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Emerging trends in commercial flooring

Rectangular tiles, digital graphic applications, the resurgence of terrazzo, and product transparency headline today’s commercial flooring trends. New product technologies and more extensive manufacturing information will expand choices for the Building Team in all types of projects, including healthcare, academic, hospitality, retail, and workplace.

Moving away from standard 12×12-inch tile, rectilinear plank shapes—often, 12×24-inch—are gaining popularity. Designers are also specifying hexagonal tiles for carpet and resilient flooring products. “The installation of these shapes and combining different color options can really activate the flooring in the designs we create,” says Lori James, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, Lead Interior Designer, Project Manager at SmithGroupJJR (www.smithgroupjjr.com), and a member of BD+C’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2012.

Color and texture continue to exert a strong influence on user perceptions. Some designers try to strike a balance between “unique” and “timeless,” but others are opting for lively, trendy shades such as hot pink, teal, and electric blue.

Lori Mukoyama, Principal, RTKL Commercial Practice Group (www.rtkl.com), says many Building Teams are trying to reinvent traditional patterns. “For example, you’ll see a traditional plaid with a new twist, such as a fun color or more modern look. You also might see a traditional houndstooth pattern but with a larger scale, making it appear more dramatic,” she says.

Caroline Robbie, Principal, BID, AOCA, ARIDO, IDC, NCIDQ, Quadrangle Architects Limited (www.quadrangle.ca), sees the popularity of fashion designer Paul Smith’s iconic stripes filtering down to flooring in the form of striped carpets and striated tiles. “Another ongoing trend is significant improvements in the photographic application of natural textures onto laminates and other substrates,” she adds. “People are still looking for a natural product appearance and are willing to use these photographic products to achieve that look.”

Advanced digital graphics on porcelain tile combine the natural look of materials such as marble, stone, and wood with the economy, durability, and maintenance advantages of porcelain. Kim Ferguson, Associate and Senior Interior Designer at LEO A DALY (www.leoadaly.com), points out that faux-wood-on-porcelain tiles are now available in saw-cut, smooth, and distressed textures in both traditional and modern color palettes.

RTKL’s Mukoyama notes the emergence of abstract patterns inspired by nature, as opposed to directly copying natural elements or scenes. “No longer are there ‘travertine-looking’ tiles, but rather a tile that has movement and tones abstracted from travertine,” she explains.

Building Teams seeking highly durable, attractive surfaces are also taking a second look at terrazzo. While terrazzo’s high first cost has traditionally discouraged owners, specifiers note that the material is making a comeback based on its longevity, low maintenance requirements, and ability to incorporate recycled materials.

Vinyl composite tiles measuring 12×12 inches cover the floor of this corridor at the Shawnee (Okla.) Early Childhood Center. PHOTO: JOSEPH MILLS PHOTOGRAPHY / COURTESY LWPB

In addition to morphing aesthetic demands, owners and Building Teams are looking for higher levels of sustainability—particularly with the recent release of LEED v4 and its new product transparency requirements. As more manufacturers begin listing environmental and health data for their products, sustainability claims will become more verifiable, and designers will no longer have to conduct such intensive independent research.

“From a designer’s perspective, this is extremely important and will help eliminate greenwashing and false sustainable advertisements,” says James.

The Resilient Floor Covering Institute’s FloorScore program and the Tile Council of North America’s Green Squared certification can provide useful guidance. In addition, specifiers can look to the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, www.hpdcollaborative.org, and Declare, www.declareproducts.com, for valuable information about healthy flooring products.

 VENDORS OFFER NEW CHOICES IN CONVENTIONAL MATERIALS

With sustainability as a backdrop, a significant increase in options, variety, and technological advances is making familiar flooring materials more appealing for Building Teams and their clients. Development is occurring in all the standard categories, including hardwood, carpet, resilient, terrazzo, and concrete.

Hardwood and its substitutes. Although more popular in the residential market, hardwood flooring still enjoys a legion of fans in the commercial AEC industry. Some commercial designers are taking cues from high-end residential architecture—a field whose practioners have long understood the value of natural wood for adding warmth and comfort.

“Wide-plank wood flooring is in high demand, and we are also specifying end-cut wood floors as well as very narrow planks depending on the environment,” reports LEO A DALY’s Ferguson, who is Past President of the American Society of Interior Designers Nebraska/Iowa chapter. RTKL’s Mukoyama is seeing a lot of distressed hardwood in funky new treatments, such as layouts that contrast dark and bleached tones, or varying wood tile prints in a single strip of flooring.

Reclaimed wood, available in a variety of species, remains popular as an attractive, sustainable option. “The idea of using reclaimed wood can help leverage the sustainable story and offer a second life for a material that once existed at the bottom of a lake, or as a barn, fencing, paneling, or siding,” says SmithGroupJJR’s James.

Concerns about scratch and moisture resistance and higher maintenance requirements can discourage commercial building owners from embracing real wood. Faux wood products, such as luxury vinyl tile (LVT), porcelain, or vinyl sheet goods laminated with wood prints, are becoming increasingly popular, especially as the level of perceived “authenticity” improves. Available in sheets and planks in varying widths to resemble the look of cut wood, faux wood is showing up more often in venues such as hospitals, medical office buildings, and residence halls.

At the Fashion Outlet of Chicago, RTKL created a universal floor design with warm, natural tones, forming a neutral backdrop for 100+ retail tenants. PHOTO: DAVID WHITCOMB / COURTESY RTKL 

Wood-look resilient material has its tradeoffs, says Angie Clarkson, LEED AP BD+C, a registered interior designer at architecture and interiors firm LWPB (www.lwpb.com). “On one hand, LVT is never going to feel the same underfoot as a natural hardwood floor. Any imperfections in the substrate will certainly transfer to the surface, just like any 1/8-inch-thick product. On the other hand, it gives designers a whole world of exotic wood species at their fingertips. You want the look of an endangered African rosewood? You’ve got it without the long lead times or the ecological guilt.”

