A Flooring Buyers and Maintenance Guide
The installation of new floors is one of the more costly projects in home improvement. With an abundance of choices: laminate, hardwood, vinyl, engineered wood, tile… where do you start?
Budget is always a consideration you need to factor into your decisions. As well as foot traffic, sunlight, and all the wear and tear your flooring will have to put up with.
Did you know that some types of engineered wood (plus a few other solid types of wood flooring) are not resistant to moisture the way vinyl or laminate floors are. This could be a disadvantage in your bathroom or kitchen. Porcelain tile can be a suitable choice for longevity, but it can be quite expensive, and it requires a labor-intensive installation process.
Today, the choices for flooring are more varied than ever! Running the gamut of styles, finishes and options for installation. The innovation of these products is blurring the lines between different flooring categories and raw materials used in creating flooring types. The consumer is the winner. They benefit from the endless (and amusing) array of flooring options which fit any budget and lifestyle.
It’s Smart To Sample
It’s best to get samples of the flooring options before making any final decisions. Lay them side-by-side the way how you’d like them installed and compare them- examining them from different angles and lighting.
Compare the Options for Consistence
Variations can occur from one batch to the next. It’s best to buy all the flooring you need at one time, to prevent variance. Also beware, floorboards made from laminate materials may be packaged containing identical patterns which can be unappealing if they are installed too close to each other. To reduce repetition, you should shuffle the boards from different packages when installing.
Measuring Eliminates Mistakes
To determine the amount of flooring you need, measure the square footage of your room by multiplying its width by the length. (Divide an irregular shaped room into smaller rectangles and calculate the square footage of these rectangles one-by-one and sum them up). Then buy 7-10% extra flooring, which will give room for errors, and faulty boards. Consider purchasing an additional box of flooring to add to the extra 7-10% for repairs or additions in the future.
Hardwood flooring is reputable for its natural appeal and longevity. It has an excellent classic look which harmonizes with different architectural themes and interior designs. It is an exceptional choice for creating visual room-to-room continuation for homes which have open-floor plans.
Flooring comes in different sizes of boards: 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches wide, or 4 to 8 inches wide. The types of wood used for flooring include maple, oak, and black walnut. Regional varieties, such as chinquapin, pecan, and mesquite, are not always available, but they offer distinctive grain patterns.
Availability of exotic hardwood varies with conditions in the market. Popular imported varieties are Brazilian cherry, African padauk, and purpleheart. To be certain that the wood flooring you purchase is produced from sustainable forests, you have to inquire for certification from FSC (The Forest Stewardship Council) and SFI (The sustainable Forest Initiative).
The coatings used on prefinished options can include additives like ceramics, acrylic monomers, and aluminum oxide- and are strong surfaces.
Please note: it is important to nail the solid wood in to a subfloor. Solid wood has the advantage of being able to be refinished many times over its lifespan.
The cost of hardwood ranges from $3 – $8 per square foot, and the exotic types can go as high as $14 per square foot. For professional installation, expect to pay $5 – $12 per square foot.
Engineered Wood Options
Engineered wood uses top veneer of real wood, reinforced by layers of plywood. This will make your flooring more stable, and it will be less susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature than solid wood options.
Instead of plywood, some new varieties of engineered wood use substrates which are manufactured from a wood fiber which is recycled and mixed with concrete dust- and offers enhancedl stability. Engineered wood can be a good choice for basements and kitchens.
You can nail engineered wood, glue it, or install it as floating floors over cushioned pads. More manufacturers are making self-locking or engineered wood which is “clickable” and can install without nails or glue. The clickable floor options come as parquet squares or planks and can be easy DIY projects. Its price is comparable to the solid wood options.
Low-maintenance options of laminate flooring will offer you enormous varieties of styles, patterns and colors. It is similar to engineered wood- where its top wear layers are reinforced by highly stable compressed fibers. The topmost layer is a plastic coating which is applied over faux-wood. The technology of photo-realism, which is used in laminate flooring, produces a look-alike finish which cannot be distinguished from real wood or other materials such as ceramic tile, stone, and even stained concrete.
Laminate options come as tiles or planks. Most of them are floor floating systems, meaning you can install them directly onto an existing floor without needing nails or glue; plus you don’t need to rip up the original floor. Laminate can be a good flooring DIY, but it is crucial you don’t overestimate your skills- installing in corners and in between door jambs takes a lot of skill and patience.
Quality varies, and laminate flooring can cost between $1 – $7 per square foot. The installation can be approximately $2 – $5 per square feet.
Linoleum is manufactured from renewable and biodegradable components which include cork and linseed oil. To produce rich, vibrant colors mineral pigments are added to it. It does not produce any harmful vapors, and is becoming a convenient environment-friendly choice of flooring.
Linoleum is produced in a sheet made for glue-down installation, and as tiles or laminated strips which can be installed as a floating floor. Some manufacturers offer protective coatings which prevent staining and aids the product to withstand heavy foot traffic. Linoleum lacking this coating must be refinished approximately every two years.
Expect to pay $2 – $5 per square foot, and for installation $7 – $12 per square foot.
Cork is acquired from the bark of trees. This is an entirely sustainable material. The tree the bark is harvested from does not get destroyed, since it regenerates a new bark and is harvested repeatedly. The cork-producing states regulate cork-production to ensure there are future harvests and to keep the impact on the surroundings low.
Cork feels warm, has a natural appearance and is comfortable underfoot. Its grain patterns are unique, featuring speckles and whirls. It comes in planks or tiles with a laminate construction- a top wear layer which is glued to the stable core material. Cork flooring can either be glued down or installed as floating floors. Cork flooring can cost from $2 – $6 square foot, plus $3 – $5 per square foot for the installation.
