Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Tips On Floor Coverings
One thing we decided a long time ago - we don't have any carpet in our home. We have dogs and dogs and carpet don't mix. But we also learned that carpets are big dirt grabbers that are hard on people with allergies and people who are cleanies (vs. messies) like me. I just can't stand the thought of carpet holding all those germs, dust mites, and dirt. Ick! But I realize that not everyone feels the same way. Most people like carpet.
And, it seems, that most people like light solid colored carpets. Beige and champagne colors are probably the biggest sellers.
I never liked light carpet because it shows grime so badly.
Very dark carpets may not show grime but can show threads, fuzz, dust.
Medium colors may be the better choice.
I have seen some very nice patterned carpets. And there is a reason why hotels and businesses with high traffic choose patterned carpets, it shows less dirt and wear.
No matter what carpet you choose, keeping it clean is essential to keep it looking good. And putting carpet down doesn't mean you will never have to replace the carpet again. It's a temporary floor covering. It's going to get so dirty and worn that it has to be replaced. Even with regular cleaning, it will just wear down. So will the foam pad underneath it. Carpeting is NOT a permanent floor covering and it's best to accept this from the beginning. No matter what the company says, it should really be replaced no less than every 10 years.
We tend to lay on a carpetted floor to watch TV, let the baby crawl on the floor, let the children take their naps on the floor... just because it's soft, doesn't mean it's clean enough to put our faces on it.
OK, so what other floor coverings are out there? I have had brick floors, ceramic tile floors, hardwood floors, laminate floors, slate floors and vinyl floors. I would never recommend laminate floors and I will never have them again. The laminate covers sawdust board. Once sawdust board gets wet, it swells and expands. I have heard floor companies say that it's safe even for a kitchen or bathroom. Not in my experience! If you spill a drink, a dog pees, the dishwasher leaks, the washing machine over runs, etc. then it DOES seep between the seams and causes the laminate floor to ruin. I do like the ability to slide furniture around without worrying about scratching it. But the laminate can be punctured. I have extensive laminate floors right now and I have 2 puncture places from where we dropped something heavy on it. I'm counting the days until I can replace the laminate floor.
I love the ceramic tile floors that I had and have now. I don't recommend white grouting because there is no real way to safely keep it white on a floor. I use a medium to dark grouting. I have had damage done when dropping something heavy on the tile. It can break. But it is also fixable. Be sure to keep any extra tiles that you have left after installation in case you need to replace a tile. I also prefer matte gloss tiles...
... or high gloss tile.
I DO NOT like the popular, but porous tiles like terra cotta, handmade tiles or rougher stone tiles. Those are harder to clean.
I also don't like too much texture in a ceramic tile, again for cleaning reasons.
I love the look and the ease of cleaning ceramic tile so I do recommend it. My tile installer warned me not to buy ceramic tiles from the big box stores. He said they are cheap because they are inferior. I listened to him and I've had great success with my ceramic tile. Here are some examples of ceramic tile use.
I have a slate floor in my entrance hall and I love it! I have nothing bad to say about slate flooring. It's been easy to clean, it takes abuse. So I recommend it. This is the pattern I used. I thought it was random and therefore would be easier for the installer. Nope, it's a pattern and it was harder for the installer to put down. But I do love it!
I've had a good bit of brick flooring and I love it too. It's hard to clean unless you put some glossy sealer or polyurethane type sealer on it. It makes the brick glossy enough to mop and it repels spills better. But that does wear away and really needs to be annually coated at least twice or more. But it's not hard to do. Use a thick nap roller and a long pole and "mop" it on. If I can do it, you can too. But it lasts forever, has been indestructible so far. In one of my houses I had it in my living room. Now I have it in my kitchen, laundry room and hallway. It takes a beating and keeps on going. One tip - when you paint, be sure you carefully keep the brick floor covered because once paint drips on it, it's there for good. Here are some examples of how brick is used.
I have had a lot of hardwood floors and I like them too. They scratch easily so be careful when moving furniture. The glossy finish does wear away so they do need to be refinished more often than you may think. We always had professionals do this. I learned the hard way that if have your floors sanded, be sure you do it when it's not too hot or too cold outside because you don't want to run your heat pump while they are sanding. The dust from the sanding clogged the filter and we had an expensive HVAC bill. And you don't want to use regular floor cleaners on them. It's best to use plain water most of the time for mopping.
Finally, I've had vinyl floors. I do like them and I don't like them. I don't recommend a light color because the normal grime can get in the texture and be hard to get so it shows. If you use a harsh cleaner or a brush to get it out of the texture, you are ruining it's finish. You have to be careful about moving furniture or it gouges and tears. Vinyl can curl at seams if placed in an area where moisture collects. A good installer concentrates on the seams and does a good job there. Vinyl takes a lot of normal abuse and is a quick vacuum and mop for normal cleaning. Again, it's best to use very little cleaner, and try to use plain water. Remember, too much cleaner will leave residue on the floor that then attracts dirt from the bottoms of your shoes. In essence, "cleaning your shoes" onto the floor. You can get some great looks with vinyl now. It can replicate wood, tile, stone. And there is something so retro about black and white vinyl squares in a kitchen! and, yet, put those same squares in a hallway and it's very formal looking. But vinyl's not the best choice if you are going to re-sale your home. You see hardwood floors, ceramic tile floors, stone floors, brick floors... these are the most desirable in the market. Carpeting is acceptable. But no one advertises having "vinyl floors" as a selling point.
All of the following photos are actually vinyl flooring!
I hope this post helps you in making some of your flooring choices. To review, floor covering is a big expense so you want to make the best choice and buy the best you can afford (except maybe in carpet which you know will have to be replaced no matter what you pay for it). Durability matters. Maintenance and cleaning are important considerations. Having good installers/professionals is important so get references and check them out. Use good floor mats and boot scrapers at the doors. If you have carpet, think about removing your shoes at the door and using house shoes. What I do when I come in is to go straight to my bedroom. I remove my jewelry and put it away in the jewelry box, then I go to the closet. I change into my house shoes and house clothes. This protects my nice clothes and shoes. If you have carpet, you can take your shoes off at the door and carry them straight to the bedroom closet. Just something to think of.
Well, that's all of my tips and experience. Hope this helps!
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