Carpeting. Carpet tiles continue to dominate the commercial carpeting marketplace, and are estimated to account for 55 to 60% of carpeting contract sales. Tile products offer extensive design flexibility, and it’s much easier to replace worn or damaged tiles than to fix a problem with broadloom carpet. Initial installation produces less waste, and some tile products no longer require adhesives.

With vendors offering an ever-shifting mix of styles, colors, shapes, and patterns, designers have free rein. Beyond the traditional squares, manufacturers have introduced rectangular planks of 24×48 inches, skinny tiles of 25 centimeters x one meter, mega tiles of 36 inches square, and hexagon-shaped tiles.

“For many of our projects, we look at mixing product styles and color to create an intentional design experience when the users and guests move throughout the space,” says James. “This approach also gives designers an opportunity to change the experience from space to space by modifying the products we specify.”

Broadloom still has a place in budget-driven projects, says Ana Pinto-Alexander, RID, IIDA, EDAC, Principal and Senior VP and Director of Healthcare Interior Architecture at HKS (www.hks.com). In addition, coordinating broadloom with modular carpeting can enable designers to maintain a consistent design, yet save some cash by specifying broadloom in lower-traffic areas such as conference rooms and private offices.

Another notable development in carpet products has been the emergence of new fiber formulas—some of them involving recycled waste—that offer increased softness or better stain protection and durability. In the broadloom market, for instance, a newer silk-like weave lends a luxurious feel and luster. Other products incorporate Nylon 6,6, a commercial polymer with a chemical structure that conveys additional strength and stain resistance, or Nylon 6, once considered a “value” product but the subject of recent technological improvements. Manufacturers are creatively using post-consumer waste such as fishing nets, textiles, and fluff from the tops of old carpets and rugs.

Resilient flooring. In this category, commercial-project designers generally lean toward vinyl composition tile (VCT), LVT, linoleum, and rubber. “The qualities that make resilient flooring choices stand out are the color and texture offerings, sustainable properties, and ease of maintenance requirements,” says SmithGroupJJR’s James.

If initial cost is the overriding factor, VCT often trumps other options. No longer limited to 12×12-inch tiles, VCT is now available in a variety of sizes and patterns.

Linoleum offers renewable, natural properties and textural warmth. “The design possibilities are almost limitless given a great installer and some imagination,” says Quadrangle’s Robbie, who teaches design courses as an adjunct professor at Ryerson University and Ontario College of Art and Design.

The same can be said for LVT, especially since wood and stone patterns are becoming more and more realistic. Vendors are also coming up with appealing options for installation, according to LWPB’s Clarkson. “Multiple LVT manufacturers are unveiling floating floors, which are planks or tiles that interlock and do not need to be glued to the substrate. One notable advantage of these floating floors is the option to install planks directly over existing VCT or ceramic. In a renovation project, the material cost of LVT may be higher than that of VCT, but by foregoing demolition and floor prep costs, the total installed cost of LVT can be brought a lot closer to that of VCT.”

Using 500,000 sf of terrazzo to help capture the whimsical nature of Corus Entertainment’s brand, Quadrangle Architects also specified custom wool carpets, access floors, teak hardwood, linoleum, and cork resilient flooring for the company’s eight-story Corus Quay project in Toronto. PHOTO: COURTESY QUADRANGLE ARCHITECTS

Clarkson also notes that bio-based tile (BBT), sometimes called “VCT’s younger brother,” is gaining interest. Made from rapidly renewable material such as corn husks, and often PVC-free, BBT can handle static and rolling loads, whereas VCT cannot. Even in more traditional resilient flooring categories, manufacturers are finding ways to avoid phthalates, which have been proven to cause reproductive problems in lab animals. Through the use of more natural plasticizers, products are still able to offer good levels of flexibility and durability.

“In addition, we are seeing no-wax resilient flooring, which is a response to the environmental concerns as well as the maintenance issues of stripping and re-waxing, especially within buildings that operate 24/7,” says LEO A DALY’s Ferguson. “Certainly, the availability of regional and recycled-content materials continues to improve, and the market is much more aware of indoor air quality concerns. A resource such as The Living Building Challenge’s Red List of hazardous chemicals is very helpful.” (For more, see the “Materials” section at https://ilbi.org/lbc/LBC%20Documents/LBC2-0.pdf.)

Terrazzo. For those who can get past the first cost of terrazzo, HKS’s Pinto-Alexander assures that a great long-term ROI is in store. She reports seeing more terrazzo in large entrance lobbies and primary public circulation areas for corporate, healthcare, sports, and higher education venues.

“Seamlessly smooth transitions are respectful to wheelchair users and others with challenges in physical mobility, while accommodating dynamic patterns. Manufacturers offer an array of transition strip options,” she says.

Polished concrete. Although polished concrete isn’t appropriate for every site, these floors are continuing to find a place in retail, corporate, sports, and specialty healthcare settings. “We are taking advantage of increased options and control in polished concrete dyes and scribed patterns,” says Pinto-Alexander. “New advances in pigment chemistry are more sustainable and better at covering flooring substrate imperfections. They offer specialty effects that are more predictable than traditional acid stains.”

Because concrete is so customizable, Ferguson says, it can be appropriate for a variety of environments. “Whether the desire is a monolithic natural concrete color or colored ground with stainless strips to create a terrazzo-patterned effect, concrete can achieve this. In addition, it is durable, easy to clean, and environmentally sustainable.”

While Robbie is also a big fan, she is currently experiencing some resistance in clients’ willingness to use concrete as a finished floor. The “brick and beam” warehouse workplace is trending toward grittier finishes, she says.

 HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT MATERIAL FOR EVERY COMMERCIAL PROJECT TYPE

With such a broad range of choices available, product specification can be quite a challenge. Experienced designers offer some general rules of thumb for various applications.

Healthcare. No-wax resilient sheet and tile products—including rubber, linoleum, sheet vinyl, and vinyl tile—dominate in healthcare. Some designers select carpet tile or terrazzo to meet healthcare facilities’ needs for “rollability,” smooth transitions, and slip resistance.

