The floor. It could be the most underrated part of the house. A nice warm wood gives off a sophisticated finish, while brushed concrete puts the perfect final touch on an industrial vibe. By the same token, wood stains, and you can’t just mop it up with any old cleaning solvent. Not everything will shatter if it comes into contact — unlike concrete. Bonus? Concrete is lovely and cool in the summer but frigid in the winter.
1. Bamboo floor
What kind of flooring goes down is as much about design or décor as it is about what is going to happen on it every day, and there are almost as many options for flooring as there are paint colours. One of the trendiest floor movements right now is bamboo, a material Hongkongers are familiar with. Though technically grass, bamboo is super-hard, ultra-durable and relatively sustainable, and it’s malleable for size, grain and colour.
2. Wooden floor
Similarly, unique reclaimed woods are starting to show up under our feet and are a favourite of designer Monique McLintock of Monique McLintock Interiors. “With this type of flooring you need to accept all the imperfections, but that is what I find so appealing about it. Perfection can be so boring.” But don’t underestimate classic hardwoods like pine, maple and oak. They’re classics because they’re resilient and durable, and these days fresh hardwoods can be sourced from sustainable forests all around the world. Yvonne Lo, business co-ordinator for German flooring brand Osmo notes, “Most people choose classic oak. If you want more character, like knots, you might choose spruce. If you want something finer you’d go for pine. It depends on preference.”
The best way to protect wooden floor
Whatever the wood, Lo reminds that care and finish are the biggest factors in keeping wooden floors looking their woody best. Osmo’s finish is its own hardwax, PolyxOil (which can be applied to any wood), a combination of wax and oil that protects wood (and makes cleaning and repair easy) like lacquer and moisturises like oil but with an open surface. “Wood is like a rubber band. It’s elastic. With lacquer the surface doesn’t move or breathe and it’s like a volcano. Eventually it will crack, after months and years of heat, cold, dryness and humidity”, she states.
3. Concrete floor
If wood isn’t your thing, that industrial look is needed or a room just has different requirements, there is always tile, cork, vinyl and concrete. Concrete is about as durable and easy to maintain as flooring gets, and with its new “cool” status it comes in a variety of colours and finishes. “This is the most cost effective way to lay flooring. Some concrete floors have been known to crack, which some people do not mind as it gives this salvaged look,” says McLintock. With concrete, accessorising with cushy rugs is a must; concrete is murder on the back.
4. Tiled foor
On a related note, tiles are getting more creative every year and now come in an enormous range of colours, shapes and sizes and are already the most popular flooring option in Hong Kong. “There’s a ton of variety in style, colours, finishes and textures. Maintenance of tiles is super easy and they are long wearing.” McLintock notes the downside to tiles is that grouting gets stained, which makes large format tiles increasingly popular.
5. Cork floor
Something like wood is finished cork, a comfortable alternative renowned for its environmental and sound dampening values. For years cork flooring had a bad reputation as easy to damage and hard to maintain. “However, with manufacturing advances [cork] has become more durable,” finishes McLintock, though it’s still susceptible to moisture and it’s very expensive.
6. Vinyl floor
Finally, vinyl may smack of 1970s tackiness, but its modern cousin is a whole new ballgame. Contemporary iterations are designed to look like stone, wood or tile and can be so convincing guests will never know the difference — until they drop a mug. Vinyl is a great option for bathrooms and kitchens, where wood could be subject to water hazards, and for any space where stone would be aesthetically pleasing. It can be hard on the joints too, but at least more appealingly than in the past.