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Choosing Flooring

Today’s homeowner is faced with an extensive range of flooring choices. Selecting the right floor can almost be harder than installing it.

If installing new floors, it is fun to choose the colors, patterns, and other design qualities of the floor you desire. But there are some other qualities to consider, including: cost, comfort, ease of maintenance, and durability.

The varying characteristics of the floors discussed here will help you decide which floor is best for your space. For example, hard flooring--such as ceramic tiles or concrete--is tough, attractive, and great for high-traffic areas. Soft floors, like carpet, are still popular in both bed rooms and living areas because they offer comfort, warmth, and a feeling of luxury.

If your floors are already installed—often homes have four or more types of flooring--the following discussion will help you recognize their strong points. Knowing what your floor can handle helps with maintenance, decorating, and cleaning.


Parquet tile floors offer the beauty and feel of wood in the block shape of tiles. Decorative patterns make these floors appear to be high end when they are actually quite afford able. All parquet tiles feature tongue-and-groove edges that snap together. You can find parquet tiles with self-adhesive backs, but dry-back tiles to which you apply standard flooring adhesive stay put longer.

Concrete floors are typically found in basements and garages for obvious reasons. They are tough and can withstand high traffic, heavy equipment, messy spills (including sitting water), scratches, and scuffs. But concrete is increasingly popular for interior spaces, especially when finished with paint or decorative acid stains.

Laminate floors are available in planks or squares. They snap together with tongue-and-groove joints and then float” on top of the floor, meaning they are not fastened directly to the subfloor or underlayment. A laminate floor consists of a very durable surface-wear layer; a photograph ic print layer, which allows it to replicate the appearance of other surfaces; and a solid core.


Ceramic tile floors look spectacular, and they are durable. At the same time, they tend to be cold, they conduct sound, and they are expensive. Upon installation, they are evenly spaced and then the joints are filled with grout. These joints are then sealed.


Resilient floors include vinyl, linoleum, cork, and rubber. They are comfortable underfoot and easy to clean. They are impervious to water--except at the seams or where torn. Depending upon the material, resilient flooring comes in either large sheets, which need to be cut to size, or easy-to install tiles. Resilient floors are often cost effective and are available in a staggering number of pat terns and colors. They are usually thin, which means the subfloor must be level.


Manufactured wood flooring materials include: fiberboard surfaced with a synthetic laminate layer (right), plywood topped with a thin hardwood veneer (center), and parquet tile made of wood strips (left). Wood floors come in planks or strips. The planks fit together with tongue-and-groove joints or square edges and, depending on manufacturer recommendations, they float on top of the subfloor or are secured in place with nails, staples, and or glue.


Carpet is the most popular choice for living rooms and bedrooms because it produces a warm, comfortable environment. It is available in convention al, cushion-back, or tile forms. Wall-to-wall carpet is laid with fittings, such as tackless strips and padding. Cushion-backed carpet is glued directly to the subfloor.





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