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Shelly says,
"Find peace in your home."
 
Choosing Flooring - Shelly's Helpful Tips to Get that Perfect Floor

Flooring...oooh, the choices! It can be mind boggling trying to sort through the limitless choices.  The limitless choices include: ceramic and porcelain tiles, slate tiles, marble tiles, glued vinyl tiles, vinyl, carpet, hardwood, laminate and cork flooring.
Tiles: You can find tiles in any number of materials - from the more luxurious granite and marble to the more common ceramic and porcelain.

Your choice is limited only to the intended use of the tiles and your budget.

Tiles, in general, are great for use in a front hall foyer, bathrooms and kitchens due to their resistance to staining and easy clean up. This is true of most tiles from the vinyl type to granite.


Granite and marble tiles are very hard. They are, after all, natural stones taken from the earth. Even though both can be used for finishing similar surfaces, granite does have an edge over marble. Both may stain. However, marble will accept a stain much more easily than granite. If the surfaces are not wiped soon after a spill, there is the potential for staining. They can be sanded down but, if you are not interested in that kind of upkeep, then stay away from these tiles. They may also need to be oiled on a regular basis (depending on the finish) and tend to be very expensive.


Slate tiles are stunning. I have always adored slate tiles for their natural beauty and ruggedness. Using them in home decor almost makes you feel as if you have brought a mountain-scape indoors. Be careful, though, if you choose slate. You must be prepared to live with the uneven surface...which, if used on a floor, may not be comfortable for some of you. On a fireplace surround or as a backsplash, it will be fabulous and its uneven surface will only add to the visual interest.


Porcelain tiles are very similar to ceramic tiles. However, porcelain is a harder material than ceramic and therefore, is slightly more durable. Due to the hardness of porcelain, it is much more difficult to cut with regular cutting tools. You may need to visit your hardware store or have a professional come in for certain cuts, especially round ones.
Although vinyl tiles are quite inexpensive and easy to install, do not expect them to last forever. For a quick fix or a temporary floor, they can look quite nice. To make them a bit more interesting, try making a pattern with them.


"I can afford it" Tip: I have always admired black and white tile flooring. It is classic and modern, and can fit into almost any home. In one of my previous homes, because I could not afford ceramic tiles, I used inexpensive black and white vinyl tiles to get the expensive look of a black and white diamond patterned floor. The tiles cost me only 49c each. At 49c/sq.ft, my long 20' hallway plus entryway cost me under $75.00...and I had the look I was looking for.
Solid vinyl flooring can be found in wide array of patterns and styles today. The quality can range from low end to very high end. In one of my previous bathrooms, I remember asking for a price quote. The vinyl I liked was, of course, ultra expensive - $400.00 plus taxes for a very (and I mean, very) small bathroom - just for the vinyl flooring, no installation. I thought, WOW...I have got to look around some. (I guess I didn't love it that much.) Turns out, I found a flooring which was similar, and I will admit, not as nice as my first choice. It cost me about $60.00 plus taxes. I did mention that the second choice was not as aesthetically pleasing and I am sure it will not last as long. But, the way I like to redecorate, it doesn't need to last me forever. I will want to change it long before 10 years anyway. For me, 5 years is plenty of time for it to last.


Carpet, the soft footed flooring, has its place in home decorating. It is appropriate for bedrooms, hallways, living rooms and family rooms. Please do not use carpet in a kitchen, bathroom or front entry...for obvious reasons.


Styles of carpet have come a long way in the past 30 years. We no longer have to think of shag when we hear the word carpet. Available now are some very attractive, low pile carpets. Berber carpets, which are low pile with some type of pattern or texture, are a good example. Being low pile, they are relatively easy to clean yet still give your feet that cozy, warm feeling that you just can't get from hardwood, vinyl or tiles.


As for installing carpet, I would recommend hiring a professional. If carpet is not installed (and stretched) properly, before long, it will be obvious. The carpet will start to grow waves or wrinkles - you have to trust me on this one - I do speak from experience - a learned experience. It is a good thing that my 'bad' experience was just a small basement room and not a main floor family room or master bedroom.


I also recommend that you buy a good quality carpet pad. You will not only feel the difference but, your carpet will be better supported and therefore, will not wear as quickly.


Hardwood - the ever classic flooring - never looses its flavour as an attractive floor covering. No longer is it  found only in oak, birch and maple. You can now find Brazilian hardwoods, cherry and even bamboo - a great choice for those concerned with tree re-growth - bamboo grows very fast compared to other hardwood species. Hardwood flooring is relatively easy to install, easy to clean (water clean-up) and will last a very long time. Most hardwoods can be sanded down several times for refinishing, making them a great choice for longevity.


Hardwood selections today are varied. The colours, the plank width, and of course, the type of wood are all factors to consider when selecting your hardwood flooring. Generally, darker colours tend to suit a more formal environment whereas lighter colours work better in casual styled homes. Wider planked hardwood is becoming more popular today and hence, is more readily available. In my opinion, it is a nice change. I much prefer the wider planks. The floor looks less busy, having less grooves. I also think that it looks richer -  the wider the wood, the more expensive it must be. (It probably will cost more too.)
Choose a wood type that you like. However, if remodelling, be sure to consider how your new floor will blend or fit with your existing flooring and furniture. In general, I recommend that you keep your hardwood floors consistent throughout your house. Do not choose a cherry hardwood for your living room which joins the dining room, which has oak hardwood flooring.


If you want the look of hardwood without the cost, why not consider laminate flooring. It can be found in just about any style, from faux ceramic tiles to antique pine finishes. You really can find just about any finish in laminate. Some of the benefits of laminate are: it is easy to install, it is easy to maintain and wash and it is quite inexpensive and gives you the look of real hardwood. I find it particularly good for children's rooms, especially if that child suffers from allergies. Instead of hardwood, you get the look of hardwood without the cost and my personal fear of potential damage to an expensive hardwood. I installed laminate in my children's bedrooms and I love it. It is so easy to clean/sweep - no vacuum required - and you know you are getting all of the dirt. As well, with my very active son, I am not nearly as nervous about a drink being spilled, marker mishaps and things of the like. If there was hardwood, I would be much more pre-occupied with the potential damage.
Author: Shelly Whitney, Interior Designer and Decorator - Copyrighted 2010
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