Flooring, Carpet & Tile

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Flooring, Carpet & Tile Considerations

Few things go as far in defining the look of a room as the choice of flooring. There are many styles of flooring to give any room that perfect look, from carpet to linoleum, bamboo to brick. One thing to keep in mind, when sorting through all these styles and materials, is to avoid overdoing it - different flooring for every room in the home will lead to an inconsistency in style and unity.

Wood floors are a classic choice, from oak hardwoods to pine softwoods. If properly sanded, sealed and regularly maintained, wood floors can stay in great condition for years and even improve with age. Cork and bamboo are both renewable materials, and both make for fine flooring - cork is very comfortable for long periods of standing or walking, and bamboo is as tough and durable as it is beautiful. For those bothered by the noise of footfalls on wood floors, introducing area rugs or large draperies can dampen the sound.

Carpet is a comfortable, practical flooring material that can be used in any room in the home - even the kitchen, if you find the right kind. Whether you choose a sculptured style with patterns in the pile or the traditional plush style, you'll want to pay extra attention to the material of which it's made. Nylon, acrylic, olefin, rayon, wool and polyester each have their own advantages and drawbacks.

Families with young children should seek out a stain resistant carpet that is easy to clean and maintain. Those going green can choose from a variety of quality, environmentally friendly carpets - some are even recycled. No matter which type you choose, be sure to invest in quality padding - it will lengthen the life of your carpet and make it more comfortable to walk on.

Tile is a popular choice in kitchens and bathrooms, but it can be employed in any room in the home. Ceramic or porcelain tile, with its vibrant, shiny surface, can be used to create one-of-a-kind patterns or mosaics. Quarry tile, with its matte finish and subdued tones, lends an earthy, natural look to a room. The main upkeep for tile floors comes in the cleaning and sealing of the grout or cement that joins the tiles.

In addition to traditional tile, stone and brick can create beautiful, easy-to-maintain flooring. Natural stone is generally bluestone or slate, but these two stones come in a variety of textures and colors. And brick also comes in a wide variety of hues and styles. Some manufacturers make a thinner brick that can be laid more like tile.

Both brick and stone floors will need to be well sealed to prevent damage, but are otherwise easy to care for. As some stone is quite heavy, additional floor joists may need to be installed for reinforcement.

For those wanting the look of wood, tile or stone without the cost and upkeep, laminate flooring is a viable choice. It can be hard to tell the difference between a good laminate and the real thing. Some laminates even have textured surfaces to replicate wood grain or stone. Laminate flooring is durable and very easy to care for, and can often be installed as a floating floor, with no glue or fasteners required.

Vinyl and linoleum floors can obviously be used in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, but newer styles can be perfect for any room. And both are relatively easy to install.

A quality vinyl floor is highly durable and stain resistant. When choosing vinyl flooring, be sure to choose a style with a high amount of vinyl components.

Linoleum, an all-natural product that is completely recyclable, has made a comeback in recent years. As an added bonus for those who suffer from asthma or severe allergies, linoleum is hypoallergenic.