Green Flooring Some Stuff Worth Knowing

With all these talk of green and environmentally sound flooring solutions, how do we truly recognize if a flooring product is indeed green? Does it end with picking one which came from renewable resources. manufactured in a non-degenerative manner and installed in your property.

What we often forget that thinking green doesn’t end with buying green. Sustainability has to be considered too. After you’ve installed your new eco-friendly flooring product, how do you get rid of the old one? How about keeping and cleaning the new one, is it environment friendly?

A really environmentally sound product goes beyond using trees for raw materials. It involves credentials like manufacturing: the chemicals used in the process or perhaps hazardous compounds created in the process that either becomes component of the flooring material or waste; transportation – if it comes from halfway across the world, imagine the fuel it burned to get to where you are; disposing waste materials from these processes and renewal of resources – all of these are part of the products’ carbon footprint.

We think these are basic stuff we should all consider before we decide to buy a flooring solution – just because it is parading itself as all-natural and not made from trees, just because they claim to be green, it doesn’t really mean they are.

In this series of posts, we aim to inform consumers and homeowners on the different facets and issues on “eco-friendly” flooring products available in today’s market. We hope you find the succeeding posts useful and timely.

  • The VOC Connection
  • Eco-Friendly Flooring Options

Fresh Bathroom Flooring Options

Aside from the traditional and popular ones: ceramic tiles, vinyl and natural stone. We offer you other options below that might surprise you but they are very much workable and with proper maintenance, they can last a long time.
 
  1. Glass Tile

Yes, glass tiles are hot in the market. They are economical and environment friendly. Made from recycled bottles and jars, just like typical tiles they are better textured to make them slip-resistant. These tiles are durable and are made safe to prevent users from getting cut.

They vary in shapes and sizes and some stores even offer ones that change its color based on the temperature – talk about mood rings for your bathroom floors!

Professionals also recommend using smaller pieces of tiles to evenly distribute weight. Glass tiles would work just about anywhere ceramic tiles would. Moisture can’t do them damage and they are easy to clean too.

  1. Wood Flooring

Another surprise, right? Yes, hardwood can be installed as bathroom flooring. Though many people have shunned the idea of putting hardwood flooring in their bathrooms, it is now slowly becoming popular as new techniques are being applied to protect hardwood from water and moisture.

Solid hardwood flooring, whether new or salvaged can be used as bathroom flooring. Make sure they are fully coated with polyurethane finish, more than the usual layers and carefully fill the cracks or spaces in between to prevent water from seeping in.

Choose hardwood over softwoods for better moisture resistance. Make sure to refinish regularly, throw in area rugs just for protection, check your ventilation and you get to enjoy the warmth of durable hardwood underfoot.

  1. Carpet Tiles

 

 Designers have also thought its time to throw in the carpet tiles. It is second to none in terms of comfort and carpet tiles are available in different colors, patterns and textures to suit anyone’s preferences.

Look for brands which are antimicrobial and low on toxicity to minimize the possibility of mold and bacterial growth. Should tiles get wet or stained, immediately clean them or replace if needed.

  1. Bamboo & Cork

For the more environmentally conscious homeowners remodeling or building their bathrooms, you might wanna consider using bamboo or cork. Both have very much distinct characteristics  that make them unique and ideal bathroom flooring materials.

Bamboo has this gorgeous patterns and is actually harder than most hardwoods. It has very high tolerance for moisture and installing can be DIY.

Just like bamboo, cork comes in natural wood hues with very rich patterns. Cork is also very comfortable to walk on.

Aside from being environmentally sound, both materials are easy to clean and inexpensive, most importantly for the health conscious: they are hypoallergenic.

Flooring on a Budget

So far, we’ve covered almost all of it. Looked at the trends to all the rooms inside the house: the kitchen, the living room, bathroom and the bedroom. We’ve covered most parts of the home’s interior, we’ll try and come up with cheap decorating ideas for the outdoors next but for now, we’ll focus on one important aspect of decorating on a budget: flooring.

We’ve made a number of posts about flooring like our floor buying and floor installation series. Today, we’ll look into getting the right type of flooring to meet your needs and other requirements.

