Ceramic tile is an excellent choice for areas subject to a lot of traffic and in rooms where resistance to moisture and stains is needed. These features, combined with easy cleanup, have made ceramic tile a centuries-old tradition for flooring, walls, and ceilings in bathrooms and kitchens. Color, texture, and pattern choices available today make ceramic tile the most versatile flooring option in terms of design possibilities. It offers a great number of possibilities – from simple patterns to more elaborate designs that feature borders and inlays. Tile comes in a variety of sizes, beginning with 1-inch-square mosaic tiles up to 16x 16-inch squares. Other shapes, such as triangles, diamonds, and rectangles, are also available. Tile textures range from shiny to matte-finished and from lass-smooth to ripple-surfaced. Tiles are available either glazed or unglazed. Glazed tiles have a hard, often colored, surface that is applied during the firing process; the resulting finish can range from glossy to matte. Unglazed tiles, such as terra-cotta or quarry tiles, have matte finish, are porous, and need to be sealed to prevent staining.
Consider using accent borders to create unique designs, such as a faux area rug, that visually separate sections of a room or separate one room from another as shown in our pictures. When added in a random pattern, embossed accent tiles add interest, variety, and elegance to an expanse of single-colored tiles. Ceramic tile offers long-lasting beauty, design versatility, and simplicity of maintenance, but it also has some hard-to live-with features. Tile is cold underfoot (to prevent that we offer heated tile floors), noisy when someone walks across it in hard-soled shoes and not at all resilient –always expect the worst when something breakable falls on a tile floor.
Laminate flooring is the great pretender among flooring materials. When your creative side tells you to install wood but your practical side knows it just won’t hold up in the traffic-heavy location for which you’re considering it, a wood floor look-alike might be just the thing. Faux wood and faux stone laminate floors provide you with the look you want, tempered with physical wear and care properties that your family can live with. Laminate is particularly suited to rooms where floors are likely to see heavy duty – kitchens, family rooms, hallways, and children’s bedrooms and playrooms – anywhere stain and scratch resistance and easy cleanup count.
Hardwood floors are available in a wide variety of surface materials and types.
Softwoods, like pine and fir, are often used to make simple tongue-and-groove floorboards. These floors are less expensive than hardwoods but also less durable.
Hardwoods – maple, birch, oak, ash – are far less likely to mar with normal use. A hardwood is not indestructible; however, it will stand up to demanding use.
Both softwoods and hardwoods are graded according to their color and grain. There are a great number of finishing options. Natural wood stains range from light ash tone to deep, coffee-like colors. Generally, lighter stains make a room feel less formal, and darker, richer stains suggest a stately atmosphere. As with lighter colors, lighter stains create a feeling of openness; darker stains foster a more intimate feeling and can reduce the visual vastness of a large space.
Resilient flooring, like laminate, is also available in design-friendly sheet or tile form. Resilient floors can be made from a variety of materials, including linoleum, cork or rubber. However, the most commonly used material in manufacturing today’s resilient floors for homes is vinyl. Price, durability, and easy maintenance make resilient flooring an attractive and popular choice.
It comes in an enormous array of colors and patterns, plus many the flooring styles have a textured surface. With the tiles, you can combine color and pattern in limitless ways. Even the sheet form of resilient flooring can be customized with inlay strips.
Cushioned sheet vinyl offers the most resilience. It provides excellent stain resistance; it’s comfortable and quiet underfoot and easy to maintain, with no-wax and never-wax finishes often available. These features make the floor especially attractive for areas with lots of kid traffic. Beware though: only the more expensive grades show an acceptable degree of resistance to nicking and denting. In rooms where furniture is often moved around, this could be a problem.
Although the range of colors, patterns, and surface textures is wide, sheet flooring is not as flexible as vinyl tile when it comes to customizing your look. Regular sheet vinyl is less expensive than the cushioned types, but it carries the same disadvantages and is slightly less resilient. Except for the availability of no-wax finishes, a vinyl tile floor is as stain resistant and as easy to maintain as the sheet-vinyl products. Increased design possibilities are the trade-off. Here, as with other flooring materials, one possible way out of the choice maze is to take the unconventional step of mixing flooring materials. For example, use a durable cushioned sheet vinyl in more trafficked areas, but frame it with a petty vinyl tile or laminate border.
Stone and marble like Ceramic tile are classified as ”non-resilients”. Similar to tile the materials offer richness of color, durability, moisture and stain resistance, and ease of maintenance. They also share with tile the drawbacks of being cold to touch, noisy to walk on, and unforgivingly hard. Stone and marble floors are clearly, unmistakably natural. As remarkably good as some faux surfaces look, no product manufactured today actually matches the rustic irregularity and random color variation of natural zone.
Now that you’ve got the facts about each floor surface option, picking the right one for your design will be much less confusing.