Floors that Rock!

Floors that Rock – The Hottest Looks in Home Flooring
by Alexandra Floersch

From boldly modern to rustic chic, today’s hottest flooring materials are giving homeowners lots of exciting options to consider that will give their living spaces a fresh, contemporary look. While flooring may not be the first aspect of design most homeowners consider, the wide variety of options available mean that choosing flooring is no longer a snore.

Whether you’re looking to install the latest in your new build or are simply ready to update outdated flooring in your home, consider any of these flooring materials:

Concrete is no longer just for commercial, industrial or outdoor spaces. The variety of colors, finishes and textures make it the perfect option for modern-style homes. The smooth surface makes floors look sleek, while maintaining the industrial-grade durability. Concrete is not just extremely cost effective, experts say it’s easy to dress it up with rugs to add comfort.

Today, wood floors are made with a variety of materials and manufacturing methods. While traditional solid wood floors in oak, hickory, maple, pine, cherry, walnut and other timber are available, wood flooring can also be “engineered.” Manufacturers are taking natural products and, by adding a manmade touch, transforming them into more durable, moisture-resistant products that are great for particularly dry or humid climates.

If the rustic, cabin feel is more your style, perhaps reclaimed wood is for you. Made from old beams, salvaged lumber and even reclaimed wine barrels, the hand-hewn look of refurbished timber exudes character in its imperfections—perfect for Midwest homes.

When it comes to size, say goodbye to the two-inch wooden planks you once knew. Widths upwards of five inches add depth to a room, making it feel more spacious. Color-wise, both light, blonde colors as well as deep, rich browns, like ebony and espresso are popular. For reclaimed wood, the rustic, weathered gray hue is all the rage.

Carpet is still king, maintaining its number one seller status in flooring – and there are more choices than ever. While designers are seeing fewer shag and friezes trending, cut-and-loop is the buzz phrase. Cut-and-loop carpeting combines both loops and cut loops to create definite lines, “heathered” textures and other patterns. Call it “carpet with character.”

Also notable is the continued move toward green manufacturing practices. Manufacturers are using eco-friendly or recycled fibers for carpet to reduce environmental impact. Carpet pads are also changing, loose fiber is being replaced by high-quality rubbers that last for years to come.

Bamboo flooring is by no means new, but its unique colors and styles that again have trendsetters talking. The jungle “grass”, once dried, can be as hard, if not harder than traditional hardwoods, like oak and cherry. Technology advances have also made the wide-plank varieties available. However, it’s prone to moisture and not recommended for bathrooms, laundry rooms or other potentially damp spaces.

Laminate is often thought of as the “wannabe wood”—constructed of four layers of material fused together to mimic wood. The benefit to laminate is that it’s much more cost effective than the real thing. In fact, even distressed-looking laminate can mimic reclaimed wood, often much less expensively. It is also available in the wide-plank variety and can even be laid in any pattern including herringbone, chevron or subway patterns. The best part? The locking planks are easy for DIYers to install themselves.

In tile, the motto is the bigger, the better. Trendsetters have done away with the typical four-inch by four-inch stones. In their place, large format tiles are making a breakthrough, ranging in size from 12 by 12-inch up to 36 by 36 inches. But builders caution DIY installation; these tiles are much heavier than their ancestors, often requiring a professional’s expertise.

Just like smaller tile sizes varieties, the assortment of shapes, textures and colors allow homeowners to create unlimited and unique patterns in their home.

If comfort is the number one priority, cork may be a better option than hardwood floors. Due to its makeup, the fiber is softer and more comfortable to walk on. It also has acoustic properties that make it perfect for homes filled with musicians. Though it’s more durable with quality finishes today, just like a wine cork swells with moisture, cork floors are not immune to moisture or sun damage.

Luxury Vinyl
Today’s luxury vinyl has come along way since the 1920s when it first hit the market. In fact, just like laminate mimics wood, so can vinyl for an even smaller price tag. The material comes in three different options: sheet vinyl (on a roll), vinyl tile and vinyl planks. And it’s appearance isn’t just limited to wood look-alikes. Design-wise, basically anything you can take a photo of, you can turn into vinyl. Marble-esque patterns are trending for bathrooms, while slate and leather looks are also available.

Carpet tiles
When they think of carpet tiles, many people think of the commercial, block pattern carpet at the office. But in 2016, the less expensive, more durable option for businesses is also making a splash in the home. As separate tiles, the carpet is easier to install than the large, broadloom carpet rolls and can be removed and replaced in well-traveled areas like hallways and doorways. They also make great, and interesting, “rugs.”

Like ceramic tile, the squares can be installed to create patterns by shifting a quarter-turn or pairing with various shapes and sizes. Woven, tufted and flatweave varieties also add an element of surprise to floor design. While it doesn’t require a carpet pad like traditional carpet, homeowners must be careful in choosing quality backing so the edges of the tiles don’t curl or catch.

With a trend in home gyms comes a trend in gym-quality flooring: rubber. The durability and resilience of rubber has slowly but surely made it more and more appealing to other rooms in the home like bathrooms and laundry rooms—its water-resistant quality is especially attractive for these damp spaces.

Unlike concrete flooring, rubber is easy on the joints and has acoustic-friendly qualities similar to cork. The flooring is available in a variety colors and patterns, including aesthetically pleasing hexagonal shapes for a modern kitchen. While it can be an investment—costing upwards of $20 per foot—high-quality rubber flooring may be mistaken for anything but.

Choosing the perfect flooring to fit your home is no longer a bore. With a variety of materials and textures, colors and patterns, you’re sure to create a perfectly beautiful space. ~L&H

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