Conservatory Floors and Flooring
Before choosing a floor material for your conservatory you must consider the use you will be putting your conservatory too. If part of it is a kitchen you’ll need to choose a floor that is moisture and spill resistant. If it’s going to be a children’s play area it should be hardwearing and skid resistant.
You will also need to consider the traffic through the conservatory into the garden; what dirt might get carried in from outside on the soles of shoes and boots and the wear the floor may get.
South facing conservatories heat up quickly, so for these you might want to choose a ceramic or natural stone tile that will help keep the conservatory cool.
Cork Conservatory Floors
Cork floors are tough, water resistant, warm to the touch and natural insulators against cold and sound. They have a natural springiness that makes it pleasant to walk on and together these properties make it an ideal flooring for children to play on.
Cork floors can be sealed to protect them from water and other spills and to give it a beautiful sheen. It is easy to clean which is an important factor if your conservatory is likely to be a high traffic area.
Cork flooring comes in a variety of natural and man made colours and is environmentally friendly. Cork is harvested from trees in Portugal about every ten years after which time it grows again, a process that is repeated for hundreds of years.
Laminate flooring mimics the look of a traditional wood floor and is much easier to install than a real wood floor. The best laminate floors are difficult to distinguish from real hardwood floors and less expensive.
A laminate floor is usually made from a three-tier sandwich; with a top layer that looks like real wood, (typically a tough melamine skin over a photographic image of wood grain) that is tough and difficult to stain or scratch> This is then bonded on to a moisture resistant wood core on a bonded backing.
As well as in wood effect, laminate flooring is also available in tile effect and natural stone effect finishes.
Natural Stone Floors
There is a good choice of natural stone flooring products to choose for your conservatory in a variety of colours and natural markings:
Granite Tiles – are immensely hard making them highly resistant to liquids. They can be polished to a beautiful high gloss finish.
Limestone Tiles – are usually pale in colour and can have interesting surface markings; you will need to ensure that they are sealed before use.
Marble Tiles – are available in a variety of colours, but because they are susceptible to damage by acids, even mild ones such as found in lemons or spilt orange juice; they should not be used if your conservatory is part of a kitchen area. While a marble floor looks beautiful, it can also mark easily, so it is not ideal in high traffic areas and you will need to polish it regularly to maintain its look.
Slate Tiles – come in different colours and textures and will need sealing. In the first few weeks of use small flakes can be dislodged from them and they will need resealing to protect the flaked areas.
Ceramic Floor Tiles
Ceramic floor tiles are available unglazed and glazed. There are four basic types of ceramic flooring tile:
Glazed Ceramic – tiles are very durable and easy to maintain. They are water resistant, making them ideal if part of your conservatory is a kitchen area.
Porcelain Tiles – are made by compacting clay and other materials at very high pressure, making them the hardest man-made tile and virtually water resistant. They need no sealer or on-going waxing. Porcelain tiles can be made to copy the effect of natural stone but in a variety of colours unavailable in the natural product.
Quarry Tiles – were originally made from quarried stone, but for many years they have been manufactured from clay and are thus natural earth shades of grey, red and brown depending on the source.
Terracotta Tiles – are softer and thus more prone to scratching than ceramic tiles and due to the nature of the material have to be made thicker to avoid breakage. However, this means that they have excellent heat-retaining properties and are thus ideal if you are installing underfloor heating.
Ceramic tiles are cold so are ideal in a south-facing conservatory; but they are not nice to walk on in bare feet in cold weather. So you should consider either electric or hot water underfloor heating if you use ceramic tiles in your conservatory and plan to use it in winter.
Until recently hardwood floors were not recommended for use in a conservatory, especially in a wet area where moisture could make the planks shrinkage, warp or split. Using natural hardwood flooring in a south-facing conservatory was also not recommended due to the excessive heat and danger from shrinking, warping and splitting.
However Engineered Hardwood can withstand heat and moisture with minimal movement. This is achieved by placing a real wood surface on top of several layers of other wood, such as plywood, high density fibreboard or just another hardwood. The result is a wood floor with great strength that can be used in the extreme environments of a kitchen or conservatory.
If you are planning to install underfloor heating, ensure your installs the correct insulation and wattage, as there are important different requirements for tiles, timber, vinyl and carpeted floors.
It’s important your installer knows the type of flooring you intend to use, to ensure the floor levels are correct.