The Insider: How to pick an alternative to floorboards

By Kate Burt
Sunday 23 October 2011 19:07

My friend Ajit has just bought a flat and is replacing the floor. He doesn't want carpet or vinyl – but "probably" classic wood, floorboard-style. "But is that the best choice?" he asked me. I explored his less obvious alternatives...

Paper view

My first find: flooring blog Wait! It's interesting! I was inspired by the story of a striking but affordable paper-covered floor – hard-wearing thanks to layers of PVA sealant.

Wax on... sells handsome paper-woven matting. This sturdy "carpet" is coated with water-resistant wax emulsion.

Made in the shade

Floorcrunch's editor is Richard McKay. His company,, sells coloured parquet. It's stunning – though fitting parquet can be pricey.

Skin deep

Another unusual flooring material McKay is excited about is leather. "You'd think it'd be delicate but it's as hard-wearing as wood, wipe-clean and doesn't scuff easily," he explains.

Grass roots

Bamboo is a good wood for tight budgets. "A very contemporary look," says McKay, "as the boards are narrow." Or try cork ( – the modern version is a far cry from the flimsy 1970s incarnation – or coconut palm, from

Cheap chic

I love McKay's really-tiny-budget ideas, too. See his blog post on the super-cool room with a plywood floor, simply lacquered to prevent splinters. Or, he suggests, make a wooden "patchwork" from off-cuts. "Many flooring companies throw these away – so ask if you can collect them."

Hard knocks

And for something completely different? Take a look at and

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at

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