1. Vinyl

Vinyl flooring is one of the more popular choices when you want to renovate flooring on the cheap. Some big box stores carry private label brands and renovating a room of about 6×8 will cost bout $20 only. Plus, you can save more by installing it DIY style.

Vinyl is ideal for kitchen improvements or in places where there are great chance of moisture.

2. Linoleum

Linoleum is eco-friendly, durable and now comes in trendier designs. If you have the right tools and measurements, installation can be fairly easy too.

If you prefer to be more environmentally adept, then linoleum is definitely for you since they are made from all natural raw materials.

3. Laminate

Laminate flooring is perhaps the most recommended flooring product when it comes to do it yourself installation as it offers a lot of choices, light on the pocket and easy on maintenance.

Laminates come in standard planks and wide planks as well as different textures imitating either wood or natural stone flooring.

4. Area Rugs

Area rugs are also another way to save on flooring expenses and yet allows you to highlight or draw sections in your home. They are cheap and you don’t need to fuss about a lot of things during installation.

5. Carpet Tiles

A great substitute to area rugs, carpet tiles offer versatility in terms of design and patterns and convenience in installation since some already have pre-attached adhesive. Further, these are washable and can be installed without expert knowledge or experience.

We hope you find the perfect flooring material that suits your needs and we hope you find our earlier articles useful in your quest for the perfect flooring.

Flooring Myths Revealed Vinyl Flooring

Next on our list of flooring myths to dispel is those that surround vinyl. When it was first introduced a couple of decades ago, vinyl captured a large following because it offered more variety that carpets and linoleum and it was also reasonably priced.

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However, this wide following saw some pretty low points because vinyl became associated with unsound environmental practices – that it was made from chemicals whose emissions harms the air, that its synthetic and disposal is a big issue and all.

So today, we set out to give you some hard facts about vinyl and why it is a strong contender for flooring materials that are user friendly in terms of DIY weekends and home improvement projects on a budget.

Myth #1: Making vinyl is harmful to the environment.

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The assumption that vinyl is less friendlier to nature than those sourced from natural resources like wood and stone-based flooring is based on just that. Stone and wood are natural and well, vinyl is polymer-based. This, however, is not always the case. Some flooring materials, when processed emit more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aldehydes compared to vinyl.

What’s more is that its extremely flexible and durable that it will last longer compared to other flooring materials, hence lesser waste.

Myth #2: Vinyl is unhealthy.

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Next to polymer, one major component of vinyl is salt. It does not have any hazardous emissions classified as carcinogenic or mutagenic. Again, while vinyl is mostly synthetic, manufacturers follow regulations and standards to ensure the health and safety of consumers.

Myth #3: Vinyl is not durable.

So not true. Vinyl may feel frail and too flexible but its proven to be one of the most enduring flooring material available. Like other flooring products, vinyl is exposed to daily abuse. However, studies have shown that vinyl’s wear layer is not easily damaged, dented or scratch and that it can stand different weight stress and static load and is equally tolerant to movement and foot traffic.

It doesn’t deteriorate easily and that requires less frequent replacement.

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Myth #4: Vinyl cannot be installed just about anywhere.

Wrong again. Vinyl is synthetic and therefore it doesn’t share the imperfections of wood or the coldness of stone. Modern technology has allowed an even more sturdier design of vinyl and it can be installed just about anywhere. When putting them down in kitchens, bathrooms or areas where there is a possibility of exposure to water, make sure that the water will not remain stagnant and pool down in the vinyl flooring surface and everything is sure to work out all right.

Myth #5: Vinyl is non-hygienic.

Vinyl’s polymer base does not allow the growth of bacteria. Vinyl is and can be further treated to ensure that no harmful microbes will grow on it.

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However, when it comes to hygiene, homeowners must ensure the cleanliness of the floor and the rest of the house if its a question of hygiene we are talking about. Regardless of the material composition of the flooring it is exposed to all sorts of dirt and materials so cleaning must be a regular habit to ensure hygiene and health.

Myth #6: Vinyl is hard to keep and manage.

Vinyl is highly flexible and can cover your floor’s imperfections when set up right. It is highly flexible and has a very smooth and durable surface that’s easy and inexpensive to maintain. It has a sturdy polyurethane layer that does not only protect the surface but also retains shine and repel dirt seeping into the surface.

