When we move into a new house, we become perfectionists. Everything has to be just right to turn it from the previous owners’ house into our home.
Buying a conservatory is no different. When we bought ours we had the infamous ‘vinyl vs wood’ flooring argument.
This debate went on for so long, I decided to save everyone else the pain going through the same thing – so here’s a 2,000 word (or so) guide dedicated to the different types of conservatory flooring, along with recommendations.
This guide will take you through the 9 key types of flooring, and hopefully leave you reassured in your final decision.
1. Pure Wood Flooring – Not recommended (Engineered Hardwood – Recommended)
Firstly, doesn’t it just ooze class? I don’t think much beats the slick finish of a pure wooden conservatory floor. It gives a sense of natural harmony with surrounding plants and that instant feeling of relaxation as you first set foot inside.
Aside from the beautiful appearance though, wood can be a little tricky to just ‘get right’. The scientists reading this will be the first to tell us that a naked sun beating down on our wooden flooring could cause the floor to contract. This can cause warping or cracks, meaning that your floor is unlikely to see too many summers.
Thankfully this is 2018. Much like with the innovation of glass windows, we now have a solution that has saved us from this short shelf life. If you do go for a wooden floor, ensure that it is engineered hardwood. You’ll still get the fresh look of a wooden floor, but have all the benefits of plywood underneath that surface. The result means that your floor is able to withstand the typically British fluctuations in temperature.
The cost of the engineering hardwood tends to be cheaper than that of its solid wood counterpart, and this is partly why it has become so popular amongst conservatory owners of late.
2. Laminate Flooring – Recommended
We like to think of laminate as the soldier of conservatory flooring. It stands on the front line, resistant to much of what life throws at it. Laminate has grown in popularity amongst young families with children using the conservatory as a doorway connecting outdoors and indoors.
Laminate has built quite a reputation for being easy to clean from spillages and mud, as well as being scratch and stain resistant, making it ideal for families with young children.
Laminate tends to fair better against strong sunlight and is less exposed to the fluctuations in temperature. You may need to explore a more premium laminate floor to ensure full protection from liquids, but these tend to be on the cheaper side anyway.
3. Vinyl Flooring – Reeeeally Recommended
A vinyl floor tends to be a natural go-to for conservatory enthusiasts (is that a thing?) because of its’ obvious versatility. Vinyl floors really allow the creative juices to flow and have been known to reduced debates and saved marriages in the process.
Create a vinyl floor that can take the appearance of wood, tile stone and more. Why not go wild with an abstract design and relive the glory years of the ‘80’s? It’s no surprise that vinyl is probably the only type of conservatory flooring that can bring back a sense of nostalgia and at the same time fit right in with a more contemporary theme.
But is there substance to the style? You bet. Vinyl is notorious for being incredibly resistant to sharp changes in temperature and moisture in the air. It’s stubborn to scratches and spillages and was born ready to battle wear-and-tear. It’s a pretty tough nut to crack. Vinyl is also renowned as being one of the safer flooring options, due to its’ slip-resistant material.
Thankfully such quality doesn’t come at a premium, and the price of vinyl can be found similar to that of laminate if you hunt around.
4. Stone Flooring – Recommended
Despite our best efforts previously with the wooden flooring above, you’d do well to beat the finish of a natural stone floor. The consistency of a marble or granite tile and a clean reflection staring right back at you is fitting for a king or queen (in their conservatory).
The downsides of marble are of course the slip hazard and the fact they mark easily. You may find yourself getting the polish out more often than you’d care for.
On the flip side, you could opt for the natural beauty that is limestone. Like no other, the limestone pattern gives a harmonious classical feel. There something quite distinctive about limestone and, if you do opt for it, just ensure that you waterproof it. Thankfully, stone flooring doesn’t usually break the bank and shouldn’t cost much more than a wooden floor.
5. Carpet Flooring – Really Not Recommended
After the inspired selection you’ve been shown, it almost feels a little bit unfair to try and throw carpet flooring into the mix. In truth, it does feel like a bit of a throwback to the 90’s, but not a particularly welcome one.
I still have images of a small number of stains on my old parents’ floor that seemed to grow over the years, proving that carpet isn’t the most practical of flooring material around. The build-up on stains naturally make it a very germ-infested material, and that isn’t a picture you want when you’re trying to kick back and relax in your conservatory.
On top of this, doesn’t carpet just look a bit bland? It hardly brings the wow factor that some of the alternatives could bring.
6. Cork Flooring – Recommended
Personally, we’re not a huge fan of how cork looks but if it’s a functional and comfortable type of flooring, then Cork can put up a pretty good argument. Its’ non-slip and water resistant features make it an ideal surface for young children, or homes that are partial to the odd spillage.
