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Carpets Vs Hard Floors
Making the choice between carpet and hard flooring can be very confusing. Both have their distinct advantages and – with the exception of wet areas such as kitchens and bathrooms – both can be equally suitable in a variety of situations. Here is a summary of their individual attributes to help you with your decision:

hardwoord flooringBenefits of hard floors

  1. Maintenance – hard floors have the huge advantage of being able to be easily cleaned and maintained. Many types of hard floors can simply be mopped and vacuumed, though in products with a wood content (even laminates) great care needs to be taken if there is the potential for exposure to water. Hard floors accumulate little dust and dirt if they are regularly cleaned. Most spills and stains are easily cleaned and removed, as long as they are not heavy liquid spillages on wood-inclusive products.

  2. Wear and Tear – this is one of the main reasons people choose hard flooring. They can withstand high traffic and heavy wear and tear with little impact on their appearance. This is particularly true of laminate and vinyl floors, and it is why (along with terrazzo floors) they are used increasingly in retail and hotel environments. They are ideal for areas such as entrance ways, hallways, kitchens and bathrooms, which may experience a lot of foot traffic and also exposure to dampness.

  3. Fabulous Appearance – Hardwood and engineered wood floors have an individual beauty as unique, natural floors. Nothing beats a solid wood floor to create a stunning centerpiece to any room.
    Technology is also now playing a part in the appearance of luxury solid flooring. Amtico has become a household brand name synonymous with individuality and practicality. Taking photographs of individual stone tiles and wood planks and then encasing them in heavy duty vinyl creates a very realistic floor which can be designed to your own requirements, is warm and quiet to walk on, and comes with a 20 year wear warranty. Not only that, but it now allows everyone to have a "wood plank" floor in bathrooms and wet areas as Amtico just laughs at water spills.

  4. Recognised Value – When you install Amtico or hardwood flooring in your home you will achieve recognition from any would-be purchaser that your house has been well looked after and that they are unlikely to have to replace the flooring .
    However, it is not just the value to a would-be purchaser, but also the value to you, as you will undoubtedly get huge enjoyment from living with such a beautiful floor.

Benefits of carpet

  1. It is Warm and cosy – the main reason for installing carpet is usually for warmth. It is impossible to replicate the same feeling of cosiness and warmth with any other flooring material, and despite it being more labour intensive to keep clean and to maintain, this one factor still overrides all others in people's minds, and in commercial environments can help put clients at ease. Especially in Winter carpets are a necessity, as the only way hard floors can compete is through underfloor heating or by placing rugs on top.

    Carpets and the accompanying underlay are great at insulating properties physically, but are also great for the visual and psychological comfort they give. Carpets can therefore reduce the amount of energy used to maintain a comfortable internal temperature and therefore save money.
  2. carpet comparisonNoise Insulation – carpet along with a good quality underlay is one of the best sound insulators you can buy as a flooring material. In fact, it has been shown to be ten times better at reducing airborne noise than any other floor covering, due to its sound absorption properties.

    This is particularly important in apartments and commercial environments where noise can transfer upwards and downwards as well as sideways. Indeed, many developers and builders now specifically exclude laminates from being fitted, because despite their hardwearing properties, the product is extremely noisy when walked on.

  3. Underfoot – there is nothing better than the luxurious feel of a soft, plush carpet, whether in your own home, in a hotel or in an office. If you love to go barefoot, there is nothing else that will do!

  4. Softness – carpets are a safe, soft surface, which means that if you have either elderly people or children who are more prone to a fall, there is more chance of a safe landing. Also in public areas they will reduce the dangers of slipping, as in the main they provide good traction.

  5. Appearance – a good-quality carpet can create a completely unique appearance either with a bespoke design, or through the use of a company or organizations own logo. Even in domestic locations carpets can be woven in bespoke colours to match a specific interior design scheme, and increasingly also in specific bespoke sizes to avoid wastage and joins.
    The huge range of colours and styles has now been joined by new ranges of textures, with materials such as seagrass, jute, coir and even bamboo being used to create individual flooring that is stunning to look at.

