If it’s been a few years since you’ve had flooring replaced, visiting the flooring store may yield some surprises – including the new options available and how familiar products have evolved.
“A trip to the flooring store is very interesting because products are always changing,” says Terri-Jo Geddes, an Interior Designer /Project Leader with MAC Renovations.
Ten years ago, for example, you likely wouldn’t have considered putting radiant heating beneath wood floors, but today’s manufacturing techniques have made that possible.
If new flooring will be part of your renovation or home improvement project, Geddes offers a few tips to help pare down some of the many choices…
Consider today’s innovations, not trends
Like all things, certain flooring also comes in and out of favour – once-trendy products like laminate, which can be loud and cold, and cork, which can fade quickly in the sun, have given way to products like vinyl, engineered wood and porcelain tile.
If you hear “vinyl” and think of old-school linoleum, you’ll be surprised with some of the new options made to replicate stone, wood and tile – yes, some vinyl tile even lets you add grout!
The same goes for tile flooring. While ceramic tile was everywhere in the 1990s, today’s homeowners often lean toward porcelain tile, with its breadth of colours and patterns. And, while a chipped ceramic tile quickly revealed the white material beneath, porcelain is more forgiving, Geddes notes.
Other options include natural products, like honed marble, or even limestone, which when properly finished can offer an attractive, long-wearing floor.
Form vs. function
So, how do you choose? “It’s always the push and pull between the function and the aesthetics,” Geddes says.
Which side “wins” typically starts with considering the room the flooring is going in. A mudroom, downstairs family room or laundry would likely do well with vinyl plank, for example, which is tough, warm, withstands moisture and comes in a wide variety of colours and styles.
For more “public” areas, like a great room, dining room or living room, you might prefer a nice engineered hardwood for a timeless design choice.
Today’s hardwoods are much more resilient to regular wear and tear, and come in a variety of finishes, but will be susceptible to things like dog claws and scratches from furniture. Some protection can come from measures like leaving outside shoes at the door and using furniture pads, but for active families with pets, a certain “patina” may be inevitable.
Concerns about allergens may also factor into your decision-making.
To reduce the build-up of dust and allergens, many homeowners are opting away from carpet, even in the bedroom, opting for hard surfaces they can top with a washable area rug, for example.
Those sensitive to off-gassing may want to choose a more natural product, like tile or wool carpet.
Starter home or forever home?
Also factoring into the decision are things like the style and value of the home, and how long you plan to live there.
“If it’s a starter home, maybe that engineered hardwood will wait until you move up to your ‘forever’ home,” Geddes suggests.