Homeowners looking for flooring ideas for building or remodeling homes are choosing hard surface flooring products over carpet. Hard-surface floors are easier to clean, do not harbor allergens, dust mites or odors and last longer than some carpet. Stains that were housekeeping nightmares with carpet are, in most cases, a thing of the past. Hard-surface flooring does not absorb stains as carpet does, so spills can be mopped up with a damp paper towel.
Laminate Flooring Options
Ideal for the do-it-yourselfer, laminate flooring is an attractive option because it comes in many styles that mimic natural materials such as hardwood, tile and stone. All laminate planks have a smooth surface that retains its good looks without sealing, waxing or any other special treatments. Vacuuming and occasional damp mopping will keep laminate floors clean and new looking for years.
Laminate can be installed over concrete or most any type of sub floor. If tearing out the old floor is a concern, a floating laminate floor can usually be installed over it. Planks lock together, but are not attached to the old floor. This means that if you want a change in the future, removing the laminate floor will not be difficult. There are many grades and prices of laminate flooring, each with good and bad features. Investigate thoroughly before you make a selection.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood flooring is real wood, but it is not the solid wood boards of traditional hardwood floors. Engineered wood floor planks are constructed of wood plies or layers which have been glued and compressed together. Planks are topped with a wear layer of wood that is usually thick enough to be sanded and refinished several times. The thickness of the wear layer as well as the type of wood it is made from determines the cost.
Engineered wood floors have the appearance of solid hardwood but cost less. They can be installed over concrete slabs or other prepared sub floors. Over concrete, engineered wood floors are floated or glued down. They may be stapled to wood sub floors. Styles include narrow planks, wide planks and planks of random width to suit casual or formal décor. Surface layers come in a variety of wood types such as oak, cherry and maple and in a multitude of stain colors. Planks are prefinished at the factory and come ready to install.
Another of the new crop of flooring ideas for building or remodeling is bamboo. One of the biggest attractions to bamboo flooring is its sustainability. Fast-growing bamboo matures in five to seven years as opposed to the 30 to 100 years of traditional hardwoods. Slender strips of bamboo are glued together to create narrow boards that look much like traditional hardwood strip flooring. It can be stained or treated to create the colors of hardwood. Like laminates and engineered wood floors, bamboo can be installed by stapling, gluing or floating over existing floors.
Bamboo is hard and very durable, but it does have its downsides. Unlike genuine hardwood flooring, bamboo may bleach if exposed to prolonged sunlight. Consider the quality of surface finishes and the formaldehyde content of glues used in manufacturing bamboo flooring as out-gassing from glue has been linked to respiratory problems. Buy only from a reputable dealer who will provide this information and who offers long-term warranties on the products he or she sells.
A Heated Floor and a Warm Home
Having a warm floor on a cold winter morning is an attractive idea. So is having an effective way of warming the whole house from the floor up. Whether the goal is to have a warm bathroom floor, or to warm the entire home, learning the difference between radiant heat and floor heating systems can help ensure that the right choice is made.
What is Radiant Heat?
There are different types of radiant heat; air, electric and hydronic. As the first two are not extremely cost effective in residential settings, and are therefore less used, this article will focus on hydronic radiant heat.
Hydronic, or liquid, radiant heat systems pump hot water through tubing laid in the floor. Water is heated in a tank, and sent through tubing to continually circulate and warm the area above it through convection. More efficient than baseboard heating, radiant heat uses heat transfer to warm people and objects in the room, rather than heating the air, and therefore uses less energy, allowing the homeowner to set the temperature lower than with conventional heating methods, while still maintaining comfort.
Radiant heat can be installed under any floor covering, and will make the floor, the room, and the people in it feel warm. The cost of installation will vary depending on the size of the house, the cost of labor and the type of subflooring used.
What is a Floor Heating System?
A floor heating system is a mat inlaid with wires which is laid over the subfloor, but under the final floor covering such as tile. Used primarily to warm a bathroom floor, it uses approximately the same amount of energy as a light bulb. This system will only warm the floor, not the people or other objects in the room.
Many electric floor heating systems are available with a timer which will turn the system on and off during hours of peak use. For instance, if the homeowner typically uses the bathroom at 6:00am and departs the house at 8:00am, the timer can be programmed to turn on the floor heating system at 5:45am and shut itself off at 8:15am. Multiple times of day can be programmed, as the bathroom is used by different people.
The cost of installation is usually lower, as the mat is installed at the same time as the tile floor, and the tile installer will work together with an electrician to wire the system.
When to Choose One System vs Another
It may make more sense to install radiant heating, if a total home renovation or new home construction is underway. Because the subflooring and final floor covering is involved, it makes more sense to undertake this installation if both are already in the process of being replaced or laid. If the home is undergoing an overhaul of the heating system, this may be another instance in which radiant heat should be considered.
Electric floor heating system are easier to install, and therefore can be put in during a bathroom renovation just prior to the laying of the bathroom floor tile, or even just during a floor installation, if a mudroom floor is the desired choice to heat.
Whichever system chosen be sure to use certified installers that have worked with this material before. Many electric floor heating system retailers will have a certification course for installers to take before working with the product. Always ask to see credentials and examples of previous work if unsure.