Choosing a Floor For Your Conservatory
Your choice of conservatory flooring will play a major role in the overall appearance of your conservatory interior and it is important to find a suitable floor that will suit your needs in terms of desired appearance and your budget. It is also important that your conservatory flooring materials are suited to the type of space that you are trying to create.
Stone or tiled floors will create an attractive, luxurious and hardwearing surface that will withstand years of use but without considerations such as under-floor heating, they can be cold in use and make it more difficult to create a comfortable living space in winter months. The same can be said of some types of real wood flooring, timber flooring or laminate flooring, though to a lesser extent. Depending on your needs, cork flooring or carpeting may also be suitable options for your conservatory floor.
A number of different conservatory flooring options are detailed below along with their relative merits:
Choosing to carpet your conservatory will aid you in creating a warm and inviting and comfortable space and is probably best suited to conservatories that will primarily be used as living areas – lounges, dining rooms or similar. Carpet is warm and comfortable underfoot and easy to lay on top of almost any type of sub-floor and it is available in a practically limitless number of colours, patterns and styles as well as different depths of pile.
Use of good quality underlay is always recommended with any carpet installation as it dramatically improves the feel of the finished floor, aids in sound-deadening and increases the life of the carpet that is laid upon it. Cheap underlay can disintegrate in high-traffic areas of your home and this in turn accelerates wear on the carpet itself.
Carpet may not be entirely practical for conservatories where there is a door leading to a garden area as it may become soiled and require frequent cleaning without adequate protection or the removal of outdoor footwear – this consideration is particularly important where there are children or pets in your home. The looped or twisted pile of carpet results in it being prone to trapping contaminants and being difficult to clean as a result, though anti-stain treatments such as Scotchguard are available which may make carpeting your conservatory a more practical proposition. Natural carpet materials such as seagrass and coir are particularly hardwearing.
Carpet can make for a warm and cosy conservatory flooring choice bearing in mind the above.
Similar to shallow-pile carpet in some respects, Flotex is manufactured from upright strands of nylon thereby making it less prone to trapping contaminants and also to staining while remaining warm and comfortable underfoot. Flotex is waterproof and highly stain-resistant and available in a wide range of colours and patterns and offers the comfort and warmth of carpet with the practicality of vinyl flooring.
Flotex is easy to clean, requires no anti-stain treatment or maintenance and is hard-wearing, and it also contains an anti-microbial treatment which helps guard against odours as well as the growth of harmful organisms, making it also suitable for use in kitchen areas. It requires no underlay and is guaranteed by the manufacturer for 10 years against wear.
Cork flooring can be used to provide a warm, comfortable, easy to clean, water-resistant and durable floor-covering for your conservatory. It is naturally slightly springy and is a great insulator, making it particularly suitable where it is to be laid over concrete or stone, existing tiles or any other flat, level surface that may under normal circumstances detract from the warmth of your conservatory. Cork also has excellent sound-deadening properties.
Cork flooring is also an environmentally-friendly way to finish your conservatory floor as it comes from renewable sources. Cork is made by harvesting the bark of the cork oak tree by hand – this causes the tree no ill-effects and the bark regenerates over time. The bark of the cork oak tree is hand-harvested in 9 year intervals and is strictly controlled with trees having to be a minimum of twenty-five years old before the bark can be harvested. Cork oak trees are found in Portugal amongst other neighbouring countries.
Once the bark has been collected it is ground and processed and then kiln-baked to produce the finished product.
Cork flooring does not require any underlay as long as it is laid over a sound, clean sub-floor – in certain installations, such as where it is laid over concrete, it will require a vapour barrier. Cork flooring does not require any periodic maintenance other than occasional mopping, though some cork products can be further sealed to protect against staining.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock which consists of calcium carbonate and is formed primarily in a marine environment from shells and shell particles deposited on sea and lake beds over millions of years under great environmental pressure. The natural pale chalky colour of limestone can be affected by other mineral deposits such as iron oxide and so the colours differ by region depending on the geology of the area that it originates from. Limestone can be anything from chalky white through various shades of pale yellow, cream, beige and golden brown, to grey and even black.
A naturally porous substance, the larger the pores the more hardwearing the limestone will be. Limestone ranges from as soft as chalk to as hard as granite. Limestone is normally treated, filled and honed (machined)to reduce the appearance of the pores although it is possible to obtain tumbled limestone which will give a more rustic appearance.
A filled and honed limestone conservatory floor adds a contemporary feel to a conservatory while tumbled limestone creates an aged look – neither is a particularly cheap option however and at the time of writing limestone floor tiles are in the region of £50 per square metre, excluding fitting.
Pricing depends on the origin, hardness, thickness and finish desired. As mentioned earlier, stone floors can feel a little cold and so under-floor heating would be advisable. As limestone is porous it will need to be cleaned and sealed after installation and periodically thereafter to prevent it from becoming stained in use. A filled and honed limestone floor will be easier to clean and maintain as the pores have effectively been sealed to a large degree by the resinous compounds used to improve their appearance.
Travertine is a form of limestone originating primarily from Turkey and Iran and has a mottled or veined appearance, with colours varying from cream through to browns. It displays a natural porosity but can be filled and honed as required to lessen the appearance of the pores. Unfilled travertine creates a more aged and rugged appearance popular in barn conversions and renovation work. It is comparable in price to domestic (UK) limestone conservatory flooring and similar heating and maintenance information applies.
Travertine is also known as onyx marble and sometimes referred to as alabaster.
Sandstone, as its name would suggest, is a sedimentary rock formed primarily from sand particles (quartz and feldspar) along with grains of other minerals and crystalline formations.
Sandstone is available as either a smooth-finished flooring material or in ‘riven’ form – this is the natural uneven finish obtained by mechanically splitting layers of rock along the grain and gives a more rustic appearance. Sandstone flooring is available in a wide range of colours, primarily yellows, browns, reds and greys.
Sandstone is porous and therefore will need to be sealed and maintained as with limestone and travertine flooring. It is also more weather-resistant than limestone and some varieties are suitable for use in construction as a result. Sandstone is rougher, more porous and more abrasive than limestone and inherently more ‘grippy’ – it’s natural non-slip properties making its use in pathways, patios and swimming pools commonplace. Again, underfloor heating is advisable as with all natural stone flooring products.