Did you know that your flooring makes the single largest impact in your home? With a home being typically the single largest investment a person makes, taking the time to investigate and select the right flooring to meet your needs and lifestyle is time well spent.
Unlike cars or fashion, whose styles change with each year, you’d be hard pressed to identify a floor’s model year. However, there are trends in home flooring which you may help you in your decision making process.
Chuck Hamilton, Executive Officer of the Lehigh Valley Builders Association, says, “Homeowners are attracted to certain flooring types either from an aesthetic standpoint, financial considerations, or the type of use – and abuse – a floor will undergo.” Will this be in a high-traffic area, or a guest bedroom? Do you like a hand-scraped look, or a more contemporary one?
He added, “Each type of flooring has its desirable qualities, advantages and disadvantages.” Do you have an active household with children and pets? This will help you choose what type of wood. “Solid red oak is a good tough flooring material, but with a large dog in the home, along with spiked high heel shoes, expect some marking. On the positive side, however, a hardwood like oak can be refinished many times to bring it back to new.”
Higher wear areas may want to consider a good engineered floor that is tough and resistant to dog nails, one that can be sanded and refinished when necessary. Wetness is another issue – while no wood flooring should be left with standing water upon it, real wood tends to be the least forgiving.
Peter Turko, President of Home Solutions Partners, Inc. has also observed trends that fall into three categories. “Laminate, engineered and solid wood floors all have various characteristics that offer a variety of installation methods, finishes and warranties. First, we have seen a trend with laminate products available at many “do-it-yourself” stores; this type of material often has budget-friendly prices and can be installed easily by the consumer. Second, an engineered wood flooring can be installed below grade, which may be a solution based on your needs. Third, we have observed that solid hardwood is still the most popular for new construction projects since the builders usually have contact with a wholesale provider that allows them cost effective building costs.”
More and more, consumers are focused on ‘going green’ and look for opportunities to use products that are environmentally friendly. Hamilton offered this insight, “My feeling is that some homeowners are concerned with renewable materials but often just enough to say they are green. Bamboo flooring is hot right now in engineered and real wood, but I would say that choosing bamboo may be more a matter of a achieving a unique look and durability rather than staying focused on the renewable qualities of bamboo.”
Some information on renewable
materials you might not be aware of:
- • Cork remains the only tree whose bark can regenerate itself after harvest, leaving the tree unharmed. It regenerates every 9 years.
- • Bamboo is harvested from well-managed forests. It naturally regenerates, and is recognized by the United States Green Building Council. Also, it is hypo-allergenic and suitable for families that have allergy concerns.
- • Most carpet manufacturers now provide quality recycled carpet options, and recycling centers that allow for carpet to be recycled more than once.
Some Tips to Consider
Spend some time figuring out the type of activity and what the traffic is going to be in any given space and choose the durability and type of flooring based on usage.
Gather information (e.g. durability, installation concerns, warranties and care) so you can determine what the best materials/product is to use for your project.
Be careful when hiring your own flooring installers. Ask for credentials, references and if they warranty their installation.
Always get several estimates from reputable installers.
Clearly understand how to care for and maintain your new floor, as this is the #1 factor to ensure it performs the way it is supposed to.
Get as large a sample as possible for any flooring you are considering, and look at it at different times of day and under different lighting conditions.