Text by Nancy Johnston

In the last decade there’s been a steady trend towards more organic or natural flooring for both new construction as well as renovating existing living spaces. Canadians have been busily ripping out their old carpeting and installing new easy to maintain and aesthetically pleasing alternatives. Today the choices for flooring are extensive and include solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, cork, marble, granite and, believe it or not, luxury vinyl tile. Specialty flooring such as electrostatic discharge control (anti-static) and slip-retardant are also available. Options for flooring depend on the size of the room, esthetics, traffic patterns, and budget.

Solid hardwood and engineered hardwood are the two top selling floor coverings with solid having a slight advantage over engineered because its appearance improves with age, taking on a highly desirable patina over time. Initially it costs more than the other flooring options but it is the longest lasting of all floor types, making it a great investment that also increases the value of your home. The selection for both solid and pre-engineered is almost endless with some of the more popular wood/finishes being ash, maple, oak, walnut, pecan, birch, bamboo and cherry that come in a variety of stains, gloss levels, edge details, widths and textures. Hardwood is not a good choice for basement and wet areas though, as it is affected by moisture and may buckle or warp. Pre-engineered flooring can be as rich looking as natural wood and is an excellent alternative in basement areas; however, it can be sensitive to pooling liquids.

Ceramic is a great option in bathrooms and kitchens, the beauty of it being its ability to extend color across an entire surface allowing coordination of floor, wall and border tiles. It comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes, in both solid color and decorative tiles, making it easy to achieve a custom design. Marble and granite are still popular though, especially as prices have dropped significantly for pre-cut tiles found in most flooring and hardware centers. Marble, while being a beautiful alternative with its deep veins of varying colors running throughout, is quite easy to chip and rather difficult to install in larger areas as each tile tends to be somewhat unique in appearance making it hard to provide a consistent look to a large floor. Still, marble is well suited to small bathrooms where it can be an absolutely stunning choice, particularly if the vanity countertop matches it. Granite is easier to match up when installing and provides its own very chic look and feel to a room. Consider installing a heating grid under the tiles, as it provides a truly elegant feel to your ceramic or stone flooring and is fairly inexpensive to operate.

Vinyl tiling may not add as much value to your home as natural materials will, however, the new innovations in design techniques such as embossing and texturing along with the array of colors, from very realistic interpretations of natural material such as wood, ceramic or stone to original and unique graphics make it worth a second look.

Not only is new flooring an excellent investment, it is also one of the easiest ways to change the look and feel of any room!

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