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Taking Care Underfoot

When you have built or renovated the exterior of your Bulgarian home, it’s time to turn your attention indoors and consider what flooring to lay. Choices in Bulgaria are more limited in terms of textures than in Northern Europe, but the DIY stores like Mr Bricolage and a host of private retailers still offer a wide variety of colours and styles at prices much lower than home.

Laminate

Laminate is a man-made product, which has the outward appearance of wood, stone or ceramic. Technology over the last few years has developed to such a degree that it is hard to spot the difference from the real McCoy and it’s much cheaper! It is a popular choice today, but more so with Bulgarians than Westerners. Laminate is durable and has many benefits over its genuine counterparts; it is warm under foot, durable, stain and fade resistant, comes in a wide variety of designs, colours and textures and provides a low cost flooring solution with prices starting at around 7.49 lv. a sq m. It can be installed into renovated homes over all types of surfaces and should you feel like a change it is easy to replace. There are downsides to laminate, the biggest being that you need a professional to fit it. Badly laid laminate looks terrible and if the joins are not hidden when it is laid, they will lift later on and expose large gaps between the boards. Light coloured laminate will get dirty quickly and if you live in a Bulgarian village it is wise to avoid light colours in high traffic areas because of the mud and dust that is an inevitable part of village life here.

Carpet

Carpet originates from ancient times, when people would knot and tie threads by hand to form a durable floor covering. In the 16th century merchants introduced carpet to the rich homes of Europe and it became the most popular floor covering in the UK.  In Bulgaria carpet is not a popular choice, but thanks to the Western DIY stores it is now available here and at relatively low costs – around 12.99 lv. per sq m. There are not too many choices of colour and style available and the quality is basic, but there’s no getting away from the fact that carpet offers warmth under foot and limits noise transfer. It also hides any irregularities in the floor beneath, so if you have renovated a house with slightly uneven floors you can mask this with a layer of carpet. The downside of buying carpet in Bulgaria is finding a trained carpet fitter. When Bulgarians buy carpet, they tend to lay it out, cut around the edges and leave it. Carpet fitters lay batons and turn the edges over tacking the carpet to the batons so that no frayed edges can be seen. Carpets are also high maintenance when it comes to cleaning especially if they are laid in high traffic areas and in Bulgaria you will need to hoover every day if you live in one of our dusty villages.

Hardwood

Real wood provides an elegant and stylish look to any home and gives a warm and welcoming appearance and whilst laminate producers may now be able to replicate this overall look, there’s no mistaking the real thing. If you are building a new home then you will be able to get your builder to lay the floors for you and indeed some like Evroholts will include hardwood floors in with the overall build price. Hardwood can be installed over a variety of surfaces and they hide the dirt very well in fact you will have far less maintenance with a hardwood floor than other surfaces. Hardwood is also warm to walk on in winter and cool in summer, which is perfect for the Bulgarian climate. The downside is its cost. It is one of the most expensive flooring options and if it is not part of the deal with your builder you will need to find a flooring specialist to purchase this as it is not available in DIY stores.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are the most popular choice in flooring in Bulgarian homes. They are available in lots of colours and styles from a wide variety of outlets. It is also a cheap solution to your flooring issues with prices starting at around 9.99 lv. a sq m. Mr Bricolage have regular promotions on their ceramic tiles and it is worth checking there if you choose this option. Ceramic tiles are very easy to clean and if you choose your pattern and colour wisely they will hide a multitude of sins. Bulgarians are also skilled at laying tiles and you won’t have to look far to find someone to do the job for you. There are some disadvantages – the greatest being that builders so love ceramic tiles that they are liable to lay them in every room of your house, which is not a good idea because ceramic tiles are freezing to walk on and in winter you will be cursing the day you consented to have them throughout your home. If you do opt for them throughout your home invest in under floor heating. Ceramic tiles however are still the perfect choice for your bathroom, kitchen and utility room as they will not suffer from water damage like other materials and are much easier to keep clean. One key point to be aware of is the fact that ceramic tiles can be very slippy and if they are laid in areas where you may step out of your swimming pool and into your house with wet feet, you could find yourself with a nasty bruise.

Rugs

Rugs can transform the look of your home and compliment your décor and they are relatively cheap to buy, depending on the quality you require. They are also available from a wide variety of outlets from DIY stores to hand crafted traditional kilims. If you move into a home, where the flooring is already laid you can use a rug to hide the original option, blend with your choice of décor and provide warmth under foot. They also allow you to break up areas of your home and define each space differently. This works well if you have a large open plan area. The downside of rugs is that they need hovering and the area around them will need sweeping or mopping and this is almost like cleaning the floor twice. They can also cause accidents if they are placed on a slippy surface.

It’s Up to You

With so much choice on offer now, you can choose the option that best suits your home and individual needs. A combination of flooring works best of all allowing you to adapt according to the uses in each room, but do take into account that Bulgaria will be very different to what you are used to at home; if you live in a village there are generally no pavements and few tarmac roads so dust and mud are real issues, and then of course there are the pets that you vowed you would never had, but suddenly end up adopting!

Picture number 2 courtesy of Orpheus Interiors