Infection control and biological containment are crucial factors for many clients in this sector. “Over the next five to 10 years, it will be interesting to see makers of products that are nontraditional for healthcare, such as carpet and modular products, attempt to produce metrics showing that ‘hard and shiny’ is just as capable of supporting biohazards as ‘soft and matte,’” says Quadrangle’s Robbie.

K-12 and higher education. The need to provide rugged surfaces for an economical price drives most decisions in this market, according to Robbie. “Education, like healthcare, has the burden of maintenance and durability as the primary deciding factors. Combine that requirement with severe cost constraints, and the choices for flooring in educational environments become very limited.”

VCT, porcelain, linoleum, broadloom, and carpet tiles are often specified for school and college projects. Terrazzo and polished concrete are often used in main-floor public spaces, and natural wood and rubber are typicially specified in gyms and other recreational areas.

Retail. Retail and restaurant projects are largely governed by aesthetics and branding, which gives designers more latitude and a greater selection of product choices. “The primary drivers in retail settings are company brand, regionally influenced high-impact aesthetics, ease of maintenance, first cost, and recognition that retail entities are often required to update interiors frequently to keep up with market completion,” says HKS’s Pinto-Alexander. The sector’s most popular product types are carpet tile, natural stone tile, and wood. Polished concrete, LVT, and porcelain tile can be found as well.

Workplace. As with retail projects, flooring choices for offices must tie into the organization’s brand and regional aesthetics. Durability requirements will vary based on each space’s purpose within the larger project. “The way a boardroom is finished tells the visitor about the company, but the copy room only needs to be durable,” says Robbie. “The choices for flooring products change with these functional needs, along with the constant balance of cost, quality, durability, installation, and ease of maintenance.”

Topping the list of go-to products for offices are carpet tile, broadloom carpet, and no-wax vinyl resilient sheet goods and tile, according to Pinto-Alexander. Ferguson is seeing stone, porcelain, wood, and cork flooring making inroads in this sector.

A common choice in healthcare settings, rubber was specified for the corridors and support spaces at Riley. PHOTO COURTESY HKS

Hospitality and sports venues. Similar to retail sites, hotels must be prepared to frequently update their interiors. Broadloom, carpet tile, and large-sized natural stone tiles are frequently selected, according to Pinto-Alexander. For sports facilities, dealing with heavy traffic and long-term durability are important, and designers often choose polished concrete, rubber, hardwood, and carpet tile, depending on the use of each area.

Space type also governs choices of color and pattern, with each market sector showing some distinct trends. Says Pinto-Alexander, “Classic, modern, monochromatic neutrals and subtle tailored patterns still play a large role in corporate and hospitality settings and are on the rise for healthcare. Large-scale geometric and organic patterns, as well as sculpturally textured carpets, continue to play a strong role in hospitality settings. Brighter, more vibrant palettes that are fresh and transparent are now more prevalent, and are especially popular in pediatrics and high-energy corporate and sports settings.”

 FIRST COST VS. LIFE CYCLE: HOW TO STRIKE AN APPROPRIATE BALANCE

First cost has traditionally driven flooring decisions—often inhibiting the specification of better quality, more expensive systems. Particularly in facilities such as K-12 schools, decision makers have frequently been very restricted by initial budgets, hoping that O+M funds would be sufficient to sustain their buildings over time, according to Clarkson.

This scenario has begun to change. Many facility owners, even school districts, are taking a more long-term view. Low-maintenance and durable choices such as rubber, LVT, porcelain, and polished concrete are being given a fairer analysis, despite their higher first cost.

Essentially, says Robbie, it’s all about balance. Because every product entails strong points and tradeoffs, life cycle performance should logically be given the most emphasis. In Quadrangle’s experience, many clients appreciate that reduced operational costs over the floor’s lifetime do ultimately improve their facility and their bottom line.

Nevertheless, budget frequently continues to win out. “I try to choose a product that will stand up to wear and tear, but if it’s not in budget, there’s no point in even considering it,” Mukoyama says.

When there is an opportunity to encourage clients to take the long view, it can be helpful to get the facilities maintenance director and staff involved. “If a new flooring product is being introduced into a facility, create a mockup area where foot and cart traffic is comparable to anticipated traffic and have the facility staff test it out,” suggests Ferguson.

Architects at Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (www.qka.com) conduct initial research using manufacturers’ literature, and seek feedback from current and past clients on product performance. They then request multiple 2×2-foot samples to give end-users a better idea of the look and feel of the flooring, particularly with regard to color and large-scale patterns, explains Mark Quattrocchi, AIA, Principal and Founder of the firm.

In addition, end-users need to be educated about maintenance requirements, particularly if these will be different than what the staff has been accustomed to. Even in situations where a new product means less maintenance, such as rubber flooring replacing VCT, end-users still need to be made aware that rubber is naturally less shiny than VCT, which sparkles after every polish.

The Choosing By Advantages Decisionmaking System, a book by Jim Suhr, can help Building Teams weigh first costs and long-term expenses. Often abbreviated as CBA, the Choosing By Advantages system has been adopted by numerous government agencies, notably the Forest Service, and by some AEC firms.

For example, a resilient floor will typically last 20 to 30 years, if properly maintained. Once owners are made aware of this information, they can more easily see the benefit of increasing the project budget, using contingency funds, or evaluating another part of the design to afford options with a long life, says Pinto-Alexander. “In most cases, a facility can see a return on investment in as little as three to five years.”

Adopting the principles of CBA into their own analytic spreadsheet, HKS helps clients make evidence-informed decisions based on an understanding of each project’s hierarchy of priorities. In the recent design of Simon Family Tower at Indiana University Health’s Riley Hospital for Children, in Indianapolis, sheet vinyl, VCT, and bio-based tile emerged as the most “advantageous” flooring options after CBA analysis. (See page 72.)

Pinto-Alexander also recommends a guide developed by the Center for Health Design, which details product performance characteristics and the physical composition of various flooring materials. In addition, CHD’s Evidence-Based Design checklist, available at www.healthdesign.org/sites/bdc/files/tandusflooringreport_final.pdf, can be very helpful.