We’ve also found cork to be kind to the skin, comfortable if walking across barefoot on a warm summers lunchtime. The natural insulation that it comes with also means that you’re not burning your feet in the summer or catching frostbite in the winter.
It’s 2018 and so we have to bring environmentally friendliness into it. Cork is a sustainable source of material as it is sourced from the bark of the cork oak tree, which replenishes every 10 years or so. It also comes in at one of the cheapest materials around, and you’d usually be expected to pay far less for cork than you would any other flooring material.
7. Bamboo Flooring – Recommended
Bamboo flooring may not be the first material you think of when you’re looking for conservatory flooring but it remains a criminally underrated and versatile material that is another great for a ‘high traffic’ area.
Much like cork, bamboo is also one of the more environmentally friendly options available to you. This is because, technically, Bamboo is actually grass. Yep, this means that once it is harvested, the root is left to regrow and reaches maturity at around the 5-year mark. Another strong win for the moral compass.
Bamboo remains a highly durable and tougher floor option than many of its’ hardwood counterparts. It’s easy to install and provides versatility with the range of styles you can have it in. We’ve found Bamboo to be a cheaper alternative than many of the previous options (but not quite as cheap as Cork) yet its proven to be exceptional value and a long lasting solution to your flooring.
8. Ceramic Tiles – Just-about-recommended
We like to think of ceramic tiles as a near custom solution to your flooring. If you can’t quite afford to pay out for the marble option, then ceramic proves a capable backup. Their water resistant and durable surface makes them a “no-nonsense” option that is also an easy one to clean.
Ceramic tiles also have the additional benefit of being an easy material to both cut and install. The only thing you’ll need to consider is the tiles may need to be impregnated and sealed before being set foot on. This is to ensure they can put up a good battle against mud and other substances getting in.
Although we do have a lot of love for ceramic, we do feel that there are better options available. Naturally, a lot of this comes down to taste and price. We’ve seen the creative bar pushed in neighbouring conservatories and the outcome has been pretty darn good. Less is more can be a good tactic with ceramic tiles. A clean and simple design and finish can do wonders in bringing a conservatory into the 21st century. In saying that, we’ve seen a lot of tiles that really should’ve been left in that late nineties.
9. Porcelain Tiles – Highly Recommended
Much like with the ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are often popular because of their stone/concrete finish effects. We’re seeing a growing trend of using porcelain with this particular finish to bring conservatories into the modern day and we’re a big fan of it.
With porcelain being an exceptionally low maintenance flooring option, not requiring the sealant that their ceramic siblings do upon installation, it is also slip resistant and so remains a safer option for those with children running around.
Worrying about those liquid spillages and stains? Don’t. Porcelain has a higher resistance to liquid than ceramic does and is also incredibly stain resistant. Whereas ceramic tends to sit in the ‘okay’ category with water resistance (it’ll handle the odd splash but wouldn’t be suitable for a bathroom, for example), porcelain is considered its’ superior. As you may have guessed, it is also far stronger and more durable than ceramic too.
You’ll naturally pay more for the better material though, and this will come at a cost which could reach nearly double that of ceramic but still coming just short of stone. Although this is an investment that we’d be surprised to see you’d regret and represents excellent value as a conservatory floor.
A Few Final Thoughts
A lot of variables go into making the decision on your conservatory floor. Ultimately, you build a conservatory to enjoy as and when you want to enjoy it. This shouldn’t be dictated by the temperature outside though.
Firstly, as humans, we are naturally vain people. The same will go for our purchases. We’re less likely to choose the highly functional, cost-effective yet ghastly looking floor over its’ better-looking opposite.
With this in mind, it’s always worth having a style, pattern or colour in mind that you want to work, then find the best option that fits.
It’s worth considering whether the conservatory naturally lets in a lot of naked sunlight. Will the floor be exposed to a lot of sun throughout the summer and, ultimately, is there a risk of cracking and colour fading? Does your conservatory roof and windows offer protection against this? Are there suitable blinds installed?
Do you have young children that will spend the summer months running in and out, using it as a play area? Many of the recommended flooring materials are now easy to clean, this becoming a necessity more so than a benefit as it would’ve been just a few short years ago. A select few are slip-proof, but it is also worth checking this before purchase. The size of the conservatory floor should also play a part in the importance of this decision as well.
Does the floor retain heat well? Many surfaces now offer underfloor heating, and this may be a good option if you live in a particularly cold part of the UK.
It’s safe to say that many of the conservatory flooring options these days are fit for whichever purpose you require. Our favourites are the engineered hardwood, vinyl and porcelain, although we do feel that little can beat the clean finish of a beautiful marble floor.