10 June, 2008

Interior Design and Decorating Floor Finishes – Carpet

How Carpet is constructed

It is important to understand the two main methods of carpet construction as it is a large financial outlay for the client and they will have endless questions on why one costs more than another? Why one has a looser look, firmer feel, multicolored etc?

Today most carpets are produced by the tufting method of manufacture. It consists of hundreds of needles, which thread the yarn through the backing (jute or polypropylene), which forms loops or tufts to the required length.

The option then depending on the type of machine is to cut the loops to form a cut pile tufted carpet or leave the loops to form a looped pile tufted carpet.

The backing is then given a layer of adhesive coating to fix the tufts in position; another layer of backing is then fixed for added strength.

Axminster carpet

Traditionally carpets were woven on a loom. Many still are and are named from the type of loom that they are manufactured from. Axminster, for example, different colored tufts are inserted into the weave from above so that they make up the pile but do not run in the back. By this method, many colors can be used and most Axminster's are patterned. Wilton is another example, it is woven in continuous strands and only a small number of colors can be used on the loom. The pile yarn is woven so that the colors not showing on the surface lie on the back. It is a cut, looped or cut and looped pile. Patterned Wiltons are possible but at the high end of the quality and price range.

All woven carpets have the backing threads and pile woven at the same time, which means that the tufts are fixed in place. Weaving is a well-known method for producing patterns. Woven carpets are generally slower to make than tufted. You can generally distinguish between the two by viewing the back sides.

Both methods of construction are of a high quality and your choice will come down to the look that you require.

Carpets can be made by other methods, bonding and knitting. Bonded carpets are constructed by gluing tufts of pile directly onto a backing. Knitted carpets have a more complex construction method than Axminsters or Wiltons. Knitting the pile yarn and backing together achieve this type of method.

The combination of research and development in yarn and machinery married with specialist textile designers and the demand from the consumer is creating a burgeoning new wave of innovative and creative textures, styles, color combinations and patterns.

Just when you think you've seen everything - a new range is released and it opens up new doors for selecting schemes and creating wonderful new environments. The hardest job is keeping up with the choices! Overall the basics still apply and what you will learn here is a good grounding for appreciating the new product to come.

06 June, 2008

Interior Design and Decorating Floor Finishes - Types of Natural Stone Flooring

Types of Natural Stone Flooring

  • Slate is another form of metamorphic rock that consists of silica alumina and iron oxide.
  • It is easily split into layers that provide a rugged rustic look.
  • It has good abrasion resistance and high durability if it has been correctly cut.
  • It is impervious to water, cold hard and noisy under foot and can be slippery.
  • A non-slip variety is available.
  • It is difficult to lay as the product is quite brittle and heavy.
  • It is usually laid into a bed of cement over concrete.

Limestone and Sandstone

  • These are derived from sedimentary rocks; deposits of sediment being laid down under water or air formed these.
  • Sandstone comes from deposited sand grains i.e. quartz, pressed and held together by silica, calcium carbonate or other cements.
  • Limestone comes from deposited organic origin materials i.e. bones shells and consists mainly of calcium carbonate.
  • Limestone is rarely used for floors today as it becomes slippery when it is worn and not all products are hardwearing.
  • It is grey or beige in color.
  • Sandstone - is used more in outdoor paving than indoor, but looks great in an area that flows to the outdoors such as a conservatory.
  • Its irregular natural pattern is its best feature and can range from a grainy timber look to stripes and speckles.
  • It is beige, brown, reddish brown, in color and some stones are hardwearing.

  • Granite is a form of Igneous Rock, created by the cooling of molten magma.
  • It is made up of feldspar quartz and mica.
  • This is a luxury floor covering and one that needs careful consideration before specification, as it is an expensive product.
  • The floor structure needs consideration, as it is very heavy.
  • Once laid, it will last for a very long time, as it is hardwearing and resistant to chemicals.
  • It has a timeless look.
  • If highly polished it is slippery, but a honed finish provides a more manageable finish.
  • It comes in limited colors - black, red, green, grey, blue, pink.
  • It is supplied in a slab form and is cold and noisy underfoot. But it looks great!

Granite used for steps to a commercial building entry.

  • This is a form of metamorphic rock, a combination of igneous and sedimentary rocks undergoing a major change due to extreme influences of heat or pressure.
  • It is made up of calcium carbonate; it comes in numerous colors, white, grey, green, ochre, beige and is usually veined.
  • It is a hardwearing beautiful product, expensive to purchase and lay as it is heavy and comes in slab form.
  • It is cold and noisy underfoot.
  • From a designers point of view like granite it has a timeless quality.

Marble used of floor and walls of a hotel bathroom, very stylish.

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.

30 April, 2008

Interior Design and Decorating - Timber Floor Finishes

Different Types of Timber Flooring:

1. Timber Blocks

These are usually made of a hardwood species laid on a screed of concrete. They are laid in a herringbone or brick bond and basket pattern. They require a dry and stable atmosphere. The blocks are jointed with tongue and grove edges and fixed with an adhesive.

2. Floor Boards

These make up part of the construction of some houses; timber tongue and groove floorboards are fixed with nails to the floor joists. With the increased use of concrete substrate floors, a timber floorboard finish can be achieved by fixing battens into a concrete screed. Uplifting carpet and finding timber floorboards is a great coup as sanded and polished they provide a simple form of redecoration.

3. Parquet

This is used mainly for high quality domestic projects. It is available in square panels that hold all the timber pieces together. It is fixed by gluing to the base substrate, which is required to be level and free of lumps. The style of parquet is usually three fingers of timber facing vertical with three adjacent facing horizontal and so on. They are available with a prefinished coated surface or raw and require a polyurethane coating finish.

4. Chipboard

This is made of chips of timber combined with urea formaldehyde resins bonded to form a board. It is fixed by nailing to timber joists. It is a cheap product with a moderate wear ability. Its surface looks like cork when it is sealed.

5. Plywood

Plywood is made up of thin layers or plies of timber that get bonded together. Layers are laid face to face but each adjacent layer the grain runs in the opposite direction, which provides strength to the board making it stiffer and stronger than solid timber of the same thickness. It has a moderate wear factor as a floor product. It is nailed or glued to timber floor joists. A finishing coat would be required to seal the floor and protect it from spills, damage and wear.

6. Hardboard

Hardboard is made from soft wood pulp and is a cheap product. Generally used as a base for other flooring. It can be painted and sealed but it is not very durable long term.