Choosing the right flooring is important because it covers so much area, gets the most abuse of any surface and literally functions as the foundation of your entire decorating scheme, especially in open floor plans. And unlike the paint on walls and ceilings, you probably will look at the same flooring for 20 years. Besides, it’s expensive to update, so it pays to get it right.
Broad choices beyond solid oak
Hardwood floors have been my favorite for decades for their premium, warm look.
Oak was common in the past because of its broad availability and remarkable hardness of 1,290 ft pounds on the Janka Hardness Scale [the force needed to press a nearly ½-in. steel ball into the wood to half its diameter].
With today’s homeowners preferring a more distinctive look, other species are gaining popularity. Hickory, cork and bamboo now share the market as well as white ash, white oak, hard maple and American beech. At 2,820, Brazilian cherry is very hard and naturally resists moisture, which makes it a popular choice for kitchens.
Other exotic hardwoods used in Minnesota include rosewood, tigerwood, pecan and chestnut.Many of our clients are asking for 4-in. or wider plank flooring. Although wide, solid wood planks would be prone to cupping from changes in humidity, engineered planks made like plywood remain stable and look great.
I believe wood floors that are sanded and finished in place look best and avoid joint lines that can catch dirt and dust. But the aluminized finishes used on prefinished engineered flooring are harder and wear better.
Fortunately, the environmentally-sensitive, quick-curing, low VOC waterborne finishes we use on site are as durable as the smelly old oil-based polyurethane finishes. And a buff and shine refinish where we scuff sand and recoat can make a partially worn floor look new at a modest cost.
If you have a St. Bernard or an over active German Short Hair, maybe consider something other than hardwood for your flooring needs. Although we sell many hardwood floors to pet owners, they understand they may have to schedule a buff and shine recoat sooner than normal.
Tomco’s take on porcelain tile and LVT
We typically suggest porcelain products to clients who want ceramic tile flooring because of the durability and broad design options they offer. The new “wood plank” porcelain tile has a unique and interesting look. It is hard to beat the durability of tile in an entrance or wet location such as a bathroom.
For comfort in areas that are used ever day, we always recommend in-floor radiant heat with a programmable thermostat. Either mat systems or cabled heat system work well, but we find that cables are easier to configure in odd-shaped bathrooms.
Although there still may be a place for old-fashioned sheet vinyl flooring, we prefer the creativity we can achieve with the new Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) products that resemble grouted tile and wood planks. With so many design options and very affordable pricing, Tomco installs a lot of LVT.
Cutting back on carpeting
While comfortable underfoot, wall-to-wall carpeting is less popular today for indoor air quality and accessibility reasons. Hard surfaces are better for wheelchairs and walkers and easier to keep clean. No matter how well you vacuum, carpeting collects germs and allergens such as pollen and pet dander.
Your flooring investment
When you consider how long your floor will serve you and the visual impact it will have on your space, I say make it special. Sheet vinyl and carpet costs about $3 to $4 per square foot installed. Luxury Vinyl Tile is $7 to $8, $2 more for grouted installation. Figure $9 to $15 for solid hardwood with $2 more for staining. Engineered, prefinished flooring runs about $9 to $15. And, depending on the underlayment, ceramic floor tile costs $15 to $25.
Don’t worry about hazardous formaldehyde levels reported in prefinished hardwood flooring imported from China. Tomco only buys from reputable suppliers and avoids discounted products. Our clients don’t gamble when investing in their homes. Neither do we.