Comparing Flooring Materials
With so many options available today, making a decision about which flooring material will be best for your home can be a challenge. When weighing the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of various flooring types, it’s important that you carefully consider both aesthetics and functionality.
Choosing a Flooring Type
Before you choose one type of flooring over another, take the time to carefully evaluate the space. To start, it’s helpful to ask yourself a few key questions:
- Will this floor be installed in a moisture-prone area, such as a bathroom or kitchen?
- Do I plan to install this floor in a high-traffic area, such as a living room, hallway, foyer, etc?
- How long do you hope for this floor to last? Remember that certain types of wear and tear, such as that created by children and family pets, can potentially shorten the life of your floors (depending on the material that you choose).
- What size is the room, and does it have an irregular corners or borders that may make installation more difficult?
- Will this installation be performed by a professional, or will I try to install the flooring myself?
Your responses to these questions should be taken into consideration when you’re shopping for flooring. It is very important to keep in mind that certain flooring materials require a higher level of expertise than others.
Most Commonly Used Flooring Materials
While “favorite” flooring types may sometimes come and go as trends, it’s more common for flooring materials to stick around for a while after they’ve been introduced to the market. Generally speaking, most floors aren’t simply going to go out of style.
There are some materials, however, that continue to top the list year after year. Here are just a few:
Carpet has been a favorite for years, due to its comfortable softness and ability to cut down on the noise in a home. Over the decades, we’ve seen every carpet trend you can think of, with varying styles, patterns, fibers, and more. Unfortunately, though, carpet requires quite a bit more upkeep than some of the other common flooring types. Even the stain-resistant varieties can create more work for the modern family, requiring frequent vacuuming and even the occasional shampoo.
More importantly, however, is the concern over off-gassing and new carpet installations. While professional installers are most at risk of being exposed to harmful organic compounds during carpet installation, there is still some residual off-gassing that should concern homeowners. For this reason, many homes and businesses have gotten away from carpet in favor of some of the more hypoallergenic and eco-friendly options.
Laminate and Vinyl Flooring
Both of these flooring types were created as a more budget friendly imitation of other flooring materials. Laminate is most often manufactured to look like either stone or wood, while vinyl is usually made to resemble ceramic tiles.
Laminate is known for superior durability and ease of install, whereas vinyl is quite easily damaged. In any case, the potential for harm to your family as a result of installing these flooring materials almost always overshadows the affordability and other advantages. The emission of formaldehyde and other known carcinogens from these synthetic flooring materials can sometimes reach dangerously high levels, and (as of late 2015), there is no governing standard for emissions made by these products.
Many interior designers will tell you that hardwood floors are, by far, the most beautiful flooring option available today. They are also versatile and resilient, and they add a touch of warmth that can really make a space feel like home. Unfortunately, the cost of hardwood floors is more than a simple monetary expense. In recent years, the consequences of deforestation have become more and more of a concern, causing homeowners and contractors to look toward other more responsibly-harvested alternatives.
Bamboo Flooring: The Healthier and More Responsible Option
While understanding the consequences of deforestation has made the home improvement industry want to find “greener” alternatives, it has not changed the fact that we all love the look of hardwoods (and we want to have it in our homes!).
Fortunately, bamboo and eucalyptus flooring have been introduced to appease the most discerning of tastes, while also preserving what forests have not yet been destroyed. Both of these flooring types are harvested from natural materials that grows to maturity very quickly, something that is often referred to as “rapid renewability’. Bamboo and eucalyptus can also be processed into flooring with little to no use of potentially harmful organic compounds, which means they are a safer choice for your family.
Although bamboo is technically a type of grass, it has almost all of the features of traditional wood flooring (as well as a few of its own unique characteristics).