FLOORING: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

 

The look of hardwood floors have stunned homeowners since its inception, after a “nice” floor meant you had evenly-stamped dirt or a coarse layer of local stones found near a creek bed. Since then, the flooring industry has grown tremendously, combining elegance with raw sophistication, and has branched out to create other, economical types. With plenty of room for creativity, this aspect of your home begs for variation — natural, hardwood in the living room, LVT in the dining room, and laminate in the basement. Endless options.

This asset of the home remodeling industry has gathered an abundance of options over the ages, and it is within our hopes to break these elements down, to you, the homeowners. By gaining a better understanding of each facet of flooring, you’ll no doubt acquire more appreciation for each, and in turn, solidify your decision on which flooring type is best for you. So, here is your ultimate guide for all things flooring.

 

INDEX:


 

HARDWOOD FLOORING

Ah, the veteran of the group. There’s something naturally rich about using solid wood for your floors. It’s genuine, it’s authentic, and I personally think it gives off the impression of good taste, but that’s me. Now, where there are some extreme advantages to using this flooring type, there are also some disadvantages that may or may not sway your opinion.

 

hardwood-and-laminate-flooring

 

Especially given the glorious gallantry of its enhanced, “definitely-had-work-done” cousin that we just talked about. Dramatics. In any case, it’s still a fantastic choice for your floors. Selectively speaking.

The Origin

It may come as no surprise that the first to enjoy the comforts of wooden floors were the Royals, way before the expedition of the New World. Back then, the process of procuring this luxury included a pretty time-consuming, labor intensive process. They were literally hand-scraped and sanded. I’m not joking, people. The strips of wood were laid down, and workers would get on hand & knee, using tools to scrape and smooth the flooring. Then they bring in a boat load of sand, splash it across the surface, and rub the floors. Using sandpaper is a hassle in itself; could you imagine performing this method? No. That’s archaic. Needless to say, it was a laborious task only the affluent could afford.

When good ole Chris Columbus hopped on the Santa Maria and founded the New World, however, things became different. With the new, rich land full of vast forests, use of wood became increasingly common, especially during the Colonial Era. The newly-named Americans could stretch their feet out on warm, wood floors instead of cold, earthy ones.

 

Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood Scraches

 

Since then, some things differed while others have remained a constant. From approximately 1800-1945, a resident’s wood floor were assembled by the local species of tree and were installed with the simplest of patterns unless you had mad money. Furthermore, when it came to the flooring of the house, wood was pronounced king, competing only with tile or linoleum in bathrooms and kitchen. Carpeting, during this time, was still excessively high.

After WWII everything changed and hardwood flooring began a three decades decline. Carpeting became cheap with the advent of synthetic fibers and hardwood was deemed “outdated.” It wasn’t until the 1990s that hardwood floors began to rise in prominence again. The introduction of engineered wood floors made wood more affordable, even if it is a less than stellar product. And recently homeowners have begun to rediscover solid hardwood floors and their many benefits.

How It’s Made

Solid wood floors are constructed of planks made from a single piece of wood with tongue and groove edges. Planks can be delivered factory pre-finished or unfinished. Manufacture of the flooring starts with the tree itself. After trees are cut into logs, what they will be used for is determined by the quality of the tree. Trees marked for flooring are chosen for natural beauty with tight grain and few knots. The chosen logs are cut into rough planks. There are a variety of cutting methods used which affect the stability and price of the board.

 

The next step is to plane the boards on all four sides to smooth saw marks and level the plank. After the planks are planed, a machine cuts the tongue and groove edges that make the boards fit together tightly. Tongue and groove construction allows the boards to expand and contract, without creating gaps between planks in the installed floor. Smaller shops without a tongue and groove machine use a mounted router to mill the edges.

At this stage, the planks may go through a distressing process to give them an older, antique look. This may be accomplished by hand or a machine, either way. The final product is either sealed/stained with several coats of protective finish or shipped unfinished to the marketplace.

Installation

Installing hardwood floors is easy enough. Maybe not as easy as laminate or LVT, but definitely simpler than installing tile. At least that’s my approach on things. So, you’ve chosen your hardwood species and now you’re ready to roll. The first thing you need to is measure the length of the room and multiply to get the exact square footage. Note: When you do order your hardwood floors, it’s a good idea to allow 10-15% extra for irregular boards and cutting mistakes.

