Specifying for long lasting comfort

Ashley Hooper from Joseph Hamilton Seaton discusses the intrinsic link between durability and comfort in choosing flooring solutions, and how prioritising both will foster customer satisfaction, wellbeing, and the longevity of the building.

For all kinds of residential developments, whether that is multiple occupancy apartment blocks, which cater for a wide variety of people, or high-end, small-scale projects, comfortable flooring is key to creating quality living spaces that aid client satisfaction, occupant wellbeing and can land within cost-effective margins.

Housebuilders need to perfect the balancing act of meeting the requirements of the build – namely cost margins, project timelines, accessibility of products and stock – whilst considering and then creating the environment that potential buyers and renters want to live in. Post-pandemic, people are spending more time at home, as many office-based roles now offer flexible, hybrid or remote work– shifting people’s priorities more towards how their home makes them feel on a more regular basis than ever before.

As well as this, the current competitive UK rents – which on average have risen to over £700 per month for just a room – and cost of living crisis are leading renters to more seriously consider the value and quality of a property when they choose where to live. This means that renters must prioritise some characteristics over others; and this isn’t only things such as a property’s location, size or accessibility, but the internal features of a property as well, and whether a property can give them the best quality of life.

When consumer champions Which? surveyed 6,000 people back in 2021 about how they chose their carpet, their answers pointed largely to the warmth, comfort and feel of a carpet playing a pivotal role in their decision-making. Of the respondents, 68% said that comfort underfoot was important, whilst 67% said warmth, and 61% said feel. This contrasted drastically with only 6% of respondents choosing the cheapest option – and whilst this may have shifted slightly following the current cost of living crisis, this points to the recognition that value for money and the long-term resilience of a flooring solution matters more than the short-term cost savings. To potential buyers and renters, the initial feelings of comfort appeal, but so too does the assurance of long-term high quality and durability.

With this in mind, housebuilders can take a holistic approach to creating residential spaces that prioritise comfort. What can be described as a state of ease or relaxation, comfort is one of the most important considerations when designing any space that people will be spending large amounts of time in. Comfort comes from a range of things, such as flooring thickness, thermal comfort, and the texture and pattern of furnishings. Choosing a carpet that is warm and soft underfoot, whilst also being supportive enough for people to stand on for any length of time, will keep people in their developments more satisfied.

Thermal comfort, for example, is a pivotal part of creating a good indoor environment that brings occupant satisfaction and boosts their health and wellbeing. This can be achieved by choosing carpets with thicker pile weight – how closely knitted together the carpet fibres are – or pile height – the length of the carpet yarn – or carefully considering the type of material. Cut pile carpets can offer the softness that would be ideal for relaxing areas of the home such as a bedroom or living room area.

However, whatever the initial performance benefits of a flooring solution is, the appeal of a product is tied intrinsically to how long these benefits last. With both thermal comfort and feel underfoot being affected when a carpet begins to thin and degrade, choosing a durable and hardwearing solution will mean both occupants and developers will reap the benefits for longer – whilst occupants enjoy a comfortable home for longer, the developers gain more client interest and a well-regarded reputation. A durable flooring solution will save on costs and provide more comfort in the long run.

In areas of the residential space which tend to have vinyl or hardwood style flooring as opposed to carpet, housebuilders should ask themselves: what will it be like to stand on this floor for long periods of time? Flooring solutions other than carpet can still provide that softness underfoot, such as vinyl tile, that will be more comfortable in areas such as kitchens or bathrooms than stone or concrete flooring. Materials that are scratch resistant will be more durable, and therefore more comfortable underfoot, such as some LVT options.

As housebuilders, it is vital to prioritise what occupants want in order to create more attractive homes, whilst also taking a considerate and conscious approach to the longevity of the building’s interiors.