Choosing the Best Flooring for Your Budget and Lifestyle
I get a lot of questions about flooring. Almost every day someone requests: "I need new flooring in my kitchen (mud room, powder room, kids' room – you name it) but I do not know where to start – how do I sort through all the options?"
Selecting the right flooring is not easy. You might have an idea of the "look" you want, but will the end result be practical, cost-efficient and durable? Every room is different, as are our lifestyles, so there is no one recipe that works for all of us. This article will help by providing you with a list of questions that you need to ask yourself.
What is the style and function of the room?
Before you start, take time to consider how the room will actually be used. How big is the room? What is the level of traffic? Are kids going to play there? Is water damage possible? How much light does the room get?
How durable does it have to be?
If you want your floor to last, choosing the right material is a must. Bathrooms, bathrooms, mud rooms and laundry rooms require floors that can withstand water torture. Hardwood is long-repeating and you can refinish it as needed. Wood species differ in hardness, so the level of traffic should determine your choice. Ceramic and stone tile tend to crack or break if things get dropped on the floor. Laminate come to mind when you look for durability, and it works great in kids' playrooms and utility rooms. It is not an option although for those looking for "natural" materials.
How much comfort are you looking for?
Bathrooms and bathrooms are spaces where comfort underfoot is important. In winter, is not it nice to step out of the shower into a warm floor? Radiant heat works well with stone and ceramic tile. Remember that bathroom floors get slippery at times – select donated stone rather than the polished version, and look for tile with some texture to it. In kids' rooms, wall-to-wall carpeting is an option, as with playrooms and bedrooms. In the kitchen, hardwood is my favorite, although cork gives even more comfort underfoot while stone or ceramic tile may be hard on your back. Hardwood is also wonderful in the bedroom – just add a lush, high pile rug to make your morning landing a soft one.
What level of maintenance is acceptable?
Ceramic tile, stone and laminate definitely win in the maintenance department – a broom or vacuum and a mop should get the job done.
What about resale value?
When renovating, always have in mind what is "expected" of a home in your neighborhood. Quality materials and craftsmanship are always a great investment.
Is the "green factor" important to you?
If so, think stone or reclaimed hardwood. Cork is another great choice and is the king of renewable materials.
Here is a brief glossary of popular flooring materials. Each comes in many price levels, so you should be able to find one that is right for your decorating style and budget.
Brick – is making a comeback. Because of its porous texture, it is easy to color so "brick red" is no longer the only option. Great in mud rooms and kitchens, it can continue into the patio for a seamless transition to the outdoors.
Carpeting – offers endless possibilities as far as style, color, pattern and texture. It is ever present in our bedrooms but also makes its way into living and dining rooms these days. Silk, wool, wool mixes, stain-resistant nylon, sisals and grasses – the style and function of a room will inform your choice.
Ceramic Tiles – as old as the art of decorating itself – they come in unlimited colors, many shapes and sizes giving one a chance to create a work of art in one's home.
Concrete – great choice for lofts and contemporary spaces, and you can color it to match other elements of the room. Very easy to clean.
Engineered wood – becoming more and more popular these days as many homeowners choose radiant heat as an alternative to baseboard or forced air systems. It can be installed directly on a concrete base.
Hardwood – pine, maple, walnut, cherry, oak, mahogany, bamboo, hickory, cypress … dizzy yet? With more than 50 wood species and unlimited stain colors, what to choose? My favorite is dark hardwood. Dark flooring makes a room seem larger. It also sets off white trim and furniture so it "pops" beautifully. Lighter floors are more informal and work well in rustic or coastal style rooms. If you want a lighter effect, there are ways to make wood look almost white – pickling, liming and bleaching, to name a few.
Laminate – a quick and inexpensive way to cover floors. The planks snap together and are installed over a soft padding material so no nails or glue are involved. The key is to check how realistic the planks look when put together. Some products appear "real," while others shout "fake" before you even enter the room.
Rugs – a beautiful addition to any room, they go on any hard floor, setting the feel and creating warmth. It is easier then ever to get rugs in custom colors, patterns and sizes, with many companies offering inexpensive ways to create your own look.
Stone – a beautiful and classic choice. After you select your stone, you still need to decide: polished, honed or tumbled?