Different Types of Conservatory Flooring Tiles

Bamboo Flooring

orangery-conservatory-1Bamboo flooring, if sourced from a responsible manufacturer, is an environmentally friendly and hardwearing choice of materials for a conservatory floor. As bamboo grows to maturity in around 5 years, it alleviates some of the issues associated with destruction of hardwood forests which are being destroyed at an alarming rate and are extremely slow to recover – the harvesting of bamboo does not preclude the plant itself from continuing to grow either.

Primarily grown in China, the production of bamboo is regulated by the Chinese Department of Forestry to ensure that bamboo forests are protected and sustainable.

With greater directional stability than the majority of hardwoods it eliminates the warping and distortion issues associated with solid wood floors and laminate flooring. Tough and durable, its installation is similar to that of solid wood flooring. If you are looking for a beautiful, tough and eco-friendly floor for your conservatory, bamboo may be the answer. It is available in a number of different colours and shades although interestingly these are not stains or dyes for the most part – they are normally determined by the amount and duration of heat and pressure applied during manufacturing. Bamboo contains natural sugars, which when exposed to heat and pressure begin to carbonise and as they do so, the appearance of the material darkens. This is a natural colouration and can be sanded without degradation.

Suitable under-floor heating can also be used with bamboo conservatory flooring.

Cushioned Vinyl Flooring

Cushioned Vinyl flooring, also known as lino (short for ‘linoleum’) or simply ‘vinyl flooring’ is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to finish your conservatory flooring. Usually supplied in a single sheet cut to your desired length from a 2m, 3m or 4m wide roll (as with carpet) it is easily trimmed with a sharp knife and usually either fully or partially stuck down to the subfloor to prevent movement and rucking, although it can also be fitted without any adhesive.

Cushioned Vinyl Flooring is water-resistant and easy to keep clean and therefore suited to conservatories where a large number of plants will be placed, or where children will enter the property from the garden for example. It is not entirely stain-resistant however and lighter colours will obviously show any staining more than darker colours or patterns, though this can generally be removed with an ammonia solution or white spirit as per the manufacturer’s suggestions.

While vinyl flooring is a comfortable and hardwearing flooring choice it is susceptible to damage from pressure and indentations – heavy furniture, appliances, stiletto heels etc can all damage a cushioned vinyl floor and in some cases even puncture it.

Cushioned vinyl is available in a large number of grades, colours and patterns. Not all vinyl flooring is suited to the temperature range found within a conservatory and the manufacturer should be contacted if you are unsure.

Vinyl flooring is not suited to installations where the subfloor is not perfect and imperfections, particularly any raised elements must be removed or they may show through the finished floor-covering depending on their severity. Floors must be clean and free from dust and debris and any unsound floors made good, either with a concrete screed or suitable hardboard or plywood sheeting. Dusty but otherwise sound concrete subfloors can be sealed with PVA and water and allowed to dry before laying.

Vinyl flooring can be used with under floor heating if desired provided that the heating temperatures are in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Glazed Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are essentially a clay-based tile blank with a vitrified coating with pigmentations added to produce a vast range of colours. Gaps in between the tiles themselves can be grouted with a wide variety of coloured grouts in order to match the tiles or provide contrast.

Glazed ceramic floor tiles are considerably thicker than those used for wall tiling in order to better withstand damage but they are still relatively easy to cut, shape and fix. Ceramic tiling is a straightforward DIY prospect and there is a wealth of excellent information available online, notably from the tile manufacturers and suppliers themselves.

Glazed ceramic floor tiles should only be applied to subfloors that show no movement as otherwise the tiles will flex, breaking the adhesive mortar below, the grout and possibly the tile itself.

If a timber subfloor is to be utilised it should be lined with suitable plywood screwed firmly into place at regular intervals. Where the subfloor is already tiled it is not necessary to remove the existing floor tiling as long as it is sound – it need only be clean, free from grease and in good order and then can be tiled over. Additives are available that can be added to the tile adhesive to improve the bond between the new tiles and the old, and additionally it may be worth ‘keying’ the glazed surface of the old tiles by sanding with very coarse sandpaper in order to provide a better grip to the adhesive.

Flooring tile treatments are available to make ceramic floor tiles less slippery in use when wet and also to preserve their appearance.
Glazed ceramic tiled floors can be cold and therefore under floor heating should be seriously considered.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are made from clay and kiln-fired at extremely high temperatures (around 1200 degrees C!) and this produces a tile that is extremely hard – far harder than glazed ceramic tiles. Porcelain tiles require special adhesives and special tools in order to cut or shape them during installation as a result of their low porosity and hardness respectively. Porcelain is an ideal material for floor tiles as its hardness makes it more resilient than other types of floor tiling and this also means that the tiles themselves do not need to be as thick as other types of floor tiles.

Taking these points into consideration, the bulk of the information regarding ceramic tiles applies to porcelain tiles as well, particularly the need to consider under-floor heating.

Quarry Tiles

Quarry tiles are an extremely durable tile extruded from high-quality clay before being dried and fired in a kiln at around 1100 degrees C. Quarry tiles are extremely hardwearing and easy to clean and so are ideally suited to conservatories, particularly where access to / from a garden area would result in damage to less resilient conservatory floor coverings. Quarry tiles are available in a variety of shades and finishes.

Their installation is broadly similar to that of ceramic or porcelain floor tiles above and the same information applies, although they may require special adhesives due to their low absorption properties. Under-floor heating is recommended as they can feel cold in use.

Terracotta Tiles

Terracotta tiles are almost immediately identifiable due to their characteristic warm colouring. Terracotta means ‘fired earth’ and they are indeed made from kiln-fired specially prepared clay. They are softer and more prone to scratching than porcelain, ceramic or quarry tiles and as a result of their comparative weakness they need to be considerably thicker to be used as a floor tile. Terracotta is a highly durable material used for centuries in public buildings such as churches and monasteries and should therefore have no problem coping with the levels of traffic it would be likely to see in the average conservatory!

Terracotta tiled conservatory floors can be quite cold and therefore under floor heating should be seriously considered. That said, terracotta tiles retain heat particularly well and when used in conjunction with a suitable under-floor heating system they can be particularly effective in creating a comfortable environment.