Buying and installing new flooring into our homes is one of the biggest investments we can make. And for anyone who is planning this purchase, the choices can be overwhelming. Not to say, confusing unless you have done your homework. I posed a few questions to a flooring expert at Lifestyle Flooring to help guide us through the options available, and offer some advice on which floor is the perfect choice for our budget and tastes.
You stock a huge range of quality flooring. How involved do you get in helping customers decide which flooring to use, and where?
Customer satisfaction is our top priority, always. To us, selling a floor is not just about making a profit but forging a long-term relationship with our clients. For over 35 years, we have been helping people across the country create beautiful homes of their dreams with just the right flooring. We find that many of our customers walk in through our doors and are swayed by glitzy images of luxury floors they see in home magazines. Few of them actually understand what type of floor best suits their purpose, but our team of experts are always at hand to offer them the right advice so that they get maximum value on every penny they spend.
In fact, our team spends quality time with each and every client, understanding their needs, lifestyle, and budget. For example, solid wood floors are great for living rooms or bedrooms whereas laminates are perfect for kitchens and bathrooms. Again, maintenance is an issue so we recommend the best floors that are easy to maintain.
Can you give the readers a summary of the difference between laminate, engineered wood and solid wood? What is the price differential between them?
Laminate flooring is an excellent alternative to solid wood (or natural stone) when you are on a budget. Laminate floors are multi-layered synthetic floors that look just like the real thing. The core is composed of fibre board and melamine resin to make them waterproof. A high quality print in wood or stone effect is pasted on top, and the floors are protected from fading or scratching through a protective coating over the graphic layer. They are very durable and can be installed in any living area including bathrooms and kitchens.
Engineered wood floors are the next best option after solid wood. The surface of these floors is solid wood while the core has several layers of prime plywood fused together. The multilayer construction makes these floors extremely tough and resilient. In fact, customers love them in their basements and conservatories.
Solid wood flooring is obviously the real thing and hence the most expensive, but guaranteed to last for generations.
Vinyl flooring seems to have come a long way design-wise, what technological advances have led to this?
Oh yes! The vinyl flooring segment has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. This has been primarily due to the introduction of better manufacturing practices, exclusive designs and easier installation. In fact, Luxury vinyl tile floors are a big hit with customers looking for stunning floors for their homes or offices.
Should customers be concerned about ecological issues with vinyl flooring? I’ve heard some concerns about toxic chemicals used in their production.
It is true to some extent that vinyl floors do emit some amount of Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs that are used during the manufacturing process. However, what many customers do not know is that for premium brands safety is a top priority. Their manufacturing process is such that there is very little emission of VOCs once the floor has been installed. You can further nullify the effects of VOCs by keeping your interiors well ventilated for a few weeks after installation.
What’s the difference between Karndean and vinyl flooring?
Well, few other vinyl flooring manufacturers can live up to the quality and reputation of Karndean. Apart from exclusive designs, stunning shades and innovative patterns, the foremost thing that sets Karndean apart from other brands is their total commitment to environmental safety. The tiles are made from 100% pure, virgin vinyl that has practically no VOC emissions.
In the past year what has been your biggest seller?
Without a doubt, the Karndean range of luxury vinyl floors. You see, people are gradually waking up to the immense practical benefits of premium vinyl floors and they are ready to pay a premium for quality.
Are your customers (and the general public) more concerned about practical issues when buying, or are they swayed by looks?
Showmanship does have its effect but in the end, craftsmanship is what really matters. Customers do come with certain images in their mind but making a quick sale is never our goal. People are more aware these days and the options are limitless. We always try to strike a balance between what the customer wants and what is really worth their money and advise them accordingly before they make that purchase.
Have you noticed any changes in floor buying habits recently?
One thing we have noticed is that customers are leaning more and more toward floors with excellent performance that are easy on maintenance. With a hectic lifestyle and things becoming costlier by the day, few people have the time or money to invest in elaborate cleaning and maintenance. What people want are floors that are durable and retain their glamorous look without an elaborate scrubbing or mopping schedule. While the appeal of solid hardwood is eternal, regular maintenance can be an issue. So people are looking for alternatives such as engineered hardwood, vinyl and laminates.
If you had to predict new trends for the next five years, what would they be?
Well, trends come and go but style is eternal so wood finish floors still rule the market. And it makes sense too! Customers today can enjoy the rustic elegance of hardwood floors in vinyl and laminates that are durable and easy to care. And with top-class graphic representation, you can hardly tell the difference.
Next to wood, tiled floors are always a favourite for adding a touch of elegant sophistication so luxury vinyl tiles and laminates with stone effect are here to stay.
From the designing aspect, we can see a rising demand for floors with contemporary styling, bold patterns and exotic colours that complement modern homes perfectly.
What do you have on the floors of your own home?
My home boasts our own in-house production, Linton engineered wood floors. With our years of experience in the flooring market, we have gathered enough knowledge to offer our own brand to our customers. We conform to the highest manufacturing standards so you get a floor that matches up to the top brands in the engineered wood market. And the best thing is that we offer these remarkable floors at a highly affordable pricing to suit every pocket.
Our next aim is to become one of the foremost manufacturers of high quality; affordable engineered flooring.