From Dean on February 1st, 2007 in Kitchen Remodel
There are endless possibilities when it comes to hardwood, ceramic, laminate and vinyl . Since they are generally considered permanent floor coverings – you�ll want to consider durability, maintenance and noise levels.
If you want to give your home the look of natural beauty than wood is definitely something you should consider. With its many species and variety in color and grain, you should easily find a wood that fits your decor. Feeling exotic – then check out the wide range of exotic woods like Brazilian walnut and eucalyptus, Australian cypress or bamboo from China. Then there�s the species native to North America like maple, red and white oak, cherry, birch, beech, ash and pecan. If you�re looking to create a one-of-a-kind floor (and you have the time), you can find reclaimed hardwood flooring from historic warehouses and barns in species that are no longer available like heart pine, yellow pine and chestnut.
Generally all of these solid wood floors can be purchased unfinished or pre-finished and are 3/4 inch thick. Thanks to newer finishing technology (using aluminum oxide) pre-finished hardwood floors are actually more durable and retain its �natural� beauty better than the sand-and-finish variety. It will be hard to find an installer that will be able to apply a better finish on-site than what a manufacturer can put on your pre-finished hardwood floor.
If you really want the look of solid wood, but not the weighty price tag, you should look into engineered wood floors, which consists of two or more layers and a top layer (called the wear layer) which is 1/8 inch thick and generally made of oak, maple or cherry, but can be stained to match your decor.
Other economical alternatives are wood laminates which are plywood based with a layer of veneer on top. Keep in mind that these floor aren�t nearly as thick as the real thing and can only be sanded and refinished several times – after that you�ll need to have it replaced. It�s no wonder manufacturers only warranty the finish for five years. It�s hard to beat the look of wood, but it does have its drawbacks – it requires periodic refinishing, it can be scratched and gouged and it doesn�t resist water well. These floors tend to be noisy, so you might want to consider using area rugs to muff some of the sound.
The surface of a laminate floor is actually a plastic composition that is applied to the core using heat and pressure. The core is usually made of high-density fiber or particleboard, and the backing can be paper, or another layer of laminate. Laminate flooring comes in a variety of styles that try to mimic the natural look of wood, stone, and tile. Some types are glued together, while others have a mechanical locking system where you just snap the pieces together. The wear layer is made of zinc oxide, which makes it almost impervious to scratches and very durable, making them an ideal choice for high traffic areas. Picture this: If you look closely at the pattern you�ll notice each pattern is identical – that�s because it�s actually a picture of the real thing. You can�t sand or refinish these floors so when they wear out (ten years or so) you need to replace them.
Ceramic tile is a natural product made of clay, minerals and water that are designed and formed into a multitude of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. They are very durable and easy to clean, but beware the grout lines and scratching. Most ceramic floor tiles have either a glazed, or unglazed surface. The glazed tiles have a special ceramic coating that is applied to the body of the tile and then fired under tremendous heat so that the glazing becomes hard and non-porous. The benefits of glazing is that it creates a floor that is resistant to stains, scratches, slippage and fire. An unglazed tile is simply one that retains the same color on its face as it does its back. The most popular unglazed tiles are red quarry tiles or porcelain. The benefits of not glazing is that dirt and other effects of daily living don�t show up as vibrantly as they do on a glazed tile. The price for a decent tile starts around $6.50 a square foot, but can escalate quickly.
Vinyl is a very versatile choice for floor covering and is most commonly used in kitchens, bath and laundry rooms. It comes in rolled sheets or one-foot-square tiles and is available as an inlaid vinyl (pattern and color throughout the entire material) or rotogravure vinyl (knobby texture with colors and patterns printed only on the finished surface). There are many designs and patterns to choose from in each category, but they all have the same drawback – they can dent, tear or become unglued. The average price for vinyl is $12 per square yard.
The trend in flooring these days is high performance – floors that can handle vigorous day-to-day traffic and still look beautiful . Topping the durability list are concrete, cork, bamboo and a limestone and vinyl composite. Concrete slab floors (usually used in basements and garages) are finding their way into other rooms of the house. Not only are they durable, but they come in an array of new colors. Limestone and vinyl composite is available in about 30 different colors and patterns. It has a lifetime wear and stain guarantee.
Another hot trend is cork tiles with a hi-tech finish that comes directly off of the tree bark after the wine industry has harvested its grapes. Cork is installed piece by piece over an adhesive and is said to last forever. The drawback to this soft, quiet and inexpensive covering is that there is limited color and style choices and unless properly treated is susceptible to water damage.
Bamboo is a new flooring option just beginning to grow in popularity because it�s a nice alternative to hardwood floors. Besides its aesthetic value, bamboo is very strong and stable, even more so than many hardwoods because they won�t swell or shrink.