Choosing living room flooring

It can blend in with your overall colour scheme or make a bold statement that becomes the focal point of your living room, but either way, your choice of flooring is a big decision. How often will the room be used? Who uses it? Will the flooring be exposed to sunlight, children or animals? How do you want it to feel underfoot? With so many options available, time spent thinking before you decide is definitely time well spent.

Choosing living room flooring

Living room flooring by Tops Tiles

Choosing flooring

  • Paler colours increase the sense of space, darker colours or patterned flooring decrease it, although they also make more of a design statement.
  • Think about whether you want different coloured flooring in different rooms of the house or a seamless sweep of colour throughout.
  • Go for plain, neutral or natural flooring and you’ll have more flexibility to play with colours in the rest of the room.
  • Take away samples of two or three different alternatives and try them out on the floor, looking at them at different times of the day.
  • The colour you choose in the shop will look darker on a large expanse of floor, although the difference will be less dramatic in rooms with lots of natural light.

Living room carpets
If your living room is used a lot, you’ll need a carpet that can take the wear and tear. As a general rule, you get what you pay for, so go for the best quality you can afford. Remember to factor in the cost of the underlay too, which is essential for getting a good fit and feel, as well as providing insulation and reducing noise. Wool carpets are the most luxurious, as well as being strong, durable and coming in some fantastically rich colours. The downside is they can also be expensive.

Wool and nylon blends are a cheaper alternative or you can take the 100% man-made route. Synthetic fibres will cost you less than the natural alternatives, but they’re not eco-friendly and can look cheap too. Nylon is the softest and most hard wearing, but you’ve also got olefin, polyester and acrylic to choose from, each with varying degrees of stain resistance and durability. Look for the overall quality of the carpet – the tighter the twist, the denser the weave, the better. Read our advice on choosing carpets for more information.

Natural living room flooring
Sisal, seagrass, jute, plant fibre, coir and even paper fall under the title of natural flooring. They can be expensive and some varieties feel quite rough underfoot, but they’ve got a great contemporary finish. They’re also good news for the environment and allergy sufferers or those with respiratory disorders. Unlike man-made flooring, which can be very uniform, they add plenty of texture and character too. You’ll find them in John Lewis or try The Alternative Flooring Company, Urbane Living or The Natural Flooring Company. To prolong the life of your flooring, get it fitted properly and treat it with a special anti-stain solution.

Living room floor tiles
Not an automatic choice for a living room – and certainly not great if you’ve got children running around - but ceramic, slate or traditional stone tiles can be incredibly striking. You just need the contemporary pad and modern furniture to complement them. Tiles come in an array of colours and in a living room, the effect is anything but British – think historic Italian town houses, the cool white floors of tranquil monasteries or Spanish haciendas sizzling in a heat haze. Just bear in mind that in this country, you’ll want underfloor heating - Eco Hometec provide a low energy option - and soft rugs to give you that cosy, comfortable feeling.

Wooden flooring
A solid wood floor with all its knots, grains and rich colour is full of character and looks fantastic in period and contemporary properties. If your living room gets a lot of traffic, choose a harder wood such as oak, ash or maple that will tolerate the wear and tear. If you have children and animals around, go for a matt lacquer finish rather than an oiled finish – it’s easier to maintain.

Architectural salvage yards such as Lassco are a good source of reclaimed timber or look out for wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). This means it has been grown in well-managed, protected forests and it’s the eco-friendly option. Solid wood can be expensive. Engineered wood is a cheaper alternative. It’s made of layers of wood glued together, with a hard wood on top and softer wood underneath. It slots together in a tongue and groove system. The thicker the outside layer, the more durable it will be – and you get what you pay for. A wood laminate is the cheapest option. It’s also easy to clean, stain and scratch resistant and if you get good quality, it gives a pretty good impression of the real thing. Just remember, as with all wood floors, if you’ve got downstairs neighbours, invest in soundproofing or some thick pile rugs!

Thinking if installing wood flooring but can't decide what style to go for? Take a look at these design ideas for wooden flooring. Plus, read our step-by-step guide on how to lay wooden flooring.