Underfoot options under advisement
Photos by Shannon Cornman
Do you go trendy or classic? Is wood or tile your style, or might you prefer the cozy feel of a carpet or rug? With the many choices available today, considering flooring changes for your home or buying for a new home can be challenging, creative and fun.
Nathan Morgan, a third-generation wood floor installer and contractor, says to “go for a combination.”
“I like texture. I don’t want just one house full of one thing,” he says. “Different flooring [options] complement each other, and that’s the purpose of design.”
While budget and lifestyle will ultimately steer your choices, here’s an overview of flooring considerations and thoughts from experts in the 405.
Choosing the right hardwood flooring is a matter of taste and budget. Some might like the rich, classic look of real wood. Others might choose laminate, which offers the look of wood at a more affordable price.
Morgan said he loves the ergonomics of real wood, as it’s about as green as a customer can get. “Wood is renewable, recyclable and it comes from responsible forestry.
“Lately, there has been a trend of putting wood everywhere — entries, living rooms and dining rooms,” he says. “There’s an even bigger trend to add it to kitchen and breakfast areas.”
Hardwood varies in grain, durability and color. Popular stains of late are the Bavarian white wash and grays, he said. “Most of what we use are oaks and hickory, although maple has its place and some woods, like walnut, are timeless. Depending on your color scheme, you might choose the darker reds.”
The advantages of wood over carpet are “allergens, bar none,” Morgan says. “When I pull up a carpet that’s been down six years, or even six months, you’d be shocked what passes through the fiber into the pad and into the concrete.”
The floor’s finish is only as strong as its top coat, so Morgan doesn’t recommend soft woods for homes with large animals. “If you have a house full of kids and animals, you’ll eventually get some wear and tear.”
As for laminate, Steven Bentley, president of Bentley Flooring, says that “the biggest advantage of it is cost, and it’s relatively durable.” Also earth friendly, laminate is versatile and can mimic hardwood, tile or stone. It resists stains and holds up well to children and pets.
Laminate flooring is a composition of different wood-based materials that are layered together and then topped with a wood grain photographic imprint on the face of each board.
“The downside to laminate is that it has a kind of hollow sound,” Bentley says. “They do now have different sound-deadening padding, which increases your costs but improves the sound.”
Less is more for cleaning wood or laminate. Consistent vacuuming is important to keep dirt from grinding into the finish. Morgan said he likes low-detergent products like Basic’s Squeaky Wood Floor Cleaner or the Bona wood-care products.
“Wood-looking ceramic tile has gone through a huge area of growth,” says Bentley. “Manufacturers have moved from the simplest of planks to where I can’t tell I’m not walking on a wood floor. For pets, it wears great, and although everything is about diligence, these more resilient surfaces can withstand a lot more torture.”
When choosing a contractor, Bentley suggested finding an experienced wood floor specialist who will come out, measure your house and talk to you while they are accessing the particulars of your home.
Artisan tiles are available in a wide array of materials, designs and colors. Popular choices include porcelain, natural stone, clay, terra cotta and encaustic or cement tiles — just ask Sydnye Steen, owner of Artisan Tile Studio, who acquires her tiles from all over the world.
“Natural stone is my favorite,” Steen says. “It’s timeless, it’s classy and it’s beautiful. The look and feel alone when you walk on it, even in your bare feet … there’s just nothing like it.”
The porcelains are rising in popularity. With 3D digital printing, they can replicate the look of natural stone. Steen says she also sees Moroccan tiles coming into play and a return to the terra cotta look.
For smaller budgets, she suggests porcelain, which can run from $3.50 a foot to as high as one wants. Those with mid-sized pocketbooks could consider a really nice limestone that runs about $9 or $10 a foot — though it can climb as high as $35 a foot for the luxurious Calacatta marble.
Porcelain tiles are the best choice for homes with children and pets, she said, because they are easier to maintain. “You lose a little: They are still beautiful but they are not natural stone.”
“Tile can last forever,” Steen says. “I tend to push people to stick with something more classic rather than something trendy, because it stands the test of time.”
COZY UP TO RUGS
“Rugs add warmth to a space, especially those with hard surfaces underneath,” says Amy Rappaport, co-owner of Designer Rugs. “By layering a room with extra textures, you develop more depth. The trend remains the organic look, now mixed with a little glam.
“The most common uses of rugs are in entryways, living rooms and dining rooms — anywhere with a hard surface and a lot of people interaction, because rugs absorb the noise. I see rugs as the foundation for a room, so start with your rug and work backward,” she adds. “We offer design services, come to your home, measure, make suggestions and bring rugs out on approval.”
She does not recommend machine-made rugs because they don’t last long, and if they get crinkled or bent, the bend sticks.
Hand-woven rugs, which her store carries, include highly esteemed creations in which wool is knotted by hand onto warp strings (a set of vertical strings) using a technique that takes 10 hours to make one square inch, or the less-expensive hand-tufted rug for which the wool is pulled through, backed and then sheared.
“We recommend if you are considering a higher-priced rug, you use real or true silk versus Viscose, which is a huge trend and less expensive, but is harder to clean,” Rappaport says. “Most of our rugs come from Nepal, and everything is hand-dyed.”
Hand-knotted silk rugs last a lifetime, while the Viscose will look good for about a decade and then begin to dull over time. For high traffic, Rappaport recommends the hand-knotted wool rugs, not the silk.
“I’ve always been of the school of thought that I like getting out of bed and putting my feet on a nice, comfy carpet instead of a cold, hard wood or tile floor,” says Mark Holland, store manager at Edmond’s Brewer Carpet One.
Holland acknowledges the trend toward wood in homes but says carpet is still popular, especially in bedrooms, and buyers like the newer stain-resistant carpets now on the market.
“Carpet is quieter and warmer, and some studies show it can act like a filter,” he says. “Where everyone thinks carpet traps everything, it actually keeps a lot of allergens out of the air.”
Quality varies from your entry-level builder grade to the traditional nylons to the true-soft nylons that have a nice feel.
Dupont has created the brand Triexta, a new carpet fiber they’ve named SmartStrand. “Basically, it’s polyester on steroids,” says Holland. “They have their own patent on it to no longer call it a polyester. It’s got its own polymer to it and is the softest, most stain-resistant carpet on the market. It’s upper-end, quality-wise, but they’ve hit the market with some good prices.”
Nylons hold up in high traffic areas, Holland said.
For homeowners interested in a more elegant look, Holland recommends Kane or Stanton carpet lines, which offer a host of beautiful, patterned pieces popular on staircases and for dressier rooms.
Holland recommends padding with a good moisture barrier for those concerned with allergens. “It doesn’t allow dust to get through, so when you vacuum, it pulls out all the dust and helps with long-term care. You can actually spend a little more on your padding and less on your carpet and get the same result.”