Discover some of the latest trends in the various floor types and how these are being used effectively.
Floors create a unique environment and are a crucial visual element in any commercial and residential setting. Here are some of the latest trends in flooring that are making headlines internationally:
Hardwood continues to be a popular choice due to the fact that it is long-lasting, durable and offers an aesthetically rich look. Lighter colours, longer and wider planks, and enhanced finishes are just a few of the style elements in trend this year. Highly detailed wood-grain surfaces are also in fashion as people seek more natural, unfinished looks.
Distressed, weathered, wire-brushed, soft-scrape, even “demolition-style” surface treatments are popular these days. In turn, driftwood-inspired grey-browns and other matte finishes in white oak, walnut and maple varieties are gaining ground by making ‘imperfection’ a design element.
Technology is also playing a significant role in this category, offering machine-created finishes that are scratch-, stain-, moisture- and humidity-resistant. One new surface treatment even helps to clean the air. Activated by light, titanium dioxide on the surface of the floor works like a ‘living tree’ in a given space. This natural purifier breaks down pollutants, such as formaldehydes, and converts the toxins into harmless molecules.
Hardwood plank sizes are also changing in width and length. Wider planks can appear contemporary-looking and create the illusion of a larger space. Longer boards, sourced from older trees, are increasingly popular for their aesthetic beauty and structural integrity.
Coinciding with the durability trend, bamboo continues to grow in popularity for its diamond-hard surface and ability to perform in wet environments. As it is a member of the grass family – a reed that grows in water – bamboo is a naturally sourced hard floor that is also moisture-resistant.
Carpets have come a long way from natural fibres such as wool and cotton, and synthetic alternatives offer some of the softest, most luxurious, easy-to-care-for and affordable flooring surfaces on the market.
New enzyme treatments for carpets create a moisture barrier between the carpet and the padding underneath, extending lifespan and enhancing appearance. Eco-friendly carpets continue to make inroads into the flooring industry, for example, an international manufacturer recently launched a carpet line made from 100% recycled plastic.
Along with ever-popular shades of beige, gray carpet sales are continuing to surge. To add some spice and avoid monotony, some manufacturers are presenting carpets with bits of colour against a neutral background, helping to hide flaws while adding dimension to rooms. Patterned carpets are also growing in popularity, offering floral, diamond and winding vine looks.
Rugs are all about colour, pattern and texture. As with hardwood floors, a growing trend in soft surfaces is nature-inspired looks such as tree bark and stratified rock. As an example, a shimmering rug that achieves a metallic look with finely woven nylon fibres that sparkle when struck by light is currently being manufactured.
The ultimate in eco-friendly fibres – recycled paper – has made its way onto the floor in the form of a soft, cosy shag rug. For those who want to customise the look of a room, one company offers interchangeable solid- and multi-coloured square rug panels that can be interconnected through a Velcro backing.
Ceramics & Porcelain
Tile trends include aluminium, porcelain planks that appear to be weather-worn hardwood, and micro-thin ceramic tiles. Tiles are a low-maintenance option among hard surface flooring materials – and ceramic and porcelain are considered excellent choices when it comes to longevity and value. Low porosity makes most sealed tiles resistant to moisture, stains and bacteria and, as such, effectively hygienic.
Wood looks and natural stone treatments in ceramic tiles are on the rise as consumers seek to bring the outdoors ‘indoors’. Porcelain planks made to look like hardwood floors can be placed in certain areas where hardwood can’t necessarily be installed, for example, pool decks.
Very large tiles, spanning 60 cm or more across, are becoming increasingly popular as they cover more surface area with less interruption of grout lines. In addition to clean lines and an ability to add dimension to small spaces, these tiles are also easy to clean. Some companies are also presenting micro-thin ceramic tiles that can be installed over existing flooring, reducing installation time and costs.
Luxury vinyl tiles (LVTs) are both affordable and easy to maintain. New technology enables LVTs to replicate the look of hardwood, granite, marble, slate and other high-quality materials. Colour variations and even surface texture offer natural design elements.
LVT is also an excellent choice for wet environments, is one of the easiest flooring materials to install, is softer underfoot and warmer than other natural floor types.
In terms of eco-friendliness, cork is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial, waterproof, a great insulator and extremely warm and comfortable to walk on. It repels dust and is can be fire-resistant. In addition, cork is available in an assortment of colours, textures and new factory finishes to keep it durable.
Advancements in digital imaging technology have enabled photographic images that realistically imitate many different materials to be fused beneath a protective layer onto laminates. Today’s laminate flooring is also versatile and cost-effective, with the latest technologies ensuring that customised requests can be carried out, even when a customer wants to adopt the look of another floor type.
Be sure to read the next issue of FLOORS in Africa magazine for the latest trends in outdoor design, flooring and paving.
Acknowledgement and thanks are given to http://www.yumanewsnow.com/ written by NAPSI for the material contained in this article.