Specifiers can also avail themselves of life cycle analysis tools offered by the Carpet and Rug Institute and the Tile Council of America, in addition to a number of resilient flooring manufacturers. However, Robbie points out that using such tools can be rather time consuming, and that personal experience is often the best indicator of a product’s life cycle cost. “There is nothing like a failure to remind us of the balance that must be struck between cheap initial cost and the durability of a product,” she says. Robbie also recommends reaching out to facilities management companies for solid information on costs for flooring maintenance and replacement.

Of particular interest to those who do healthcare projects, a 15-year study by Florida Hospital’s Office of Design tracked the total average cost of maintaining 1,000 sf of VCT, sheet vinyl, rubber, and carpet. Rubber, by far, offered the best life cycle value. Similarly, in a study conducted by an interior designer at Burt Hill before that firm merged with Stantec, rubber, bamboo, and hardwood were found to be the most cost-effective choices for healthcare installations over the course of 15 years. VCT came in at triple the cost of these options once maintenance expenses were factored in.

Regardless of the flooring type or application, one thing is certain: Building Teams have more product choices than ever before, lending unprecedented levels of design freedom. As industry knowledge of product health, performance, and life cycle costs becomes more prevalent, specifiers will be able to make even more informed recommendations on the best flooring for every project.

Decision methods produce choices tailored to healthcare

Offering both aesthetic advantages and durability, terrazzo was selected as the lobby flooring for Riley Hospital for Children’s Simon Family Tower, Indianapolis, part of Indiana University Health. PHOTO COURTESY HKS

Tasked with designing the new 10-story Simon Family Tower for Indiana University Health’s Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, HKS decided to take a step back between the project’s two phases in order to thoroughly evaluate assorted flooring options. Vinyl composition tile had been specified for the med/surg patient floor corridors and support spaces that were completed in 2011.

For the second phase, the design team took a hard look at using rubber vs. sheet vinyl in the corridors and support spaces. The same analysis was done for the remainder of the Phase 2 flooring systems.

“Exploration of the decision-making process related to an array of flooring materials with analytics on first costs and long-term ROI, including comparison of maintenance costs, reasons for design team recommendation, and reasons for final client selections,” says Ana Pinto-Alexander, RID, IIDA, EDAC, Principal and Senior VP, Director of Healthcare Interior Architecture at HKS.

By applying Choosing by Advantages methodology through their own proprietary worksheet, designers evaluated attributes, or “Factors,” of each flooring product. The “Factors” were assigned “Advantages.”

“The client then gave the most important Factors and Advantages the highest scores,” explains Pinto-Alexander. “The least important Factor and Advantage was given the lowest score. At the end of the exercise, the preferred product had the highest score. This score can then be compared to initial product cost, helping the client make an educated decision on initial cost and ROI.”

Ultimately, the hospital went with the majority of the design team’s recommendations, which included the following:

•  Main lobby: terrazzo. “Terrazzo has been a standard in the hospital for all of their first-floor corridors and public entrances. It is a great product for aesthetics, cleanability, and durability,” reports Pinto-Alexander.

•  Patient floor corridors and support spaces: rubber. The environmental services team toured several comparable hospital facilities, helping them overcome initial thoughts that the floor had to be waxed to be considered clean. In addition, the owner came to the realization that rubber offered a better long-term ROI than VCT, plus ease of maintenance, infection control, and sustainability.

•  Patient rooms: sheet vinyl. The flooring type was chosen based on its faux-wood warmth, no-wax cleanability, durability, and seamless finish.

•  Waiting areas: carpet tiles. The tiles were selected for pattern, durability, and ease of changing out stained tiles.

•  Offices and conference spaces: broadloom carpet. As a low-cost alternative to carpet tile, broadloom was able to maintain the desired aesthetic with a coordinating pattern.

Original Article

The Hottest Trends in Flooring

This ain’t your mother’s vinyl. Today’s flooring options include luxury vinyl, like this one made to look like reclaimed wood. Photo: Armstrong Flooring, Architectural Remnants collection.

In the flooring world, carpeting is getting softer. Wood is getting more roughed-up. And vinyl is getting more luxurious.

Yes, you read that right. “Luxury vinyl” isn’t a contradiction in terms — it’s the phrase du jour among those who pay close attention to the materials home buyers are eager to walk on.
“It’s the fastest-growing portion of the industry in the past two years,” according to Scott Humphrey, chief executive of the World Floor Covering Association, a trade group based in Anaheim, Calif., which says this flooring category has developed thanks to extraordinary photo technology that mimics wood (or just about any other material) so closely that you have to look twice to see that it’s vinyl.

But luxury vinyl is far from the only flooring product that’s drawing consumer attention. Here’s the NewHomeSource guide to what’s hot underfoot:

Carpeting

It’s getting more environmentally friendly and a few manufacturers are creating fiber combinations that take softness to a whole new level, Humphrey says. “Everybody is making carpet that’s green. They have factories that do this all across the United States. Shaw (Floors) is the only one that recycles nylon into carpeting, but a lot of companies melt down polyester and make new fiber over and over.”

Humphrey, who grew up in a carpet-manufacturing family, says he regards the development of softer textures as the cutting-edge trend in the business. “The thing that has been most surprising to me is the return of luxury carpet. Some of it is the softest carpet I’ve ever felt.”

He particularly cites Shaw’s Caress line (nylon, with a new way of processing the fiber) and Mohawk Flooring’s SmartStrand Silk line (a nylon product that the company says uses three times the number of fibers of other carpet). Humphrey said the carpet industry was likely to follow suit.

In terms of carpet styles, the current favorite probably is a broad genre called cut-and-loop, in which the pile is partly cut and partly looped to create a sculpted look or pattern, he says.

“They’re ‘heathered’ and multi-tonal,” explains Amber Shay, vice president of the design studio for Standard Pacific Homes’ Denver operation, which works with homebuyers to choose the features and finishes of their new homes. “The trend is more toward the patterned carpet, with a cleaner finish, and some personality to it.”

