Flooring – Hardwood, Bamboo, Tile, Linoleum and Carpet
Whether you’re barefoot or in high heels, the surface you walk on inside your home strongly influences your comfort level. So when considering your flooring choices, be sure to think first about your needs. Do you have indoor allergies that would be negatively affected by carpeting? Do you have children who would benefit from a soft play surface? Are you looking for durability in a kitchen floor, or slip-resistance in a bathroom? Once you’ve considered your needs, here’s a look at the latest options, available at a flooring store in your area.
Staying strong as the most desired and recommended flooring product today, hardwood has the most checkboxes marked on homeowners’ “wants” list: moderate stain resistance, durability, low maintenance, low allergens, locally sourced options available (read: eco-friendly and good for the country’s economy) and long-lasting style.
However, not all hardwood is created equal. “Hardwood flooring materials vary in their hardness; some are hard, some are very soft,” says Sidney Darryl Howard, proprietor of Candler Park Restorations, www.candlerparkrestorations.com. “What you like aesthetically may not be the best choice when taking into consideration kids, dogs, etc. As a homeowner, you must consider what kind of damage or dirt you can live with seeing on your floors daily!”
Dean Howell, president of MODA Floors & Interiors, www.modafloorsandinteriors.com, praises the classic American hardwoods: oak, hickory, walnut and maple. “These have been installed in homes for many of years and will continue to be,” he says. “Hardwoods grown in the Southeast part of the U.S., like oak and hickory, are also an eco-friendly choice, as there is very low transportation costs related to these products, and the U.S. has done an excellent job managing our forests.”
Laura Anzures, president of Daniels Floors, www.danielsfloors.com, agrees: “There has been a lot of hype about bamboo and cork flooring being more eco-friendly than hardwood. The fact is: both bamboo and cork come from halfway around the world, leaving a larger carbon footprint than hardwood flooring that is trucked here form local forests in the Appalachian region. Also, unlike tile, synthetic carpet and vinyl flooring, which never degrades in landfills, hardwoods are organic and do break down.”
As for the latest hardwood flooring trends, rustic, staggered and either very light or very dark is in. “We are doing a lot of staggered-width flooring: we use 2¼-, 3¼- and 5-inch planks to create an interesting look,” Anzures says, noting that dark stains with a satin finish are replacing the golden colors that were popular in the ’80s and ’90s. Howard adds that very light or very dark stain choices rule the 2013 market, and that wide planks (5-10 inches wide) and reclaimed materials are also a rising trend, bringing a beautiful aesthetic and historic quality to the home.
Bamboo and cork
Two extremely renewable natural resources that have become popular flooring products in the last decade are bamboo and cork. Often mistaken for a wood material because it resembles hardwood flooring, bamboo is actually a grass. “Bamboo stalks can be harvested for flooring in about 5-7 years, whereas trees require about 50-70 years,” says Rick Gill, marketing manager of Dasso, www.dassousa.com, which manufactures Strand Woven Bamboo and EcoSolid Forest bamboo flooring. Gill explains that time-tested flooring styles include oak, hickory and other domestic species, so Dasso has developed a number of finishes that reflect the hardwood style, as well as products that adopt a very modern look.
Unlike bamboo, cork has a very distinct look, and is a very soft flooring material popular in kids’ rooms. Anzures also points out that cork has antimicrobial properties, making it a healthy option for flooring.
Homeowners who love the look of hardwood floors but are on a tight budget have been flocking to the engineered or laminate wood option. The beauty of this flooring material, aside from its economical and wood-like features, is its stain resistance and ease of maintenance. However, Anzures cautions, “Many homeowners look for inexpensive flooring without considering that they may end up having to replace cheap flooring within a couple of years. It makes more sense to invest in quality flooring that will last and will add value to your home than to go with the cheapest option available.”
Tile—whether marble, travertine, porcelain, or otherwise—provides a hard surfaces that can handle moisture, making it popular in kitchens, entryways and bathrooms. “Traditional looks in marble and travertine will never go out of style,” Howell says. “However, we are working with these products in varying sizes, shapes and installation patterns to give them a more updated feel.” For stain resistance and durability, Howell suggests a glazed porcelain tile, and advises to ensure the grout is sealed after installation.
Making a comeback in the flooring world for its durability and eco-friendliness, linoleum is a product made from renewable materials such as solidified linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork dust and wood flour. It is also naturally anti-bacterial and biodegradable. “Linoleum is a great alternative to vinyl flooring or laminates; it does not off-gas toxic fumes like vinyl,” Anzures says.
Whatever flooring material you choose, Gill advises to take your time. “Don’t rush into buying flooring,” he says. “Make sure it is the right choice for you—you will be walking on it every day.” Howell adds that one of the most common homeowner mistakes he sees is DIY installation: “Invest in professional installation services that will ensure it gets done correctly the first time.”
Takeaway Tips for Hardwood Floors
1. Site-finished products allow you to sand and refinish when stains or damage occurs.
2. Tung oil is the most waterproof and stain-resistant finish on the market.
3. A microfiber mop is all you need to keep hardwood floors clean and beautiful; floor-cleaning products that are made from paper (like Swiffer or Pledge) are very rough and abrade the finish over time. Also, never use a steam cleaner on any kind of real-wood flooring.
4. Have a professional test the moisture content of your sub-floor, especially concrete. If the moisture content is too high and it cannot be corrected, your home may not be suitable for hardwood flooring.
5. Advances in technology have led to dustless refinishing and nontoxic, fast-drying finishes. There are also prefinished floors that can be installed in one day—furniture can be moved from one side of the room and replaced as soon as the floor is nailed down.
Information provided by: Candler Park Restorations; Daniels Floors; Dasso; MODA Floors & Interiors
Did you know?
Bamboo flooring is highly resistant to dents because of the natural density of the bamboo fiber at a cellular level.
—Rick Gill, marketing manager, Dasso
Natural linoleum flooring is made from linseed oil, an all-natural insect repellant.
—Laura Anzures, president, Daniels Floors
3 Flooring Products
Rubio Monocoat: an eco-friendly onsite finish that is applied in one application with or without a buffer, is offered in a wide range of colors and creates a natural-looking matte finish.
Dasso’s EcoSolid Forest bamboo flooring has the natural skin of the bamboo with no finishes or coatings. It exhibits the natural features of bamboo, including the joints, it offers an Asian-style aesthetic, it’s stain-resistant and it has a Janka rating greater than 3000, meaning it’s very dent resistant.
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) products can either look like tile or like wood, are affordable, durable and are very effective in the right application.