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The natural touch of hardwood brings the warmth and beauty of the renewable resource into the home to create the design appeal of elegance. There are many species and color choices available, so you can easily match or contrast it with your wood doors, furniture and window frames.        When properly cared for, hardwood flooring can last a lifetime. However, depending on the thickness of the material, they can be sanded and refinished when the surface needs a bit of restoration. Because of these wonderful properties, this type of flooring is popular and thus readily available in the market. With the eco-friendly constructions provided in various sizes and types, pick the species of your choice and decide the environment to create in your setting. 

Types of HARDWOOD

Solid Hardwood

The granddaddy of flooring, this is not so different from how our ancestors did their flooring. And because it is one thick piece, it can be resanded and refinished as you see fit. However, because it is natural wood, it will expand and contract with changes in humidity and thus not typically seen installed on- or below-grade areas (ie. Areas prone to humidity and condensation from concrete flooring and subflooring).

 

Engineered Hardwood – Plywood Core

The engineered hardwood is the modern interpretation of the classic solid hardwood flooring and it comes in two common types. The first of which uses a plywood core with a thin veneer of actual solid wood to act as the final walkable surface. Because it uses a manufactured core, it is not prone to humidity changes and thus can be installed in most areas of the home.

 

Engineered Hardwood – MDF Core

The next step in engineered hardwood technology is the MDF core, or medium-density fiberboard. Like the plywood core hardwood floor, the topmost surface is still made of a veneer of actual wood, however, the MDF core is now ever more resistant to humidity changes and thus a much more durable core material than plywood.

TYPE OF HARDWOOD

INSTALLATION TYPE

# OF SANDINGS

WIDTH SIZE

THICKNESS

RADIANT HEAT/AREAS

SOLID HARDWOOD

NAILED

SANDED MULTIPLE TIMES

2.5" - 5"

1/2" or 3/4"

NOT TYPICALLY/ ABOVE GRADE AREAS

ENGINEERED HARDWOOD - PLYWOOD CORE

NAILED, STAPLED, GLUED, FLOATING

DEPENDING ON VENEER THICKNESS - MULTIPLE FOR 3MM AND THICKER

3.25" - 10.25"

7/16" to 3/4"

COMPATIBLE WITH MOST/ ALL AREAS

ENGINEERED HARDWOOD - MDF CORE

GLUED, FLOATING

NO SANDING

5" - 7.5"

1/2"

COMPATIBLE WITH MOST/ ALL AREAS

Laminate floors are a hybrid floor covering consisting of multiple layers of varying properties to create a cost effective, durable and aesthetically pleasing flooring option. The bottom most layer is a melamine sheet that provides dimensional stability and protection from moisture coming up from the subfloor. The main core layer is made of very dense fiberboard which provides most of the thickness of the flooring. The layer above that is the decorative layer which gives the color and texture of wood to the material. The final top layer is a clear wear layer which ultimately protects the surface. The construction described above allows even more moisture resistance than the hardwood floorings. And because the color and texture are provided by a printed decorative layer, the options are limitless. There is also a heavy traffic variety that is typically used for commercial spaces such as restaurants and stores. Laminate floors are a popular type of floor covering for homes' living areas, kitchens, dining areas, bedrooms, hallways, and other areas.

 
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Vinyl Sheet

This is the original and most affordable type of vinyl flooring. It often comes in large rolls and can cover entire spaces with one single large sheet. Among all vinyl flooring, this is typically the most flexible and thus shows unevenness of the flooring underneath. Although it is flexible in terms of bending, it feels very hard when you stand on it. Typically, they are glued down.

Vinyl flooring is made up of PVC which is a type of plastic. The upper surface has decorative layer which provides the color and texture. And it often times has a clear wear layer on top for protection. And because it is essentially a plastic, it is waterproof and relatively cheaper than hardwoods. And has many different kinds for each of your needs and price points.

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) & Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)

Luxury vinyl planks and tiles are essentially vinyl sheets that are a bit stiffer and are cut into shapes – planks to mimic wood, and tiles to mimic (you guessed it) tiles. One distinct advantage of this over vinyl sheet, is if one tile or planked is damaged, you can just remove the damaged piece and pop a new one in. These can be glued down or floating. The planks, in particular, just clicks and locks into each other via special tongue-and-groove profile.

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LVP/LVT with rigid core (WPC and SPC)

The rigid core versions of LVP and LVT come in two varieties, namely wood-polymer composite (WPC) and stone-polymer composite (SPC). Vinyl is combined with fine sawdust to make WPC and meanwhile vinyl is combined with limestone powder to make SPC. Both WPC and SPC cores provide rigidity however it also makes them feel more forgiving underfoot. Some SPC are durable enough for heavy-traffic commercial applications. Despite that, they are generally still cheaper than hardwood flooring.

Peel N' Stick & Groutable Engineered Vinyl Tile

Two special kinds of vinyl tiles are the peel-and-stick and the groutable vinyl tile.

  1. Peel-and-stick has the adhesive pre-applied unto the underside, thereby simplifying installation.

  2. Groutable vinyl tiles have special edges that can accommodate grout, thereby mimicking real ceramic tile even further.

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Porcelain

Porcelain tiles uses finer clay and are subjected to higher pressures and temperatures – yielding higher density and durability. This allows it to be used for any area in the home as well as high traffic commercial applications. The different manufacturing process also assures a lower water absorption than plain ceramic tile. Also, since porcelain tiles are typically not glazed, the color is homogenous from top to bottom, meaning chipped tiles are not as obvious.

