In choosing the right flooring for any room, many factors need to be considered. There are, of course, different prices for different materials. Even for different types of the same material, prices can vary widely. Different flooring materials also have very different characteristics that affect their durability and applications. Each type of flooring has its own strengths and weaknesses. Most are designed to meet a specific need or serve a specific purpose. In this article, we discuss the three most widely used flooring materials today.

Vinyl

Vinyl flooring came out in the 1930s, and quickly became the top choice for inexpensive water resistant flooring. It has all but phased out linoleum, which was previously widely used in rooms that are subject to wet conditions on a regular basis. Its resistance to water penetration and stains make it ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Even high-end luxury vinyl tiles are relatively low cost compared to other flooring options. Maintenance is also simple and easy. Just be sure to sweep the floor often to avoid scratches caused by grit getting rubbed into the flooring underfoot. Floor cleaning solutions should be labelled as safe for vinyl as certain chemicals may cause discoloration or stains. Properly installed, vinyl flooring can easily last ten to twenty years or more. Installation is fairly straightforward, but the subfloor must be properly prepared and dried.

Vinyl is resistant to becoming cold even in the winter. Often, an option is to have a padded layer. This makes it comfortable to walk on even with bare feet, making it an ideal alternative to carpets for living areas and bedrooms.

Vinyl is also the most customizable flooring material in terms of design. There is practically no limit to the colors and patterns that vinyl flooring can have. They are often made to look like other materials such as wood and stone.

Laminate

Laminate is a relative newcomer as a flooring material. It has only been used in the U.S. for around 20 years, having originally come from Sweden. All laminate used for flooring is of an extra durable type compared to those used for other applications. However, for commercial flooring or for those who want to invest a little more for extra longevity, high-pressure laminate (HPL) is preferred. Laminate flooring is graded for durability as AC1 to AC5, the latter being the most durable.

Installation can be a bit trickier than with vinyl flooring. Laminate flooring should be acclimatized for around 48 hours in the room to be floored. The pieces of laminate also attach to each other, rather than to the subfloor. This is usually done by using sealing glue, but many types are designed to snap together. Flooring stores can usually refer you to a professional flooring installer to ensure proper installation. If you prefer to DIY, these same stores usually have complete information on how to install laminate flooring.

Most laminate flooring is not quite as water resistant as vinyl, but it is well known for coming in prints that look just like real hardwood or stone.

Wood

This one’s a classic. Wood flooring, especially hardwood, has long been used to bring a bit of the unique characteristics of nature into homes and other buildings. Hardwood can be sourced from producers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or recycled from older structures.

Hardwood flooring is also very durable and suited for high traffic locations, as long as it has been finished and maintained properly. It is not suited for wet conditions and should not be used for bathrooms and kitchens because dampness can affect the quality of the wood. It is also generally more expensive than other flooring options.

Call the Experts

Whatever material you choose and whatever the application, it is always recommended to have your floors professionally prepared and installed for the best results. Karpet & Flooring Mart has been a leader in the industry since 1965, and serves the communities of Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, and Livingston Counties. Contact us today for more information or use our quote form online.

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