What sort of flooring will work best in your conservatory?

Deciding what type of flooring material to have for your conservatory is an important decision. Along with the looks and using a material that will complement the style of your conservatory, a lot of consideration has to be given to the usual type of use the floor will be subject to.

If there’s a lot of foot traffic going in and outdoors via the conservatory, then an easy to clean surface will be desirable. If the structure will be south facing and subject to a lot of sunshine, a cooler flooring, such as granite, might be the answer. Conversely, if you want something to help ‘warm up’ the space, then some type of wood laminate or even carpeting might be the best option.

Here we discuss the pros and cons of various floor types for conservatories:

Real wood

Due to the expense and its poor performance in dealing with fluctuating temperatures in terms of expansion and contraction, splitting and warping relatively high-maintenance, real wood fell out of favour as a flooring option.

More recently it’s becoming a viable option again thanks to engineered wood: where several layers of varying types of wood are bonded together with a layer of real wood on top. Engineered wood’s performance in the face of changing temperatures is much better than real wood and makes for a sound choice of floor.

Laminate

Looks very much like real wood, is a relatively inexpensive option and is easy and quick to install by people who know what they’re doing. A laminate floor can be ordered in just about any finish so along with wood effect, you can specify it is a tile look, granite look and many more.

Tile

Available in natural stone and ceramic, tiles are a very popular choice thanks mainly to a combination of looks, easy maintenance and being hard wearing. The two basic types are stone and ceramic:

Stone tiling

Granite – an expensive option, but for many the fact it’s a natural material and looks good make it a winner.

Sandstone – various finishes available and a resilient material, it can be ordered in a rougher or smooth style. It tends to absorb water and can get slippery at times so maybe not always a totally practical choice.

Limestone – makes for an impressive look with a natural and attractive surface, but will usually need sealing before the floor is used.

Slate – a flexible choice as they are available in different textures and colours but quite high maintenance initially. They have to be sealed, may flake a little to start with, and will often require resealing to protect the flaked parts.

Marble – looks wonderful and available in various colours, but won’t suit all applications. It can mark easily and will need polishing frequently, and is vulnerable to acidic substances – even the milder forms such as orange or lemon juice. Therefore spillages have to be removed fast before lasting damage is caused.

Ceramic tiling

Terracotta – attractive and distinctive but not as durable as a glazed ceramic tile. They’re usually thick to avoid breakage, but this makes them a good choice if you’re thinking of underfloor heating as they retain heat very well.

Quarry – these tiles were naturally mined, hence their name, but nowadays, they are made from clay.

Porcelain – a good overall choice as they’re very hard wearing, almost completely water resistant, virtually maintenance free and can be specified in various natural stone looks.

Glazed ceramic – easy to maintain, water resistant and durable but sometimes a little less ‘characterful’ than other tiles such as terracotta.

Cork

A renewable material in that cork is harvested at intervals giving the trees time to regrow. It’s a tough and ‘warm’ material, and makes for a pleasant surface to walk on. It’s a particularly good material if the conservatory is going to be played in by children as it has a slight ‘cushioning’ property for when the odd fall happens.

Surprisingly perhaps, it can be a very practical surface as it can be sealed to protect it from moisture, and this makes it easy to clean, too.

Vinyl

A very flexible and easy to install material. Various finishes can be specified in all sorts of finishes, and it’s a low maintenance, easy to clean material. It can be vulnerable to strong sunlight in terms of fading, so fitting it to a south facing conservatory attracting a lot of sun might not be the best option. It’s also susceptible to indentations, so careful siting of furniture is required.

Carpet

A ‘warm’ and flexible choice – carpets can be specified in all types of colours and patterns – but perhaps not always the best conservatory choice. If foot traffic includes people going in and outdoors via the conservatory, and especially if pets might spend time in it, carpets will need frequent cleaning.

There are many options open to you for conservatory flooring. Cost will inevitably influence your decision, but remember the decision you do make is one you’ll be living with for some time. If you’re thinking of having underfloor heating, don’t forget to take this into account regarding the type of floor material you go for. Some work better with underfloor heating than others.

Finally, a good rug can provide a compromise between hard, durable tiles and a warm carpet, so do not dismiss tile just because it can be cold underfoot; it is often the best choice for a conservatory.