Flooring Myths Revealed Linoleum

Linoleum. You might have a faint memory of this growing up. More than likely your grandparents had this type of flooring somewhere in their house. It was cheap and doesn’t take so much effort to install or maintain, who wouldn’t have had enough sense to install linoleum back in the days.

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That was then and today we are busting some myths and making known some facts about linoleum and how this might be one of the best flooring home improvements you can make.

Myth #1: Linoleum flooring is passe.

This is perhaps the most important thing to know about linoleums. They do not belong to your grandmother’s house or in the attic or basement, not anymore.

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Changes in technology together with the penchant for sustainability have brought laminate flooring into the limelight with a richer detail and color selection.

Myth #2: Linoleum is synthetic.

Another important belief to dispel is that linoleum is made of synthetic material. Contrary to what others might think linoleum flooring is actually composed of natural oils and starches mixed together.

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While the design, coloring and printing process may have changed, linoleum remains to be manufactured the way it has been for the past decades.

Myth #3: Linoleum is not green.

Since linoleum is sourced from natural materials, it is definitely green. So if you are concerned about managing and minimizing your carbon footprint then linoleum flooring is a must for your home or a room in it.

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Myth #4: Linoleum is difficult to install.

Well, cutting up curves and corners might be a bit of a challenge as well as making sure designs and patterns match when you are laying it out and gluing it down but when compared with other flooring products, linoleum is definitely one of the easiest to install requiring minimum adhesive and no nailing.

Just ensure you have the right measurement and it will help if you’ll use a paper pattern when measuring the layout. Installing linoleum flooring is definitely something anyone can do DIY!

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Myth #5: Linoleum is hard to maintain.

Maintaining Linoleum flooring is way, way easier than hardwood that requires yearly treatment or tiles that needs regrouting every once in a while. All you need is a regular wipe and sweep and a deep cleaning monthly to keep it spotless and looking brand new.

Myth #6: Linoleum is not a durable flooring material.

Well, this is also not true. Linoleum is one of the sturdier and more reliable flooring materials available, otherwise it wouldn’t have lasted in the market that long.

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When choosing your linoleum flooring be sure to ask about the product and specifics like sensibility to heat or light and the thickness of the material to prevent unwanted holes and tears.

Flooring Myths Revealed Laminate Flooring

Next in our roll of flooring myths busting posts is laminate flooring. Commonly know in US households as Pergo, because of one popular brand, laminate flooring has been one favorite flooring alternative because of a number of reasons which include cost-effectivity, variety, durability, installation and maintenance.

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So here are some basic things to set the record straight on laminate:

Myth #1: Pergo is laminate.

Pergo is not laminate, its just one of the popular laminate brands in North America. Laminate is made up of several layers of veneer and very, very thick and durable paper pressed together and printed with a design then finished with very thick topcoat. However, it is not pergo who created all this.

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Laminate was first introduced in Europe about 30 years ago mainly as a material for counters and tabletops and well, while it was fared quite successful, it was more successful as a flooring product when it crossed the Atlantic. Pergo was the one who introduced laminate in the US home improvement market and the rest is history.

Myth #2: Laminate flooring is fake hardwood.

Laminate flooring is not fake hardwood, it does not claim to be wood at all. Yes, it mimics hardwood but it also mimics other flooring materials like natural stone and ceramic tiles, not just hardwood flooring.

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It is made up mainly of wood veneer and has the image of the material its trying to mimic – whether its wood or stone – printed on the surface of the topmost layer. The finish on the other hand mimics the texture of that material to make the whole experience more realistic.

Myth #3: Laminate flooring is cheap.

Laminate flooring’s price depends on the the quality of the material you’re getting. Laminate flooring is not some a cheap imitation, a good quality laminate flooring can cost as much as hardwood flooring.

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Aside from design and texture, other factors that can contribute to laminate’s high cost includes the top layer’s AC grade – the lowest one being for home-use and the highest, an industrial grade. The installation – like if it needs a moisture barrier or the laminate flooring itself has a backing installed together with sound-absorber and adhesive as well as patented click-lock technologies compared to simple tongues and grooves. These factors can greatly affect the pricing together with manufacturing and transportation costs.

