The Power of a Floor
Never underestimate the power of a floor--it helps set the tone for the character of your entire room. If you’re thinking of putting in a new floor today, there’s a wide array of floor choices with inspiring looks that range from genuine materials such as hardwood and ceramic to such great pretenders as laminate and vinyl. Each flooring type has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to durability, maintenance and installation. Take a stroll through this guide and review your options.
Hardwood floors provide beautiful, natural looks with durability that can often extend beyond a century. However, this type of floor is difficult to install and susceptible to rot and other ravages of moisture.
Laminate is one of the most durable and versatile flooring products around, available in looks resembling wood, stone, and more. It is easy to install and maintain, and highly moisture-resistant. However, insufficient underlayment or faulty installation can result in a hollow sound underfoot; also, some finishes scratch and ding easily.
Vinyl sheet is available in a wide variety of patterns and colors, offering easy care and durable finish. However, it must be installed by a professional; seams or cracks can trap dirt and lead to premature wear. Additionally, it is almost impossible to repair tears.
Vinyl tile is an easy-to-install material available in a range of patterns and colors, and can be placed atop most existing flooring materials. However, though the tiles are individually replaceable, it can be difficult to match replacement tiles to the older patina of the existing tiles.
Carpet adds warmth and instant comfort to a space and is available in various piles and weaves. However, it is susceptible to water damage, mold, and mildew (not for use below grade); dust and dirt can break down fibers in the absence of regular cleaning. Carpets also provide safe harbor for allergens like dust mites and mold.
Tile and Stone
Tile and stone are water-resistant, easy-clean materials that offer a variety of design looks, from rustic natural to high-concept patterns and palettes. Proper abrasion resistance (PEI rating) prevents slips and slides. However, these floors can be hard and cold underfoot. Cracked and otherwise damaged tiles are difficult to replace and the surface may require occasional sealing and regrouting.