Shay says Standard Pacific customers in her area (flooring preferences tend to vary by region) who favor carpeting tend to use it in bedrooms and on stairs.

Wood

With the advent of the “great room” concept that unites kitchen and family rooms into one expansive space, it’s become common to see hardwoods on kitchen floors, Shay says. “We’re almost always doing woods in kitchens. With the great room plan, having consistent flooring is a big part of that picture, having the space ‘roll.’ ”

A popular route to take with wood floors are the laminate versions, she says. “(Laminate) is a thin piece of wood on a core that’s made of something else. It creates structural stability, so you have less movement in the floor and it’s less expensive than solid hardwood.”

Preferences in hardwoods are leaning toward darker stains, with a growing interest in gray tones, she says. “The trends are also toward larger planks or toward using multiple-sized planks and toward more exotic species — hickory, cherry, walnut.”

Look for more wood floors that have been hand-scraped and hand-textured, Shay says. Humphrey concurs: “People are willing to pay for a new floor, but they want it to look old.”

And in a related (and greener) vein, a growing segment of the market is interested in reclaimed woods, which have been salvaged from older residential flooring or even from old barns. “Or, a lot of companies are taking new hardwood and making it look old,” Humphrey says. “It’s like what happened with blue jeans — making them look worn.”

Bamboo flooring made a big splash in the industry some years back because it comes from an easily renewable resource, but the category gradually met with some resistance because some early versions were known to have shrinkage issues. “Bamboo is getting better,” Humphrey says of the recent incarnations. “I haven’t heard much about the shrinkage issue in a couple of years.” Look for bamboo to be produced in an array of colors and plank widths.

Luxury Vinyl

The “luxury” angle may be a bit of a stretch, but technology unquestionably has given some vinyls a whole new look. At its most basic, the process of producing it amounts to taking a photo of wood and printing it into the significantly less expensive vinyl flooring, usually in the form of squares or planks.

“But anything you can take a picture of, you can make it into vinyl tile,” Humphrey says. “It can go into various rooms — some of it looks like marble and people put it in bathrooms.”

Tile

Ceramic tile is getting bigger — literally. Tile in formats larger than the standard 12-by-12 inches are growing in popularity, though there’s a lot of variation in regional preferences, Humphrey says.

“And those digital prints that you see on laminate countertops and vinyl tile — they’re also doing that on ceramic tile, so that you might also see tiles that look like hardwoods,” he says.

In the Denver area, Shay says the biggest trend is toward “modular” sizes — rectangular tiles or 12-by-24-inch sizes. “We’re seeing lots of tile that looks like a fabric, or like wood,” she said. “Some of them have a concrete kind of look.”

Original Article

The Beautiful Patterns of Cut & Loop Carpet

FlooringArticlesBigelow StainmasterBlues/PurplesCarpetCreams/BeigesGrays/BlacksInnoviaMedium NeutralsResista

As the name suggests, cut & loop carpet has a combination of high cut tufts and lower loops in a variety of sculptured patterns. Tough and durable, cut & loop carpets can be used in any place that gets a lot of activity. But, probably the most attractive feature of these carpets is the beautiful, yet subtle patters that they can create. Unlike patters created by using different color fibers, cut & loop patterns usually use all the same color fibers. The pattern is created by the difference in texture between the cut ends of the fibers and the looped pieces. These carpets are great at adding a dimension of texture that creates an enhanced plush profile and camouflages traffic patterning. Here are some of our favorite cut and loop styles.

 

Striations & Waves

Catch a wave with these free-flowing patterns. They’ll help hide traffic marks and small stains and they add just the right amount of interest to your floors.

 

Clockwise from top left: Ryan’s Creek by Resista Soft Style, Rosbury by Bigelow, Exceptional by Resista Soft Style, Azzaro by Bigelow (All available at Carpet One Floor & Home)

Swirls & Vines

Take more organic approach and opt for vine-like patterns on your floor. These patterns have a more traditional elegance.

 

Clockwise from top left: Kampai! by Innovia Touch, Side by Side by Evans Black, Tuscan Canvas by Evans Black, Chateau Del Fleurs by Evans Black (All available at Carpet One Floor & Home)

Lines, Stripes & Blocks

For a more structured look, there are many options of lines, stripes, checks and blocks.

 

Clockwise from top left: Trumbull by Innovia, Slainte! from Innovia Touch, Rockwood by Resista SoftStyle, Leah Marie II by Bigelow, Olinda by Bigelow, Merifield by Innovia (All available at Carpet One Floor & Home)

Original Article

Choosing the Right Hardwood Floors for Your Home

FlooringArticlesFamily RoomHardwoodInvincible HardwoodKitchenLiving RoomRustic RiverTransitional

Generally, there two types of hardwood flooring— solid and engineered. Whether it’s a strip or plank, solid hardwood flooring is a single piece of wood, which can easily be customized and can be re-sanded to change finishes. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is made of 3 to 5 layers laminated together with grains running at different angles.

There are different advantages for each type of floor. They will both give you a beautiful, natural look for your floors. In fact, once installed, you may have a hard time telling the difference at all. This can make choosing difficult. Here are the important facts you need to consider before you choose between solid and engineered hardwood floors.

 

Find beautiful floors like these from Carpet One Floor & Home.

Location, Location, Location

Where your hardwood floors will be installed is a very important factor in choosing what is right for your home. Solid wood floors are only appropriate for above ground installation, so if you’re looking for flooring for a basement, engineered floors are clearly the appropriate choice. Solid wood floors are also more sensitive to moisture. Even seasonal changes in moisture can affect solid hardwood floors. You may notice that floors contract during drier months and expand when humidity is high. If you manage the humidity levels in your home well, this may not be an issue but it is something to be aware of.  Solid wood floors may also not be appropriate for extremely moist areas of the home like a bathroom or even a kitchen.

While engineered hardwood looks like solid hardwood, it is actually more structurally stable and can be used anywhere, even places like basements where moisture may be an issue.