Myth #4: Laminate flooring is not durable.

Compared to wood, laminate flooring has better resistance to water and a higher tolerance to moisture. It is not affected by climatic changes that much and is not prone to cupping or decay.

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Further, the top finish is designed to withstand not just daily foot traffic but some also have protective UV protection to ensure that the printed images and the rich details and color on the flooring will not fade easily.

Myth #5: Laminate flooring is easy to install.

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Despite claims of laminate flooring being a favorite among DIY enthusiasts because its “easy” to install, don’t buy into it that easily. What everyone should know is that it is easier to install compared to other flooring materials since it can be laid out and put down straight out of the box. It can be cut using regular saw and can be installed by simply locking one piece to another or by using manufacturer-recommended adhesives.

Flooring Myths Revealed Hardwood

There are probably some things you’ve been dying to know about hardwood floors. Given the factors like cost, installation and maintenance, plenty of individuals are really hesitant and careful in deciding if hardwood is the answer to their flooring needs.

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Given the factors above makes the decision very hard, what complicates and prolongs the process is the fact that there are more than a dozen myth surrounding hardwood flooring, quite plenty that we might have to put the ones about engineered hardwood flooring entirely in another post.

So here are the common myths about hardwood flooring

Myth #1: Hardwood flooring is expensive.

True that hardwood flooring is more expensive than other contemporary floor covering like ceramic tiles, laminate planks or vinyl. However, bear in mind that hardwood flooring is an investment that adds not only aesthetic value to any property but a scalable amount on that property’s monetary value.

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Hardwood offers warmth that ceramic flooring lacks, authenticity and versatility that laminate flooring do not offer and it is made from natural resources from a very highly regulated industry to ensure compliance to environmental rules and sustainability that is not the case with vinyl flooring.

The cost should not be seen as a negative thing but a serious factor to consider once the decision to install hardwood flooring has been made.

Myth #2 You can’t install hardwood flooring anywhere.

This is perhaps one of the most pervasive myth about hardwood flooring. You can install them just about anywhere except of course below grade and anywhere where there is direct exposure to water and moisture.

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Other than that, yes, hardwood flooring can be installed in kitchens and even bathrooms, provided of course they are well finished and protected from wetness and leads. They key here is prevention and maintenance – keeping the flooring surface dry and clean all the time and ensuring you avoid dropping sharp and pointed objects whenever working in the kitchen.

Remember that hardwood flooring aren’t made just to be beautiful, they are designed to withstand everyday use, including heavy traffic.

Myth #3 Fading and discoloration is a sign of defect.

Well , not really. it is possible that the original finish is exposed to sunlight and its not UV protected. It is also possible that this is a natural reaction or property of a particular type of variety of hardwood. Remember that hardwood flooring changes with age and reacts to changing seasons as well.

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Be sure to know everything about the kind of hardwood you are getting if you are having them installed, or learn its history if you already have an existing one. The best way to preserve hardwood flooring is through maintenance and its quite hard to do that if you are not aware of what you are dealing with.

Myth #4 Hardwood flooring can be installed DIY.

Well, you, me and just about anybody else can, however results are not guaranteed. First off, you need just the right amount of experience when installing this type of flooring. Remember that more that decor, hardwood flooring is both an investment and a home improvement so be sure whoever’s gonna do the installation know what they are doing.

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Consider the cost of the material and the trouble any delay in the installation process might cost. Also include repair and corrective expenses for that matter. Then think of the tools you might need to buy or rent out should you consider this a DIY project. Given the need to ensure that the subfloor is prepared accordingly and that each plank or board is installed secured and measured and cut properly clearly spells out that if you have not done this before, now is probably not a great time to try.

Myth #5 Prefinished hardwood flooring is better than onsite finished ones.

This is one of the things prefinished hardwood sellers are telling us. Being finished before the product hit the store shelves, we are made to believe that prefinished hardwood flooring is better because its finished “industrial grade” something that will take time and effort and perhaps even special tools if you attempt to do it onsite.

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On the other hand, professional flooring installers and contractors will tell you that its best to have an onsite finish to ensure that scuffs and tiny damages incurred during installation can be handled and covered with an onsite finish.

