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Soft flooring, also known as resilient flooring, acts as a secondary floor to any type of hard flooring. The addition of this highly elastic layer reduces footfalls and muffles the noise to a great extent as compared to a single typical hard floor. It is a very popular option and is widely adopted due to the level of comfort it provides.
Flexibility is another feature that distinguishes soft floors from hard floors, such as stone or ceramic tiles. The soft floor covering can be manufactured in the form of flexible tiles or rolls. The customer gets a wide range of options to make the best choice as soft floors are available in multiple colors and textures. Also, the installation of soft flooring takes lesser time and gives the floor a brand-new look.
1. Types of Soft Flooring
The following are the most common types of soft floors:
1.1. Carpet and Rug
Carpets and rugs are the most commonly chosen variety for soft floors. While carpets are meant for covering the larger surface area, rugs are a loosely-laid piece of a smaller dimension for covering smaller areas. Its fabric provides more comfort in comparison to other types of soft flooring materials.
Carpets and rugs are mainly of four types: flatweave rugs, yarn and fibers, mechanically produced carpets, and pile rugs and carpets.
A major drawback of carpets and rugs is that bacteria and dirt accumulate easily and remain in the carpet, and cleaning them requires additional effort.
1.2. Glass Flooring
Glass flooring is a transparent section of the floor made out of reinforced glass. It uplifts the overall appearance of the place and acts as a piece of attraction.
1.3. Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is available as vinyl composition tile (VCT) and sheets. The VCT is known to be one of the most versatile floors. It is composed of colored vinyl chips and is polished using special materials. It minimizes noise transmission and keeps the floor warm.
The vinyl floors are abrasion-resistant and easier to maintain. They are also long-lasting.
1.4. Rubber Flooring
In rubber flooring, sheets or tiles made of rubber are fixed to the concrete floor with the help of adhesives. Each sheet has a thickness of 3 mm to 10 mm. These are usually costly as they are elastic and noise-proof. Moreover, anti-slip inclusions for rubber floors are also available.
1.5. PVC Flooring
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) tiles are used as a floor finish and is a thin and fairly hard tile consisting of PVC and fiber. Its benefits are similar to vinyl flooring. However, it contains plasticizers which are known to be a hazard not just to the environment but to humans as well.
1.6. Cork Flooring
Cork flooring is made from the bark of the oak tree. It looks similar to hardwood flooring but is one of the softest options and is also scratch-resistant.
A drawback of cork flooring is that if any pointed object comes in contact with the floor, it can cause a permanent dent or damage.
1.7. Linoleum Flooring
Linoleum flooring is softer than tile or hardwood but is not as soft as vinyl flooring. Linoleum is environmentally friendly as it is made from renewable materials and has anti-bacterial properties. It is light in weight and can be cleaned easily.
However, it can be slippery and may cause accidents if not dried completely.
2. Advantages of Soft Flooring
- Warmth: The types of materials used in soft flooring have a higher thermal resistance. This helps in maintaining a higher room temperature in comparison to other types of floors.
- Comfort: Soft floors provide additional comfort and give a sense of luxury.
- Noise: The materials used in soft floors are a source of insulation and thus act as a sound barrier.
- Safety: Soft floors with carpets, rubber, etc. provide a form of cushioning that reduces the impact due to fall. It also enhances the flexibility and elasticity of the floor.
- Hygiene: In the case of carpets and rugs, the fibers trap the dust particles and prevent their circulation in the room.
- Style: One is often spoilt for choice as unlimited colors, textures, and types of soft floors are available in the market. Using a soft floor can enhance the aesthetics of a room and elevate the overall appearance.
3. Disadvantages of Soft Flooring
- The floor needs professional cleaning services periodically.
- It is undesirable to have soft floors in places accommodating pets.
In order to maintain the look of soft floors, proper maintenance and measures have to be adopted from time to time.
- Professional cleaning: Manufacturers recommend yearly professional cleaning for soft floors as normal cleaning can fade off the original look of the floor.
- Regular vacuuming and wiping: Vacuum cleaning removes the allergens and other minute particles present on the floor, while wiping prevents the formation of a layer of dirt.
- Use mats and rugs: Mats and rugs have micro-fibers in them, which when placed in high traffic areas are capable of trapping soil, moisture, and other dirt particles.
Carpets, rugs, glass flooring, rubber flooring, PVC flooring, cork flooring, and linoleum floor are various types of soft flooring.
Soft flooring has high elasticity, flexibility, and muffles footfalls to a great extent as compared to a single typical hard floor.