 

Find beautiful floors like these from Carpet One Floor & Home.

The Look (or Looks) You Love

While both engineered and solid hardwoods come in many different species and styles, once you choose your engineered floor, you are committed to the stain color of your floors. Solid floors, however, can be sanded and re-stained many times over the lifetime of the floor. Refinishing floors is not an easy process by any means but it can be a more cost-effective way to change your look then buying new floors.

 

Find beautiful floors like these from Carpet One Floor & Home.

Although most styles of hardwood floors – both solid and engineered – are timeless and classic, you may find yourself drawn to trendier stains and a desire to change your look more frequently. Remember, hardwood floors are very long-lasting. If this is the case, you may benefit from the versatility that solid wood floors offer.

Enjoying Your Floors

No matter which type of flooring you choose, properly installed and sealed hardwood flooring requires minimal care to maintain its good looks. Simply vacuum regularly and wipe weekly with a damp mop. And, since it’s sealed it can’t absorb spills, so it won’t stain.

Original Article

Wall To Wall Carpet Styles That Make Great Area Rugs

For many of us, new flooring is simply not always in reach. However, this doesn’t mean you have to neglect your floors. Layering with an area rug is the perfect way to add warmth, dimension and interest to a room, and an easy way to keep your home on trend at a price that won’t break the bank. Our recommendation for finding the perfect area rug? Find a wall to wall (or broadloom) carpet you love, and have it cut and bound to your ideal dimensions. Insider tip: Depending on the size you’re looking for, you may be able to utilize a carpet remnant, saving yourself even more money. We’ve compiled 12 of our favorite wall to wall carpets that would make beautiful, on trend area rugs:

GO GEO

Geometric designs are everywhere in interiors and for good reason. Adding a geometric rug not only adds interest to a design, but is a wonderful way to break up an open concept layout to define an individual room or space. Dip your toe into this trend by opting for a subtle design within a neutral color family.

 

NATURAL FIBERS

Natural textiles and materials continue to make waves in the world of interior design and flooring has not been left behind. We’re seeing an increase in the amount of styles that evoke the look of naturally fibers like jute and sisal. Not only is this design extremely approachable, but it also nurtures a sense of well-being a comfort.

 

MOSAIC MOTIF

Mosaic-style design is one of this year’s top trends in flooring, and what better way to dabble than with an area rug. With so many colors and patterns, the options are endless for a mosaic-style area rug.

 

STRIKING STRIATIONS

Combining organic textural qualities with luxurious, lustrous accents, area rugs are mimicking the natural characteristics of wood and stone, making the perfect pair for rustic hardwood and matte tile flooring. This trending construction is achieved with an increasing use of striations along with blends of beige, gold, gray and taupe fibers.

 

 

Original Article

Hardwood Flooring Trends 2017

With the recent real estate market surge (as of this writing December 2017) new wood floors will help boost selling prices opposed to ones that still have carpeting. Today’s trends show brownish to darker stained products selling quite well in northern states, reds and browns in the prarie states (Texas, Oklahoma and others) and mountain regions. The popularity of greys, off whites and beige are seeing good demand along coastal areas or warmer regions that include Florida, Southern California and Arizona.

Natural Finished Hardwoods Making A Comeback

It was only a matter of time before savvy homeowners began turning back to traditional hardwoods without trendy colors and other effects. 2016 saw a renewed interest for reasons of becoming neutral and ‘thinking ahead.’ Better explained from some of our buying customers with comments like; “I don’t want to regret my decision when it comes to selling my home” or “I’m not sure I want to go through the hassle of changing everything when grey goes out of style.”

Distressed?

Heavier hand scraped or contoured products, the rage that started around 2005 has taken a back seat in most areas, while a softer wire brushed ceruse effect seen mostly on White Oak (below) has been remarkably strong showing no effects of becoming “dated” like the others mentioned. Reclaimed hardwoods will always be welcomed but it’s popularity has never taken a front row seat.

See Grey & Beige Hardwoods
Darker stained hand scraped

Most Popular Types of Hardwood?

What hardwoods are people buying? Red oak remains strong in the sand and finish market. White Oak has taken on a renaissance with a large number of character graded prefinished hardwoods. Hickory remains strong, while being used more for distressed type floors or offering the rustic choice. Lighter toned hardwoods in the likes of Maple and Birch have lost favor in their natural finished form, but are still desired for those seeking a cleaner contemporary look.

Exotics have taken a sizable hit as has bamboo. Brazilian Cherry, the rage of 10 and 15 years past, is seen less and now replaced by the trendier character grade hardwoods and a return to less pronounced natural colors without the heavy character.

Factory prefinished wood flooring remains the selection of choice over actual on site installation and finishing. Reasons include faster completion schedules as the flooring is ready to be used immediately instead of waiting for finishes to cure. Additionally, prefinished warranties are very difficult to top traditional on site ones. The majority of manufacturers are now offering 25 and 50 year warranties. Looked at closely, they only cover the actual wear of the finish itself.

Longer Length Hardwoods

Wider plank flooring has seen a dramatic increase in use since the turn of the century. Some prefer their appearance as it can open up rooms that may otherwise feel or look smaller. Along with wider plank hardwoods, longer length material is becoming more the norm. By way of explanation, I’ll offer an example.

In the late 90’s Anderson was king of the hand scraped market; the innovator really. Others followed suit going into the new century, along with a tidal wave of Chinese knockoffs, but nearly all consisted of short length engineered hardwoods that weren’t any longer than 42 or 48 inches. Most didn’t notice it until we took notice thinking…”if we can produce a solid hardwood with longer lengths, why can’t we do the same for engineered?”

Why Longer Lengths?

For one, they’re more traditional. Along with that the desire for wider plank appearances didn’t make sense with short pieces. I like to call it the checkerboard look (shown). An installed 7 inch wide plank for example, looks exceptional with longer boards opposed to shorter ones due to the bevel or micro bevel all prefinished manufacture.

Plank Size?

