Floored On Floors

By Tom Roebuck

June 19, 2009 5 min read


Fall in love with new colors, patterns and materials

Tom Roebuck

Creators News Service

When the time comes to remodel a room, few projects will have the impact that replacing the floor can achieve. By changing the color, pattern or material, the room transforms into something completely new and fresh. You'll fall in love with your house all over again -- if you do it right.

Some rooms need thoughtful consideration before you replace any surfaces. We commonly subject our kitchen floors to quite a beating. Not only is it a high-traffic area, but it also has to endure the occasional glass, plate, knife or even frying pan being dropped on it, not to mention various food and drink raining down. A busy kitchen will take its toll on a floor over the years. In many homes it's a main focal point, so having a tired-looking surface can detract from a home's beauty, not to mention its value.

When the time comes for your replacement, you'll have a lot of innovative new materials to choose from. Stone will have an upscale flair, but it's not the ideal choice for the kitchen. Any dropped plate or glass will shatter to every corner of the room. It's also hard on the feet and unforgiving when a child takes a spill.

Chris Davis, president and chief executive of the World Floor Covering Association, said eye-pleasing alternatives with a little spring to their step include bamboo, cork and a new material called corboo, a mixture of cork and bamboo unveiled by US Floors at a trade show in Las Vegas in February. He added that vinyl has come a long way.

"It has a light bounce to it, yet it has the look of tile, and if you get down on the floor it has the feel of the real thing," he said. "And it's a floatable-type floor, meaning it doesn't require a glue down. It can be clicked in place. It even has the appearance of grout lines without really having grout."

Hard surfaces aren't only found in the kitchen -- they can be just about anywhere. An eco-friendly material suitable for a family room, exercise room or finished basement is leather, recycled from things like old car seats, wallets and purses. They're ground up and applied to a backing material, usually cork, according to Davis.

"It has a pattern to it that looks like real leather. It's relatively durable and cleans with a damp cloth. It's bizarre," he said.

Overharvesting of exotic hardwood from tropical rainforests has made certain types of wood unavailable. The race is on among companies developing methods to make sustainable wood from North America look like it came from trees like Brazilian cherry. Anderson Hardwood Floors has developed a line called Exotic Impressions that uses a natural process that mimics endangered hardwood with impressive results, Davis said.

The carpet industry has also gotten into the green game, rolling out new lines that are made from recycled plastic water bottles and even corn. SmartStrand by Mohawk Flooring is made from liquefied corn that is hardened into carpet fibers, instead of the traditional nylon fiber.

Whether or not you're into going green, Davis recommended that homeowners take the time to consider their lifestyle before they make any flooring decisions.

A family with young children and pets living in a house with a gravel driveway tucked into the woods will track in dirt and other things no matter how hard they try not to. They should look into flooring, whether it's carpet or a hard surface, that is more durable and comes with a strong, 20-year warranty. Choosing a pattern instead of a solid color will help make tracked-in dirt less noticeable. After all, who wants to clean the floor 10 times a day?

On the flip side, an empty-nester couple that sees much lighter traffic in their home can look for something more ornamental rather than a bullet-proof material with a warranty that will outlive them.

"Those are the kind of issues that are really important to talk about when you're buying flooring so somebody can steer you in the right direction," Davis said.

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