Choosing flooring for your home is a major decision that can take quite a bit of time and energy, not to mention stress. Flooring can be pretty expensive, and if the final product isn’t what you expected, you will either be spending even more money to fix it or living with it and regretting it every time you walk on it. Doing your research before pulling the trigger can spare you the headache of making a mistake. Here are some of the more popular flooring materials and some considerations.
People often want to know the difference between ceramic and porcelain. Both are made from clay and fired in a kiln and both are extremely durable and quite affordable. The clay used in porcelain is more refined, which makes it slightly more durable and offers more variety in design styles. But, porcelain is more expensive, running about $11.00 per square foot installed for mid-range quality, while ceramic is about $8.00.
Because these flooring types are water resistant and durable, they are excellent for pets and small children and clean easily. Also, in a flood situation these floors only need to be dried out and mopped up. In terms of comfort, tile is hard and somewhat cold, so a few carpets thrown over living spaces go a long way to warm up a space. Also, grout lines need to be well sealed in order to prevent rapid soiling.
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Currently there are many styles available in tile. Wood look tile offers the durability and water resistance of tile with the warm appearance of wood. This style is very popular today, and is a great option for many homes. It comes in a variety of finishes and sizes and can be laid in a herringbone pattern to add visual interest. Tile comes in a variety of modern styles and sizes as well. Some patterns can mimic the look of marble or travertine, which look great in a modern or contemporary style interior.
It’s not uncommon to go into homes that are 50 years old and find hardwood floors in good condition. While wood has a reputation for being slightly less durable than other flooring options, it tends to age well. Plus, it’s possible to resurface hardwoods and make them look new, as long as the wear is minimal. Another benefit is that, since it’s a natural product, there will not be a pattern repeat, which would inevitably be found on even the highest quality manufactured product.
Hardwood flooring may be available for as low as $4.00 a foot, but installation can be up to $8.00 a foot, so cost is a significant factor. Also, if there is ever a flood that is not cleaned up immediately, you will be making a claim on your homeowner’s insurance, because the affected hardwood will definitely need to be replaced.
Hardwood looks great in traditional homes in nearly any variety. Farmhouse, cottage, Victorian, and provincial style interiors are well suited for the conventional layout and colors of hardwood.
Carpet is usually the most affordable option, depending on the grade of carpet you choose. Mid-range quality carpet can cost $25-$30 per square yard, installed. Be careful in estimating costs and room sizes with carpet, since carpet is almost always measured in yards, not feet. There are nine feet in one square yard.
Carpet is great for living areas because it’s soft. If you like to play board games on the floor, it’s less comfortable to sit on hardwood or stone. Also, it’s generally recommended to choose a high quality pad for comfort and because the new carpet will last longer and save money in the long run.
Slate, travertine, and marble are some of the materials that fall into the natural stone category. All natural stone needs to be sealed every two to five years to preserve the stone’s surface and stain resistance. This can be quite an inconvenience down the road, not to mention costly at an average of $4.00 per foot. Initially natural stone is comparable in cost to manufactured tile at about $11.00 per foot installed, though the cost of resealing should be considered. Like hardwood, natural stone will not have a pattern repeat. Sometimes a pattern repeat can be distracting, depending on how it is installed. Again, this flooring will be very hard and cold, so figure area rugs into your total budget.
There are many types of flooring made from vinyl, but a major trend currently is luxury vinyl planks. These planks usually mimic the look and texture of wood, are easy to install, and are durable and water proof. This type of flooring is often found even in commercial installations because it holds up well to heavy traffic. It can even be installed over tile as long as the floor is leveled with a skim coat of thin set. As a bonus, you may be able to install it yourself!
Luxury vinyl is relatively affordable, depending on the type, and costs less to install. On average it costs about $5 per square foot, including materials, to install this type of flooring. However, the cheaper the price per square foot, the shorter the pattern repeat. Printed knots or whorls in the planks will show up more often and can be distracting. So choose a mid-range product if possible.
Wood look vinyl planks look great anywhere that hardwood would be stylistically appropriate. However, this flooring comes in different styles as well, including more modern colors and patterns. There is an option for nearly every interior in this material, from cabins.
As you venture into home construction or remodeling, one of the most important considerations in terms of comfort and style is the flooring you choose. Be sure to take your time and don’t be pressured to choose something you don’t love. Hire reputable contractors and buy materials from a supplier who cares about you and your outcome. Ask family and friends who they have used, browse reviews online, and ask a lot of questions. Good luck and enjoy your beautiful new flooring!
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