Plank width size has been increasing since five inch wide planks came on stream with Anderson and other prefinished manufacturers at the turn of the century. Over the most recent five years or going back to 2011 we’re seeing more 7 ½” planks, practically all imported from China. 7 ½” width is a dead giveaway as it is simply not made in the USA. USA made uses a 7 or 7 1/4″ dimension.

Issues With Wide Plank Solid Hardwoods

View the video below.

Unique Prefinished Custom Colors

Visit our custom coloring page

Random or Mixed Width

Random or mixed width is becoming more noticed and used. However, most manufacturers limit the consumer to their own specifications, namely 3 and five inch width. Our own engineered hardwoods offer any combination from 3 ¼ up to 8 ¼” width on Hickory, White & Red Oak, along with Walnut.

Types Of Finishes

Today low matte finishes (10-20%) are the norm with mid to higher end floors, but satin (30-40 % gloss level) remains constant with others.

Natural Oil Finishes? Good or Bad?

On the higher end and those seeking environmentally friendly choices, natural oil finishes have been making significant inroads with manufacturers in the likes of Hallmark, WD Flooring and DuChateau and a seemingly forever list.

Reasons are obvious as these finishes contain little if any VOC’s and are much easier to repair. However, they can be a maintenance headache for some and premature color wear in high traffic areas can be a reality. Ideally, these finishes are suited more for those that have professionals maintain their floors. Or if you have plenty of time to look after them yourself; not always an easy task.

For unfinished flooring or those sanded on site, some of the more established finishing products used by flooring contractors are Basic Coatings, Bona, Rubio Monocoat, Poloplaz, and Synteko.

Durable Appearances

It’s not always about hardness. The video below explains what many do not realize and may never know until it’s too late.

What Areas Of The Home Are Hardwoods Being Installed?

Of the many floors installed today, areas of use have expanded over the years. More common areas used for new flooring today include; foyers, great, and dining rooms, dens, libraries, home offices, and hallways leading to bedrooms. Kitchens and powder rooms fall right behind while bedrooms are often preferred for carpeting.

Kitchens? Yes. Maintained properly, wood flooring in kitchens play a significant role. However, sheet vinyl, ceramic tile, or stone lead by a large margin as the floor covering of choice.

What Hardwood Floor Types Should We Choose?

I will have to leave this one up to you. If you haven’t noticed, there are a myriad of choices and options these days, but solid 3/4″ products are still the leading choice if you have a wood sub floor. Keep in mind, the popularity of wide plank floors limits solid products as they do not perform well in most environments. This is why you’re probably hearing many salespeople today recommending engineered hardwoods.

For those with concrete subfloors, engineered hardwoods should be considered in either a glue down application or floating installation. However, this does not rule out genuine solid wood flooring on concrete, but uses have fallen off dramatically in the last five years with the advent of thick veneer engineered floors including all of our Uptown hardwoods.

When Should They Be Installed?

Any hardwood flooring project should be scheduled very near the end of other work. The only other trades we would expect after the installation would be carpet installers, punch out trim, painting touch up guys, or wall paper hangers. It’s highly suggested to cover all completed areas to protect against damage. For limited trade traffic, gray craft paper available at the big box stores can be used to cover. Tape? 3M quality the painter dudes use are safe on wood floors, but should not be left on for extended periods of time. Nor should they be exposed to direct sunlight. It’s best not to tape to the floor but to the baseboards.

But! Our Remodeler/Builder Says It Has To Go Next Week

Haven’t we heard that before? Builders are notorious for not understanding when floors should be installed. Some reasons for their hurriedness include having the painting and trim subcontractors finish everything at once instead of having to come back. There are other reasons I will never figure out. If your new hardwood floor is installed with other major work not completed, make it clear to them you want the flooring protected.

Far too many times new floors get damaged so badly they need to be refinished before the remodeling work is completed. The best protection, besides having the work done at the proper time, is covering with 1/8″ masonite board, while duct taping the seams or joints. Duct tape should not be affixed to the floor itself. These efforts will be meaningless if the masonite board and finished floor¹ itself is not squeaky clean.

It doesn’t stop there. Depending on how much other work is needed to complete the remodel and the amount of debris created, it may be necessary to remove the masonite every so often making sure nothing has traveled underneath that will damage the finished floor. Common sense dictates the areas should be swept often and debris cleaned up at least once per day.

We’re Near the Beach. Sand?

Living near the beach, or in the desert, sand will always affect the performance of any flooring. Attention to care and maintenance should be given priority. Newer high tech finishes will help handle the everyday wear, but not the inevitable scratching. Lighter grays, beige and off white brushed hardwoods that help camouflage minor issues when it comes to sand are extremely popular in this scenario.

See our Imagination product videos for ideas.

Many Say Not To Use Wide Planks Near Water

Solid wide plank products will be more susceptible to adverse reactions relating to high moisture levels, but some types are less prone than others. Engineered or quarter sawn hardwood will offer a safer alternative if in doubt.

¹ Site finished floors need time to cure. Covering may not be an option. Consult a qualified professional with this one.

Original Post

6 Beautiful Luxury Vinyl Tile Floors

For some reason, most people have an adverse reaction to the thought of vinyl floors. Ok, maybe they’re ok for the bathroom, but for the rest of your home? The fact is, vinyl products have come a long way. There’s even a new category of vinyl floors – Luxury Vinyl Tile (sometimes called LVT).

 

vinyl tile (or vinyl plank) floor like this one from Carpet One’s Invincible Vinyl Tile collection could be just the floor you’ve been dreaming of.

WHY LUXURY VINYL TILE?

LVT is a great option for rooms that have moistures, spaces that need a durable flooring option and it can save you money too. Depending on the style you choose, you could save as much as 4 dollars a square foot compared to a similar hardwood style. That really adds up considering the average kitchen size is around 300 square feet.

We also love that luxury vinyl flooring is softer and warmer underfoot. Great if you spend a lot of time standing on your floors.

