Under your feet

Local flooring stores offer tips to deciding what's best to install

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Recent innovations in flooring products have made it possible for homeowners to install a variety of floors in their home. Floor coverings come in dozens of colors, sizes and shapes, from simulated wood textures to the finest marble. Hardwood floors, carpet and vinyl are all very popular, and many have been made easier to in----stall.

Wood flooring

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"Flooring has come a long way since the old mom-and-pop vinyl," said Tyler Correia, salesman at TLC Carpet One in Craig. "Hardwood is becoming very predominant in the field right now."

Correia said of the two types of hardwood floors, solid wood floors take a finesse and patience to install and may be better left to a professional.

Engineered wood floors, on the other hand, make flooring fairly simple, and a reasonably skilled person should have no problems installing a floor.

"Engineered floors have a thin layer of real wood," Correia said. "Floors like those made by Pergo are self-locking, and a homeowner can put those down."

Correia said solid and exotic hardwood floors are currently very popular, and many homeowners are replacing carpet with wood.

Dennis Braia, owner of Abbey Carpet, agrees the trend is toward wood floors.

"I just returned from a convention in Texas, and hardwood is really becoming the thing. It's booming," he said. "Laminate is also a good alternative to a hardwood floor at a lesser price."

Braia said laminates, which include a simulated wood layer, are highly scratch resistant and come with a 15-year warranty. They can be installed by a skilled homeowner, and can even be removed and relocated.

Tile

Tile is also gaining ground as the preferred flooring in many homes. It has gone from protecting a room's entryway from mud to covering the living room, kitchen and bath and surrounding the wood stove.

"Tile is becoming very predominant in the field right now, with the different color schemes," Correia said. "With tile, you can do whatever you want. Your only limit is your imagination."

Listellos, fancy borders seen in showers and floors, can be added to create patterns and change tile directions.

Travertine tile with porous veins and marks is big this year, Braia said. Also popular is dura-ceramic tile, made of a limestone composite with aluminum oxide added for grip, durability and scratch resistance.

Glass and mosaic tiles have also done well with customers.

Carpet

Carpet is still the flooring of choice if comfort is the main consideration. With a five- to 25-year lifespan, carpet will last a long time, Correia said. He recommends carpet in family rooms and living rooms to create a comfortable, lounging atmosphere.

Braia said if economy is the main consideration, carpet is the way to go.

"Carpet is still by far the cheapest product we can put on a floor," he said. "Shag is making a comeback, although it's a different look."

A shag carpet, with both thick and thin strands is popular, Braia said, along with frieze, a carpet containing eight twists in each strand, which he describes as "kinky plush."

Vinyl

Recent advances in technology have made vinyl a more attractive choice for homeowners.

Correia said loose-lay vinyl has made it easy for "do-it-yourselfers" to install a floor.

"You can have it professionally laid with glue, or you can lay it yourself with no glue," he said. "The baseboard will hold it in place, and it works really well on floors that aren't perfect."

Vinyl today comes in many styles that look nothing like the vinyl of old. Wood, tile, slate and brick are just a few of the patterns available to homeowners. Engineered at about the same cost of earlier vinyl, the new flooring is more stable when installed, and has a softer feel under the feet.

Braia carries a product called Fiberfloor that is held in place with pressure glue that never sets.

"It's easy to fix if it rips," he said. "It's got a memory in it and you can repair tears without being able to see them."

Fiberfloor has a mesh in the center for strength, and comes in many pattern varieties.

Top of the line

If cost is no object, flooring businesses would be glad to install flooring for the homeowner who insists on the finest products available.

Marble and granite floors can add to the most luxurious of homes, and last many lifetimes.

Flooring dealers say hand-scraped wood has recently become very popular. The wood has imperfections, and is stressed with marks and hand-scraping for an "old-style" feel that works well in cabins and castles alike.

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