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Choosing a Floor Covering

Types of Floor Covering
Whether you are building a new home, remodeling an existing home, or simply looking for an easy way to completely change the look of a room, floor covering options are certain to factor heavily in your decisions. Options such as tile, laminate, or hardwood flooring are all popular.

Hardwood floors may be true hardwood, or they may be laminate designed to look hardwood. Both are long-lasting and durable, and can be used throughout an entire home. Hardwood is available in many different colors and different woods, ranging from very pale to very dark, to match almost any decor or taste. Cost is an obvious factor with hardwood flooring, which is one reason many choose to install laminate floors that imitate true hardwood. Another reason is ease of installation; many types of laminate hardwood flooring are designed to snap together for a quicker installation. On the other hand, hardwood flooring adds to the value of a home.

The third installation option is tile. There are many different types of tile, frequently made of ceramic or stone. Tile is also a long-lasting floor covering option that can add to the value of a home, and is also fairly expensive. The color and pattern options are relatively limitless.

1. Tile Flooring
One of the main benefits associated with a tile floor is its ease of maintenance. The tiles require no special cleaning solutions, tend to be stain resistant, and make it much easier to keep clean. Spills can be easily wiped up. Regular cleaning can be accomplished with mild cleansing solution and a sponge mop.

Repairs are also easy to accomplish. When a tile is damaged, it can simply be removed and replaced with a new one.  The quick and easy repair process makes it much easier to keep looking new than many other flooring types.

Tiles can be used with equal success to create a durable and attractive kitchen floor or a bathroom floor.When matched with an area rug, the overall look of the floor is inviting as well as easy to keep clean.

When purchasing tiles, homeowners should be sure to buy more than is required for the job. This will make it easier to manage repairs to the floor, even if the pattern is discontinued.

2. Hardwood Flooring
Most of the home owners are tempted to pick out the color and plank size that best matches the decor and then have it installed. To get the best flooring is important that you understand certain characteristics about wood floors and how they act under certain conditions.

One of them is dimensional stability. This refers to how a wood reacts to changes in humidity. All wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity, but certain varieties are more stable and expand and contract significantly less.

If you choose to use air conditioning and a humidifier to keep a constant level of humidity in your home or business, you can use a less stable wood, such as maple or birch, whereas wood floors that are exposed to the elements or are installed over basement concrete floors should be stronger, more stable woods such as mahogany, cherry, walnut, or ash.

Traffic has its impact also. High traffic areas must have the hardest wood possible, while lower traffic areas may have softer wood. You should compare a wood’s hardness to its dimensional stability to choose three or four different options and then decide what fits with your decorating needs. Some of the hardest woods are pine, California redwood, and African mahogany.

Be aware that the hardest woods do not necessarily have the most dimensional stability, so it is important to weigh all your options carefully.

In addition to traditional nailed down wood flooring, another option is engineered hardwood. This flooring material is made specifically for areas that have higher moisture levels as basements. It is composed of a core that has a thin layer of wood veneer on top and sometimes a thin layer of real hardwood. Engineered flooring offers more stability in moisture, is less expensive, but veneer versions cannot be sanded or refinished as true solid hardwood floors can.

3. Laminate Flooring
Laminated flooring is made up of four layers. The top and bottom are composed of cellulose paper saturated in a melamine plastic resin. This coating protects the design and is scratch, burn, scrape and stain-resistant. The decorative layer, which comes next, is cellulose paper with a photo or print of the desired design. The core of the flooring is made from dense fabric or wood particle, and treated to be waterproof.

Most laminated flooring is designed to imitate hardwood floors, though some mimic tile or stone. There are a variety of colors and styles, and the plank sizes may vary in width and length. While it is apparent that the flooring is not real stone or hardwood, it does offer an attractive, economical, and easy to install option that is 15 times stronger than a traditional wooden floor. They are easy to maintain with just a damp mop and a citrus cleaner, or water mixed with vinegar or ammonia.

Most of the laminate comes with a tongue-in-groove construction which simply slides together and requires no nails or glue. This style is called a floating floor, and while it is easy to install, it can be noisy and create echoes. One way to mitigate any noise problems is to install some type of pad, usually cork, under the flooring.

The Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF) have come out with an AC rating system based upon a series of quality control tests checking resistance to abrasion, impact, stain, burn and scuffs. AC1 rating is the lowest, and indicates a low traffic area application. On the other hand, the highest rated product – AC5, is generally used for commercial areas with extremely high traffic. AC2 and AC3 ratings are considered good for domestic use.

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