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  • Andrew Bargen

Four floor coverings that make sense.

The sheer number of choices in the flooring realm can make picking a flooring type for your renovation overwhelming.


In this post, I will walk you through four quality types of floor coverings that have long term value. Together, we will review the pro's and con's of each as well as ideal locations for installation. We will also briefly touch on other flooring styles at the end, and why we don't see them as an option with decent long term value.





Tile

Tile is one of the largest categories when it comes to styles. The many different types of tile flooring fit into two main categories: ceramic and natural stone. Although glass tile does fall outside of this, it is a boutique choice. Within these two main categories, you have a plethora of options.

Ceramic

Ceramic tile as a general category includes both standard "ceramic" tile as well as porcelain tile. Both are man-made products made with clay and fired in a kiln. As a rule, porcelain absorbs less water and is more durable. These qualities make it ideal for higher wear areas, as well as areas exposed to more moisture, i.e. showers, steam rooms, and etc. For a detailed post on the difference between porcelain and ceramic, see this post over at The Spruce.





Natural stone

Natural stone includes a wide range of subcategories. The defining characteristic of natural stone as a category is that they are cut and processed from existing rock formations. Common types in this category include slate, travertine, marble, granite, quartz, and stone tiles. A significant feature of natural tile is its uniqueness, no two tiles will be the same. Due to the commonly porous nature of natural stone, maintenance tends to be higher than man-made (ceramic) varieties. Most stone varieties require a sealer to be regularly applied to upkeep its gorgeous look.

Location

Now that we know some background on the composition of tile flooring, we can cover where in your home this type of floor covering makes sense. Areas in your home that are exposed to high traffic, as well as areas that have a high probability of seeing moisture are great places to start. Good examples of rooms you should consider tiling are entryways, bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, and pantries. Three important aspects to consider when picking your tiles and corresponding locations are PEI ratings, absorption ratings, and the dynamic coefficient of friction number. Visit Terra Sol's technical page to learn about why these specifications are essential.

A tile floor is not a short term solution, so tile quality, tile design, and installation quality should be carefully considered. Visit our tile page to learn more about the tiling services we offer.

Hardwood

Hardwood flooring is a floor covering that can last as long as some homes. It is not unheard of to see a turn of the century home with its original hardwood. One of the main draws for installing hardwood flooring is its ability to bring the warmth of nature into your home. Today, there are two main types of hardwood flooring: solid and engineered hardwood. Solid hardwood flooring has been around centuries, while engineered hardwood flooring is a more recent addition.

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood is generally 3/4" to 1" thick and can come from the manufacturer either prefinished or unfinished for a site applied floor finish. The main advantage of solid hardwood vs engineered hardwood is its ability to be sanded down and refinished multiple times opposed to engineered hardwood being limited by its wear layer. Traditional hardwood flooring is mainly installed with staples or cleats into a wooden subfloor.

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood flooring is comprised of several different layers of wood veneer glued together in opposing directions, similar to plywood. The top or visible layer is usually thicker to allow 1 or 2 refinishes. It is only available as a prefinished product. Although engineered hardwood can't be refinished as many times, it can be installed in more areas of your home. Overall, it does better over radiant heat floors due to its better dimensional stability. This stability also allows it to be installed below grade with less prep than traditional hardwood flooring. Engineered wood flooring's installation method is more flexible than solid wood flooring. It can be nailed or stapled down, similar to solid hardwood, or it can be glued down. Engineered wood floors can also be glued together at the tongue and groove, but not to the subfloor. This creates a floating floor that moves, expands, and contracts as one unit.

Location

Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for many areas of your home. The warmth it adds to rooms and its soft feeling underfoot makes it a top choice for living rooms, dens, bedrooms, and home offices. Due to wood's ability to absorb moisture, it is wise to keep it away from potential wet areas. Its long-wearing characteristics make it a design choice you want to get right the first time. If you've decided on hardwood flooring for an area of your home, learn more about the hardwood flooring services we provide.

Vinyl Plank or Tile

Due to a large number of inferior options available in the vinyl flooring category, let's start by defining what I mean with vinyl plank flooring or vinyl tile flooring. LVT (luxury vinyl tile) or LVP (luxury vinyl plank) is often referred to as vinyl tile and vinyl plank. Within these categories, I am referring to the glue down variation only, click type vinyl flooring be damned! Glue down installations are more durable and allow for individual piece replacement compared to click type vinyl floating floors.

Characteristics

Vinyl flooring is popular for several good reasons; it is low maintenance, hygienic, waterproof, cost-effective, and comes in many different designs. It does come with its own set of drawbacks though. Although vinyl isn't affected by water, vinyl contracts and expands significantly with temperature changes. Direct sunlight or a concrete substrate can cause these temperature variations. For this reason, it important to source vinyl flooring that is structurally reinforced for better dimensional stability. Another feature that you will find in quality vinyl flooring is a robust wear layer. In LVP and LVT flooring, this is a transparent top layer that protects the pattern below.

Location

When installed correctly and quality products are used, LVP and LVT are great long term value. The ability to quickly repair individual pieces cannot be understated. Vinyl plank and vinyl tile's versatility make it an excellent choice for any room in the home. We are happy to provide LVP and LVT installation services, contact us to get started.

Polished Concrete

Although not as familiar to most as the above three floor covering options, polished concrete as flooring is an excellent option when exceptional durability, uniqueness, and easy maintenance are essential. Concrete slabs, both new and existing, can be finished by polishing. If you are planning to polish your concrete floor and you have not yet poured your concrete, you have many design options available. You can customize the colour of the aggregate, add dye to the mix, or even add shells. If you have an existing concrete floor to polish, you can still customize your design through stain and stencilling to create a unique design.

Location

The main drawback to polished concrete is the scale of the project. It is not economical to polish one room in your basement. Polished concrete is, however, an inexpensive option when you are undergoing an extensive renovation, and all the interior walls have been removed. When engineered for, polished concrete and all its amazing qualities are possible on the main floor as well.

Getting Started

If you're looking for a modern, durable, environmentally friendly flooring alternative, polished concrete could very well be the thing you are after. You can learn more about concrete polishing by visiting Concrete Networks resources on it. Since high expertise are required for concrete polishing, we work with the best trades around to deliver expert results. Contact us if you would like to start your project right.

Floor coverings we don't stand behind.

There are several types of floor coverings that we don't recommend. This is usually a result of poor durability or in the case of carpet, hygienic reasons. Laminate, in our opinion, is one of the worst offenders. It is very susceptible to water damage, generally doesn't have a decent wear layer, and its underlayment can wear out over time. Vinyl or linoleum sheet goods can be useful in some scenarios, but any damage requires replacement of the entire area's flooring.

Summary

Replace your flooring with the future in mind. Is the product you're looking at durable? Does the flooring have a small environmental footprint when lifespan is factored in? Is the floor covering easy to clean and maintain? Will it be easy to repair damage without replacing the floor? These are all question you should be asking when picking new flooring. Another consideration is that your flooring is only as good as the prep and installation. It is worth your money to hire a professional to get the job done right, and with the right products. Contact us today and begin planning your renovation the right way.

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Red Deer, Alberta

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