Beyond aesthetics and being visually appealing, not all flooring is created equal. Certain materials perform better under certain conditions, and we want to help you choose the best material for your home. To do this properly, different rooms require different considerations – and the way you intend on using your floor makes a big difference.
We’ve narrowed down 3 important questions to ask yourself before beginning any flooring renovation. Use this list to determine the best material for your needs.
Bathrooms immediately come to mind when we think about high moisture areas. However, laundry rooms, foyers, door entries, home gyms, and kitchens may experience moments of high moisture and are not suitable for some types of flooring.
In high moisture areas, it’s best to steer clear of carpet and hardwood. Carpet traps moisture, taking an exceedingly long time to dry which can damage to the sub-floor underneath and harbor undesirable smells. As mold and mildew begins to grow, it damages the structure of your home and also endangers the health of your family. Mold mitigation can become very costly and time consuming – it’s best to choose a proper material suited to handle moisture from the onset.
In Colorado, we’re a dry climate with low humidity. Hardwood kitchens and entries, while not the best solution, aren’t as troubling as it could be in other areas of the country. In fact, our climate is so dry that many homes with hardwood flooring require a central humidifier. Wood is an organic material requiring some ambient air moisture, generally 30-50%, to prevent gapping, cupping, cracking, and shrinking. As I write this article from Monument, our humidity is currently 24%. With that said, occasional wet shoes or splashing from the kitchen sink will likely air-dry before moisture-induced warping could ever occur. However, repeated and consistent wet shoes and spill will cause problems and become a concern.
So, what materials should you use in high moisture areas? Stone, ceramic, or porcelain tile, vinyl laminate, or sealed concrete. You want to choose materials that don’t absorb water. Again, this is extremely important in bathrooms but also a wise choice for high traffic entries and kitchens.
Hardwood floors are beautiful. Personally, they’re our favorite because they’re visually striking and add a sense of warmth to a home. However, they require maintenance. No matter where hardwood is installed in your home, at some point it will require a little TLC. The higher the traffic it receives, the more maintenance it will require.
Areas such as entries and kitchens may benefit from tile or stone flooring. These materials are highly durable and water resistant. Over time, normal shoes that start, stop, and pivot – common maneuvers performed in the kitchen – aggressively wear the finish of hardwood floors. This type of motion and daily use is virtually undetectable on quality stones and tiles.
However, it should be mentioned that hardwood flooring is relatively easy to repair and re-finish, whereas stone and tile is not. Should you ever incur significant damage to your tile or stone, accidentally dropping a heavy cast iron pan and cracking a tile, you’ll need to replace that entire tile which in an involved process. All that’s required to functionally repair a chip or ding in hardwood is a little bit of wood-fill and sealant – matching may become more of an art.
This decision comes down to knowing your needs and typical lifestyle. We generally recommend that entries, foyers, and kitchens be fitted with stone or tile for increased durability and less homeowner maintenance. However, if you’re willing to refinish your hardwood floors every couple of years, hardwood floors throughout your main living area can be an attractive option.
Clawed or hoofed creatures – we know some people with piggies – can play a significant role in the flooring you choose. Dogs appreciate carpeted floors – it’s much easier for them to get around and on their joints. Hardwood and tile are inherently hard, slick surfaces, and claws have a difficult time maintaining any sort of grip. This becomes increasingly important as your pets age.
While carpet is the easiest material for dogs to maintain traction, it also harbors smells. Carpet collects fur, dust, dirt, and is difficult to clean should your pet have an in-door accident. Hardwood is easy to clean, but most will show scratches and claws marks after a short time. Tile is the most durable, easy to clean, and is resistant to smells and accidents, but is also the harshest on your pet’s health and its ability to maneuver.
We’ve found that pet owners often strike a compromise. They still upgrade to a premium hardwood or stone, giving the home warmth and beauty, but also purchase carpet floor runners. Essentially, they create carpet “trails” throughout high traffic areas for their pet to walk on, giving everyone the best of both worlds. These carpet runners come in virtually any color or design to suit your home and taste – just make sure you choose a runner with a rubberized backing. This prevents the runner from slipping and shifting under your human feet.
Renovating within your budget is always primary concern. Refreshing a single bathroom and upgrading to premium stone is an entirely different consideration than reflooring an entire main level. Alpine Contracting has been advising, designing, and installing flooring for the Colorado Springs community for a decade. We’re happy to share our experience and help you formulate the best plan. Give us a call – we’ll answer questions and help you choose the best flooring materials for your home.