Cost-effective flooring options that don’t compromise design

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Balancing your budget and the quality of interior design can be a challenge. As a design professional or homeowner, it’s likely you are constantly looking for affordable products that also honour the design brief. 


This article explains how to specify a cost-effective flooring product that also elevates your interior design. With this industry advice, you can ensure the finished project ticks all the boxes without blowing the budget.

Trends in flooring design

Heading into 2024, we expect to see more interior designers embracing bold details and rich textures. While the minimal classics will always be in style, we’re excited to see more people opt for statement flooring that immediately sets the scene for the room. In particular, we expect to see the following flooring options in more interior spaces: 

Wall Flooring Options


Parquet flooring


Architectural trims and finishes


Flooring options in NZ

When specifying flooring products, the following tips will help to ensure a cost-effective solution that looks elevated and lasts longer. 

1. Choose authentic flooring materials

While it is tempting to choose a low-cost flooring material, natural and authentic flooring products offer long-term advantages and lower lifetime costs. Common flooring materials include laminate, carpet, and engineered hardwood as we’ve outlined below. 

Laminate or Vinyl flooring

Laminate flooring is a low-cost fibreboard core constructed of wood byproducts, covered with an applique photograph layer designed to look like wood.

Vinyl flooring is a 100% waterproof option that is made from 100% synthetic materials and is covered with a photograph that looks like wood.

While it costs less upfront, vinyl and laminate generally need replacing sooner, look repetitive, and can cheapen your interior aesthetic. 


Carpet can help to make a room feel cosy, warm, and comfortable. This is best applied in living rooms and bedrooms. When choosing a carpet, try to find a natural wool carpet because it is naturally insulating, sustainable, and breathable. 

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood consists of a reinforced timber backing and a top veneer layer of solid hardwood. The veneer, or wear layer, provides an authentic wood finish while the multi-layered core backing offers increased strength and durability. 

Engineered wood flooring is becoming increasingly popular because it gives a real wood finish, without the high cost and maintenance of solid timber flooring.

2. Consider longevity 

While opting for low-cost laminate flooring saves money upfront, the long-term repairs and replacements will likely outweigh the benefits. With this in mind, we recommend opting for a flooring product that is durable, reliable, and designed to last decades. For example, our engineered wood flooring has a lifespan of 25 to 50 years – roughly double that of vinyl. 

Always look for products with comprehensive warranties and ongoing support from your supplier. Generally, these are indications that the manufacturer is confident in their product, materials, and techniques. 

3. Choose the right timber grade

When it comes to choosing your timber grade, it is generally a matter of taste. There are three main timber grades to choose from – prime grade, rustic grade, and feature grade. Prime grade timber has a clean finish and minimal knots while rustic, or antique grade, usually features a lot more knots. Feature, or natural grade, has a mixture of both. 

Ultimately, the right grade will depend on your interior design aesthetic. If you want to achieve a refined, contemporary look, we recommend opting for prime grade timber. If you want to create an industrial or aged style, rustic grade will be ideal. In doing so, you can transform your space with one foundational product.

You can explore our full range of timber grades on our website. 

4. Choose complementary wood tones

If you want to create a show-stopping design, match your flooring with other design elements in the room. Flooring is one of the most basic elements in interior design so try to complement other key features with your chosen grade, colour, and grain. This will elevate the space significantly, without having to spend thousands on additional finishes.

Read our recent article for more advice on mixing wood tones, or browse our completed projects for inspiration. You can also order free samples to compare your flooring options with other elements of your interior design.

5. Invest in quality

As one of the most permanent features in a room, your flooring should always be one of your biggest investments. While it may be tempting for homeowners to choose a more affordable product, this is usually a short-term solution. 

There’s a reason timber floors are known for their timelessness – they last for decades and offer unrivalled design appeal. If your clients are reluctant to invest in timber, show them our article about engineered timber floors vs laminate floors.

6. Choose prefinished floors

Floorboards are traditionally supplied as raw, uncoated hardwood – known as unfinished planks. The installation process is long and messy, and the surface can show damage in as little as five years of use. 

In comparison, prefinished floors are sanded and coated in the factory. The timber is stained, and sealed during manufacturing to achieve the best possible finish. This factory finish ensures the longevity of the boards is consistent and reliable every time. 

By choosing prefinished timber flooring products, you can significantly reduce labour costs and limit project delays. This is a great advantage for homeowners wanting to save costs and speed up the process. 

At Forté, all of our flooring products are prefinished with a durable and hard-wearing sealant, providing up to 25 years with little fading or surface damage. Our prefinished technique also ensures your floors are odourless, free of mess, and efficient to install. 

Wooden flooring in NZ

At Forté, we supply an extensive range of prefinished engineered hardwood flooring for designers, homeowners, and professional installers. Each board is engineered for maximum durability and longevity, offering the following benefits: 

  • 24 - 50  years of service
  • Safe and low in formaldehyde
  • Low-maintenance 
  • Strict quality controls
  • Sustainably sourced
  • Can be refinished up to three times depending on veneer thickness

To learn more about our premium collections, contact our team today. We’ll give you industry tips, design suggestions, and product recommendations to get you started or send you free flooring samples to help you decide. 

For your one-stop shop for advice, products, specifications, and more, download a free copy of our guide. Inside, you’ll find everything you need to choose your new flooring and design a timeless interior space. 

Visit one of our Showrooms

If you have any queries about our products or need help with your project, we can provide you with expert advice. Visit one of our showrooms or book a consultation with our flooring experts today.