When it is time to replace or upgrade any of the floors in your home, there are a large number of materials from which to choose. If you take a little time to research and plan, you can get great results. Be prepared for several days of upheaval in your home, as the room will be unavailable and you will need to remove all furniture. So, when a homeowner has decided to take the plunge and install new flooring, what are the options available for the flooring material?
HARDWOOD: Hardwood floors are fast becoming the most popular flooring material. There are a wide variety of woods and grains to choose from, such as oak, pine, maple, cherry, even bamboo. Once the wood is chosen, it is possible to stain the wood to any color you like, from a light natural color to a deep rich mahogany, or anything in between. When well-maintained, hardwood floors can literally last a lifetime.
LAMINATE: Laminate flooring materials are designed to look like real wood while providing an easier installation and lower cost. It is also easier to clean and maintain than hardwoods. It is a manufactured product with a top surface that resembles actual wood grain. Different types of laminate flooring have different installation methods. Some may need to be glued down, while others simply click together to create a “floating” floor. Also, some require a separate underlay, while others have a thin padding attached to the bottom of the floor pieces.
VINYL: Vinyl floor covering is available in multiple forms these days. It can be purchased as one large sheet or as individual tiles. A large sheet of vinyl requires a special adhesive to be applied while installing and will most often result in at least one or more seams. The tiles can be of the standard variety of vinyl, requiring a separate application of adhesive, or as peel-and-stick tiles. Peel-and-stick tiles are already coated with adhesive, which is covered by a paper backing which is peeled off in order to stick the tile in place on the floor.
CERAMIC AND STONE: There is an endless variety of ceramic and stone floor coverings available. These tiles may be made of baked ceramic, marble, granite, slate and other stones as well. The tiles come in many different sizes as well, with larger tiles best suited for the floor down to small accent stones. This is perhaps the flooring choice, which requires the most steps and time to install. The proper sub-floor must be in place and then mortar is used to stick the tiles to the sub-floor. It is extremely important to make sure the tiles line up properly and are level, so there is some detail-intensive work involved. Before the floor is finished, all the spaces between the tiles must be filled with grout. The investment of time and effort pays off in a beautiful and long-lasting floor.
CARPETING: If you prefer the softness and warmth of a carpet, you will have myriad colors and textures from which to choose. There are also many different materials used for the carpet yarn, such as wool or nylon. Wall-to-wall carpeting almost always will have some kind of padding underneath it. You should get the best quality padding you can afford. This will contribute more to the life of the carpet than upgrading the carpet itself would.
CONCRETE: In some applications, it may even be possible to install a concrete floor. This option provides great durability. Concrete can give an industrial look to your décor and it is also good for areas that receive hard wear. If the sub-floor is made of concrete, it could just be painted or stained to improve the appearance. If a new concrete floor is being poured, coloring can be added to the concrete while it is mixed. This gives a permanent color rather than a surface application, which could eventually wear or peel.
So how does one choose among the many options? First, consider how the room in question will be used. Also keep in mind whether or not there are children in the house. For people with allergies, carpeting can be a breeding ground of allergens, in which case a hard surface, such as hardwoods or ceramic tile, would provide a more comfortable living environment. With the endless varieties available, you are sure to find a flooring material to match your needs.