Timber flooring can strike just the right note in any style of home – it looks natural, warm and rustic in a country cottage and, in a contemporary setting, it can add texture and create an organic feel. Moreover, in both modern and period homes, the various vinyl and laminated versions can be an excellent and practical choice.

Wooden flooring is under constant technical development; the latest ranges have tough, long-lasting finishes and are straightforward to install. There's no need to worry about gaps between boards; the click-and-lock systems mean the task can be handled by an experienced DIY-er, although most suppliers will also offer an installation service.

All types of wooden flooring can be laid over practically any sub-floor, including floorboards, concrete, old tiles or a boarded surface, as long as the surface is sound, dry and flat. Reclaimed timber flooring, however, is a slightly different proposition as it won't be neatly cut to size and it's also difficult to judge what it will look like once it's been finished. Take advice from the supplier on how much to buy and which finish to choose, and always ensure that you've bought enough – it will be tiresome to track down similar boards elsewhere. It's also worth experimenting with cleaning and/or finishes on a spare board before installation.

As it is an integral part of the room and colour scheme, you should choose your timber floor at the start of the redecoration or refurbishment project. According to how light or dark the floor is, it can affect how paint and paper colours appear. Although some timber flooring, such as parquet, solid hardwood and reclaimed boards, can be darkened or lightened by sanding down and re-varnishing, it's not a job you are likely to want to do very often.