It is so nice to have more choices these days. It used to be we had to decide between traditional wood, carpet, tile and vinyl flooring. Even with wood flooring, it used to be that the variation in stains was all we had to consider. Now, with the many options available, I'm going to break down my favorites for you.

Bamboo

A nice, environmentally sound choice, the material used to create bamboo floors is not a tree, but actually a lightweight woody grass. This fast-growing, regenerating plant has the tensile strength of steel, which makes for a highly durable floor that resists swelling and contraction with changes in humidity. What makes it environmentally sound? Bamboo is non-toxic, grown in controlled forests and takes just three to five years to reach maturity, as compared to old-growth hardwoods that can take 120 years to grow to full size.

photo credit HGTV

Reclaimed Wood

The authentic "old-world" look is HOT, polished and flawless is NOT. One of the great characteristics of reclaimed floors is that they lend themselves to being one of a kind. Think of the floors typically found in an abandoned church, an old barn, or a former urban warehouse. Solid hardwood from old beams, antique flooring or logs salvaged from rivers and lakes create looks you can't get anywhere else.

photo credit: the solar.biz

Concrete

We're seeing this EVERYWHERE, from the beauty salon to bathrooms and I love it. The wide range of sealers and specialty stamps and stains available can create a look that resembles polished marble, tumbled stone, brick pavers and more. It can be more than flooring. It can be a work of art. Plus, concrete holds up like no other and the maintenance doesn't get any easier. If you're thinking of incorporating radiant heat, it's the perfect flooring for that. Toasty barefoot toes around the house in the winter, yes please! My feet are ALWAYS cold. TMI?

SIDE TANGENT WARNING: With radiant heated floors, tubes that circulate hot water or electrical heating elements are installed in the concrete slab when it's poured, turning the concrete into a radiator of warm, even heat. The temperature is consistent and easy to control. Best of all, concrete floor radiant heating consumes less energy to achieve the same level of comfort as forced-air systems.

photo credit: Great American Flooring

Cork

Non-toxic and made from renewable resources, another "green" alternative like bamboo, is cork flooring. It doesn't just LOOK cool. The wood's honeycomb-like cellular structure gives the flooring a cushiony feel underfoot. It also causes cork floors to absorb vibrations and sound. Cork flooring is beautiful, lightweight, warm to the touch, hypoallergenic, fire and insect-resistant. But wait, there's more! It bounces back if dented (think dropping that heavy pan or the pointy iron) and it naturally has a nonslip surface that makes cork great for wet areas like kitchens or bathrooms. Not only that, but Cork has a natural substance in it called suberin that makes it impervious to liquid. It also will not rot if it’s exposed to water for a long period of time. Cork is very easy to clean. If you spill something like juice on it, it will not stain, and is as easy as wiping up to make clean again.

Image by: Nick Pancheau AIA

Cut-and-Loop Carpet

Okay, so not ALL carpet is "out." Cut-and-loop was popular in the '70s and '80s and now it's back with a new twist. The “sculptured” or “carved” designs of the past have been replaced with geometric designs (and we all know those are IN as indicated in a previous blog). A cut and loop is a style of carpet that is made by combining looped fibers with cut (straight) ones which allows the manufacturer to create the designs. As nice as it looks, I suggest avoiding using it in high-traffic areas such as stairs and hallways because the longer cut fibers bend or untwisting over top of the shorter looped fibers producing a worn-out look.


Featured image with red couch is from Bel-Air Stained Strand Woven Bamboo