02 Jun Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Flooring
What is hybrid flooring?
Hybrid flooring is a new and innovative option for your home that combines the waterproofness of vinyl with the rigidity and scratch-resistance of laminate. Using cutting edge manufacturing technologies, hybrid flooring comes in a wide range of designs and styles whilst still being affordable and durable.
Hybrid flooring is generally made up of four layers that are pressed together to make a hard-wearing floor:
- Top layer – This is a commercial-grade protective coating that gives hybrid floors impact, stain, scratch, and UV resistance.
- Print layer – The print layer uses advanced printing technology to bring you your desired design. Hybrid floors can very realistically imitate the look and feel of surfaces such as wood, tile, concrete, and marble.
- Core board – a composite that allows hybrid floors to feel solid and withstand rapid temperature changes. For hybrid floors, this layer usually comes in two main types – Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) is made of limestone, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and stabilisers, whilst Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) is composed of recycled wood and PVC. WPC floors are generally thicker, more comfortable, but come at a higher cost.
- Acoustic underlay – the majority of hybrid floors also have this bottom layer pre-attached, which increases foot comfort, dampens sound, and eliminates the need for any additional underlayment.
What are the Pros of Hybrid Flooring?
Hybrid flooring is installed as a floating floor, which means that it can be installed over the floor that you already have. This is particularly useful if you want to install flooring temporarily for rental homes, or to change the feel of your homes. Not only that, but floating floors reduce the cost of preparation, installation, and eliminate the need to use any expensive adhesives!
Like laminate flooring, hybrid floors use a print layer that can give you wide flexibility in choosing what style of floor you want. This print layer can come in a smooth or embossed finish and gives you the texture and edges of other types of flooring (like timber) without the maintenance costs. As such, hybrid floors are a great option if you’re envisioning a particular look for your home!
It’s 100% waterproof
Because hybrid floors have a hard topcoat and a PVC-infused core, it is 100% waterproof, which is especially useful if you have pets who like to leave a mess. Hybrid floors are thus a good option for all areas of the house, even in high-moisture areas such as the kitchen, and laundry.
It’s highly durable
Hybrid floors can last decades because of their tough top coating that can withstand dents and scratches, even in high traffic areas. If you have pets or kids that love playing on the floor, you’ll love how hybrid floors can withstand 2 decades of wear and tear! When combined with the waterproof nature of these floors, you’ll be able to use these floors nearly everywhere!
It’s easy to maintain
Hybrid floors use floorboards that click together, so there aren’t any gaps for grime and dirt to hide. This means that you will generally only need to clean with a vacuum or broom, although you’ll need to take care to clean up any abrasive sand or dirt that can scratch the floors. Because they’re waterproof, hybrid floors can also be wet mopped (something you need to be very careful about with timber, laminate and bamboo floors)!
The use of underlayment on hybrid floors helps quieten any sounds, provides excellent thermal insulation, and helps to support your feet as you walk or stand on it. This makes hybrid floors suitable for the kitchen, as your feet won’t get sore compared to tiles – which are hard and cold.
It maintains its colour and quality over time
Hybrid floors combine the use of fade-resistant dyes with the UV-resistant topcoat to protect against UV damage from the sun. This means that the stylish design of your floors will keep looking brand new for years to come.
It’s easily repairable
In the event that you damage a hybrid floorboard, it’s easy to unclick the floorboard and replace it with a new one. When you purchase a hybrid flooring, it’s generally wise to purchase an extra pack you can leave in your garage. In the case you need to repair the floor in the future, you can simply take out a board, cut it to size, and click-lock it in.
What are the Cons of Hybrid Flooring?
It’s affordable, but not as affordable as laminate flooring
Although hybrid floors are cheaper than options such as tile, hardwood and oak flooring, they use new technologies that make them more expensive than laminate or vinyl flooring. If you’re on a very tight budget, you might like to consider those options instead.
It might feel less authentic
Hybrid floorings may feel slightly less authentic (unique texture due to the mix of plastic, limestone, and wood) and less solid underfoot compared to thicker timber and bamboo floors. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the difference without a close examination of the floor.
It is not re-sandable
Unlike timber, hybrid floors also can’t be re-sanded or re-coated when it begins to wear, although it’s generally durable enough to not need this. This means if you damage a hybrid floorboard, you’ll have to replace the board with a new one.
It requires a flat floor
As with any floating floor, hybrid floors require a flat floor to be installed properly. Generally, the floor can’t deviate more than about 3mm in height over 2m in length so that the click-lock system operates properly and does not creak or crack as you step on it.
It can discolour
Although UV resistant, all flooring can discolour if it’s continually exposed to direct sunshine, so using curtains or blinds would be a good idea to keep your floors looking fresh.
Hybrid floors can also change their colour on contact with rubber products such as rug backings and slippers, so be aware of this when you choose your furniture.
What Should I Consider When Choosing Hybrid Flooring?