Man-Made vs Natural Flooring
With the thousands of options available these days, choosing a floor covering can be a daunting exercise. One of the decisions that is becoming increasingly frequent is the dilemma of whether to select a man-made flooring material that may be brilliant technologically but comes at a cost to the planet, or whether to use a natural product that may be "greener" environmentally. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and it is a matter of personal choice in relation to your lifestyle, your views on the long-term benefits to the planet of one type or the other, and what level of enjoyment that you will derive from living with the product.

Natural Floors
Many carpets are made from natural fibres, with wool being the largest component. Some of these combine the best of both worlds, being 80% wool (for softness) and 20% man-made (for durability). They have a warmth and softness that is not easily matched by man-made products such as nylon and polyester, which are extremely durable but have a harder, harsher texture. Wool carpets are also more static-resistant than synthetic fibres and of very low flammability.

There has also been a resurgence of interest in natural flooring to create simple, but sophisticated interiors. The natural colours offer a neutral background pallet, in conjunction with interesting textures that synthetic products find difficult to replicate. For instance coir is made from the strong fibres of the coconut husk found largely in Kerala, India. The fibres are removed by hand and softened in the sea water, so they can be woven into various designs.

Jute gives a tweedy look and is oft underfoot. It comes from the stalk of the giant corchorus plants, grown in southern India. Seagrass grows in the tropical climates of China and Vietnam, in coastal meadows on the banks of rivers. The crop is harvested by hand, dried and handspun into cords before being woven into flooring. You can also choose from mountain grasses that give a luscious feel, and here the charm lies in the natural irregularities and the rich colour of the stems.

These types of flooring really set you apart from "the pack" and make your floor a real focal point of interest.

We should also mention hardwood and real wood engineered flooring. They again have a natural beauty with unique grain and knotting that no man-made floor can ever match. They are also one of the few products which actually improve with age and if well-maintained, will last for a lifetime. Natural wood also comes in a range of beautiful colours that are naturally soothing and appealing, ensuring that they fit in seamlessly with any Interior Design scheme.

What makes natural products different is that even though they may have to travel a considerable distance to reach your floor, they have little eco-impact compared to synthetic products which are usually the result of the petroleum-based industry with its associated problems of pollution, energy consumption and toxicity. Natural floors also create a living environment that is healthier for our bodies.

Synthetic Floors
The main advantage of synthetic floors is that they can be mass-produced on high-speed machines, usually resulting in them being a lower-cost alternative. Not only that, but they tend to more durable as they are made with a specific task in mind, which also means they are usually easier to clean!

Man-made floors tend to be more inherently stain-resistant and water-resistant, as they are made with these goals in mind in order to give them a competitive edge over natural products. This means that they tend to be popular for areas of high traffic in both commercial and domestic environments as not only do they cope well with the higher wear and tear but they are also cheaper to replace, an exercise that will inevitably occur more often in such areas. This tends to mean that wherever the goal is to specify low-cost flooring, it will almost certainly result in a man-made floor being used.

Apart from affordability, the other great advantage of man-made floors is their uniformity, which may not always be available with natural flooring options.
They are also particularly useful in wet areas, as vinyl's and Amtico flooring are made specifically to look like the real thing, but with the advantage that they are designed to laugh at water. This is also true of safety flooring, which is always made as a man-made product so that it can have the materials designed to avoid slipping in the wet added to it whilst under manufacture.

As an example of their dexterity, it is completely inadvisable to fit hardwood and engineered wood in wet areas, as the damp will result in the wood warping and cracking. Now with Amtico flooring you can have the "look" without any risk issues to the product.

Another example is the wish to have the look of a stone or ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen or in wet areas. Natural stone and ceramics is extremely durable, bit is prone to being slippy when wet, cold in Winter and noisy to walk on. Now you can use Amtico with its cutting-edge technology to provide flooring that remains warm to the touch, quiet to walk on, has much more grip than ceramics and you will be able to pad about on bare feet if you choose without freezing your toes!