Don’t take the quality of your carpet cushion lightly
The performance of many carpets will hinge on the performance of the cushion. Spending a few extra dollars on cushion can mean extra years of performance for your carpet. Some carpet warranties also hinge on the grade of cushion you select.
Carpet cushion affects the luxury feel underfoot, quietness, resilience, cleaning, insulation, and, ultimately, the life of your carpet.
Crushing or flattening of your carpet fiber causes it to look ugly long before it’s useful wear life is over. Quality cushion will help resist this condition.
Don’t judge the quality by feel alone
Thick and luxurious carpet can fool you at times. Determine the performance you want and the conditions effecting your carpet. A tighter twisted fiber doesn’t feel as soft but it will generally give you better performance over the life of the carpet. A tightly twisted yarn will resist soiling, matting and crushing. When a yarn is not tightly twisted it may feel more luxurious but it will tend to crush and flatten out more quickly.
Read the labels
Generally speaking you can review the stain resistance, anti-static claims and wear warranties right on the back of the sample. You also will see the type of fiber ( nylon, polyester, polypropylene, etc.), the face weight, density, and twist.
There is no substitute for a knowledgeable sales person
As you can see there are a wide variety of issues to resolve in buying the best carpet for your needs. The performance and quality characteristics of carpet vary more widely than that of other flooring materials and a knowledgeable sales person will help you match up your performance needs.
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The correct subfloor structure is critical to performance
Ceramic tile, more than any other form of flooring, requires the proper subfloor system and setting materials. A double subfloor system with the total thickness of 1-1/4 in., over floor joists 16 in. on center is required. The top subfloor layer should be exterior grade plywood or an underlayment specifically designed for ceramic tile installation like cementous backerboard.Special setting materials are available which will allow ceramic tile installations over existing floors that are solid and already meet the above requirements. Failure to provide a sturdy base can cause grout to crack and release or tile to crack.
Although many ceramic tiles look the same, there are quality differences
The quality of raw materials, the firing process, and the sophistication of glazing applications that create realism will determine the quality of the finished product. These quality differences are often reflected in the price.
Selecting the right surface glaze is an important step when selecting floor tile
Floor tiles are rated for glaze wear and slip resistance, which are important factors to consider. Glaze ratings should exceed 3 for residential applications with the exception of bath areas that can use tiles rated 2. Tiles with a slip resistant rating of 0.5 or better should work well in most indoor residential applications.
Use caution when selecting tile for installations outdoors. Unglazed quarry tiles, tiles with heavily textured surfaces, or porcelain paver tiles, all with slip resistant ratings of 0.6 or greater are possibilities. They must also be frost resistant.
Request the best in setting materials
New latex modified mortars and grouts provide better strength while also allowing greater flexibility.
Dropping objects on ceramic tile–particularly heavy ones–can chip even the best tiles.
Factory Finish vs. Custom Sand & Finish on Site
You should feel comfortable with either choice. However, factory finishing offers many nice advantages. Factory finished flooring is inspected for defects at the mill so you receive first choice every time. On-site finishing depends on the quality of the workmanship that day.
Factory finished flooring usually installs more quickly and without the dust and odors that are involved with on-site finishing. However, even though factory finished flooring comes in a variety of colors, on-site finishing allows for closer color match with existing woodwork or cabinets.
Both factory finishes and on-site finishes are available in either high gloss or matte. Both types have exciting new finishes developed with space age technology. These finishes are not like grandma’s old wood floors because they require no waxing.
Engineered products install where no solid hardwood dares to go
Prior to the development of engineered hardwood flooring, hardwood products could not be installed on slab or in your basement without a special subfloor system. Now you can enjoy real hardwood flooring in those areas without all that fuss and expense. A special cross-ply construction eliminates the problem of expansion and contraction usually associated with solid hardwood.
Don’t become overly concerned with thinner or thicker top wood layers associated with engineered products because it’s the finish you are walking on. Generally speaking you won’t need to re-sand and finish these products; just re-coat them unless you need to change the color.
Special considerations when selecting hardwood flooring
Direct sunlight can affect the color of hardwood stains, therefore closing curtains or shades during peak periods will reduce damage. Area rugs left in place for extended periods of time may expose a shading difference once they are removed from the remainder of the floor.
Large pets with sharp toenails can also damage even the best finishes.
Why has this new product category been such a hit?
Laminate products feature a newer type of wear surface that resists scratching, denting, and burns better than many existing products. They also offer extended product warranties to back up these claims for superior performance.
Much of the styling is done in wood grain patterns taking advantage of popularity of hardwood. Still other styling resembles natural stone like you would find in ceramic tile. Laminates offer a popular trade-off for people wanting wood or ceramic. Laminate floors are more scratch resistant than most regular hardwood finishes and easier to clean than the grout lines associated with ceramic tile installations. Laminates also require less demanding preparation of the subfloor because they are not glued directly to the subfloor. Most of these products are glued or snapped together over foam padding. This feature has made laminate flooring popular in areas where vinyl flooring traditionally was installed.
Custom floor design is also very easily done with products that offer planks and squares that mix and match together.
High pressure laminate vs. direct pressure laminate
You’ll hear conversation on this difference but both products perform equally as well in most situations. The high-pressure products have greater chipping and impact resistance. High-pressure laminates also have a separate wear surface protecting the pattern, where as the pattern and the wear surface is the same with direct pressure products.
Laminate flooring in wet areas
Many of the products are okay for wet areas, but the core is made of wood fiber. Look for products that have warranties, that cover water damage. All of them will insist on proper installation.
Finishing touches are important
Look for products that can provide the needed accessories like reducer strips, stairnose, and even air vents that either match or coordinate with the flooring.
The new generation of vinyl floors have new finishes, different construction and new types of backing. They are designed for better wear, clearer pattern definition, and easier to maintain and install. Manufacturers have gone primarily to cushioned products with wider widths to reduce the number of seams. New innovations in backing have made the today’s cushion vinyl floors more resistant to rips, tears and back staining. Most residential sheet flooring offer no-wax performance and a wide variety of colors and patterns–more than any other flooring product and generally speaking, cushion vinyl flooring is the most economical of all flooring choices.
Some products are designed to help you reduce subfloor preparation costs
Next to ceramic tile, vinyl flooring installation demands properly prepared subflooring. Most cushion vinyl products are thin and when they are installed with a full spread of adhesive over a poorly prepared subfloor, irregularities can telegraph through. New products designed for perimeter or loose lay installation will greatly reduce the effects of subfloor irregularities while lowering subfloor preparation costs. In fact, many of these products can be installed over you existing flooring.
Luxury Vinyl Products
Manufacturer’s have raised vinyl flooring to a whole new level when it comes to luxury vinyl product offerings. New technologies have led to greater realism in design and structures every bit as rugged as older inlaid products, and all of this without giving up the easy no-wax maintenance that is desired.
Special considerations when choosing sheet vinyl flooring
Beware of asphalt driveways as asphalt can react to certain conditions and transfer into the vinyl resulting in permanent staining. Be careful when moving or dragging heavy objects across the cushioned flooring as it often results in permanent damage to the surface.