Shopping Tips

HOW TO SELECT AND SHOP FOR FLOORING When it comes to choosing your flooring for your next project, know your options.


Hardwood lasts longer than other flooring options and can be refinished several times (solid hardwoods can be refinished an unlimited number of times) or even re-stained to change the appearance. Today's polyurethane finishes allow installation in kitchens and half baths, as long as you take precautions to minimize water spills. Engineered woods are considered more stable for kitchen and bath applications. Wood flooring is available in strips, planks, and parquet squares.

Unfinished flooring gives you almost unlimited color stain options. Do keep in mind unfinished flooring must be sanded and finished after installation, which typically requires the expertise of a professional and puts the room out of service for several days.

Prefinished flooring features a factory-applied finish that remodelers sometimes favor because it eliminates sawdust and finish vapors, and the room can be used within 24 hours after installation.

Engineered flooring consists of two or more layers of wood, similar to plywood. The top layer consists of a hardwood veneer, while the lower layers are typically softwood. Unlike engineered wood flooring, the most familiar wood flooring is comprised of solid one-piece boards.


Tile flooring is suitable for use anywhere you want a durable, low-maintenance floor. This is especially true of moisture-prone, heavy-traffic areas such as bathrooms, mudrooms, laundry rooms, entryways, and kitchens. Should you select ceramic or porcelain tile for your project? It depends where it will be installed. The main difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is that a porcelain tile is denser and less porous than ceramic tile. Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are available in countless colors, patterns, shapes and sizes to compliment any décor or design.

Tile falls into four basic categories: Glazed, Through Body, Color Body, and Polished Tile. The body of a tile, sometimes called the bisque or biscuit, is produced to meet a specific need or use. Although thickness is one gauge of strength, composition of the tile and the temperature and duration of firing also determine its strength. Our sales specialist can help you match the body and glaze to your installation requirements.

The difference between Porcelain and Ceramic is that porcelain tiles are also made from natural clay like ceramic tile, but it is of a denser nature, and finely ground sand is added into the manufacturing mix. This mixture is then pressed and fired at a much higher temperature and longer time frame than ceramic tiles to remove almost all of the water content.

Fact to remember…Through-body porcelain is where the tile has no glaze and the design/color is the same all the way through. This is perfect for those high traffic areas where chips and wear may occur. Due to the through-body style, they are very difficult to see. Glazed porcelain is where the tile has been manufactured with a glaze applied to the tile face. In this case, the body of the tile is just as hard wearing as a through body porcelain however the glaze has the same characteristics as the glaze on a ceramic tile.


Stone tiles are sliced out of boulders into a variety of sizes and shapes. Not all stones are suitable for use in all areas. Some, such as granite, are practically indestructible. Others varieties may contain soft spots, fissures, and other imperfections that diminish performance. Some stone tiles types can warp from exposure to water or moisture. These may have to be installed with an epoxy adhesive and grout. Natural Stone can be categorized into Granite, Marble, Limestone, Travertine and Slate.

The color and appearance of a single stone tile won't represent the entire batch required to surface a floor -- even if all the tiles were cut off the same block of stone. The naturally occurring variety of the colors and patterns are one of the reasons this tile is preferred for high end projects.

In most cases, the more expensive the stone tile, the more fragile it may be. The finish on stone tiles must be carefully chosen and matched to the anticipated wear. For example, a highly polished marble will dull on the floor in a beach house. For that reason, you might want to limit highly polished tiles to areas where soft footwear is generally worn, such as in the master bathroom. In most other areas, a matte-look honed finish would be preferred.


Luxury vinyl floor coverings are durable and suitable for any room in the house. You'll find vinyl available in several types, sheet or roll and the most popular Luxury Vinyl Plank or tiles. Sheet vinyl is a popular choice for bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, entryways, hallways, and rec rooms. It comes in many patterns, colors and styles. Luxury Vinyl tile and planks can be used in many of the same applications as traditional sheet and roll vinyl.

Depending on the surface that they will be installed upon there are three types of installation for luxury vinyl.

• Glue down – utilizing an adhesive, this vinyl can be installed over existing floors without the need for removal of the previous flooring.

• Click or Floating- Floating tiles lock together tightly, and are not attached to the floor underneath. They are only attached to one another, not the floor below. Depending on the floor condition underneath, they may require underlayment.

• Loose Lay- This vinyl is installed without adhesive. It is cut to fit the room and double stick tape may be used around edges and in high traffic areas.


Laminate flooring features a decorative image printed on one or more thin sheets of paper or other fibrous material. For durability, the decorative layer is impregnated with a plastic or resin, bonded to a rigid core, and then a backing material is added to prevent warping. The most popular location for laminate is in the kitchen; family rooms, foyers, laundry rooms, mud rooms and dining rooms.

Because the image printed on the paper layer is actually a photograph, laminate floors truly look like wood, stone, or other materials and come in a range of colors and patterns to compliment any design theme. Laminates sometimes sound hollow when they're walked upon, depending on the subfloor materials. To solve the problem, manufacturers offer underlayments that help deaden sound.


For warmth and softness underfoot, carpet is your choice. Carpet has two components -- face pile and backing. Because the face pile (or yarn fibers) is subject to all the wear and tear, it's your key consideration. Backing is almost never seen once the carpet is installed, but it plays a role in the overall quality. Any carpet measuring more than 54 inches wide is referred to as "broadloom." Carpet face pile comes in two variations: cut and loop. In cut-pile carpets, individual yarns stand up straight from the backing. In loop-pile construction, the yarn comes out of the backing, loops over, and returns into the backing. Loop piles tend to perform better than cut piles in the long term because the loops help evenly distribute the impact of foot traffic.

There are several types of cut pile:

• Saxony is a popular carpet of dense, level-cut pile clipped to about 1/2 inch high. The closely packed yarns offers a soft, smooth surface that is perfect in formal settings. A smooth-finished Saxony is will often be referred to as “plush”.

• Textured also has a very soft feel. Two-toned yarns and an uneven surface give it a casual look suited for any room. A good choice for high traffic areas and family rooms, the tight-twist construction helps resist soil.

• Frieze carpets are often used in commercial environments as they have a short, durable, twisted pile fiber well-suited for busy areas. The fibers of a frieze carpet curl in different directions, so they hide footprints and other common marks.

There are two types of loop pile carpeting:

• Berber carpet is denser than most other carpets and highly stain resistant. It features large, uncut loops of natural-tone fibers varying in size and usually made from wool, nylon or olefin.

• Level loop contains tufted, uncut loops of equal height, resulting in a very smooth surface. It's easy to maintain, sturdy and a great carpet for high-traffic areas and informal rooms.

If you’re looking for carpeting with a little of both, check out Cut and Loop or Pattern carpeting. This option offers a combination of features of cut pile and loop pile - providing more options of colors, textures and patterns. Cut and loop gives the flooring a sculptured pattern with varied levels of uncut low loops and sheared top loops. The pattern looks as if it's been cut into the carpet and is usually monochromatic, featuring several tones from the same color family helping to disguise traffic, wear and soiling.

In general, the heavier the carpet weight, the better it will hold up. But, don't select a product based just on its weight. Review and compare the carpet's density, pile height, and fiber type when evaluating different varieties. Many carpets come in good, better, and best choices. These will be similar styles available in the same colors – just in different weights and price points. A retailer might offer a textured Saxony in 28, 34, and 40 ounces, for example. If budget is a concern, select the heavier product for high-traffic areas and the lower-weight carpet for less-used rooms like bedrooms or formal living rooms.

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