Yes, both kinds of finishes have their respective selling points and buyers and homeowners can decide based on their personal preferences and needs. However, keep in mind that any good finish, whether its done on- or off-site will last depending on the floor’s usage and maintenance.

Flooring Myths Revealed Engineered Hardwood

Demystifying engineered hardwood flooring is one great idea since most people have often confused it with the likes of laminate flooring. The term in a way greatly differentiates engineered hardwood flooring from plain hardwood or solid hardwood flooring when the two are more closely related than laminate flooring.

Unlike laminate flooring that only uses a sheet of print and textured with grains, engineered hardwood is real hardwood reinforced to make it more stable and hence, more durable than the hardwood it was sourced from.

Below are some myths and less  known facts about engineered hardwood flooring:

Myth #1 Engineered hardwood flooring is fake. Its not real wood.

As mentioned earlier, this is perhaps the biggest misconception about engineered hardwood flooring. When someone hears of engineered hardwood for the first time, they can’t help but think of something well, synthetic.

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This however is not true because for a fact, engineered hardwood is real hardwood. It is constructed using several plies of plywood with a hardwood veneer on top and bound together.

Myth #2 Engineered flooring is not as durable and enduring as solid hardwood flooring.

Now this is another hoax since engineered hardwood is more of an upgraded hardwood and not an imitation. Its designed to eliminate certain areas where we have problems with solid hardwood flooring.

One is that it is more stable and has less chances of breaking or chipping unlike solid hardwood. It is also has lesser expansion and contraction when seasons change, has a higher tolerance of moisture and less prone to cupping. Its surface is more even and holes and other damage can be removed to make the grain patterns more seamless.

Myth #3 Engineered hardwood flooring is not DIY-friendly.

On the contrary, no. Like other flooring choices, engineered hardwood flooring comes in planks that uses click-lock technologies so it is very popular among do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Its rather easy to install and can be used as a floating floor or nailed and locked to the subfloor depending on one’s preference.

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Aside from that, since it is constructed to handle moisture better than traditional hardwood can, it can be used for below grade installations, as in basements and in bathroom areas that does not have direct contact with water.

Myth #4 Engineered hardwood flooring can’t be refinished.

Technically, not all of them can. When buying your engineered flooring, the key is to get the ones with a thicker veneer layer since the thin ones can only be refinished one time because another one would reveal the tongue and grooves.

Those with a thickness of 2mm or more can be refinished and those below 0.6mm can’t.

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Whichever you get, the key is to maintain your engineered hardwood flooring very well to keep the need to refinish them to a minimum. Wipe, sweep, vacuum and buff regularly and take preventive measures too, to prevent damage, stains and scratches.

Myth #5 You can’t install engineered flooring just about anywhere.

Yes, you can. Its beautiful, highly durable and available in just about any variety of hardwood so there are a lot of options in terms of design. Ease of installation and durability also makes it work not just for basements and bathrooms but also in apartments and rentals – since you can make it a floating floor that you can drag along with you when you decide to move out.

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It is sold finished or prefinished. Prefinished ones have what manufacturers call an “industrial grade” finish while the ones finished onsite have a thorough one, so its really up to one’s preferences which will work best for his taste and the design that he wants to achieve.

Flooring Myths Revealed Cork Flooring

Cork is one flooring material we feel strongly about. Known for its resilience and durability, warmth, beauty and hypoallergenic properties, how could you not want cork flooring at home or at work?

Cork flooring has been around and used for over a century now. Since it is sourced from the cork oak trees’ bark, and the industry itself being a highly regulated one, cork flooring is one of the greenest and most sustainable flooring solutions available.

Just like hardwood, linoleum and other flooring materials, cork floors are haunted by certain myths that needs to be clarified. Here are some of them:

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Myth #1: Cork, just like hardwood flooring means dead trees.

Like we mentioned above, cork is one of the most sustainable flooring solutions available. This is because only the bark of cork oak trees, Quercus suber, are harvested to make cork flooring. The removal process is carefully done by hand and the cork oak tree can grow back the bark in five to seven years time. A matured cork oak tree can grow its bark back for the next 170 years.

