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Hard vs. soft flooring
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Hard vs. soft flooring: Benefits and best areas for use

When you are trying to decide between hard and elastic flooring, the way you plan to use the room in question plays a very important role. The flooring in the bedroom or living room is not generally subjected to much wear, but in the kitchen, bathroom or a commercial space, flooring needs to be highly durable and resistant. Additionally, different types of flooring are laid, cleaned and maintained in different ways.

What is hard flooring?

Hard flooring includes natural and artificial materials that are not flexible and do not bend when stepped on. They are resilient, durable and resistant to wear thanks to their hard, smooth surfaces. Hard flooring includes the following flooring types:

Parkett aus Eiche von MEISTER in einem Esszimmer

Parquet flooring

This natural flooring is usually made of hardwood such as oak, beech or walnut. Parquet flooring can last for decades with proper care. With its characteristic wooden structure and warmth, parquet flooring can lend any room a harmonious, cosy and elegant vibe.

Today, most manufacturers only use ecologically sourced, sustainable wood in the production of their parquet flooring. The MEISTER parquet planks consist of a thin wear layer made of real wood, a stable HDF middle layer, and backing.

With the right surface treatment, even real wood flooring can be easy to maintain.  MEISTER parquet flooring is either naturally oiled or matt lacquered, which provides special protection for the surface.

Massivholzdielen in einer Altbauwohnung
Bildquelle: @ka_idris | unsplash

Solid wooden planks

Flooring made from solid wooden planks is one of the oldest types of flooring, and is still wildly popular today. Planks made from woods like oak, pine, larch or spruce are sophisticated and create a timeless, old-world atmosphere.

The wear layer in plank flooring is much thicker than in parquet flooring, as it is generally made entirely of solid wood. For this reason, the planks can even be sanded down multiple times, making the flooring particularly long-lasting. Depending on the subfloor, solid wooden planks can be laid as a floating installation, screwed or bonded. Experts can provide valuable tips on laying solid wooden planks so that your dream flooring will last a lifetime.

Real wood flooring such as parquet and solid wooden planks are sensitive to moisture. It is generally best to lay them in rooms where the humidity is at a consistently moderate level. Solid wood is particularly susceptible to warping if the humidity in the room is too high or too low. This creates joints that make the planks creak or squeak.

MEISTER Laminatboden LD 250 in natürlicher Holzoptik

Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring is probably one of the most popular and best-selling hard floorings. It consists of a blend of natural materials that can be used to create an extensive range of unique designs. Today, many high-quality decors are indistinguishable from real wood flooring. Laminate flooring can even be used to create stone decors or individual designs.

Under the decor paper is a sturdy HDF board (high-density fibreboard) that ensures the necessary stability and is partly even water-resistant. A walking layer of melamine resin is applied to the decor paper, making the laminate flooring highly durable and long-lasting.

Große graue Fliesen in einem Wohnzimmer - Adobe Stock
Bildquelle: @2mmedia | Adobe Stock

Ceramica and natural stone tile

In living spaces, tiles are most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms. This is where they play to their strengths: They are extremely durable, waterproof and resistant to dirt. Concrete, natural stone, patterned or used look: The range of tile designs leaves nothing to be desired.

Ceramic tiles differ in their grain and the size of their pores. Fine ceramic tiles are usually laid in living areas. These can be broken down into earthenware, stoneware and fine stoneware tiles; fine stoneware is particularly hard and waterproof.

Unlike ceramic tiles, natural stone tiles are not made of ground-up materials that are pressed into shape; rather, they are cut directly from select blocks of stone such as marble, granite or slate. This means that each and every natural stone tile is unique – and also more expensive than ceramic tiles.

What is soft flooring?

Soft flooring is characterised by a high level of elasticity. Unlike hard flooring, soft flooring has a bit of give when walked on, meaning that footfalls on elastic flooring are much more muffled than on hard flooring. Soft or elastic flooring includes the following flooring types:

Elastischer PVC-Boden bei der Verlegung
Bildquelle: @U. J. Alexander | Adobe Stock

Vinyl flooring/PVC

Vinyl or PVC flooring (polyvinyl chloride) is a varied alternative to laminate flooring. The soft polymer flooring is naturally warm to the foot, easy on the joints and muffles the sound of footsteps. Modern vinyl flooring is available in many different designs, such a wood or stone looks. However, PVC flooring contains plasticisers; consequently, it is not considered environmentally friendly, and it is susceptible to permanent dents. Design flooring can be a good alternative here.

Vinyl flooring is particularly abrasion-resistant and easy to maintain, making it an excellent choice for private living spaces as well as commercial areas. It is available on rolls or as a practical click variant that has a construction similar to laminate flooring and is correspondingly easy to lay.

Designboden MeisterDesign im angesagten Fliesenformat

Design flooring

Design flooring offers all the benefits of vinyl flooring without the PVC or harmful plasticisers. It’s essentially vinyl flooring without vinyl. Consequently, from a health and environmental safety standpoint, this flooring is completely non-harmful. Many design floorings are waterproof and can be used in humid rooms. And like vinyl flooring, there are no limits on the styles you can create with design flooring. Decors such as high quality wood or stone looks are practically indistinguishable from the real thing.

Design flooring can be bonded or installed as a floating floor. Its low installation height makes it ideal for laying directly on top of old flooring, as long as the old flooring is even and clean.

The MeisterDesign flooring MeisterDesign is available in four installation variants. Whether you need particularly quiet flooring, something that’s ideal for renovation projects, or waterproof or impact-resistant flooring, the right product structure is available for every room. The MeisterDesign flooring from MEISTER is manufactured without PVC and has been awarded The Blue Angel certification. 

Weicher Teppich aufgerollt
Bildquelle: @Astrid Gast | Adobe Stock

Carpet

While it may be true that no other flooring is as soft or as warm underfoot as carpet, carpet does present some disadvantages when compared to parquet, laminate, or design flooring. It is much more difficult to keep carpet clean, for one. Dirt and bacteria can more easily hide in carpet than on smooth flooring that is mopped regularly. In that sense, parquet and similar flooring is much tougher and more hygienic. What’s more, carpet is often firmly bonded to the subfloor, whilst floating installation is an easy option for other types of flooring. This means that carpet involves more work to lay and remove.

Keep the following in mind when choosing between hard or soft flooring:

  • Footfall noise:
    High heels or vacuum cleaner rollers will make more noise on hard floors than on soft ones.
  • Which ways of laying are right for the flooring in a given room? 
    Flexible flooring with a low installation height is ideal for renovations and can often be laid directly on top of the existing flooring.
  • How will the room be used?
    Flooring in high-traffic areas such as offices or public waiting rooms needs to be able to handle heavy wear from street shoes and frequent cleaning.

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