 
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Ceramic Tile (only for walls)

Ceramic tiles are made by baking molded clay and usually finished with a glaze to provide durability, color and a glossy finish. They are not as durable as porcelain tiles and thus are slowly being relegated to wall applications only. Also, with a higher water absorption rating, they are prone to cracking when exposed to freezing conditions. A characteristic of glazed ceramic tile is that chipped tiles are visually obvious because of the different color of the ceramic body and the glazed top surface.

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Mosaics

Mosaic tiles are more of a style rather than an actual material - thus they can be ceramic, porcelain, glass or other. The defining characteristic is that the individual pieces are small – commonly no bigger than 2-inches wide. By carefully selecting colors and sizes, mosaic tiles provide the opportunity to make interesting patterns and images. To ease installation, some manufacturers provide a mesh backing where the individual tiles are attached.

Subway Tiles

Subway tiles have forced its own categorization as it is one of the most widely used style of tile. "Subway" in the tile world refers to rectangular tiles where its long edge is larger by a ratio to its short edge and usually refers to tiles smaller than 12"x24". The name actually originates from the white 3” x 6” glass tiles used in NYC subways. As the “subway” style become popular, they are now available in different colors, sizes and materials - ceramic, porcelain and others.

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Porcelain Slabs

Your garden variety porcelain tile are also available in sizes larger than 24"x48" reaching up to as big as 5'x10'. When they are as large as this, they are commonly referred to as slabs rather than tiles. Its bigger size but still relatively thin profile makes each slab quite fragile until they are finally secured and installed to your home’s wall or floor. Because of this, handling, cutting and installation require a more experienced and trained installer.

Natural Stone

Referring to any natural material extracted from the earth and cut to size, natural stone spreads to categorize the many wonders of the rocky extracts like slate, marble, quartzite, and many others. Due to its natural qualities, most commonly all natural stones have a specific guideline for handling, installation, and preventative maintenance like sealing the surfaces to achieve a formidable and proper installation. A distinct feature of natural stone is that there will be no repeating pattern. Like regular man-made tile, they come in different shapes, sizes and thicknesses.

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Carpet is different from all other types of flooring materials in that it is not a solid top surface, rather it is a collection of strands of fibers attached to a carpet backing material. The color of the carpet can be applied in a number of ways. It can be done by soaking the finished carpet in dye. The color can also be sprayed or rolled unto the finished carpet. Or the fibers can be colored before they are woven into the carpet backing. Different  carpet material and fiber construction will yield different carpet properties – feeling underfoot, visual appearance as well as its durability and ability to hide marks like footprints.

Nylon

Nylon is the most common carpet material in the market. It can be soft, durable and resistant to wear and stains. It is less expensive than wool but is more expensive than other synthetic materials.

Olefin (Polypropelene Fibre)

Olefin is another popular option because it is a synthetic material that can mimic the properties of wool. It is highly resistant to stains, but holds on to dirt and oils. Fortunately, it is easy to clean. It is less durable than nylon however, but is also priced a bit lower.

Polyester

Polyester’s main desirability is its ability to hold color. Another is that recycled plastics can be used in its manufacture. It however doesn't hide footprints well and is not as wear resistant as other options. It is suitable for low traffic areas.

Acrylic

Acrylic is another wool substitute that is very inexpensive compared to the real thing. It has good resistance to fading and staining but does not perform well against wear and abrasion. It is best to use it for low traffic areas. Because of these properties and the higher price of real wool, acrylic is sometimes blended with real wool to achieve a good cost effective option.

Wool

Wool is a natural fiber and is very soft and luxurious. Pure wool carpets can be very nice however they can be very expensive. Since real wool is a natural fiber, it is susceptible to rot and staining. And thus, wool and acrylic blends are commonly available.

Looped/Uncut/Berber Pile

  • Yarn fiber loops are intact (ie uncut)

  • Highly durable, easy to clean, stain resistant

  • Don’t show footprints or vacuum marks

  • Suitable for high-traffic family areas and commercial applications

Cut pile

  • Yarn fiber loops are cut

  • There are several types of cut pile carpets, see below:

Saxony Cut

  • Fibers are soft, dense, short and straight

  • Surface is lush and fuzzy

  • Less durable and less stain resistant

  • Leaves footprint and vacuum marks

  • Suitable for less traffic areas

Plush/Velvet-Cut Pile

  • Similar to Saxony Cut but fibers are even shorter

  • Surface is more lush and fuzzier

  • Less durable and less stain resistant

  • Leaves footprint and vacuum marks

  • Suitable for less traffic areas where luxury is required

Textured Cut

  • Fibers are cut in uneven lengths, and twisted into spirals

  • Surface is more rich and luxurious

  • Does not leave footprint and vacuum marks

  • Suitable for mid to high traffic areas

Frieze-Cut Pile/California Shag

  • Fiber end are more twisted and curled

  • Surface is textured and knobby

  • Does not leave footprint and vacuum marks

  • High durability and hides dirt and wear

  • Suitable for high traffic areas

Sculpted Pile/Cut-n-Loop

  • Contains both cut fibers and looped fibers

  • Surface is textured and some can have geometric patterns

  • Does not leave footprint and vacuum marks

  • High durability and hides dirt and wear

  • Suitable for high traffic areas

Cable

  • Fibres are thick and longer

  • Surface is comfortable and cozy

  • Leaves footprints and vacuum marks

  • Suitable for low traffic areas