We’ve supplied lots of carpet for communal areas in London over the last 20 years and so we thought we’d share some thoughts and advice for readers.
Thinking about how much traffic the floor will have should be the first thing to consider. This will inform your material choices which will in turn affect your budget.
Here is an example guide to foot traffic and suitable flooring:
Groups of flats can vary greatly in size, from a single residential flat to a 16 story block with hundreds of flats! As such it can be tricky to define foot traffic. For example a small communal area straight off the road will be busy but the further you go past the concierge the lighter the traffic will be. Here are some examples of flats we’ve installed flooring in, and how we classified their traffic:
- Light foot traffic — flats such as the large Stuart Tower block in Maida Vale. The carpet on these floors will not get that much traffic as there are only 8 flats per floor. Stuart Tower also has a large reception area which prevents most dirt/debris from getting to the carpeted floors.
- Heavy traffic — communal flat areas above The Alma Pub in Islington. Here we installed our Towcester range for the flats above this pub. The area included one very tight staircase straight off the pavement for all 10 flats. Without a reception area and in a popular area in London, these flooring areas would be classed as heavy traffic.
Suitable materials based on foot traffic
We find that carpet is the most popular type of flooring for communal areas, but that’s probably because people tend to replace what’s already laid down.
It’s good to be aware that although carpet is probably the cheapest option it also has the shortest lifespan and is the least flexible. You’ll notice this especially with communal areas because even those with low use will tend to have higher foot traffic than rooms and offices, where people spend most of their time sitting down.
If your communal areas have light traffic you can choose from a wide range of materials. Again, carpet will be the cheapest, but other great choices are luxury vinyl tile, or carpet tiles if you are concerned about cleaning.
Our most popular communal carpet range is Towcester. However, if you’re looking at carpet and your communal area has light traffic it’s safe to increase your budget and go for a more expensive range.
Typical light traffic communal areas may include office reception areas or small blocks of flats.
Where communal areas have medium traffic we would be a little more cautious to recommend expensive carpets.
If you have the budget and your heart is set then go for it! But if you’re a little more price and value conscious we’d recommend you go for a hard floor which can take a lot more wear before showing any signs of age. These days we happily recommend luxury vinyl flooring to our customers because it has a lot of advantages over carpets, which you’ll see more in higher traffic areas.
Typical medium traffic communal areas may include office a busy office reception or a large block of flats.
Communal areas with heavy traffic can get expensive to maintain. Unless you feel like replacing your carpet in a couple of years we would recommend going for a hard floor for high-traffic areas. Or if you’re really set on carpet then we’d recommend tiles rather than rolled carpet. Carpet tiles have become much more popular in the last 10 years because they’re easily replaced if stained or damaged; something which is more likely to happen in a communal area.
Typical heavy traffic communal areas may include office corridors or small blocks of flats. Another example is schools, which will have very high foot traffic. For schools we would recommend hard flooring where possible, especially in corridors. However, carpets are still popular in classrooms where there is lighter foot traffic.
Once we’ve considered the foot traffic the next thing to think about is how much you want to spend on your communal area flooring.
For example if you had a high budget with light foot fall and you wanted to impress then we would recommend a high-end brand with a floor material of your choice. Some of the brands we work with such as Wiltons and and Axminster can supply beautiful luxury ranges.
High budgets can also lead to custom flooring design. We’ve worked with lots of in-house designers before, recently installing in Portman Mansions; a Victorian mansion block, built in the late 19 th Century, and also near Baker Street station. We’ve built up design partnerships over the years with companies like The Invisible Group, and we can bring samples when we come out to see. We can also suggest ideas and ways to get around any budget constraints, so even if you’re not sure we can help.
Remember that budget is not always straight-forward — you can be creative! A recent client of ours spent most of their budget on their first floor communal area to create a brilliant first-impression, then left the rest of the building to be upgraded at a later date. The transition point from new carpet to old was at the end of the first floor so residents that used the lift would not see this.
When you’ve narrowed down your foot traffic and budget constraints it’s time to think about taste! The classic mistake is to think about what kind of flooring you like straight away but unfortunately the best looking flooring is not always practical or a good investment. Eliminating certain floor types by thinking about foot traffic and budget first can help greatly in reducing choice paralysis.
We recommend you then think about how the flooring style will fit your particular communal area, for example a wood-styled luxury vinyl floor may look great in shared office spaces (take a look at the Bridgman offices in our gallery), or we helped choose a luxury green carpet colour for The Society for Psychical Research, who had antique style dark wood furnishings.
Whatever decision you’re leaning towards remember the good news is that communal areas are often more cost effective because flooring companies can buy your chosen flooring for you in bulk. With clubs and residential buildings flooring can also be installed within normal hours because people are at work, so it works out cheaper on that front too.
Lastly don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us guide you through decisions about your communal area. It’s one of biggest parts of our business so we’ve seen a lot of them!