Oftentimes, the flooring is made from leftover or residual materials from bottle corks. So this great flooring itself, is already an eco-friendly one that moment it was manufactured!

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Myth #2: Cork flooring is soft, dents easily and is not durable.

Yes, indeed cork is soft but the denting part isn’t entirely true. You see, cork flooring is made up of air pockets and another thing you should know about cork is that it has a sort of memory retention. Whenever someone drop something on the cork floor, the dent may be very visible at first but eventually, the material will go back to its original shape and the visible dent would have vanished.

One quick trivia is that some of the very old flooring we have around in really old buildings is cork – most of them remain untouched from the original installation. Its natural composition resists decay and wards off parasites and insects. How’s that for durability?

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Myth #3: The only benefit of cork flooring is warmth and softness.

Untrue! Aside from warmth and softness that is way, way better than hardwood, cork flooring is also a great insulator – keeping you warm during the winter and cool in the summer. Bamboo and other wood -based products are only neutral in this scale.

Speaking of insulation, cork is also a great sound-proofing material making it ideal for studies, offices, libraries and bedrooms. Professional recording studios make use of cork to suppress noise.

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Myth #4: Cork absorbs moisture and is a haven for bacteria and mildew.

Another false belief about cork flooring. Remember we told you earlier, cork’s natural composition resists decay? Cork possesses a naturally occurring substance called suberin that fights off bacteria and decay and repels insects and parasitical materials. Like bamboo, cork flooring is hypoallergenic.

One thing to watch out for is the installation process, ensure that edges and seams are sealed thoroughly. Openings and spaces in between the seams is a good breeding ground for mildew so make sure that all the right measures are observed during installation and repairs are done when accidents and other similar unforeseen incidents happen.

Flooring Myths Revealed Ceramic Tiles

We’ve looked and revealed several flooring myths surrounding some popular flooring choices including hardwood, engineered hardwood and carpets and today we will talk about another favorite because of its variety in terms of color and design choices.

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Ceramic tiles is popular among homeowners because it offers its own unique kind of charm. Indeed its not as warm as wood or as soft as carpet but the variety and how it allows one to be really creative with design and layout makes up for most things that’s missing in these cold colored and textured tiles that comes in both glossy and glossy finishes.

Aside from variation, another advantage of ceramic tile flooring is the cost – compared to natural stone flooring like marble and granite, it is significantly less expensive. However, just like other flooring materials, there are myths surrounding ceramic tiles and some of them are:

Myth #1: Ceramic tiles does not offer versatility.

Quite the contrary, ceramic tiles come in a wide variety. There are different colors, sizes and textures to choose from. They come in glazed and unglazed finishes which adds more options. Ceramic tile flooring mimics both natural stone and hardwood making it possible to achieve any effect you desire for your property.

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Color plays an important role in creating the perfect room and you can use different shades of ceramic tile flooring to achieve a certain degree of drama or classic elegance with deep dark shades or a modern, roomy interior with light shades.

Myth #2: Ceramic tiles are hard to maintain.

Absolutely untrue. Unlike other popular flooring materials that require special treatments and solutions for cleaning, ceramic tiles need only a regular sweep and occasional wipe to keep it pristine, shiny and looking brand new.

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Compared to laminate, the color stays the same with ceramic flooring regardless of its exposure to the elements and everyday wear. One thing to keep in mind though is ensuring that appropriate cleaning materials and solutions are used to preserve and prolong the grout. One common practice is to grout and regrout the ceramic tiles after installation.

Myth #3: Ceramic tiles are expensive.

There are a lot of factors that affect the prices of ceramic tiles, however compared to typical natural stone flooring like marble, travertine and granite, ceramic tiles will definitely give you more value for your buck.

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The most expense you are going to incur is when you choose to install it the first time since its more advisable to hire professional contractors that doing it yourself, especially when you have no experience.You save yourself the trouble and the need to have the tools as well as using them.

Myth #4: Ceramic tile are not durable.

Ceramic has been used for several hundred years not just for its beauty and versatility but also for its durability. The process of manufacturing ceramic tile flooring adds more to its durability. While it’s clear that the material is not indestructible, there are certain things you can do to make sure you fully harness the durability: correct installation, even spacing and right subfloor preparation are some of important things to keep in mind.