If there are two things that can dramatically alter the décor of any room, they are paint and flooring. While paint is relatively easy (and less expensive) to replace, flooring is not. It is no wonder that people often find themselves stuck as they ruminate and deliberate on that perfect choice of floor for every room.
Hardwood or Engineered wood? To carpet it all, or not? Bright and light tiles, or dark/ mysterious colors? And what about budget-friendly options? Is a do-it-yourself project viable, and more importantly, will it save me money?
Fortunately, this is not that rare a dilemma. Through this blog, we aid you with eight foolproof tips to break this cycle, as you figure out the ideal floors that look great in your beloved home.
Why Do You Need Tips to Choose the Right Flooring?
As with all big projects, it starts with the big ‘Why.’ Why do this exercise at all? Can’t you just pick the prettiest/ cheapest/ most durable of them all? The answer is a big No. For instance, did you know that the first choice of homeowners is hardwood floors?
No surprise there as these floors are beautiful and relatively durable. And yet, less than 50% of owners follow through on this choice because it is not always appropriate. So here are a few tips on things to avoid.
TIP 1: HARDWOOD FLOORS AND WET ROOMS DO NOT GET ALONG
This means that your precious hardwood is a no-go for bathrooms, (wet) kitchens, basements, laundry rooms, and perhaps even your mud-room. Of course, one can still be stubborn with this choice of flooring, but it will then need to be replaced sooner.
Instead, the better choice for these areas are tiles, vinyl, and laminates. If you have a basement, you can either choose to go with the above or use concrete flooring (optionally covered by a carpet).
TIP 2: WOODEN FLOORS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR AREAS HEAVILY EXPOSED TO THE SUN
This one is not so much about your floors as it is about your comfort. Imagine that it is 2 pm on a hot Saturday. You have had a fulfilling family lunch and look forward to finishing that bestseller book in your favorite rocking chair in the sunroom. So you walk up, book in hand and burn your feet.
Despite being exceedingly pretty, wooden floors heat up easily, so make sure to avoid them in areas that are heavily exposed to a blazing sun. Alternately, they are an absolute boon if you live in a country that stays cold more than eight months in a year. In this case, you can even consider heated floors, wooden or otherwise.
TIP 3: SMALL TILES ARE NOT THE BEST FOR SMALL SPACES
This is indeed a giant delusion – that small spaces equals small tiles. They only end up making the space look even smaller! If space is a constraint, consider choosing wider planks, as horizontal patterns can make a small space look longer. And if you have a choice to go with tiles, pick bigger blocks, as they will make the overall space look larger. See, now that is what good flooring is all about!
What Other Kind of Tips Make for Great Floors?
Now that we have covered the must-not’s, let us explore the must-have’s.
TIP 4: HIGH-TRAFFIC AREAS NEED DURABLE FLOORS
Consider your kitchen, the entry-way, the mud-room, the kids’ playroom–all areas that not only see high traffic but also a lot of wear and tear. To counter these, you can use tiles, carpeted floors, laminate or even vinyl (planks), as they are scratch-resistant. If you choose tiles, vitrified tiles work best for flooring; porcelain works well too and trumps ceramic for durability.
Also, do remember to choose an anti-skid variety for outdoor areas that can become wet (like the deck) and indoor areas that are accessible to playful children. For entry-ways, some home owners still love to open with a pretty hardwood floor. The trick is to top it with a dense (dark-colored) rug that can easily withstand (mud) stains and scratches, and you have a drool-worthy entrance!
TIP 5: CARPET, EQUALS COZY
Hardwood floors are pretty, but not warm on the feet. Likewise with tiles. You can choose the heated versions, but these do come at many an extra penny. On the other hand, carpeted floors are still the best bet to create a cozy atmosphere, though the color and texture of your carpet go a long way in determining their level of maintenance. The only downside is that they need to be professionally installed (unless you are an experienced fixer-upper yourself).
Carpeted floors can also be layered to add texture, color, softness, dimension and even character to your room. So you can have one consistent carpet running through your living, dining and bedroom areas, and use shag rugs to differentiate spaces. This trick also works great in a multi-purpose room.
For instance, do you have to share your office space with your kid's playroom? Then pick up two distinct shag rugs–a colorful and playful kind for your kids, and a more sober version for your office. Place them within the same room and boom–you have two distinct spaces!
This trick can also be used to protect delicate areas when you are running with a light carpet. In this case, ensure that your dining area also comes decorated with a dark rug that not only adds an extra layer of drama but also protects from those pesky food stains.
Finally, remember that carpeted flooring is not advisable for basements, because of their risk to moisture. In this case, make sure first to cushion it with a heavy layer of concrete.
TIP 6: THERE IS A PRETTY FLOOR YOU CAN FIND, FOR EVERY BUDGET
In terms of budget (low to high), your flooring options are as follows:
- Carpeted floors
- Luxury Vinyl/ Laminate
- Engineered wood
- Luxury Tiles
Also, while vinyl and specific versions of wooden flooring can be laid out by an amateur (i.e., the home-owner), other forms of flooring require a professional, so consider this in your budget.
We are going to focus on the smaller budgets here as home owners tend to limit their choices to the ugly versions. According to recent statistics, vinyl flooring is coming back with a vengeance, in a stylish, more durable avatar. It is called plank vinyl, AKA “luxury” vinyl! The quality of the laminate has improved too.
With a price range of $2 - $5, these two versions are relatively inexpensive but no longer look like cheap versions of the tile/ plastic they actually are. They also come with a range of faux finishes, so at first glance, you can be fooled into thinking that they are wood or even stone. Both can be easily installed without professional help.
They are also durable and low maintenance, and hence perfect for high-traffic areas. If moisture is a potential issue, plank vinyl is more water-resistant and hence the better option. But if you intend to sell your property in the near future, the laminate flooring is your choice as it has better real-estate value.
Extra Tips to Nail that Special Look
The above tips should help you lock-down on your choice of floors for every room. But is there something you can do, to turn it extra special? Yes, look at some tips discussed below.
TIP 7: FLOORING CAN BE PERSONALIZED WITH A SPECIAL BORDER DESIGN
Nothing screams “Exclusive” like a border strip around your room. These are especially doable with tiles, and can also be used to highlight architectural features (like an entry arch, high ceilings, a cozy alcove, etc.).
TIP 8: A WELL-MAINTAINED FLOOR IS EVEN MORE SUPERIOR
We come back to the basics here as we remind home-owners that proper maintenance is the differentiating factor between a happy floor and a jaded/ dated floor. Here are some things to consider:
They require regular mopping, so they retain their luster. All stains and scratches need to be dealt with quickly, so they do not succumb to the wear and tear. Also, if you use them in high-traffic areas, top them with a shag rug. This will not only protect them but also create a statement space. Finally, remember to maintain them annually through buffering, so they do not lose their shine.
They require frequent vacuuming, and the odd treatment to deal with difficult stains.
You need to broom and mop them regularly, combined with an occasional scrubbing with liquid soap (especially useful to remove dirt in tile grout). Depending on the quality and usage, they can last up to 10 years.
Flooring is not just an essential part of your home; it can also be used to highlight its elegance. No matter your choice of floor, we encourage home-owners to ask for samples actively, so you can physically study and compare them within the walls and floors of your home.