Choosing flooring for your home can be a daunting task and usually it’s not the only decision you are making. There are so many different options to choose from; how do you know you’re making the right choice? This is a difficult question to answer. As many do, you may start with a trip to one of the big box stores and start perusing the aisles. You want to get a feel for what’s out there. After picking up a few samples and snapping a few pictures with your phone you start the painful search of tracking down someone that can share some insight into this complicated world. After 15-20 minutes of looking for someone in an orange shirt and maybe a PA call or two for the right person, you finally get the so-called “flooring expert”.
All sorts of questions float through your head. What if it scratches? What’s the warranty? Can I refinish? What gives me the most “bang for my buck”? What happens if I spill something on it? Can it go in the bathroom? Is it safe for my children??? The person in the orange shirt will then stumble over a few nebulous answers and you may feel just confident enough to take their word for it and proceed OR if you’re like me, you’ll walk out with more questions than you had prior to walking in! You then make your way to your local flooring dealer for expert advice and that personal service touch. If they’re good, you won’t be pressured too hard into an up-sale and they will know what products are best for your application.
Prior to starting your search it’s a good idea to do some research online. Check out reviews on the stores you’ll visit. Read and learn about the different product categories and their features and benefits. With that knowledge, you can test the salesperson to make sure they know their stuff! Unfortunately, most people don’t have enough time, nor do they want to take the time to learn about flooring. So, here are 6 quick-hitter tips to help give you a baseline as you start the decision making process.
- Everyone loves the idea of solid hardwood flooring; however engineered hardwood flooring (plywood core) will perform better during seasonal changes. Solid hardwood will shrink during the winter months, leaving gaps between the planks. If the budget allows I highly recommend gluing down your hardwood (solid or engineered) for better stability and less squeaking.
- Refinishing hardwood is great for old, historical floors. But the technology of today’s prefinished hardwood is so advanced you’re better off doing plank replacements or even replacing the whole floor. Depending on the particular hardwood, it may cost less money to replace!
- Do you have an active, busy household and pets running around? Boring laminate flooring of the 1990’s is a thing of the past. There are many visuals out there that look exactly like real wood and if you are concerned about seeing the same characteristics in every plank, you may want to ask the salesperson “what is the pattern repeat on this particular laminate?”
- Environmental and health safety is a hot-topic on all fronts. California CARB Phase II is currently the best standard in laminate and hardwood flooring. Make sure to look for products that are CARB II certified. As for vinyl flooring, CARB II does not apply as vinyl products do not contain formaldehyde. When you are looking at vinyl you need to be looking at phthalates. Look for vinyl products that are phthalate free.
- Luxury Vinyl is a great option. The technology in creating realistic visuals has improved drastically over the last few years. It is durable, warm under the feet and waterproof. Glue-down is your best bet for stability and click is great for easy installation. Be careful of solid vinyl click products though as lower quality ones and those not installed properly have a tendency to warp under direct sunlight. Loose lay provides the easiest installation. However, you need to be careful of moisture getting underneath the floor creating a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. The best option for Luxury Vinyl comes in the form of Engineered Vinyl Click. These products have a stable, waterproof core with a click-system for the ease of installation.
- When choosing a carpet, keep in mind the cushion you choose to go underneath is just as, if not more important than the carpet. The quality of cushion will help dictate the longevity of the carpet and the feeling underfoot.
Hopefully, this will help you in your quest to find the perfect flooring for your project. There are many options out there and more and more options are able to fit any budget. With a little research and by asking the right questions, you’ll be able to find the floor that’s right for you!