Flooring needs to be extremely hard wearing and easy on the eye, but how can you ensure that all practical and aesthetic requirements are met? Simon Boocock, Managing Director or CRL Stone, looks at why porcelain is becoming such a popular option.
When it comes to specifying materials for interiors projects one of the most tricky areas to get right is flooring. Covering a large expanse, the floor will draw the eye and also be subject to a large amount of wear and tear, so choosing a material based on its aesthetic qualities and durability is important.
It is therefore wise to concentrate a healthy percentage of any budget on this aspect of a project, as cutting costs here will stand out and be a false economy in the longer-term. Opting for quality flooring is a much wiser option and really comes down to the right choice of material, rather than being led by price.
Flooring needs to be hard-wearing regardless of the nature of the project, but particularly so in high traffic situations such as reception areas, hotels, restaurants and bars. In fact, any space that is subject to high traffic needs to combine style with exceptional durability. In such areas, first impressions count so it is important that the materials chosen have visual appeal while ensuring they can withstand a high degree of wear and tear. Over expansive areas, continuity of design is key, making highly durable and versatile materials essential.
Whether being sourced for a commercial or domestic property, the material chosen needs to be stain and scratch resistant too, or it will quickly need replacing or require a great deal of maintenance to prevent it from making the
entire space look less than its best. This is particularly the case in environments such as kitchens and bathrooms, where any spillages need to be easily wiped clean and the flooring not easily damaged by hot liquids or everyday products that may contain chemical ingredients.
As the trend in interior design moves increasingly towards open-plan living, so the flooring takes on even more significance, often covering large, open expanses that are always visible. A particular trend is towards the use of full-length glass doors and windows in kitchen/dining areas, enabling rear garden views to be enjoyed year-round. This is also an effective way of filling the interior with lots of natural light, creating the feeling of spaciousness in compact environments and using the exterior of a property as an extension of the living space by bringing the outdoors in.
The same is true on commercial projects, where glass panelling is often used to zone spaces and to create a contemporary finish, in bars, hotels and restaurants in particular. While this design clearly has its advantages, it does raise another consideration when selecting appropriate flooring. Large windows let in plenty of sunlight, which can lead to discolouration of surfaces over time. A material that weathers naturally over time can be advantageous, as it creates a very individual look, much like the patina on copper which gets better with age. Less of a problem when used on exterior projects, internally any imperfections caused by over-exposure to sunlight can be unsightly and out of place rather than welcoming. If the position of any furniture is altered over time, a surface that is not prone to colour-ageing may well be a better option.
Specifying porcelain tiles can combat the issues mentioned, leaving the only consideration to be made one of design aesthetics rather than practicalities. Porcelain has many properties that make it a very suitable material choice for flooring, externally and internally on commercial and domestic projects.
Meeting the demands of modern design and modern living, porcelain is unaffected by the passage of time. With its many benefits including a strong resistance to wear and tear, scratch and heat, porcelain is a very hard material, suitable for practically any surface, and flooring in particular. Its colour and texture remain unchanged even when used outdoors, since it can withstand the effects of ultra-violet rays without its surface appearance being altered in any way.
Thanks to its properties, porcelain ensures versatile, eco-friendly, innovative surfaces for any situation. Its high resistance to stain and lack of pores make it ideal for everyday places where hygiene is fundamental too, such as public spaces and high-traffic areas.
The many benefits of specifying porcelain become clear when each of its advantages are looked at in detail. Porcelain is:
Resistant to wear and tear – This is a highly resistant surface that is ideal for use indoors and on external projects.
Scratch resistant – Of particular benefit in high traffic, public areas where flooring will be in contact with footwear, porcelain will not scratch, even over time.
Stain resistant – Porcelain is unaffected by products like solvents, detergents, and bleach, as long as any spillages are cleaned away within 24 hours.
Resistant to ultra-violet rays – porcelain is colourfast despite the passing of time, even when used outdoors.
Impact resistant – Porcelain has a high resistance to knocks and impacts by everyday objects.
Resistant to frost and ice – Its low water absorption rate makes it ideal for outdoor environments where frost and ice is common.
Easy to clean and care for – No extra care or special products are needed to clean it. Stains can be removed with water or mild cleaning products.
Hygiene – Because it is a non-porous surface, the build-up of bacteria or mould is prevented, making it an excellent flooring option for environments such as public washrooms in restaurants and bars.
Bending strength – Porcelain can withstand a high weight without bending or becoming deformed, with the entire surface remaining flat.
Available in a wide selection of colours, porcelain is not only a very practical flooring choice for interior and exterior design projects, but is also an extremely versatile option that allows for creativity in design. Available in large tile format, porcelain taps into the latest trends and creates a seamless finish when combined with wall cladding and surfaces in the same highly durable material. Specifying porcelain flooring for your next project will ensure that the finished work will look as good in ten years’ time as it does when you sign-off on the job.