People spend months, even years imagining the perfect remodeling for their living room or kitchen. But have they put into consideration the types of flooring available just as much as they did their dream cabinet or sofa?
It takes more than just ripping out dingy old rugs and wood and putting in what looks pretty — any DIYer worth their salt should look into what is all available to them in terms of types of flooring before they make a decision.
Flooring 101: Learn the Basics
Here are three simple questions to ask before you start buying the materials for your flooring projects:
You have to think about how yours or other people’s feet will feel when they step on this new flooring — is it too bouncy, is it too cold, or are you worried it will make too much sound? Remember that not all floors are made equal when it comes to sweeping or mopping either, and the style you choose can make that easier or more difficult.
Types of Flooring
There are three primary styles you can choose from if you want to install new flooring for yourself. This includes:
Planks are the most popular types of flooring available, regardless of material. Originally it was tied to wooden planks but there is a wide variety of styles and installations available. Putting down long rectangular planks gives out a natural look but there will be times where cutting the plank at different lengths will be necessary.
Tile is one of the types of flooring commonly used for kitchens and bathrooms. It is durable and water- and stain-resistant. The range of styles can spring up thousands of flooring ideas. While it normally comes in porcelain and ceramic, it is also available in other materials as well. One big advantage to tile is the ease in cutting it into simple shapes like triangles or rectangles that will fit the desired spot on the floor. Unlike planks, if a tile is damaged it is easier to remove and repair.
Sheets are a valid lower-priced option. instead of buying individual pieces you can buy one or two large designed sheets (normally in vinyl). They can be designed to repeat patterns to mimic the floor you want. Using sheets does take considerable skill, as you must take accurate measurements and cut at precise angles, so it might not be the right option for a DIY flooring project.
Choose the Material
The types of flooring you eventually set down depends on what you will think will be appropriate for the ambiance and comfort. The most common materials are as follows:
- Ceramic/Porcelain Tile
- Engineered Wood
Hardwood floors, if taken care of properly, can maintain good quality for decades. They are also very low-maintenance, requiring some sweeping/vacuuming and some occasional cleaning with your cleaner of choice.
Because of the different types of wood (cherry, oak, walnut, etc.), there is a multitude of style options that can come from hardwood. This makes a home with hardwood floors more desirable when sold than others.
Sometimes traditional hardwood can be very difficult to install or too expensive in a remodeling budget. Those who still want the look can choose engineered wood.
It has a thin hardwood layer of the desired style but underneath it is layers made of plywood, fiberboard, or hardwood. It is more stable than regular hardwood while maintaining its authentic look.
Bamboo is a version of engineered wood that shares the properties of hardwood flooring, but is not actually wood. It is made from strips of bamboo plants, which grow to maturity from three to five years compared to almost 20 years for hardwood trees.
This makes bamboo flooring an eco-friendly option. It is still hard to maintain at its perfect state, however — excess moisture will warp an installation, and there are many things that can easily scratch bamboo surface.
Porcelain that is used for flooring is a sand and clay mixture made with heat and pressure that harder and denser than ceramic. It preferable for areas that will see a lot of movement, and is even great for outdoor use. The ceramic kind are softer and easier to cut and install. This also makes the tiles more porous, but they are glazed to make the surface harder and stronger against spills.
Laminate does one thing very well, and that is mimic the look of wood. It is made of a mixture of wood byproducts (wood shavings, sawdust, fibers, etc. pressed together with resin. The imprint of a texture wooden image is pressed upon the top layer for its “real wood” look. Because of the high heat and pressure used to make the outer layer, its surface is one the strongest.
Linoleum, like bamboo, is made from renewable materials (cork, pine resin, linseed oil, etc.) and sometimes has limestone dust added for increased durability. Their composition gives them a cushioning effect that protects it from wear. They sometimes have a protective coating for scratches and fading, but if it does not have that then installed linoleum floors must be cleaned and waxed every few years for maintenance. It regularly comes in tiles that can be glued down or snapped together but can also be found as sheets.
Vinyl, unlike the biodegradable composition of other types of flooring, is 100% plastic. It can take on heavy foot traffic and is very moisture resistant when installed properly. The color of a vinyl floor can fade under direct sunlight, however, and are easier to scratch than linoleum. It is an inexpensive alternative to either laminate or linoleum. Vinyl also does not need routine waxing/sealing maintenance as linoleum does.
Wall-to-wall covering of carpet on the floor has lost its popularity, but that does not mean it has its appeal with some people. It is warm, soft, and quiet, which makes it great for bedrooms. You can choose a carpet made from fibers using natural or synthetic sources like nylon or polyester. There are many carpets designed to withstand heavy foot traffic. You do have to consider permanent damage from stains and moisture, however, and that will require deep cleaning of the fabric.
Installation Tips, & More
Type of installation
It is also a matter of how to install certain types of flooring. For example, if you are working with hardwood there are four methods you can use:
A nail-down installation fits wood flooring in a straightforward manner. It is also the most common way to do it, especially when it is done on solid flooring. It is simple direct nailing of the flooring to the subfloor through the portion of the wooden plank that protrudes from the board and fits into the groove of the next one. When done right, there is almost no sign of the nails after installation. It is a good idea to use nails if you have a wooden subfloor.
A glue-down installation uses adhesives on wood board, making extremely strong bonds in the process. One of the advantages it has over other types of installations is that boards do not grow or shrink at the same level. It also enhances the experience of how people feel engineered wood. By using glue for flooring, you can make engineered wood almost sound like a solid hardwood floor. This is definitely the case if it is glued to a concrete subfloor.
A floating installation is one of the types of flooring that is most known for its versatility. It works on almost any type of subfloor, with any type of material (wood, tile, linoleum, concrete, etc.). It is also an easy-to-install installation thanks to a locking system designed in engineered floors, cutting out the need for nails or adhesives. Sometimes adhesive is necessary near the groove part of the floor — this method is called a glue seam. If done right, a floating installation might have a person have their floor completely installed within the day.
There are still many steps involved in floating installations. The subfloor must be completely flat before starting, or there is a risk of uneven floorboards causing hollow sounds. Before you install, you must also measure it for moisture content so you can install it with the right amount of foam layer. This is laid down over the subfloor as a moisture barrier and sound dampener.
When using adhesives in any glue installation, remember to clean it up immediately. Leaving it on materials like hardwood floors make it very difficult to remove once it is dry. When using foam padding for any kind of installation, it is best to tape the pads using the tape recommended by the manufacturer. Make sure you inspect the subfloor beforehand for uneven spaces then use a sander to take out any seams.
Types of Flooring: Conclusion
Whether it is stretching a fresh loop carpet over a master bedroom or setting down beige porcelain tile on your first-floor bathroom, there is virtually no limit on the types of flooring so as long as you pick the right material and style to go with your level of installation ability.
You might have to trade looks away for longevity so be prepared to make sacrifices in some cases. However, with so many options available, finding the perfect flooring should not be an issue.