Ask The Design Expert: Selecting a Floor Finish
Inside Your Home
When selecting a floor finish how do you determine what is best; carpet or hardwood or where are they best used in a home? Jennifer M.
First and foremost it is personal preference, some people just prefer hardwood over carpet or vice versa but often their preference is determined by the direction design is trending and the options they have to select from. Hardwood flooring or as the industry prefers to call it engineered flooring is the biggest trending finish for flooring in residential design. While there is still the traditional solid hardwood floor, you see them being utilized less and less these days due to their instability; they can warp and bend overtime due to climatic changes and they are typically now more costly on average.
Engineered flooring is more stable, rigid and is typically more cost effective and can come in a larger selection of wood types, finishes, and textures. But with that said carpet has its place and is still a highly selected floor finish for comfort, cost and acoustical values. In determining what is best you must look at many factors; room type and location, overall appearance, overall comfort, maintenance, acoustic requirements, and cost. Below let’s review the two types along with the pros and cons of each floor finish as this will help in deciding which option to go with in which spaces of the home.
There are many different types of carpet construction as shown below, velvet or plush and Saxony is the most common type of carpet found in residential homes, the trend moving forward makes it not as common as it once was. Berber, tip sheared and frieze are carpets that are really making their way into homes more and more, as these typically wear better, last longer and are easier to maintain. The options for these types of carpet have exponentially increased in the last few years providing a larger selection of palettes, patterns and grades.
Warmth under foot
Comfort under foot
High acoustic value
Cost effective flooring solution – depending on construction and material (between $3.00- $5.00 per square foot)
Energy saver as it adds insulation value by allowing you reduce the air temperature to keep a room feeling warm
Safety (hard to slip on carpet)
Collects and holds dust, dirt, and bacteria (allergens)
Spills are harder to clean up/ remove
Pile height wears / can zipper or fray with traffic and general use over time
10 year lifespan on average
Depending on material not considered environmentally friendly
HARDWOOD (Engineered Flooring)
Hardwood flooring comes in an even equally greater selection of types, finishes and sizes. Depending on the overall look you want to achieve there is most likely a type/ finish that will suit your style. Types of wood flooring can be oak, maple, ash, hickory, cherry, walnut, birch, mahogany, bamboo to name the most common. Finishes can range from virtually any type of stained top dressed or penetrated colourway with surfaced treatments that can be smooth, distressed, fumed, wire brushed, or scraped. The topcoat application can vary with products such as oil, varnish, urethane, lacquer, and acrylic resin. Hardwood flooring is a great long term investment and provides a more luxurious look in a home than carpet, even compared to a very expensive type of carpet. We as a society in general view hardwood as “higher end”.
Allergens are kept to the surface and easy to remove
Easy to clean (unless oil treated floor)
High wearability, will look almost the same years from now
Can last 25 years or more
Hard underfoot (better than tile)
Can be refinished to new condition
Environmentally friendly if purchasing FSC certified flooring
Requires cleaning much more frequently than carpet
Colder underfoot (unless you add radiant flooring)
Noisy (when walking and provides a hard surface for sound to bounce and travel)
More expensive depending on type of wood, thickness and construction (between $9.00- $30.00 per square foot)
Safety (higher slip factor)
WHERE TO INSTALL
Both flooring types can be installed almost anywhere in a home. However I would recommend not installing in bathrooms unless careful research is done on a specific type that will withstand the moisture and cleaning agents necessary in this type of space. I would also not recommend installing either of these in a Foyer where it will wear the most due to traffic and is susceptible to outdoor chemicals such as salt and dirt grit. Carpet should not be installed in a kitchen, did I need to tell you that though.
Areas I prefer
these types of flooring finishes:
Family rooms/ areas where theatre type settings are utilized
Stairs (if not full stair, then at least a runner, safety comes first)
Wherever the space, whatever the look, either type will make a drastic difference in the space in which they are installed. You just need to decide what works best for your lifestyle and budget.
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