Flooring is an essential part of any interior design. When selecting flooring for key home living spaces, we often make decisions based on color, pattern, and texture but there are other factors that also should be prioritized. Where will you be laying the flooring? Is it likely to get wet and become treacherous underfoot? Will it fade with direct sunlight? Do you have pets that would scratch it? Will there be much traffic on it? Can all flooring withstand underfloor heating? Is there much preparation and labor involved?
You might not be considering one option because you have preconceptions about its quality or feel it is outdated. Many materials have had considerable advancements and are now manufactured to be more durable and aesthetic than before. How do you choose what’s right for you? At McDaniels we have extensive knowledge of flooring and can suggest options to suit your style with budget, maintenance, and durability in mind. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about flooring.
What is the Most Budget Friendly Flooring?
Vinyl is a synthetic material that is durable but relatively low-cost. It has improved in quality over the years and comes in a huge variety of patterns and colors. It’s also very good at imitating other materials. Vinyl is available to purchase as a single sheet that can be cut to fit the floor, or as tiles or planks. More durable tiles and planks are known as luxury vinyl plank (LVP) or tile (LVT), which are a higher cost but worth the price tag for the quality and style.
The visible layer on top is covered with a transparent wear layer and then backed with a vinyl core that can be soft or hard. Wood-polymer cores are comfortable underfoot, but stone-polymer cores are more durable in the long term. It’s easy to install by gluing, clicking pieces together or simply placing it on top of the existing floor. You do have to ensure the underfloor is completely smooth though. Vinyl is waterproof, so is ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, or mudrooms. A drawback is that it can contain high levels of VOCs unless you invest in a quality product.
Is Laminate Waterproof?
Traditionally, laminate flooring wasn’t waterproof, but now it’s being manufactured to withstand water. It’s still a relatively new technology, but it has a lot to offer homeowners looking for durability with style. It has a tough core with an image of a material such as hardwood, covered with a durable wear layer that won’t scratch or fade. Laminate is laid on top of soft underlay for comfort and won’t warp if underfloor heating is installed. Current trends are for long, wide planks imitating light colored wood. For slip resistance, consider going for a distressed finish.
Is Solid Hardwood Worth the Cost?
Solid hardwood is durable and brings warmth and character to any design. Unfortunately, it isn’t completely waterproof, so you must take this into consideration if choosing it for a bathroom or food prep area. This can be mitigated by ensuring your wood floor is properly treated before you use it. If it does get wet, smooth hardwood can be treacherous, so a surface that’s hand-scraped or distressed prevents this. Solid wood flooring also involves some preparation when installing. The planks need to adjust to the temperature of the room for several days before being laid and have to be fixed to a plywood or concrete subfloor.
On the plus side, hardwood is a timeless material that lasts for a very long time and can be refinished several times for different looks. It brings classic elegance to a design and can add to the value of your home. Current trends are for lighter wood like maple and oak. Exotic imports such as Brazilian cherry and Tasmanian oak are also stunning choices. Wide and long planks are very popular at the moment along with mixing different sizes and colors for an eclectic result. Parquet hardwood flooring never goes out of fashion and may be expensive to lay, but, like all solid wood options, is worth the high-end result.
Does Engineered Hardwood Look as Good as Solid Hardwood Flooring?
The top layer of engineered hardwood planks is made of solid wood, so it looks the same. However, this layer is backed with dense fiberboard or plywood and the planks can be clicked together if you don’t want to glue or nail them down. It scratches and succumbs to water damage, like solid wood, but doesn’t warp, so is an excellent choice if you’re installing underfloor heating. The downside is that it won’t last as long but it is a more sustainable product and less costly than its solid wood counterpart.
What is the Best Material for Tile Flooring?
