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A beautiful world, underfoot

Advances in flooring have given birth to a multitude of design options

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When people want a new look for their home, it’s easy to focus on the fun stuff. Walls. Furniture. The kitchen.

Don’t forget your floors. It’s easy to lose respect for something that gets walked on every day, something that serves as a receptacle for dirt.

But changing your flooring can transform the look of the room, possibly for a lot less than new furniture. If you have a newly walking child or an elder, then you need to take a careful look at what they’ll be walking on.

Or maybe you looked down one day and realized in horror that your beloved pets had left visible traces of their existence, and what if hyper-critical family visits? Or you’re considering selling, and, well, nothing’s changed floor-wise since 1975.

Where to Start

At your local flooring dealer.

Jessica Patten at Honesdale’s Cover Your World Flooring suggested, “Think about colors and patterns. Look at your floor plan. Are you building a house?” Staff at local flooring stores are familiar with all the possibilities and they’re happy to help. “Sometimes seeing the options changes everything.”

Another question: what are you working with? How is the existing structure? “You can go down to the joists” to even things up, she said, “Or patch it to level it up. Vinyl planks are a good choice, and tile is very forgiving” for remaining unevenness.

If you want to go all-out, there is hardwood, where you pay handsomely upfront but, with care, the floor will last forever, Patten said. It can be sanded and refinished many times. Engineered hardwood is less expensive but can be refinished fewer times.

Tile, either ceramic or porcelain, is also expensive initially but will last. Patten cautions that ceramic tile will crack if something heavy is dropped on it. Tile comes in a spectacular range of colors and patterns and luxury vinyl tiles can mimic more expensive floor choices if you want the look but don’t quite have the budget.

Non-porous grout is now available, making cleaning a breeze.

Carpet, laminate, and vinyl are good choices for those watching their funds. Forget the horrors of the past: modern carpet and vinyl can be stunningly beautiful. (But you can still find orange shag if you want it.)

Modern carpets like Shaw Floors’ Bellera are high-performance, spill-proof and stain-resistant, so you no longer have to practice your carpet-patching skills.

Laminate, a relative newcomer, is available in a multitude of styles also, and like vinyl sheets can be self-installed if you’re handy. Many flooring choices can even go on the walls for an interesting design element.

Vinyl has changed a great deal in recent years; it’s no longer your grandmother’s linoleum. Available in tiles or in sheets, vinyl is durable, especially when used indoors. Sheet vinyl is more water-resistant, but both kinds do well in kitchens and bathrooms, or in environments where floors need to be thoroughly cleaned.

A few things to remember

In all cases, you get what you pay for. Higher-quality products will be more expensive but will repay with excellent durability. Follow maintenance and cleaning instructions; some products require repeated sealing and some should not be cleaned with water. Look over your flooring once a year to catch any problems before they become significant.

So, there you are with a floor that needs replacing, and you still aren’t sure what to do or how to make the dream match the money. Bottom line? Consult your local flooring dealer, says Patten. They will work with you to match your budget; they know the local climate and any problems it can cause; and they deal directly with flooring companies, so if a problem arises you have someone local to help solve it. Many, like Cover Your World, guarantee their installation.

Your house may have a number of challenges, and your aesthetic may go far beyond 1970s trends. There is a flooring answer for you, and it doesn’t have to wipe out your entire home-renovation budget.

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