There are so many choices for flooring today and they just keep getting better and better! Basic flooring choices will be discussed in this article only. Always give thought to the type and amount of wear and tear a particular area in the house will receive when deciding on the type of flooring.
Will the area under consideration be subject to heavy traffic? Is a sound barrier required (as in a condo)? How easy will it be to clean? Will the area be subjected to moisture as in a kitchen or basement? Does anyone in the home have allergy or asthma issues (carpeting is not the best choice)? Does the floor need to be slip resistant? What is the warranty period, cost, and durability of the material? Is the new floor suitable for the type of subfloor?
Check out the type of glues and sealers used as they can off gas chemicals that can affect some one who is sensitive. There are now materials available that have less off gassing of these harmful chemicals. Ask questions! Research is paramount here!
The main categories of flooring available are:
1 – resilient flooring, which is sheet or tile flooring. Common types are cushion, vinyl, linoleum, rubber and cork.
This flooring product is fairly inexpensive, is easy to maintain, comfortable to stand on, and easy to install. Sheet flooring is installed using adhesives. Try to get adhesives that have the lowest amount of VOC’s as possible. The negatives about tile flooring are the tiles can curl, minor scratches, holes or tears are quite visible, needing to be replaced before it gets worse.
2 – carpeting is not a good choice for bathrooms, kitchens or basements (moisture areas). It is great for bedrooms because it is warm, soft on the feet and is good for absorbing sound. People with allergies should not have carpeting in their bedrooms because they spend eight hours of their day in this room. Carpets can trap dirt, dust mites, mold and bacteria. The harder the floor surface, the better for allergy sufferers. There are also carpets on the market today that off gas less harmful compounds, than in the past. A shorter pile (eg. Berber), is more durable and harbors less pollutants. Cost depends on the quality of carpet and underpad. It is important to get a very good quality underpad, as this will increase the longevity of the carpet.
3 – wood flooring comes in many widths, colors, thicknesses and grades. Some hardwoods are birch, maple, beech, and oak. Softer woods include pine, fir and hemlock. They come in strip flooring, plank, parquet, and laminates. Most new hardwood today is pre-finished and has UV-cured polyurethane layers to protect the finish. Pre-finished flooring prevents off gassing of chemicals into the atmosphere versus unfinished flooring that can have strong chemical smells lurking in the home for months, after they are stained and varnished. Laminates are usually cheaper than real wood, but wear very well. They are a good alternative to hardwood. Hardwood will increase the value of the home. It is easy to care for, looks beautiful and lasts a long time.
4 – ceramic tiles come in many sizes. They can be glazed or unglazed. Glazed tiles are more slippery when wet and are not recommended for bathrooms. Ceramics are very cold and hard and can be less comfortable to stand on for long periods. Ceramics wear very well and are easy to clean. White or very light colored ceramics are not practical, as they always look dirty. They can crack easily if a hard object is dropped on them and can be noisy for anyone living below. This type of floor is an excellent choice for people with allergies. Water based sealers and grout are better as they have fewer emissions. Ceramics tiles can last a very long time resulting in cost savings.
Most people have a mixture of the above flooring types in their homes. It is worth putting a little extra money into good quality flooring as this can help prevent problems down the road.