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Feature Articles - Housing


Select Flooring With Care

Marsha Alexander, Housing and Environmental Design Specialist
University of Missouri Extension

Floor coverings are major elements in our homes. Careful consideration should be taken when selecting the specific flooring type and finish. There are three basic categories - hard (non-resilient), resilient, and soft. Non-resilient flooring materials include stone, tile, brick, concrete and wood. Resilient flooring includes linoleum, vinyl, cork, rubber, asphalt tile, and leather. Soft floor coverings include carpet and rugs.

The use of natural materials in flooring is very popular today. The use of real marble, slate, travertine and other stone floorings as well as wood options reflect a renewed interest in natural materials. Which option is best? The most appropriate choice will be determined by several factors.

Consider the function of the flooring. Will it receive daily use? If so, not only is durability a concern but also upkeep of the surface is important. Hard flooring materials usually require less care than resilient ones. Surfaces with grooves and indentions often trap dirt. Natural materials tend to show less tracked-in soil than other surfaces. In addition to durability and ease of maintenance, think about how easy the surface will be on feet and legs. In a kitchen where food preparation requires the cook to stand for extended periods, a more resilient flooring surface may be a better choice. Also, if noise is expected to be a problem, the more resilient materials absorb more sound than hard materials.

The cost of the flooring materials and installation is a primary consideration. Keep in mind how long the flooring will be used. If the intended use is only for a few years before it is expected to be replaced, resist the urge to select a "lifetime" flooring option and select a less expensive alternative. If the residents intend to occupy the house for many years and want a long wearing flooring material, certainly a "lifetime' option is appropriate. Consider the life-cycle cost by dividing the number of years of expected use by the total cost. Interestingly, more costly products will often have a lower life-cycle cost because they do not require replacement of the flooring.

The beauty and harmony of the flooring material in relation to the other elements in the area is very important. Generally flooring is not going to be the center of interest in a room. If not, select flooring that has neutralized colors, subtle textures, and lacks strong patterns.

Safety is very important to think about when selecting flooring. When wet, smooth and hard resilient floorings can be slippery. However, many stone and wood surfaces have finishes designed to minimize the danger of sliding. Sometimes flooring can reflect a glare that can also be hazardous. If glare will be a potential concern, consider surfaces that will avoid the problem. If allergies are a concern, choose a hard flooring material such as wood, stone or ceramic tile. Carpet and rugs can harbor dust mites and numerous other dust particles that some people have difficulty tolerating.




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Last update: Wednesday, May 06, 2009