Flooring 101 for first-time buyers
Flooring choices determine the look and feel of many first-time buyers’ homes.
As one of the largest surface areas in any home, flooring must be durable, look good and be at a price point that works for your budget – no easy ask.
As one of the first decisions for every selection of materials and colour palettescompiled by interior designers for pre-sale condos, flooring choices often determine the look and feel of many first-time buyers’ homes.
While floors in bedrooms are often carpeted, and porcelain or ceramic tiles rule in the bathrooms, the main living areas are typically hardwood, engineered hardwood, laminate or luxury vinyl plank (LVP).
Although the type of flooring is often part of the standard package offered by the developer, sometimes there is the option to upgrade, so it’s worth knowing the pros and cons of each of the four major flooring options.
Describing it as “a floor for a lifetime,” solid hardwood floors that have been in place for more than 100 years are still being refinished, says Kjell Nymark, vice president of the BC Floor Covering Association.
A solid hardwood floor probably provides the best value of any of the flooring options, says Nymark.
“It can be refinished multiple times, then, when styles change, the floor can change along with it rather than having to remove it and replace it,” he adds.
Engineered hardwood floors are made using a hardwood veneer adhered to a decking, and depending on the wear surface – the thickness of the layer of wood veneer – can also be refinished a number of times, says Nymark, the BCFCA’s board member tasked with the education portfolio.
Companies have different processes but broadly, the wood veneer is bonded to the manufacturer’s choice of decking which could be plywood, individual boards, slats that run in opposing directions, or medium density fibreboard (MDF).
The thickness of the wear surface will dictate the price point for the product. The thinner the veneer or wear surface the less expensive the product.
“But when you get to thin veneers then sanding options are not available, so the longevity of that floor is not going to be as good as an option with thick veneers,” says Nymark.
While laminate floors have the appearance of wood, they are not a wood product, says Nymark.
“Laminate is a wood look-alike and even though the core is typically made of MDF, laminate is not considered wood flooring,” he says, explaining that the surface of laminate is actually a photograph bonded to the MDF.
Laminate is often a choice dictated by budget.
“If someone wants wood but then looks at their budget and what it allows, they make a decision to have something that looks like wood as opposed to the cost of actually having real wood,” says Nymark.
But laminate does not have the advantage of the longevity of hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring.
“There are some finish manufacturers who claim you can refinish laminate floors, but typically for the price – coming in and doing a re-coat on a laminate floor – it’s not usually cost-effective,” he says.
Vinyl is making a comeback– back in the ’70s and ’80s typically there was carpet and vinyl in most homes, recalls Nymark. At that time the vinyl was supplied as a sheet of flooring – often with a pattern. Now, luxury vinyl planks (LVP) come in a range of lengths and widths and look like wood – they’re another wood look-alike with the advantage of being water resistant.
“Right now, the trend in flooring is very low lustre, low sheen and a lot of LVP products are good at creating that look and they’re quite durable and easy to maintain,” says Nymark. “What it often comes down to is: people are drawn to wood but have to consider budget and convenience. They say, ‘I love the look of wood, but I don’t know if I can afford it right now’ and then they consider other options.”
Original Article by Kathleen Freimond.