First and foremost, you need to know what room you’re looking to install your floors in. Hybrid floors are generally suitable for all areas of the house as they are waterproof, and can hold up to high foot traffic. However, they can’t be used where water is continually soaking on them, such as in the shower, saunas or near hot tubs.
You should also account for the slight increase in height of your floor when installing hybrid floors, and whether they’ll interfere with any furniture or doors in your home. This is a problem with all flooring installations, and generally can be fixed with resizing any doors in the house. If you need help with furniture and door issues, FloorVenue has an experienced in-house carpenter who can resolve all issues.
Length of Floorboards
Hybrid floorboards can come in a variety of lengths – 1.2m, 1.5m, and 1.8m – which can impact on how they look in your home. Longer floorboards have more pressure on their joints, although they can give a sense of vastness that looks nicer in larger rooms. Longer and larger floorboards tend to make space seem more spacious and modern.
Many types of hybrid flooring carry a wear warranty of 20-25 years, although it’s important to know what is covered in the warranty by your specific manufacturer. Make sure that you purchase from a long-established and reputable flooring supplier so that you have peace of mind in being able to claim this warranty in the unlikely event that you need to.
Many hybrid floors already have a pre-attached underlayment. If they don’t, you can consider high-density acoustic underlay made from foam, rubber or cork, which can be placed under hybrid floors to further dampen any sound. This underlayment is usually about 0.5mm thick.
Hybrid floors are extraordinarily flexible in how they can be cleaned, although you should not use detergents, steel wool or steam mops. If you do need to clean any stubborn stains, you should use a pH neutral cleaning solution, as this will help retain the protective layer of the hybrid flooring.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does hybrid flooring cost?
In Australia, hybrid flooring costs from $35/sqm up to $55/sqm for supply only. Installation costs in Australia (in particular Sydney and NSW), generally cost between $25 – $30 per square metre for simple and straightforward installations. This makes it more affordable than alternatives such as hardwood or tile, whilst still retaining the hardness and stylish features of each. Although, hybrid floors aren’t as cheap as vinyl or laminate floors.
Does hybrid flooring need underlay?
The majority of hybrid floors already have pre-attached underlay, so you don’t need to add any more. For those that don’t come with underlay, it’s simple to find some underlay and lay them beneath the floor prior to installation. If you want to further dampen any sounds, you can add an additional acoustic underlay under your hybrid floors.
Note: If you have an upstairs area or live in an apartment block, approved acoustic underlay that meets noise-transmission guidelines are required.
Can you lay hybrid flooring over tiles?
As long as your installation surface is relatively flat, you can install hybrid flooring over almost anything. This means that you can definitely lay hybrid flooring over tiles, timber, or laminate, although you should keep in mind that hybrid floors are optimally installed where the floor is relatively level. Hybrid floors are also unsuitable for installation over carpet.
Is hybrid flooring waterproof?
Yes, hybrid flooring itself is waterproof because it combines the use of a durable top protective layer with a waterproof core. Hybrid floorboards also click together snugly, meaning that any moisture will seep between the floorboards. This means that it is not proper to use it in places like bathrooms and laundry.
Can I steam mop hybrid flooring?
No, hybrid flooring should not be steam mopped because they can cause the floorboards to peel or crack. Instead, you can use a vacuum, broom, damp mop, or a pH neutral cleaning solution. This will ensure that the hard top protective layer on all hybrid floors will continue to resist any moisture, dirt, or any other grime for the lifetime of your floors.
How thick is hybrid flooring?
Hybrid floors have a thickness of between 6.5mm and 8.5mm, depending on the model and manufacturer of your particular floorboard. This makes them thinner than their laminate floor counterparts, as laminate floors come in thicknesses of 8, 10, 12, and 14mm. Hybrid floors can still be very sturdy, though, as they make use of a stiff core board that’s made of an infusion of plastic and recycled wood or limestone.
How do I care for a hybrid floor?
Hybrid floors don’t require as much maintenance compared to bamboo or hardwood floorings, so you will only need occasional vacuuming, sweeping, or mopping (but not steam mops). However, you should avoid leaving any abrasive materials like sand or dirt on hybrid floors for too long, as they can scratch the surface of your floor.
Does hybrid flooring expand?
Hybrid flooring can naturally expand and contract, but not as much as other types of floors. This is because it uses a very stable core material that resists changes in heat or moisture. Hybrid floors usually need no or very little (a few millimeters) expansion gaps when installed.
What’s the difference between hybrid and vinyl flooring?
While both hybrid and vinyl floors are waterproof, the main difference is that hybrid floors are thicker, more rigid, and feel better when you walk on them. Vinyl floors also expand and contract more than hybrid floors, which means that you need to leave unsightly gaps between floorboards to avoid buckling.
Conclusion: Is hybrid flooring good?
Definitely! Hybrid flooring is one of the newest and most stylish flooring types to hit the market, and it combines the rigidity and flexibility of laminate with the waterproofness of vinyl flooring. We can certainly see many people choosing hybrid floors over the next few years!