Your floors are probably your home’s most used (and abused) amenities. Just think of what they put up with year-round: foot traffic, unwanted scratches from moving furniture, accidental spills, rough housing kids and pets. Before you know it, those scuffs, spots and stains can add up to too much for a conventional mop, broom, vacuum or carpet-cleaner to remedy.
Rather than just hiding it all under the rug, a new floor or floor-covering may be your best option. But before making such an investment, you must assess your flooring needs and the top qualities you seek in a floor:
Important questions to ask yourself before investing:
How much am I willing to spend?
Do I care about durability of the product?
What style of flooring am I looking for?
What type of finish is best for my space?
Is ease of installation important to me? Will I be installing or hiring an installer?
How much care and maintenance can we handle?
Is an environmentally-friendly product important to me?
You must also find out what type of flooring would work best for the level of light the room receives and the climate you live in—hot and dry, hot and humid, wet, frigid, etc.
Here’s the skinny on what flooring options are available, how they’re made and installed, what their costs tend to be, and what tends to work where in a home:
The Composition of Hardwood
Hardwood floors, which include oak, maple, birch, hickory and acacia, generally come in two types: traditional (solid) and engineered (layered). Traditional hardwood floors are typically single-plank, ranging from 5/16 to 3/4 inches thick and from 2¼ to 6 inches wide.
Engineered hardwood planks are multiple layers of wood bonded together with adhesive and pressure in a crisscross pattern providing extra stability from temperature or moisture changes.
Hardwood can be installed by nailing, stapling, gluing to the subfloor, floating, or, for wide oak planks, pegging. The cost of hardwood flooring can start at $3-$8/SF; installation can be $5-$12/SF.
Things to Consider About Hardwood
Hardwood floors may bring wood-grain beauty to your home but are easily damaged by extreme dryness, dampness or heavy use of water. Therefore they’re unsuitable for kitchens, baths, laundries and basements. Leaving your home unheated or un-air conditioned while you are away can mar them as well. So can direct sunlight, unless the shades or curtains are drawn when the sun brightens or UV-absorbent film is applied to the windows. As an added precaution, we highly recommend sealant protection from prolonged exposure to sunlight. But don’t let this deter you from hardwood flooring, they also have many benefits like longer warranties and sound deadening technologies.
Wood floors not only add a touch of elegance to your home, but warms and adds a great first impression. But beyond the characteristics of hardwood itself, think about the long-term costs. Wood floors are easier to clean and less likely to be damaged. This alone reduces the up-keep or repair costs down over time. Its long-lasting quality makes it a cost-effective flooring option. Hardwood floors can also improve the acoustics in a room, reducing sound and vibration.
TAS Flooring Hardwood Recommendations
Some recommendations are suitable for residential/multi-family applications and light commercial spaces:
Most carpets are made by pulling fibers through a woven backing, then gluing additional layers of backing onto the bottom for durability. A carpet’s life can be prolonged with a carpet pad underneath. Common carpeting materials include:
Often used for indoor/outdoor carpeting because of its extreme resistance to stains, moisture and mildew.
The cost of carpeting can be $2-$12/SF; padding is an additional $.50-$2/SF.
Things to Consider about Carpet
Carpets cozy up bedrooms, living rooms and family rooms in the frost of winter and add cushy comfort to a basement gym, playroom or rec room. Most solution dyed carpets are color fast, resist staining, and can be cleaned with strong cleaners and even bleach. However, they may impede heat transfer if you have a radiant floor-heating system, so thinner carpeting is best for that. Dampness can stain your carpet or promote mold/mildew growth in it, so a good moisture barrier in the sub flooring is necessary in damp climates or any basement renovation.
Vinyl comprises polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin/pellets; softened plastic particles that increase flexibility; stabilizers that minimize damage or fading from heat, sun, etc.; pigments for specific colors; fillers, or resin pigments that help produce those colors; and sometimes antimicrobial additives that prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Vinyl floors are made by applying heat and pressure to melt all of those ingredients into a batter-like mixture, which is applied to backing material in rolls and then cut into planks or tiles. These can be installed by loose-lay, glue-down and other easy installation techniques. The density of vinyl flooring varies according to a room’s use.
Luxury vinyl tends to range from $.50- $5/SF; installation can cost $1-$2/SF.
Things to Consider about Luxury Vinyl
Luxury vinyl is one of the most versatile, durable floor materials in any climate or condition. Revered for its ability to create realistic stone and hardwood appearances and being easier to maintain than the real things, Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) and Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) are suitable for virtually any space in the house.
However, vinyl flooring (along with many other flooring options) requires a vapor barrier when installed on a concrete slab or crawl space. Also, it can fade in rooms with intense sun, so it should be treated with the same level of care as hardwood (see above).
TAS Flooring Luxury Vinyl Recommendations
Suitable for most commercial and residential applications.
Laminate is a multilayered composite product designed as a cost-effective alternative to hardwood. A laminate floor comprises the following layers:
PROTECTIVE OR “WEAR” LAYER
The transparent top layer that protects the decorative layer, stiffens the floor, and coats it in a matte or high-gloss finish.
The visible layer made from digital photographs of wood or tile to mimic the real thing.
CORE, THE THICKEST LAYER
Stabilizing the flooring with high-density fiberboard (HDF), an environmentally friendly blend of resin, binders, and wood particles left over from sawmills and sawdust/wood-chip pilings.
BACKING (OR BOTTOM) LAYER
Providing stability, impeding moisture, and muffling sound.
These layers are pressed together with heat and a ton of pressure to create sheets that are cut into planks or tiles. Installation methods include drop-lock, tightlock and angle/tap.
The cost of laminate flooring can be $1-$7/SF; installation can be $2-$5/SF.
Things to Consider about Laminate
Laminate is good for spaces that take a lot of rough and tumble on their floors, such as kitchens, baths, laundries, and basement home gyms. There are many installation and pattern options available because of the diverse options in laminate plank shapes, styles, and features. Keep a look out for water resistant laminates – a product that stands up to accidental messes and can be installed in most unconventional spaces. But do not get confused with waterproof and water-resistance. Most laminate products are water-resistant for up to a certain amount of time.
On the flip side, weaker laminate tiles tend to expand or contract in extreme temperatures or humid conditions, so leaving an expansion gap around the room’s perimeter is advisable when installing a laminate floor. Stronger, costlier laminate floors tend to withstand moderate dampness in basements, but they warp when exposed to standing water or flooding. So it is a necessity to install a moisture barrier on the subfloor before the laminate goes down, and to seal all seams.
Textures and Finishes
Another thing to consider is the type of flooring texture and finish that would create the best effect in a particular room. Here are your options:
This is used primarily in laminate floors to give them shallower or deeper heights that follow woodgrain or tile patterns, giving the illusion of a real piece of wood or stone tile, as well as a more tactile feel.
Your home is one of your most valuable assets, and the state of your floors contributes immeasurably to its value and beauty. So, preserve and protect your floors from heavy use and abuse with beautiful, durable, high-quality flooring in any of the above categories from TAS Flooring.
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