INTERIORS Choosing the right flooring

Laminated floor

Flummoxed by floors?

Interior Design
Niamh Tuohy

Life would be great if we could wave a big wand and have someone else make all the decisions for us. Well, at least all the hard ones. Our days would be endlessly filled with other people’s decisiveness, leaving us to deal with the rest of what life has to throw at us.
Ok so a magic wand might be hard to come by, but is it too much to ask for all the facts and figures to be put before us, making it infinitely easier to grab the bull by the horns and make a choice? Well you’re in luck. Your flooring fairy godmother is here to make all your interior problems go away (or at least dissipate a little).
Hardwood flooring
Trees such as oak, walnut, maple, birch, ash and poplar would fall under this category. They are incredibly hard wearing and an excellent choice for many different lifestyles. They’re pricier than other flooring options, but the finish they provide is top quality. If taken care of and maintained, they should last a lifetime.
One important issue when purchasing wood flooring is to consider where the wood comes from: Try to keep the environment in mind and go for sustainably sourced timber.

Softwood flooring
Examples of soft woods would be pine, balsam, spruce and fir. Although the name itself would indicate that these type of woods would not be as hard as hard woods, this in not necessarily the case. Some soft woods, such as yew, are stronger.
These types of floors normally come with lower price tag and are equally as durable and aesthetically pleasing.

Laminate flooring

Laminate is a man-made material. Essentially, it is a multi-layered synthetic floor made up of various resins and fibre-board materials. It can be manufactured to simulate almost any product out there – wood, stone, tiles, slate etc. It can therefore come in a ridiculously large variety of finishes.
Laminate is a much cheaper options than natural woods, and some of the higher-end laminates can really look like the real thing. It’s only when you walk on it that you might be able to tell the difference, and sometimes using the right underlay and sound barriers can solve that problem. While it might not be a product that you would use in your own home, it is highly suitable for a rental property, due to its ability to take wear and tear well.


If you’re renovating an older property, keep in mind that the floors in situ may well be in good enough condition to be rejuvenated to their former glory. You may need an expert in to give advice on their condition in terms of dampness or dry rot, but you could be sitting on a gem without even knowing it. So, roll up your sleeves, pull back those carpets and check what’s underneath.

One last thing, if you do choose wood flooring, bear in mind that wood is a natural material and therefore subject to changes, depending on climate. They will expand and change according to their environment. Most importantly, think twice about putting them in areas where water or dampness will be an issue.

Next time The pros and cons of other types of floor coverings.

Naoimh Tuohy
is an interior designer based in Westport and working countrywide. Originally coming from a property background, she made the jump from valuing buildings to redesigning their interiors. She has worked freelance for the last six years and specialises in show houses, home-owner renovations and investment-property fit-outs. She can be contacted at 087 7625539.