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There are more of a variety of Flooring materials than ever before that offer a combination of fashion and function. All of the attractive new options might leave you feeling somewhat confused about what best may suit your needs. If you want to install new flooring but aren't sure what type of flooring to choose, keep reading to understand some of the practical and aesthetic factors that should help you make your decision

Types of Flooring

Hardwood Most people prefer the natural, rich beauty of genuine wood floors. Upscale and elegant, hardwood flooring creates a warm and inviting look. Hardwood flooring comes in two categories, solid wood and engineered wood.

  • Solid Hardwood: Solid Wood, the most common consists of solid one-piece boards. Solid wood flooring is usually nailed to a sub-floor of wood. Solid wood is not recommended for basements or below-grade installations.

  • Engineered Hardwood: Engineered Hardwood consists of two or more layers of wood laminated together. The top layer is usually a hardwood veneer of varying thickness. The lower layer is a softwood backing. Most engineered wood floors are glued down rather than nailed down. Some engineered wood flooring applications are installed as "floating floors", meaning the edges of the panels are glued together but not attached directly to the sub-floor. Engineered wood floors can be glued directly to a concrete slab making it suitable for below grade applications.

Laminate: Laminate is constructed of four layers of material fused together: a melamine wear layer, a high-resolution photo, a dense core board, and a melamine backing layer. Laminates feature engineered, layered construction and can stand up to just about anything. L High-performance laminate flooring can look like wood or tile. Laminate flooring is extremely durable and easy to clean, itdoes not scuff or show wear-through. The surface is burn-resistant and resists scratching from pets and will not indent with normal family usage. The surface will not color fade and cleanup is easy, requiring only a damp cloth and vacuum. Laminate flooring works well in moisture-prone areas: Kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, family rooms, laundry rooms, offices, and all high-traffic areas

Three things to consider with laminate flooring

  • Color Wood-look laminate is available in a variety of colors from blond to black. Tile-look laminate comes in a range of earthy neutrals for an authentic look.

  • Texture Manufacturing advances produce more realistic textures. Wood-look laminate, for instance, now comes with the distressed appearance that is so popular for hardwood.

  • Shape Laminate comes in strips, planks, or tiles and can be installed in various orientations for a one-of-a-kind look.

Vinyl: Vinyl comes in a wide range of colors and patterns that mimic hardwood, ceramics, and stone. The surface's elasticity and warmth make it comfortable to stand on, and plates, cups, and glasses often won't break when dropped.

Vinyl flooring comes in three basic forms:

  • Sheets offer a seamless look and comes in a variety of colors, designs, and patterns.

  • Tiles emulate ceramics and can be arranged in any pattern. Some manufacturers now offer vinyl tiles that can be used with color-coordinated grout, making them look even more like tile.

  • Planks look like hardwood, with realistic colors and textures. Vinyl planks can mimic distressed surfaces or exotic species, and have beveled edges.

Bamboo: Though Bamboo is technically a grass, it is actually harder than many types of wood. The bamboo surface stands up well to water and traffic, and it's quite comfortable to stand on. Like hardwood, it's available in solid or engineered styles. Bamboo comes in tiles or planks in a variety of sizes, colors, patterns, and textures.

Bamboo flooring comes in three main styles:

  • Horizontal construction features strips laid flat to showcases the grass stalk's "knuckles" for a richly grained appearance.

  • Vertical construction features strips turned sideways for a clean, contemporary look.

  • Woven or stranded construction Bamboo style is the hardest type available, is made from shredded strands of bamboo compressed with resin. This surface is exotic and beautiful.

Bamboo comes in many colors, but these are the primary options:

  • Natural bamboo is blond.

  • Stained bamboo comes in a variety of colors; stains can be translucent or opaque.

  • Carbonized or caramelized bamboo is pressure-heated to brown the sugar compounds. This produces a warm color without using stains or dyes.

Cork Cork flooring's inherent softness and springiness makes standing for long periods much easier on backs, legs, and feet. And if you drop a bowl or glass, chances are it will bounce rather than break. A high-style floor option, cork flooring comes in planks, tiles, or sheets in a variety of fashionable colors. A natural insulator, cork is warm underfoot, muffles sound, and helps reduce energy bills.

Cork is derived from the Cork Oak tree, which grows in abundance in the warmer regions of Europe. As an effective renewable resource it is right up there with bamboo making it the new green flooring of choice for many ecofriendly homes.

The insulation properties of cork flooring are excellent, meaning that when cork is installed energy in home is used more efficiently, saving money on those high utility bills.

The beauty of a cork floor though is the biggest reason to choose it. It can be found in a rainbow of different hues and unique patterns and textures. To ensure that it is every bit as durable as it's hard wood cousins cork floor tiling is usually set on top of a high-density fiberboard base and finished with acrylic to ensure it can stand up to almost anything.

Tile: Tile creates an elegant, natural look. Ceramic and stone are almost indestructible, easy to maintain. Ceramic tile can be glazed or unglazed. Stone tiles vary in texture and color for a distinctive look. Both tiles are suitable for moisture-prone and can withstand heavy foot traffic, water, spills and doesn't absorb odors or bacteria. Tile is best suited for areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, laundry rooms. It can stand up to pets and children, go with any style decor and can be arranged in a multitude of patterns.

Squares are the most popular shape, but rectangles, hexagons, and octagons can make a statement. You can incorporate one or more styles to create a variety of patterns, from checkerboard to basketweave, and add accents for visual interest.

Ceramic tiles and natural stone tiles are installed in almost the same way, though natural stone tiles normally require some extra care and maintenance. Each material offers characteristics, benefits and choices that you should consider when selecting a tile floor.

There are three primary types of tile:

  • Ceramic Tile is made from clay, it's easy to install but slightly more prone to damage than porcelain.

  • Porcelain Tile is made from sands and minerals, it's harder and more dense than ceramic tile and water resistant. But it's harder to install.

  • Stone Tile is beautiful and durable, but requires sealing and is the most expensive. Tiles made from natural stone are also a popular flooring choice. Three types of stone tiles are common:

    • Marble
    • Granite
    • Slate

    These tiles offer impressive durability and need minimal maintenance, and are available in a variety of finishes.

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