Along with the frames, the furniture, the blinds and the lighting, the conservatory flooring is an important part of the overall design. It will have a huge impact on the aesthetics inside the room, yet must be functional and hardwearing at the same time.
When you plan the conservatory and start to consider what type of floor to have, it is worth thinking about what the conservatory will be used for. If the conservatory is an extension from the kitchen, the floor will need to be resistant to moisture and easy to wipe clean.
If the room is designed as a separate living area, a carpet or a heated floor may provide more comfort. If you expect lots of through traffic, such as children with muddy boots or dogs, the floor should be hardwearing and stain resistant.
Types of flooring:
There are many different materials which can be used for a conservatory floor, ranging from the practical to the ornamental. Some of the most common types of flooring are detailed below.
Laminate flooring is a popular choice in conservatories, and can mimic the appearance of wooden, natural stone, or tiled flooring. Generally cheaper than using real wood, stone or tiles, laminate can often be difficult to distinguish from the real thing.
Cork flooring is ideal for conservatories as it is water resistant, warm to the touch, and acts as an insulating barrier against the cold. The material is naturally springy and non-slip, which makes it perfect if you have young children. Cork flooring is sealed to make it resistant to water, and this gives it an easy to clean surface.
Natural stone flooring:
Natural stone can be used to create beautiful flooring in a conservatory, which will be hardwearing and will last for several years. Stone can get very cold underfoot, however, so you may want to consider underfloor heating if you go for a natural stone finish.
Granite tiles are remarkably hard which makes them very resistant to water. They are polished to a very high sheen and their dark grey colour is very popular in conservatories.
Limestone tiles are paler in appearance; the colours can range from cream and beige to yellow and golden brown. It is a naturally porous and chalky substance so needs to be sealed to make it waterproof. It is sometimes filled and honed to reduce the size and appearance of the pores, although this takes away from the grainy, weathered look of the stone. Tumbled limestone is available which retains the rustic look, but may require more regular maintenance to retain its resistance to water.
Marble tiles are available in a range of colours, and their detailed patterns add a touch of glamour and class to any room. Most marble originates from Italy, and it is one of the more expensive types of flooring. Marble tiles will certainly add style to a conservatory, but may not be the most practical for a family room. It is very sensitive to acids, and even lemon juice can cause damage to marble. It will also require polishing regularly to maintain the high sheen finish.
Ceramic floor tiles:
Ceramic tiles can be bought either glazed or unglazed, but are also cold underfoot, so underfloor heating should be considered. Some of the more common types include:
Glazed ceramic tiles are particularly hardwearing and are resistant to water. They are available in a variety of colours and are easy to clean.
Porcelain tiles are the toughest man-made tiles, and are almost completely water resistant. They are produced by compacting clay and various other materials at a very high pressure, and can even be made to imitate the appearance of natural stone.
Originally quarry tiles were made from quarried stone, but more recently have been made with clay, and come in natural colours of red, grey and brown.
Terracotta tiles are much softer than glazed ceramic tiles, and can easily become scratched and damaged, so may not be suitable in a conservatory with a lot of through traffic. As the material is softer, the tiles are made much thicker; this brings better insulating and heat retention qualities.
Natural wooden flooring
Natural hardwood has not always been recommended for conservatories, as it may shrink or warp due to moisture or excessive heat. But more recently engineered hardwood has been manufactured which can withstand both heat and moisture, making a wooden floor a realistic long-term option in the conservatory.
When you are planning what type of flooring to have in the conservatory, you should think about whether you want to install underfloor heating with it. Underfloor heating systems are usually laid in the conservatory base below the flooring, and are part of the build process; so it is something you should decide upon during planning.
A wet underfloor heating system consists of a network of pipes under the floor; hot water circulates through these pipes and heats the flooring, which in turn heats the room. Electric underfloor heating works on the same principle, but a network of wires or wire matting is laid under the floor instead, which heats when a current is passed through it.
If you are going for stone or ceramic tiles it is advisable to install an underfloor heating system. The materials can become very cold to walk on and can affect the comfort factor of the room. With underfloor heating the whole floor is effectively the heat source, and is much more pleasing to walk on.
The flooring in your conservatory will have a bearing on the look of the interior and the feeling of comfort in the room, and is as much a design choice as one of practicality. Despite the style and finish you have in mind for your conservatory, remember to think about what the flooring will need to withstand when it is in use. If you have a large family and expect heavy everyday use of the room, don’t go for expensive marble tiles; choose the best looking practical option.