Special for the Arizona Daily Star
Question: I buy new flooring. Where do I start?
Answer: Consider your budget and your lifestyle first.
Get the best quality flooring for your budget. As with all building materials, its cost has increased. Do your research before heading to the store. Our flooring experts recommend shopping at smaller flooring stores because you’ll get the best bang for your buck.
Order enough to account for all cuts. The more irregular the shape of the space, the more cutting waste you will need to account for.
The lifestyle of your household is important. The more people and pets in the home, the higher the incidents of spills and other damage. Consider opting for flooring that can withstand food and drink spills, pet stains, and pet hair. Choose a floor covering that can be easily wiped up after spills and splashes.
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Regular and proper maintenance is essential to keep your flooring looking like new. Don’t splurge on expensive flooring if you’re not willing to set aside the allotted time to maintain it.
Q: What is the difference between a solid wood floor and a wood look laminate floor?
A: Let’s include engineered wood and compare.
A real hardwood floor is made from three-quarter inch strips of solid wood. Wood floors are available in at least 50 species. The most popular hardwood species used for solid wood flooring are red oak, white oak, ash, and maple. They can be painted or stained any color.
Sometimes referred to as the “100-year-old floor”, solid hardwood is usually coated with a thick, durable finish that protects it from damage. This protective layer can last 10 years or more. When it’s time to refinish floors, they can be sanded and refinished up to 10 times in their lifetime because they are so thick. Between finishes, all a wood floor needs is a sweeping and mopping. Clean spills and stains with a barely damp cloth or a dab of water-based floor cleaner.
Engineered wood is a multi-layered product – the top layer is solid wood, so it looks and feels like the real thing. In addition, it can be installed directly on a concrete slab. The floor is made up of three to five thin layers of wood, stacked in a cross-grain pattern and laminated together to form a board. The top layer – the one you see – is made from 1/4 to 1/32 inch of the high quality wood of your choice.
Engineered floors require the same simple maintenance as hardwood floors: regular sweeping and dusting. Clean stubborn stains with a slightly damp cloth or a water-based parquet cleaner.
A laminate floor looks like wood, stone or tile, depending on the pattern you choose, but it isn’t. It therefore costs less and retains its new appearance for longer.
Laminate planks are made from processed wood chips, which have been ground to dust. Wood fibers are mixed with resins to make the product resistant to humidity. This mixture is pressed under high pressure and hot to form a board, which is covered with paper that resembles the wood, slate or tile that the product intends to imitate. The paper is impregnated with melamine for structural stability, then coated with a wear layer that resists scratches, dents and daily wear and tear.
Each generation of laminates looks more realistic and holds up better when wet. However, our flooring experts tell me that today’s laminate is being replaced by vinyl flooring.
Q: What is vinyl flooring?
A: There are two types – sheet vinyl and vinyl laminate, also known as LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) and Click Lock Vinyl.
Sheet vinyl is an inexpensive option, mostly used in rentals and trailers. It is extremely profitable. Because it is very soft, it is susceptible to damage from moving furniture or heavy objects.
LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) / Click Lock Vinyl / Vinyl Laminate can be difficult to navigate as manufacturers have not settled on an industry standard name. It is basically a laminate floor. But instead of the construction being wood products, it’s a plastic core with a vinyl top layer. The core can be SPC (Stone Plastic Core) or WPC (Wood Plastic Core).
Vinyl is easy to maintain, clean, quiet and softer on the feet than tiles, for example. There is no additional cost for annual maintenance. It is quite easy to install, with no drying time. You can walk on it immediately. Furniture bumps are not a problem. Read the documentation provided, as this is the best way to maintain your warranty through the manufacturer. Sweep and wipe with a neutral cleaner. Sealants and other maintenance are not required.
LVP can be scratched with heavy objects or small stones. Fortunately, scratched boards can be replaced with scrap materials.