You have finally come to the realization that the floor on which you have been walking for the last ten or fifteen years has served its purpose and it’s time to get something new. The choices are almost endless, so where in the world do you start? To quote the famous architect Louis Sullivan, “form follows function”, which is a fancy way of saying, how it looks depends on what it is supposed to do.
First the Room, Then the Flooring
Let’s start with the room for which you are planning your new floor. Some rooms are easier than others. Flooring for your entry way, living room, bedrooms and hallways can be anything that works with your décor and design. Carpet is most often favored in bedrooms, especially in kid’s rooms and colder climates. If you are looking at bathrooms, something water resistant and easy to clean is your best bet, especially if you have very young children. Kitchens are in much the same category as bathrooms, but since they are usually the hub of activity and the center of many designs, their flooring choice is far more critical. As we look at the different choices, you will start to get some ideas about what surface would best suit your needs.
Carpet has lost some of its popularity to hard surface flooring in the last ten or fifteen years, but it is still a strong contender. From cut pile to berber to frieze and even commercial, the choices are plentiful even before you get to color. Carpet softens the look of a room and keeps bare feet insulated from cold winter mornings. Playrooms and kid’s bedrooms benefit from carpet’s excellent padding and sound deadening qualities.
Hardwood floors have a look that never gets dated but they can have a serious impact on your budget. Like all hard surface floors, they will require daily maintenance. Hardwood flooring in bathrooms is definitely not advised. If you like the look of wood but not the price, consider laminate. The technology behind this flooring has improved greatly over the last decade. There are some brands that are indistinguishable from real wood unless they are examined very closely. Another advantage to laminate floors is that they are fairly easy to install. Handy homeowners can save money on installation by doing it themselves. There are a few brands that have good water resistance, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
Ceramic Tile and Stone Flooring
For the best combination of wear and beauty, tile and stone are hard to beat. Tile comes in every color of the rainbow and some mimics natural stone very well. Grout can be tedious to keep clean, so dark colors and regular sealing are highly recommended. Natural stone has a beauty that is unequaled by any other surface. Due to the fact that most stone is very porous, sealing is very important. Some stone is very soft (like marble), so get a professional opinion when choosing your flooring. Tile and stone can be installed DIY, but large areas, large sizes and vertical applications are best left to the pros.
Vinyl flooring is generally the most cost effective flooring available to the homeowner. Although it is less expensive, there are some brands and styles that look so much like wood, stone and tile that you have to touch it to tell the difference. Vinyl is an excellent choice for kitchens, bathrooms and high traffic areas due to ease of cleaning and water resistance. Like tile, vinyl installation can be a do-it-yourself project but large areas and seaming are better done by professionals.
Start with the room, add in the use and lifestyle and then work towards your design goals guided by your budget. With all of the choices available to you, there is sure to be a flooring choice that scores high in almost every category. Do your research and get recommendations from friends and professionals. After that, happy shopping.