All we know is we like the look and warmth that timber provides (American Oak, pictured above, is divine). I can't have carpet anywhere because the dustmites brings on hayfever. Also with two young boys who find ingenious ways to make a mess (just cleaned strawberry drooled in a trail from kitchen to dining room a few minutes ago), carpet was definitely not an option.
Luckily we are living in a place that has tiles. So easy to clean but the grout between them changes from green to brown all over the place so they look awful. Tiles are out because of the grout issue and also they lack the warmth I want.
Hardwood flooring looks beautiful. For us, this was our initial plan, until we saw prices and also the problem of getting it laid quickly after handover (afterall, we want to move in ASAP). Most hardwood needs to acclimatise for several weeks and then we need 200+ square meters of the stuff so the cost of the product plus laying put it outside our budget. I've also seen the effects of humidity in Sydney.. my parents had a few meters of their beautiful floors suddenly buckle last year.
Strandwoven - Natural & Coffee
I found out about strandwoven bamboo flooring and it seemed the perfect alternative. Cheaper ($60 - $120 depending on who you go to). Incredibly hard so seemed impressively durable. Faster to install if you get it prefinished. Ability to sand back as per traditional hardwood floors. Bingo. Flooring finito.
Until I started digging further and further and the more I read, the less it seemed a wise choice. Its a product that comes out of China and the issue there is you never know what type of quality you're going to get. Also the resins and chemicals used (especially in strandwoven) could be toxic.
Another problem was that the look never really appealed. I thought the coffee stain would be OK but after we borrowed a large sample board of the stuff and took it home, I just couldn't shake the feeling it wasn't right for our house. Images of installations that I found online ranged from looking quite good to teeth gratingly terrible.
Largo - Natural Vanished Oak Close Up & Room View
Now we're considering laminates. The top of the line Quickstep Largo range looks beautiful. I've been quoted $49 for materials only and we can install it ourselves since its the click lock system. Heart racing moment when I saw they had an American Oak finish (ha! what has home building reduced me to?!?).
It was decided and topic was closed until 10pm last night when I chanced upon a forum that mentioned a vinyl alternative "Karndean". This product apparently looks like hardwood flooring but is obviously cheaper. Doesn't sound hollow like laminates. Durable. But it does cost more than Quickstep (the product is more expensive plus it has to be professionally installed).
AAARRRGGGHH.. anyone who has either Karndean or Quickstep Largo please contact me. I need the value of your experience with these products.