Most cork products are prefinished; however, they may need to be resealed every few years for the renewal of the top layer, guard against any stains, and seal out any moisture. Wax and polyurethane are good sealers for cork. It’s best to use water-based polyurethane which is nontoxic, or lower volatile organic compounds content.
The many shapes, sizes, textures, and colors of ceramic tile will make it easy to create one-of-a-kind custom patterns. The costs vary widely, and you will see tiles priced anywhere from $1- $100 per square foot. Complementary trim pieces for decoration and mosaic inlays will raise the total price for the installation of the tiles. For installation, expect to pay a tile-setter $4 – $12 per square foot.
Ceramic tile is usually made by mixing shale and clay, which is hardened and baked in a kiln. Dry pigments are added to the mixture and add earthy tones to the tiles, which range from deep red to ocher. Ensure that you buy tiles which are rated for floor use only.
There are four options for ceramic flooring:
- Glazed ceramic has a glasslike coating which is applied before the kilning process. The coating gives the tiles unlimited varieties of textures and colors and make the materials virtually maintenance-free.
- Quarry tiles are unglazed ceramic tiles. Colors develop from the pigments in the clay mixture. Quarry tiles have a slight texture of roughness which offers a better slip-resistance than the glazed tiles.
- Porcelain tile is usually kilned at highly extreme temperatures. The result is tiles which are exceptionally durable and tough. Porcelain tiles are resistant to staining, and they are a perfect choice for exterior applications. They are available either glazed or unglazed.
- Terracotta is an unglazed tile having earthy rustic appearance and colors. It is not as durable as the other tiles, and needs to be periodically sealed for the prevention of staining.
Other types of ceramic tiles come with anti-slip finishes which provide perfect traction even when wet. Select tiles that meet the slip-resistance standards of Americans With Disabilities Act.
Carpeting is a versatile flooring option. There is an array of colors and textures that no other type of flooring has. When judging the quality of the carpet, an easy rule of thumb is to always ask about the density of the fibers that were used in making the carpet- its durability is usually higher if it has more fibers per square inch.
Most carpeting options are manufactured by pulling fibers through a woven backing. Extra layers of backing are stuck together to provide thickness and more strength. Carpet pads add cushioning, and prolongs the durability of the carpets.
Some carpets use a rating system to indicate its ability to survive wear and tear. The system usually ranges from one to five, with five being the best. These ranges can be seen the label of the carpet.
Carpeting can cost between $2 and $12 per square foot. For installation, the cost can vary between an additional $0.50 – $2 per square foot- depending on the complexity of the job.
Wool carpeting is the industry standard. Naturally, it is resistant to moisture and stains, it is durable, and is also considered to feel the best against bare feet and hands.
Nylon carpet is strong and exceptionally resistant to wear. Ensure the carpet you purchase is treated to reduce static electricity.
Acrylic carpet possess physical properties which are similar to wool. Additionally, it does not wear as quickly, it resists crushing and mildew, and does not harbor insects.
Polyester carpet come in a range of bright colors, and is highly resistant to moisture. However, if stained, it can be challenging to clean.
Polypropylene olefin is usually used for outdoor/indoor carpeting. It has extreme resistance to stains, mildew and moisture.
Vinyl tile options are known as resilient flooring- they are slightly soft underfoot and flexible, too. They are virtually maintenance-free, durable, and tough. Vinyl comes in a range of patterns and colors at relatively modest cost. Vinyl flooring can cost as low as $1 per square feet, and there are less stylish alternatives which are even cheaper.
Vinyl flooring is supported by layers of felt. Cushioned vinly is supported with layers of foam which offers extra measures of safety and comfort. Generally, thicker vinyl means better quality, but higher prices. Thicker vinyl options can even have textured surfaces which look like real wood and stone.
Vinyl flooring is made with a protective layer on the upper surface to help resist scratches and stains. The ideal vinyl flooring offers warranties on the protective layer for up to 15 years. Good quality vinyl can last as long as 20 years.
Vinyl tiles can cost between $1 – $5 per foot-square. The installation can cost between $1 – $2 per square foot- depending on the project’s complexity.
How to Clean Vinyl, Tile and Wood Floors
Ceramic-tile floors clean easily with warm water, but ensure to vacuum or first sweep to remove grit or loose soil. Don’t clean ceramic-tile floors using a sponge mop- the sponge will push the dirt into grout tracks and will make the floor harder to clean. A micro-fiber mop can pick up the dirt left behind by a sponge mop. Pour cleaning ingredients into a bucket and used rags or a micro-fiber mop for cleaning. Wipe in a circular motion across the floor when using a rag, and include the baseboards and cabinets. Use a brush if the tile’s grout is dirty.
Clean hardwood floors using boiling water and two teabags. The tannic acid in the tea will create a beautiful shine on the floors. Steep the two tea bags in boiling water for a few minutes and pour it into a bucket. Wring out a soft cloth in the tea, and ensure it is only damp and not soaked. This allows the floor to dry faster. Wash the hardwood floor, and be amazed by the sheen.
If there are scratches on the hardwood which stand out, use a crayon the color of the floor to rub in and fill the gap. Turn a blow dryer on high and heat up the area with the applied crayon, and lastly buff it using a soft cloth.
To clean vinyl flooring: mix Borax in a bucket of warm water and use that to clean the floor.
To clean stains on a concrete floor, apply laundry detergent, pre-treat stain solutions, or dishwater detergents. Scrub the floor after letting the solution for approximately 30 minutes.