From bamboo to hardwoods, laminate to tile and everything in between (even ultra-modern glass!), today’s floors are steppin’ out in style. Today’s homebuyers want easy-clean, low-maintenance and low-stress in just about every new home feature these days, and that’s not surprising.
We’re more crunched for time than ever before, so owning a home with floors that can stand up to busy schedules, pets and kids is a big plus. Lucky for us, flooring manufacturers and new home builders have responded, offering options that range from practical to luxury. Whatever your design personality, there’s a floor to match it. Here’s a rundown of the latest in flooring trends:
Green and earth-friendly
Often called “ethical” flooring because of the environmentally-friendly and sustainable materials used to make and install them, green floors top the list of homeowners’ wants. Popular choices include bamboo, cork, recycled glass tile, reclaimed wood (like from an old barn) and linoleum.
Bamboo, one of the most popular options, is actually a woody grass that grows faster than any other plant. It’s renewable every five years – as opposed to more than 30 years for most hardwoods – and it can be harvested with almost zero environmental impact. It’s also tough – bamboo is harder than red oak and maple hardwoods – and it’s easy to clean.
Cork is another renewable resource, and it’s also virtually indestructible. It’s fire-retardant and can withstand many species of insects, including termites. And, since cork is made from the bark of the cork oak tree, there’s no need to cut down any trees to get it. It’s also comfortable; since cork is 50 percent air, it offers a natural cushion that makes walking around much easier on your back and joints.
Because it’s re-used, recycled glass tile is another green option, and many homeowners are choosing it for its unique color selection and style. Made of 100 percent recycled glass from post-consumer or post-industrial sources, variations are only limited by your imagination, with such options as 3-D tiles, matte and glossy finishes.
Reclaimed wood is another earth-friendly resource, since no new trees are cut down to create it. Rather, deconstructed wood from buildings that had previous lives as barns, wineries and other structures is milled and re-used as flooring (see reclaimedwoodcouncil.org for more information).
Many people think of vinyl when they hear the word linoleum, but the two are very different materials. Linoleum is a combination of linseed oil that contains flax, cork ground limestone and resin, and it’s fire-resistant. Easy on the back and a great sound-absorber, it comes in a range of amazing, vibrant colors that work in just about every room in the house (check out Forbo.com, a Swiss company that makes Marmoleum, one of the most popular brands of linoleum tile).
Sleek and Ultra-Modern Glass
Taken at face value, glass floors might seem to be an impractical option, but today’s glass flooring is as sturdy as any other type of flooring, giving a modern edge to any new home.
One example is GlassWalk – a structural glass flooring system that uses laminated glass lights sized from 12x12 inches and individual pieces up to 48x48 inches. Choose from one of 30 different patterns that can be etched on top of the glass; they not only look interesting, but they also provide a non-slip surface – making this type of floor practical for floors, walkways, landings and stairs.
Economic Style: Vinyl and Laminates
On a budget but loath to sacrifice your sense of style? Vinyl tile and laminate flooring offer great looks – like ceramic tile, stone or hardwood – for much less. They’re also a piece of cake to install; many have peel-and-stick options that make doing a floor an easy weekend project. Easy maintenance is another plus for homeowners – all you need is a mop and broom. Both laminate and vinyl are also good options for those with pets or who are plagued with allergies, since both are dust-resistant.
Classic and Durable: Natural Hardwoods
Real wood floors withstand the test of time, which is probably why they’re still so in demand today. Classic looks include oak, cherry, pine, maple, pecan, beech, birch and walnut, and their durability means they’ll last for years to come. They’re also a great option for allergy-sufferers, since they don’t trap allergens, mites or pet dander like carpet does.
Pick Your Palette: Ceramic & Porcelain Tile
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are another option, with homeowners who want style without the upkeep. Most popular in bathrooms, kitchens and entryways, they’re also a perfect whole-house option for families with pets and kids. Easy to clean and immune to water damage, tiles come in a range of prices and sizes that can fit into any budget. They’re also getting bigger; the standard size used to be 12x12, but now 20x20 and larger tiles are common – making the floor look like a continuous piece of stone.
Easy on the Ears: Carpet
Despite all the flooring options available today, carpet is still king with many consumers. In fact, carpet sales make up about half of all flooring sales.
There’s also a dizzying array of carpet options, including carpet tiles. Many of these “tiles” come in fun patterns and colors, making them ideal for a child’s room or other specialty room in a house. They’re also interlocking, which means if you move, you can actually take the tiles with you.
No matter what kind of floor you choose for your new home, there are enough options out there to make where you live as unique as you are.
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