When it comes to choosing flooring for your home, carpet, tile and hardwood are popular products, but there is an ever-growing array of finishes and products worth looking into.
Gerry Daechsel, manager at Titan Flooring says that one of the most important considerations when choosing flooring is matching the product to your lifestyle.
“If you’ve got a young, active family, you don’t want something where you’re going to be continuously maintaining it to look good,” he says.
Regular maintenance is the key to keeping floors looking good – especially carpet.
“You have to make sure you know that all flooring requires a regimen of maintenance – it’s very important,” Daechsel says.
For carpet he recommends vacuuming at least once a week, and once or twice more in heavy traffic areas.
While it’s common knowledge that walking on carpet in outdoor shoes will soil the fibres, it seems that barefoot isn’t any better.
“Walking barefoot on carpet is very bad for carpet because the oils of your feet get into the carpet and it acts like glue to attract dirt,” Daechsel says.
Bahar Mehrabi is co-owner of Alberta First Flooring. She says patterned and textured carpet is growing in popularity, and so is demand for carpets made from natural fibres. Mehrabi carries two lines of natural carpet.
“One of my good sellers is my natural Nature’s Carpet from New Zealand,” Mehrabi says. “These are 100 per cent wool carpets. It’s a very good product.”
She also carries carpeting from Mohawk called SmartStrand that is 100 per cent stain-proof. She says the stain-proofing qualities in the carpet come from corn sugar.
“They grow the corn and they harvest it and they process the corn to make a product called Dupont Sorona.”
The Dupont Sorona in the fibres of the carpet make stains easy to remove.
“If you spill anything on here you just remove it with warm water,” Mehrabi says. “So no chemicals.”
Another natural product that is popular for flooring is cork. Daechsel says cork has taken off like crazy.
“People like the anti-microbial, anti-bacterial characteristics of it,” he says. “And it’s softer underfoot, so people that were considering hardwoods before are looking at cork because they want something that’s softer and warmer underfoot.”
Mehrabi says cork is a great choice for people with joint problems or who are standing for a long period of time. It also has a natural soundproofing ability making it a great choice for apartments and condos.
Cork flooring is available in its natural looking state or with patterns and vinyl covering giving it a wood look.
“I sell a lot of the wood look,” says Daechsel. “People want that more luxurious look, but in condos there are restrictions for sound transmission so they’re using cork because there’s cork on the back and on the top so you don’t get that sound transmission to other units.”
Another alternative to hardwood for those who don’t want the expense or upkeep is laminate flooring. Wood-look laminate flooring has come a long way since it was first introduced.
“Some of the laminates have become so realistic, when it’s down, it looks like real hardwood,” Daechsel says. “It looks better than real hardwood because there are no imperfections because every board is perfect – you don’t get that in real hardwood.”
At four dollars per square foot, laminate is also a less expensive alternative to hardwood.
For those who want hardwood but are worried about maintenance, oil-finished woods are an option. Mehrabi says the oil finish is non-toxic and won’t rub off making it safe for pets and children.
“With the oil finished wood, the colour really penetrates through the wood, so if you scratch the wood you just basically rub it with a Scotch pad and then put the oil on top of it,” Mehrabi says. “So you would never need to sand and refinish your floor with oil floors. For pet owners and in high traffic areas, it’s awesome.”
Though there are many new material options for flooring, some products (like natural stone) have performed so well over the years that they are here to stay.
“Natural stone has always been in and always will be in. It doesn’t matter what – slate, travertine, quartz – those are always in,” says Mehrabi.
Luxury vinyl is an alternative to natural stone. Far from your grandmother’s linoleum, these vinyl tiles are printed and textured just like ceramic and can even be grouted. The advantage is they are warmer and softer underfoot.
“People love them because they’re warm, they’re a little more forgiving than a ceramic tile,” Daechsel says.” The grout won’t chip and crack like a regular grout because it’s somewhat more elastic. They’ve done phenomenally well.”