Change Your Flooring?
It's time for some new flooring in your home, but what do
you choose? You like your neighbour's hardwood floors, but
you aren't sure if they are right for your family's
lifestyle. And what are your choices, anyway? Read on to
find out more about your flooring options.
Residential flooring generally comes in four basic types
of materials. what is referred to as "resilient" flooring
includes all types of tile and sheet vinyls. Ceramic,
hardwood products and carpeting are the other three
Vinyl tiles are available in different styles and offer a
wide selection of decorative patterns and colours.
Frequently they are embossed to make them even more
resistant to wear and tear and to improve their
appearance. For the do-it-yourselfer, the major advantage
is the convenient size, the self-stick backing that many
come with and the reasonable price. Even a novice can do a
good job of laying these tiles.
Because they have to be cut to fit the floor shape and
size ahead of time, sheet vinyls can be more difficult to
work with. They also come in a wide variety of colours,
patterns and grades at reasonable cost. The "inlaid"
types, in which the colour and pattern extend through the
thickness of the material, offer a longer life in heavy
These are considered a permanent flooring, good for the
life of a room, if they are properly installed. The
thicker tiles are designed especially for floors, while
thinner ones are intended for wall-use only. Ceramic tiles
come in a variety of shapes, patterns, sizes and colours.
They are more expensive but longer-lasting than vinyl
floor coverings. These tiles can be installed over a
smooth, dry concrete or acceptable wood-product sub-floor,
but never over tongue-and-groove hardwood. They are
installed with a special grout mixture and require special
attention and care during installation.
Like ceramic tiles, hardwood flooring products are
especially popular in today's residential housing market.
Hardwood products can be used in any room, but extreme
care should be taken when installing them in kitchens,
bathrooms or over concrete floors. Hardwood floors expand
when wet and can buckle. Unless specially treated, they
are not recommended for high moisture areas.
Because of their popularity, some hardwood flooring
manufacturers have come up with products that can be
installed easily by do-it-your selfers. Parquet flooring,
for instance, comes in a variety of designs and colours
that can give a room the warmth and depth of real wood. It
is reasonably priced, comes in tile form, is simple to
install and has an easy-care finish.
Carpeting comes in a variety of styles, textures and
materials. The most common styles are level loops, also
known as indoor/outdoor carpeting, multi-level loops and
cut piles. Level loops are often installed in kitchens,
basements and other high-traffic areas because they are
easier to clean than carpets with higher pile. Multi-level
loops offer a compromise between level loops and cut pile
carpets. They are still relatively easy to clean and can
be quite attractive. Most elegant are cut pile carpets.
These can be very plush, but are also more difficult to
Most carpets are made of nylon fibres. Nylon is considered
the strongest, most stain-resistant and least expensive to
manufacture. But it has some disadvantages: it is
difficult to clean once stained and can generate a lot of
static electricity. To reduce static, often other
synthetic fibres are combined with the nylon. Wool carpets
are probably the oldest and finest of all carpets; that's
why they are also the most expensive. Many retailers no
longer carry wool carpeting, or provide it only on a
Carpets can be installed over any good flooring except
other carpeting. Leaving an old carpet and using it as
padding under a new one is not recommended. Old carpets
always have dirt embedded in the backing, which can work
itself up into the new carpeting. Urethane foam padding
has generally replaced the old hair-jute pad and rubber
waffle padding. It's easier and cheaper to use for both
do-it-your selfers and professionals. In addition, it's
also lighter, longer-lasting and comes in various
Before making any flooring decision, think about the
traffic patterns, the size of your family and the wear and
tear expected. There's no point installing light, plush
carpeting in an area that will be heavily soiled.
If you are installing the floor yourself, be sure to
measure each room carefully. A flooring store
representative can help you estimate the amount you will
need and offer other advice.
If you are having a floor professionally installed, ensure
the retailer sends an estimator to your home ahead of time
to take accurate measurements and check the condition of
the sub-floor. Get a number of estimates from various
retailers and ensure the product you select has some form
of written guarantee. New floors are expected to last a
long time and you should get the most for your money.