Tile flooring is probably the most popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodels. For your tiles to last, they should be made from a durable material and then grouted and sealed properly. It takes regular maintenance to keep floor tiles looking well and some are more hardwearing than others. Style should still be a factor in what tiles you choose though, since your floor tiles cover a large surface and have a big impact on your kitchen or bathroom design style. Many tile options are as durable as they are attractive, so there should be a wide array of styles from which to choose.
Ceramic tiles, such as terracotta, are made of baked clay. They feel natural and can imitate wood or stone, among other materials. They are both durable and waterproof. Natural stone tiles such as marble, granite, travertine or slate are all popular choices. They need to be sealed regularly but are a classic choice that remain durable. Cement tiles are on the rise. Their European style embraces pattern and color, bringing character to any design.
Ever-popular porcelain is a more refined and baked type of ceramic tile that, when glazed, is very durable and stain resistant. It can be slippery, so opt for a textured surface when choosing tile for flooring. Unglazed porcelain is safer to walk on and more forgiving in terms of cracks and chips being visible, but not stain or waterproof, so would need protection. All these options look great in a kitchen or bath design, it just depends on your budget, style, and priorities. Mixing and matching sizes and patterns is very popular and, as with wood, larger formats are in vogue.
Would Terrazzo Make a Kitchen or Bath Remodel Look Dated?
Terrazzo is a material that has been around for centuries and makes a comeback every few decades. It’s a very popular flooring choice at the moment and the secret to its freshness is the colors and fragments used within it. Chips of glass, granite, marble and other aggregates are suspended in tinted cement or epoxy resin. This is then set, ground smooth and highly polished. There is a huge choice of both aggregates and colors, so choose a combination to suit your style. Be conscious that going for luxe stones such as marble or granite increases your budget. Terrazzo can be poured directly onto the floor area or laid as tiles. It’s low maintenance, being scratch and stain resistant and its texture makes it safe to walk on when wet. It’s easy to clean, long-lasting and has low concentrations of VOCs. A minor issue is that it tends to be cold, so you could factor in underfloor heating at the kitchen design or bathroom remodeling stage.
How Can I Transform a Basic Concrete Floor?
If you have a good concrete subfloor, you can absolutely keep it as a cost-effective but stylish surface for your kitchen or bath design. Once it has been properly prepared, concrete is ready to be treated. It can be stained any color you like or even painted to look like natural stone or wood. As with other flooring trends, lighter shades are very popular. If you want to inject personality into your remodel, why not include pattern and texture on your cement floor? You could stay with its natural hue for an industrial look either.
After it’s been finished, the cement has to be sealed correctly. This protects the surface and also makes it completely waterproof. Rugs or wooden bathmats on areas near sinks or showers help prevent skidding on wet cement. The end result is impressive and not as expensive as other very durable flooring.
What is a Sustainable Choice for Kitchen and Bathroom Flooring?
Bamboo and cork are popular and sustainable flooring options. Bamboo is a woody grass cane that regenerates quickly and makes for incredibly durable flooring. Unlike other natural woods, it won’t swell or contract with temperature changes. It’s not waterproof though, so should be kept to the living area of a kitchen design, away from the sink.
Cork is another sustainable material that has a uniquely bouncy structure, which is comfortable to walk on and resists dents. Cork also absorbs sound and has a non-slip surface. It is water resistant and can be sealed with polyurethane. Both bamboo and cork need special cleaning products, so they are not entirely low maintenance but are excellent eco-friendly choices.
Vinyl, cement, and terrazzo are low maintenance, but nothing compares to the high-end appeal of solid hardwood or natural stone. Pets in your kitchen design mean ceramic, porcelain or laminate might be a better option for you. Cheap tiles are a false economy as they cost time and money to install and won’t last long. Think about how you need your flooring to work for you, where in your home it will be located, and what your style and budget is. Here at McDaniels we have many trusted suppliers and the knowledge and experience to help you select the perfect flooring for home. We understand that the right flooring can instantly upgrade your kitchen or bath remodel and add value to your home. Contact us today to talk to a design expert about flooring to enhance your home.