Spring ahead with the latest flooring trends
With spring finally in the air, a sense of renewal is flourishing and, for those seeking a fresh start with the purchase of a new house, summer home or pied–à–terre, downsizing to an apartment or looking to change things up a bit in their present dwelling, plenty of flooring options abound.
For some, what’s on the floor is inconsequential; after all, it’s the colors, textures and materials on the walls and furniture that people notice first. But for others, perhaps those with a more discerning eye for design, the floor is the foundation of what they hope becomes a comfortable and beautiful forever home, not just a house or space to live in.
When exploring fashionable flooring options, the offerings have evolved dramatically in recent years. Hardwood is getting rougher, carpet is getting softer and more resilient, and luxury vinyl tile (LVT), created with the latest technology, has surprisingly become the fastest growing flooring segment today. It’s not your grandmother’s linoleum floor anymore. Here’s a comprehensive guide to a plethora of options.
Along with ceramic tile, hardwood flooring has taken a bigger piece of the market-share pie when it comes to flooring sold during the past two decades. Homeowners want to bring nature indoors, and with these two hard surfaces, they’ve been doing just that.
With the rise of great rooms or open concepts that bring kitchens and family rooms together into one large space, it’s becoming routine to see wood in kitchens and other applications, where they hadn’t been before. The practice of ripping up carpet and refinishing the wood surfaces underneath is now commonplace.
Several hardwood styles are popular today, including darker offerings such as ebony, espresso as well as hickory, cherry and walnut, which are often used to offset a home’s light decor.
Other popular color options include whitewash and gray, which have surged in design trends recently, not just in hardwood flooring, while whitewashed selections put people in the mindset of beach resorts and other tropical locales.
One more popular hardwood trend is wider planks. Today’s homeowners love this look, and are now using widths as large as five to six inches, whereas before two inches was the norm.
Another growing practice is the use of reclaimed wood, which features wood’s inherent natural character and imperfections. Consumers also like it because it’s eco-friendly, since it’s recycled from old logs, beams and antique floors.
Reclaimed wood choices can be expensive, but manufacturers have answered the call with machine-made distressed wood, many of which are produced by scraping chains over the surface.
A less expensive choice than solid hardwood floors are laminates, which are basically a thin piece of wood on a core that’s made of high density fiberboard or HDF.
Laminate floors are comprised of four layers of materials: A clear top wear layer that resists stains and fading; the design layer, which features a high-resolution detailed photo image that mimics the look of genuine wood; the inner core or HDF, which is manufactured from wood fibers fused with resin; and the backing, a moisture barrier that protects the floor from warping.
Laminates are also created to mimic ceramic tiles, as well as other surfaces. Popular looks currently feature color variation, mixed wood-look species, reclaimed wood patterns and subtle textures.
Bamboo flooring is a niche product that seems to grow in popularity each year due to its green story. An easily renewable resource since it’s harvested from a quickly renewable crop, bamboo’s color options have skyrocketed in recent years due to new manufacturing techniques, which have produced both an array of colors and plank widths.
Strand-woven bamboo is currently a popular option in this segment. Manufactured differently than traditional bamboo flooring, strand-woven bamboo features strips of bamboo, which are coated with resins then compressed with heat to form timbers that are then milled into flooring. This process produces bamboo that is twice as hard as traditional bamboo flooring.
Best known perhaps for its acoustical properties, cork flooring has been around for decades. This surface has become popular in recent years due to advanced technology, which has introduced a much larger color palette than in the past. Not only is it very comfortable underfoot, but it’s very durable as well.
Broadloom has been becoming increasingly environmentally friendly as more producers recycle or melt down polyester and continually manufacture new fibers while utilizing state-of-the-art equipment to elevate carpet’s softness.
With its market share shrinking in recent years due to the growing popularity of hard-surface floors, such as ceramic tile and hardwood, carpet producers created soft fiber broadloom to regain consumer dollars.
Whether they’re nylon products that are made with more fibers or processed in new ways, carpet is the softest it’s ever been, while simultaneously retaining its durability and performance.
As far as style, cut-and-loop seems to be the most popular right now, with the pile partly cut and looped, which creates a pattern or sculpted look. Whether it’s heathered or multi-tonal, the trend is toward carpet that features softness, personality and texture in various colorways as opposed to the old patternless shades of beige.
Luxury Vinyl Tile
The state-of-the-art technology utilized by resilient flooring producers in recent years has given vinyl floors a whole new look, allowing homeowners to place it in a growing number of applications throughout the home.
The fastest growing flooring category during the last few years, LVT allows homeowners to put the natural look of wood and ceramic on their floors at a fraction of the cost of the real thing, much like laminate floors, but at an even lower cost. LVT comes in planks and squares, and features realistic textures never seen before in the resilient-flooring category.
Ceramic tile continues to get larger and larger, both in popularity and in actual size. Tile in formats as large as 12-by-24 inches, 24-by-24 inches, 36-by-36 inches—and even larger—are becoming a favorite with designers and architects, especially on the commercial side since there’s less grout to clean and they add an expansive look for consumers’ floors.
Tiles that mimic the look of wood have been the fastest-growing trend in this segment for years, followed by fabric and concrete looks. Porcelain offerings currently rule the ceramic-tile landscape with fast-surging trends, including plank formats, the mixing of various textures and products featuring recycled content.
Mentioned earlier as a hot trend in hardwood flooring, wide planks—generally considered five inches or larger—offer consumers an authentic, rustic feel, as many come distressed or hand-scraped. Wide planks have also made their way into segments such as laminate and LVT.
Wide plank laminate floors are available in almost every color and style, with some even coming in hand-scraped wood looks and random plank patterns. When it comes to LVT, many planks are wider than six inches and mimic the look of real wood.
So, whatever your taste, materials, colors and textures are available to suit every style.