Scratching The Surface In Home Improvements
Flooring options take a step in new directions
A fresh coat of paint or new accessories can update any room in your home. But to make a significant change, you need to take a step in the right direction. This step, and the next, begins with the flooring, one of the most versatile surfaces in your home. Flooring isn’t an option, like window treatments or lighting. Flooring’s a formidable part of each room, that can’t be overlooked.
The type of flooring selected by each homeowner depends on many factors, including durability, style and budget. When considering this decorative improvement, buyers can typically divide their choices among carpeting, ceramic and tile or wood flooring finishes.
Carpeting is typically saved for bedrooms and living rooms. Ceramic and tile finishes are popular in foyers, kitchens and bathrooms. Hardwood flooring varieties, however, are the multipurpose alternative that can be featured in any room in the house.
This easy-to-clean surface reduces allergens in the household, because dust mites cannot hide in its fibers like carpeting. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “Hardwood floors are an ideal type of floor for persons with allergies and asthma.”
Manufacturers have been introducing new wood flooring finishes and improved technology to make their products tougher, and last longer. Now hardwood flooring is forging a path into kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. And consumers, who have demanded floors with better scratch resistance and longer lasting finishes, are now expanding their flooring horizons.
Two of the most common varieties of hardwood flooring are solid or engineered hardwood. Both types are available finished, also known as factory finished, or unfinished, which are completed on the job site. Laminate flooring is often confused with real engineered hardwood flooring because the engineered hardwood floors are constructed wholly from real wood plies that are laminated together.
Most engineered wood floors are pre-finished at the factory. This eliminates the mess, fumes, and additional time needed on the job site to apply the finishing coats. Pre-finished wood floors are UV-cured with ultra violet lights giving them a harder finish. Manufacturers may also apply more coats of finish giving the wood additional protection. Once a pre-finished floor is installed, it is immediately ready for visitors.
When selecting wood flooring, most home owners choose between hardwood and laminate. They look similar, but there are many differences between them. Several factors need to be considered before making this investment.
Real hardwood is more expensive than laminate in both material and installation costs. However, if properly maintained, hardwood floors can last a lifetime. Laminate typically lasts less than 20 years. If longevity is not an issue, laminate is the less expensive option. Eventually though, hardwood flooring will surpass the functionality of the laminate, thus being more cost effective over a longer period of time.
Laminate flooring is the popular choice for homeowners who want the look of real hardwood but not the maintenance or financial investment. It combines natural looking designs with a tough, durable finish.
Laminate flooring is made of laminate material, which helps the finished product closely resemble the design of natural materials, such as wood or stone. In the past, it was easy to recognize laminate floors. Now, improved technology has given manufacturers the tools to create more realistic designs. Some of today’s laminate flooring closely mimics the characteristics of popular hand scraped hardwood floors.
Laminate flooring is usually constructed with a high-density fiberboard core, with a photographic print layer, and a clear top coating of melamine resins. It resembles hardwood because the laminate is actually a photograph glued to the top layer which is not real wood. By using a photograph, laminate can be produced as many varieties and shades of hardwood.
For households with children and pets, laminate flooring is considered a better choice over hardwood. It resists stains, and scratches well, and because of its factory finishes, it retains its color after extended exposure to the sun. Laminate flooring is also fairly low maintenance because it does not require waxing, oiling or staining.
Solid hardwood floors do require more maintenance than laminate flooring, but they will certainly stand the test of time. They are constructed from a solid piece of hardwood that is cut into wood planks, generally 3/4 inch thick. Common North American hardwoods include oak, maple and hickory. And manufacturers are now offering exotic hardwood species from around the globe.
Homeowners can express their sense of style with the many new colors and widths available to create a unique hardwood flooring. Surfaces can even be custom finished to an exact color. A hardwood floor can also be refinished and recoated multiple times, increasing its longevity. Scratches are easily repaired if the surface is damaged, because the hardwood floors can be sanded to remove imperfections.
If hardwood floors are exposed to too much direct sunlight, the color can change. Fortunately, with proper restoration techniques, they can be returned to their original beauty. In recent years, factory finishes have made hardwood floors more resilient, adding to the floor’s performance and durability.
Both hardwood floors and laminates can be affected by excessive moisture, but it is only laminate flooring that is best suited for a kitchen or bathroom. Rooms exposed to a lot of moisture are not ideal for hardwoods.
There are many factors to consider when choosing between laminate or solid hardwood floors. Either product results in a popular decorating option for homeowners who want a long-lasting, easy-to-clean surface that reduces allergens in the home.
Wood flooring can enhance a traditional, casual, rustic, or contemporary design plan. The richness of the colors, combined with the sleek finish creates warmth in any room Refinishing or converting to hardwood floors is a home improvement investment that will certainly add value to your home.
By Jennifer Miko