  • It can be cheaper than more traditional hardwood flooring.
  • Easy to keep dust-free, making it ideal for people who suffer from dust or pet allergies.
  • Comes in a variety of styles and colours.
  • Easy to maintain.

Cons

  • Beware of cheap products as premature harvesting (as early as three months) doesn’t allow the bamboo to properly harden, producing soft, non-durable flooring.
  • The darker variety of colours results from a special heat treatment that softens the bamboo making it less durable.
  • Bamboo flooring cannot be refinished, so a dented, scratched or otherwise damaged floor must be replaced.

Ideal for 

High-traffic areas, kitchens and bathrooms.

Words by: Annick Larkin.

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