If there’s two rooms in the home where flooring matters the most, they would be the kitchen and the bathroom.
With the everyday traffic and wear that comes from cooking, bathing and cleaning, these floors certainly take a beating.
Concurrently, that traffic also means there will be a lot of eyes on your floors. Whether you’re hosting an office game night or having family over for the holidays, you’re going to want to make sure your new home’s floors will continue to floor your guests for years to come.
“Porcelain tiles are becoming increasingly popular because they require little to no maintenance and are extremely durable,” says Young Huh, a New York City-based designer who was recently named by Vogue and Lonny magazines as a young interior designer to watch and is also part of a new trend-forecasting panel for the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). “We’re seeing a lot of interest in large-format porcelain because it appears modern and unusual.”
These “large-format” tiles range from 16-by-36 inches to 24-by-24 inches and higher, resembling the looks of Calacatta marble or the grey and beige tones of other stones.
And for those looking to stray away from wood but still love the look, porcelain is still a great way to stay on trend.
“Kitchens in 2015 had a lot of wood porcelain looks in a variety of colors,” says Alena Capra, Coverings Industry Ambassador and certified kitchen and bathroom designer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “From softer grey-toned woods, reclaimed wood looks to warmer, more traditional wood tones.”
She adds that wood-like tile is a great addition for kitchens, as it has that traditional look but is much easier to clean up with longer durability.
While common in the kitchen, this large-format tile is dominating bathroom design, along with intricate patterns like chevron and herringbone, says Allie Mann, a designer and interiors specialist with Bethesda, Md.-based Case Design.
Yet for others, real hardwood never goes out of trend.
“Hardwood has always been a popular choice, though many folks are now interested in something beyond the typical two-and-a-half-inch oak,” says Mann, adding that many seek out wider planks and even reclaimed mountain lumber that has a story of its own.
In fact, according to the 2016 NKBA Design Trends Report, wood and porcelain/ceramic tile were two of the most popular kitchen flooring materials specified by at least 75 percent of NKBA members in 2015 projects, with wood appearing to take the lead with 35 percent of members expecting to use it more in 2016 than the 24 percent favoring ceramic/porcelain tiles. And in bathrooms, porcelain/ceramic tile dominated with more than 90 percent of NKBA designers using this material.
Luxury Vinyl Tile
“Another material that is climbing in popularity is luxury vinyl tile,” says Mann. “This material can come in a variety of colors and styles, is easy to install as a floating floor, is easy to clean and is very economical.”
While not specifically surveyed in the NKBA report, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) were hot topics that many respondents mentioned.
Known for their durability and realism, LVTs and LVPs use incredibly realistic photo replication processes to mimic the natural look of stone and wood materials, perfect for those naturalists who like the outdoorsy look and feel, on a smaller budget.
- Mosaics: For a luxury, high-end feel, Huh says many homebuyers are adding mosaics as accents, particularly in the bathroom.
- Concrete Tiles: “These are very popular because of the colors and designs they come in,” adds Huh. “As long as clients accept that they will wear and discolor over time, these are beautiful on-trend products.”
- Radiant Heating: This luxury was specified by 45 percent of NKBA designers in kitchens and around 60 percent in bathrooms. With radiant heating in floors, electric is the most popular option with hydronic (warm water heating) coming in second, the NKBA trends report revealed.
Choosing What Works Best for You
Sure, these options might sound great, but with so many great flooring options to choose from, how on earth do you decide what’s best for your new home?
That might take a little soul searching.
“Consider your tolerance for maintenance and tear. Consider how you like to live and make choices that support your daily rhythms,” says Huh. “Are you a person who will be very upset by scratches on a wood floor? Are you on your feet in the kitchen all day and need a softer surface?”
Meeting with a contractor or other flooring expert is a great way to find your answers to questions like these and is a good way to introduce you to more options you may never have thought of.
“Talk to your designer or contractor about what might work in the space and explore all of the options,” adds Capra.
It’s also very important to understand your budget from the get-go. You don’t want to fall in love with the idea of an intricate design scheme and then find out that you underestimated your square footage needs.
“Establish a budget up front and keep an idea of cost per square foot that you don’t want to exceed,” says Capra. “This helps the professional you are working with narrow down the proper options to show you.”
Finally, just browse through photos of your favorite trends in magazines or online via sites like Houzz or Pinterest. Save the ones you like and bring those with you to your design consultation. Your flooring professional will be more than happy to help your flooring design dreams come true while keeping you perfectly grounded along the way.
Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism.