by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips
Because of its pervasiveness in a house, flooring sets the tone for rooms more than any other single element. Depending on how much a room is used, the flooring in it can also contribute significantly to the room’s comfort.
The types of flooring break down into four main categories: wood, tile (stone and ceramic), resilient (vinyl and laminate), and carpeting.
Wood. A perennial favorite, wood is warm in appearance and underfoot, goes with any home style or décor, and can be used in any room in the house, even kitchens and baths. Though it is durable and fairly easy to maintain, you may want to think twice before using it in entryways (unless you plan on covering it with rugs) or other high-trafficked areas, especially if you have kids and pets.
Wood comes in solid and engineered forms. Solid-wood flooring such as oak and maple is the more expensive. One of solid wood’s great benefits is that it can be refinished multiple times and, if well maintained, can last the life of the home. Engineered-wood flooring consists of a layer of hardwood pressed onto a plywood base. In every way it mimics the look of hardwood flooring but can only be sanded once.
Though not a wood at all (it’s actually a grass), bamboo flooring has gained great popularity in recent years due to its durability, sustainability, and affordability. Naturally accepting of water—in fact, no wood cleaning products should be used on it—it is perfect for kitchens and baths. However, it cannot be sanded.
Tile & stone. Tile—both ceramic and stone—is a popular flooring choice, particularly for areas that require easy cleanup. Ceramic tile comes in the familiar glazed form, though it is best to choose a textured tile rather than a smooth one for flooring as tile flooring can be extremely slippery when wet. Ceramic tile also comes in porcelain, quarry, and terra-cotta types. If ceramic tile appeals to you, the kind you choose will most likely be based on stylistic concerns. Keep in mind that, as attractive as tile is, it is unforgiving if a fragile object is dropped on it. By the same token, if a heavy object is dropped on the flooring, the tile can chip, crack, or break.
Stone tile such as marble, travertine, granite, and the like lend a stately elegance to any room. They are, however, quite slippery when wet so you may want to consider a tumbled or rough version instead. Though not as elegant, these still make a unique design statement as no two tiles are alike. For the look of natural stone without the slipperiness, you may want to look into mosaic tiles.
Resilient. Popular for their affordability, durability, and ease of maintenance, resilient floorings, including vinyl and laminate, are attractive and practical alternatives to natural flooring products. The range and variety of colors and patterns on the market is staggering and includes a number of faux treatments. This flooring can mimic wood, tile, stone, and even brick but is much less expensive to install and maintain.
Vinyl sheet flooring is particularly effective at repelling water because it is a continuous sheet. Laminate and vinyl tiles also are adept at shedding water, though they are more prone to curling and other damage. This flooring is a particularly good choice for a cook’s kitchen because it is much more forgiving on the legs than tile and even wood.
Carpeting is a favorite flooring choice of more than 60% of Americans,. In fact a majority of homes incorporate it into one or more rooms. Warm, soft, and a natural insulation and soundproofing material, carpeting is popular for bedrooms, living rooms, and family rooms. When it comes to choosing carpeting, don’t skimp on quality. The better the carpet, the plusher it will be, the longer it will last, and, perhaps most importantly, the easier it will be to clean.
You can find carpeting in a range of fibers—from natural wool to synthetics—and an array of cuts and loops. Before making a purchase, let the carpet dealer know where you plan on having it installed and how much traffic it is likely to receive.
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