06 May, 2008

Interior Design and Decorating Floor Finishes - Types of Semi Hard Flooring

Types of Semi Hard Flooring


Linoleum is made up from natural ingredients, linseed oil, ground cork, resin, fillers and pigments. These are baked slowly at high temperatures and pressed onto a jute or Hessian backing.

It is a misunderstood product as in its early form it was thin and brittle but with new production methods and design development it is fast becoming a popular flexible flooring choice. It is available in numerous color combinations and can be plain, patterned or in a marbleized look.

It is warm and quiet underfoot. It requires sealing with a polish as if water penetrates under the surface it will lift. It comes in sheet or tile form and is fixed to the floor with an adhesive.


Rubber is made from natural or synthetic rubber, fillers and pigments. It is available in single colors with relief patterns or marbled. It comes in sheet form or tiles cut from sheets. The sheet form is available with foam rubber backing which provides a form of sound insulation. It has good wear properties, is resilient and tough, warm and quiet underfoot. It can be loose laid on concrete.


Cork is a natural product that comes from the bark of the evergreen oak. It is most commonly available in tiles. These are cut from blocks of granulated cork that has been compressed with binders and baked. It wears well, is warm and quiet underfoot.

Most commonly found in its natural color, warm gold to dark brown, it can be purchased colored from specific suppliers. It has good insulating properties and is very resilient. There are different grades, qualities and thicknesses available. It is not to be used with under floor heating, as it will lift. After laying with an adhesive it should be sealed with polyurethane. A lightweight tile can be used for wall tiles.

Flexible Vinyl

This comprises of PVC, resin binder, fillers and pigments. It is a very versatile product as it comes in numerous thicknesses, textures, patterns and colors. It is waterproof, oil and fat resistant, hardwearing and not effected by most household chemicals.

Non slip vinyl used on this accessible shower floor and standard vinyl to the walls.

As it is flexible it can be coved up walls to create a watertight floor. For non-slip varieties, quartz crystals or Carborundum are impregnated into the product. This works very well but it makes the floor very difficult to clean. Depending on the vinyl, some can be welded, which means the joins are also made watertight.

Vinyl is fixed to a well-prepared substrate free of lumps, bumps and dirt with adhesive. Vinyl is quiet and warm underfoot, and can be used with under floor heating. It is available in sheet and tile form and for added acoustic benefits some manufactures sell a foam cushion backed product. Vinyl is easy to care for, only requiring a sweep / vacuum and a wet mop.

05 May, 2008

Interior Design and Decorating Floor Finishes - Types of Hard Flooring

Types of Hard Flooring

Cement Resin

This comprises of cement polyester resin and an aggregate (crushed stone or sand). It can be laid over concrete or a timber base. It provides a hardwearing non-slip surface, which has a slight texture.


This is a composite material made up of cement and marble aggregate, it is then mixed and poured in situ onto a concrete base. It is then ground waxed and polished. It has a mosaic look. It can also be premade and is available in slabs or tiles. It is very hard wearing, if it is polished or wet it is very slippery. It is a suitable product to be used with under floor heating.

Terrazzo flooring in a mall situation.

It is very useful in commercial situations i.e. malls and shopping centers as it is very durable and easy to clean.

Over large expanses control joints are required to reduce the risk of cracking. It is expensive but worth it in these situations. It can be used to great effect in design work, using brass strips to define the edges with the use of different colored terrazzo between can be very effective.

Concrete Screeds

These are usually used as a base for other floor finishes. There are many forms, monolithic, laid over the concrete base within a few hours of the base being laid. Bonded - existing concrete base with aggregate exposed has a cement screed laid over it. Unbounded - a cement screed is laid over a plain existing concrete base. Floating - is laid over thermal or sound insulation materials.

Colored Concrete Screed in a mall situation.

Epoxy Resin

Produced by combining epoxide resin, fillers, aggregate and hardener. It can be laid over a cement screed, plywood or other surfaces. It provides a thin hardwearing layer available in numerous colors and textures. It can be made non-slip if required.

Polyester Resin

Produced by combining polyester resin, aggregates, fillers, glass fibers pigments and catalyst. It can be laid over a cement screed or plywood. It is a hardwearing product with a wide color range.

Polyurethane Resin

Produced by combining polyurethane resin and fillers. It can be laid over a cement screed or plywood. It provides a hardwearing non-slip surface available in numerous textures and colors.

All the hard flooring examples above are joint less liquid floor finishes. They start as a liquid form then harden to form the desired finish. Terrazzo and cement screed floors are required to be laid in bays with control joints to reduce the possibility of cracking and shrinkage. The majority of these products are best suited for commercial industrial and institutional applications.