Cost Of Living: Alternative flooring

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The Independent Online

Wooden flooring – tasteful, practical and chameleon-like in blending in with a room's decoration – dominates today's interiors. But it can be an obvious and dull option, too, especially when you consider the many alternatives.

If you're thinking about carpets, the Berber – so-called after the African tribe who first made it, and constructed from differing sizes of loops and flecked with different colours – is interesting.

Rush matting is an eco-friendly, cost-effective and underused natural product that suits any room. An English company, Rush Matters, plaits rush by hand to create bespoke fitted carpets or rugs. It has also started to weave herbs such as rosemary and thyme into the rush, which freshen the air naturally.

Rubber flooring is available in tiles or as sheets and is now used widely in the home. It is predominantly seen in kitchens and bathrooms but would also be an ideal choice for hallways and play rooms, given its forgiving surface. It's a versatile, durable and extremely fashionable material, which also helps insulate against sound and cold.

If you're looking for something more unusual, then why not try leather? Leather flooring is expensive, but not as fragile as you might expect – like a new leather jacket, it often looks better scuffed.

The installation costs for all these materials will vary depending on your existing surface and the preparation required.

What it costs:

Rush matting – £130 per sqm, plus VAT. Spiral rush matting – £230 per sqm (; 01234 376 419). Rubber tiles or sheets – £49.95 per sqm (; 08008 496 386). Leather tiles – from £225 per sqm (; 020-7439 0925)