Whether it is for one specific space, or for rooms that seem to stretch on forever, the challenge of selecting the right flooring for your home can be a daunting one. Each flooring type has its own special set of advantages and disadvantages, and finding the flooring that is just right for you means balancing taste, budget, aesthetics and practicality.
To determine what is the best flooring AND the right flooring, the first step is to evaluate your lifestyle. If the room is going to be used by children or pets, or you have little time for special floor care, a white plush carpet may not be the best choice. Light color carpets and tiles with wide grout seams will require more maintenance, and should probably be reserved for low traffic rooms.
Darker colors and patterned carpets are good choices for heavy traffic areas, and hard materials, like ceramic tile, and excellent choices for areas that will endure the most dirt, dust and moisture.
Consider also the design and architectural features in the room. Will there be unusually high humidity or water present in the room? Is there a lot of direct sunlight that might fade certain colors? Are heating and cooling vents in the floors? Does the room have radiant heat?
The most perfect choice in flooring will be a disappointment if it doesn’t work successfully with the other systems and architectural features in the room. The selections appropriate to any room features are extensive, so your design choices should not be compromised by the restrictions created by other features in the space
After you have determined what kind of flooring is best for your project, you can consider the look you want for your floors. For every kind of flooring there are seemingly limitless design options, so making the practical surface choice should not restrict your ability to get the look you want. Evaluate the look you are trying create: are you seeking warm and cozy, sleek and uncomplicated, clean and sterile?
The traditional matches between room use and flooring choices (soft carpets for bedrooms, tiles or vinyl for kitchens and baths, hardwoods or carpets for formal rooms) may be the obvious way to go.
Or, you may wish to take some design risks, and mix flooring materials for a special, one-of-a-kind look.
Using stone and hardwoods together, or combining various tile sizes and surfaces in one room, can give a room a special custom look, assist in defining space functions, or act as transitions from one room to the next.
Hardwood flooring has the advantage of being sturdy and strong, and maintains its value throughout its useful life. Engineered wood flooring, which is formed by layers of wood topped with a veneer, is slightly more expensive than solid wood flooring.
Wood floors have the disadvantage of being prone to scratches and gouges, and can warp, crack or discolor if exposed to prolonged extremes of wetness or dryness.
Hardwoods are easy to maintain with vacuuming and dusting, and require refinishing every 10 to 15 years. It can cost from $6 to $15 per square foot and can be done eaily enough by most flooring specialists.
This versatile, durable and affordable flooring option has become a favorite of builders and decorators.
Maintenance is a regular damp mop; laminate flooring may need to be replaced every 10 years. Laminates cost range between $2 and $10 per square foot.
Ceramic tiles are durable, decorative, and add value to the home. The great range of styles, colors and surfaces make tile an appropriate choice for any style, taste or budget.
Though they can be cold on bare feet and light colored tiles with generous grout seams can be more difficult to keep clean, ceramic tile offers both style and strength. Most commonly used in the bathroom, they can be used anywhere to make a beautiful and dramatic floor.
Maintenance is regular mopping or sweeping. Tiles will need to be resealed and grout stripped every 10 to 15 years. Tiles can cost as little as $.79 each, or as much as $10 each, depending on quality, size and style.
Carpeting is a less expensive option, easy to install, and available in many styles, fibers and colors. It may need to be replaced every five to seven years, depending on its use and quality. It is easy to maintain by regular vacuuming and annual deep cleaning or shampooing. Carpeting costs from $1 to $15 per square foot.
Vinyl floors are attractive, durable and affordable. Vinyl flooring is remarkably sturdy and wear resistant. One of the most attractive features of vinyl flooring is the incredible array of colors and designs available. It is extremely easy to maintain by regularly sweeping and mopping. Vinyl flooring costs from $1 to $4 per square foot.
Each flooring type has its own advantages and disadvantages. By comparing their particular features, you can determine which is best for every space in your home.