Perhaps the best feature of Luxury Vinyl Tile is getting the look you really want. Manufacturers have even gone the extra mile in creating tiles that are the shape and size of wood planks (sometimes referred to as Luxury Vinyl Plank) so that when they’re installed, you get even closer to the look a wood floor.  Luxury Vinyl Tile and Luxury Vinyl Plank can have beveled edges and even the texture you would expect in a hardwood or tile floor. You might even forget it’s not the real thing.

Here are some of our favorite rooms featuring Luxury Vinyl Tile. Which is your favorite?

 

Great wood look for a living room. Durable enough to stand up to the whole family.

 

Something  durable and beautiful for a dinging room, yes please!

 

A sleek look in the living room.

 

Perfect for a kitchen. Holds up to moisture and it’s easy to stand on.

 

 

Eat in kitchens get a lot of traffic. Invincible Vinyl Tile can stand up to that.

Where would you put a beautiful luxury vinyl tile floor in your home?

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Why Choose Engineered Stone?

Flooring technology has taken a big step and created an engineered stone floor that is amazingly realistic. But, why would you want stone floors that aren’t stone? There are many benefits of having this type of floor in your home.

 

3 Reasons to Go with Engineered

First, if you want the look of stone, but you’re on a budget, engineered stone gives you more options to find the perfect look without blowing your budget. The floor is installed and grouted in a very similar manner to real stone so you’ll have the same look.

 

If you live in a colder climate – or just hate having cold feet – engineered stone could be your dream come true. It is warmer and softer underfoot. These floors are also much more resistant to scratches and cracks.

 

When it comes time to install your new floors, engineered stone requires less floor preparation making the installation easier, quicker and less expensive.

 

If you think engineered stone could be just the floor you’re looking for, check out this inspiration from VEROSTONE available at Carpet One Floor & Home.

Original Post

Entryway Flooring

There’s no getting around tracking mother nature’s messiness into your entryway, especially this time of year. So with spring just a few days away, it’s the perfect time to talk about entryway flooring.

One thing we know for sure, is an entryway is bound to endure a lot of foot traffic, dirt, mud and moisture. For this reason, the well-used space requires a floor that is durable, easy-to-clean and naturally water-resistant. Tile, vinyl and laminate flooring are three great options for an entryway, fitting both the practicality bill and offering style. With today’s advances in technology, vinyl and laminate floors can mimic the look and even feel of natural hardwood, ceramic or stone. Throw tile in the mix, and you have an expansive and varied selection of entryway flooring guaranteed to fit nearly any design style.

Pulling inspiration from two beautiful entryway interiors, we’ve produced flooring palettes that each include a tile, vinyl and laminate option. Continue reading for specifics on the products we’ve featured, as well as general information on the three flooring types. We have a feeling you’ll be learning something new!

Interiors By: Sims Hilditch;Studio McGee

FEATURED PRODUCTS – Are available through Carpet One Floor & Home.

TILE: Franciscan Slate Tile by Bel Terra in Coastal Azul & Continental Slate Floor Field Tile by Bel Terra in Asian Black

VINYL: Earthscapes Platinum Dahlia Vinyl in Color 997 & Vance Coburg Vinyl in Bobcat Tan

LAMINATE: Elkins Hall by Laminate For Life in Antique Brown & Tanglewood by Laminate For Life in Iron Gate

LEARN MORE –  Visit Carpet One Floor & Home’s, Flooring Simplified, your guide to tile, vinyl and laminate flooring.

Original Article

Art Inspires Home Decor

Beautiful artwork has long been an inspiration in creating striking interiors. From the subject matter to the myriad of color combinations, art can be the perfect inspirational element to get the creative process underway. In this post I share three color and design boards inspired by three of my favorite paintings that illustrate how art can influence home design.

Modern Romance

The muted pastels, smoldering grays and ethereal whites of Sir Henry Raeburn’s famed portraiture “Miss Eleanor Urquhart” along with  Raeburn’s masterful ability to capture the soft, feminine beauty of the subject convey a timeless romantic aesthetic. These features inspired the “Modern Romance” color and design scheme.

 

Painted River Cloud Pillow from Dransfield & Ross, Handpainted Charcoal and Indigo Pillow Cover from Delinda Boutique , ‘Curious’ Grey and Yellow Abstract Art Pillow from Zazzle, Eudora Chandelier from Currey & Company, Markham Sofa in Slate Gray from Home Decorators, Booneville Brushed Hardwood from Carpet One Floor & Home, Larkhall Granite Rectangle Rug from Karastan.

Palazzo Posh

Sir Peter Paul Rubens captured the splendor and opulence of aristocratic Italian life during the Renaissance in his renowned portrait of Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria. The “Palazzo Posh” color and décor scheme was inspired by the shimmering silver, gold and bronze hues of the Marchesa’s gown and the sumptuous velvet ruby red, black onyx and rich mahogany of the interior décor.

 

Copper Decorative Pillow from John Robshaw, Zebra Pillow from Surya, Lana Wall Sconce from Currey & Company, Hand Embroidered Brocade Pillow Cover from Banarsi Designs, Copper Decorative Pillow from John Robshaw, Griffin Charcoal Sofa from Urban Home, Hawthorne Ottoman from Bernhardt, Bravado Mahir Rectangle Rug from Karastan, Chandler Point Hardwood from Carpet One Floor & Home.

Farm Chic

Intense earth-inspired colors express the idyllic, romanticized farm life that Winslow Homer captured in his painting “The Dinner Horn”. The rustic, autumnal colors, and verdant meadow punctuated by the horn-blowers aqua tinged white dress billowing in the wind inspired the color scheme used in the “Farm Chic” décor scheme.

 

Graphic Field Pillow from Dransfield & Ross, Primal Decorative Pillow from Surya, Lacefield Bombay Mist Throw Pillow from Layla Grayce, Finial Pendant in Gold from Barbara Cosgrove, Marseilles Hardwood from Carpet One Floor & Home, Garland Chair from Wesley Hall, Pescadero Teal Rectangle Rug from Karastan.

Contributed By: Carmen Maria Natschke

Original Article

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