You’re also going to want to check the subfloor out, as well. Listen for any squeaks. If you hear some, it’s best to reinforce the area by drilling long drywall screws into the joists around it. This will stabilize that section, giving you an excellent, sturdy foundation for your hardwood floors. Sweep the entire area, too. The last thing you need is a random staple underneath a piece of hardwood.

 

 

Then it’s time to roll out the vapor barrier. Make sure to allow a 4” overhang over each section and staple it securely to the subfloor. Stretch the ends so the barrier is as flat as possible, with minimum rifts or waves. Since you’ve effectively covered the entire floor, do yourself a favor and mark with a pencil along the baseboards where the joists are located.

Now you’re ready for installation! It’s best to begin at the largest, unobstructed wall — the straightest — and snap a chalkline about 3/8” from the baseboard. Wood expands in hot, humid weather and contracts in cold, stark conditions. Allowing for this small gap ensures a bit of healthy airflow.

From there, it’s simply about using the tongue-and-groove locking system, starting with one row, using a pneumatic staple gun, and knocking it out row by row. When you’re finished, you can fill the nail holes with wood putty, and also use it to close any clear, distinct gaps where each piece fits together.

 

Helpful Links

  1. Our Favorite Stains for Unfinished Hardwood 
  2. A Flooring Type Comparison
  3. Reclaimed Wood Flooring: DIY it From Unfinished Hardwood
  4. How to Take Care of Your Flooring
  5. Contact a Designer

 

LUXURY VINYL TILE

Luxury Vinyl Tile, commonly referred as LVT,  is a beautifully engineered piece of flooring that combines both aesthetics with high functionality, a huge reason why LVT has become such a huge hit within households everywhere.

Do you remember when you used to be limited to where you could put certain parts of flooring i.e. bathrooms, any place where water is present? Well, this flooring type switched the game in that respect. But more on that later…

 

 

The Origin

Some time ago, laminate flooring made vinyl the best, inexpensive choice for flooring. It’s easy to install, looks like real wood, and its overall shape exemplified the lookalike even further.

At the tail end of 2006, the ‘L’ in LVT revolutionized the flooring industry, with manufacturers encouraging this material for the more knowledgeable homeowner. It also appealed to rental home property owners that frowned at the cost of hardwood. They were now given a more cost-effective option.

 

 

Simply put, this trend has become a hot commodity in homes everywhere, and the numbers prove that. According to research, just over the last few years, since 2014, the production for LVT has surpassed half a billion dollars.

 

How It’s Made

Luxury vinyl flooring is a layered product construction. The base layer is made primarily of PVC vinyl, which offers flexibility as well as dimensional stability. The decorative PVC film is laid on top of the base layer. The wear layer is typically a clear vinyl wear layer and may or may not include a urethane coating that provides superior protection from everyday wear and tear.

Its Superpower

Waterproofness: If you did a double take at that word, I don’t blame you. I voiced this word out loud, and my boss was like, “Uhhh…yeah, not a word,” but after a simple Google search, I learned that it IS, in fact, a word. Just a little tidbit. Moving on.

This is where the high-functionality comes from in LVT. This flooring type is 100% WATERPROOF. Not water-resistant, merely repelling droplets..I mean zero-damage. None whatsoever.

 

 

I’ve explained it before, and I’ll do so again. You could pour a jug of water on LVT, leave for a vacation, come back, and the piece would be good as new. It’s that good people.

You could technically put it in your bathroom. Some would frown at it, this being an extremely unconventional approach to a bathroom design, but heck, I say go for it. Literally, go against the grain.

Installation

Below is a full account of a DIY LVT Flooring Installation from one of our very own at Builders Surplus. Note: The same install process can be used for Laminate Flooring. 

 

Step 1: Remove baseboards and old flooring

Use a hammer and chisel tool to remove your baseboards one by one. If you plan on reusing, be very careful. Also, try to damage your drywall as little as possible. Some damage might be done, but it will be covered by new baseboards, so it’s not the end of the world. Rip up any old linoleum, carpet, or laminate flooring and dispose of it.

Step 2: Clean up and level out

Having a clean space to work with when doing a DIY flooring installation is critical. You need to make sure that all traces of the former floor are gone and that your subfloor is clear of ANY nails or staples. This is one of the most time consuming parts of the process in my opinion. I work in sections, making sure that I have run over every square inch and that all is clear. Then, take a shopvac or something similar and clean up any dirt or debris that your demo has left.

Step 3: Lay underlayment

Underlayment is a very important part of laminate or LVT flooring installation. This is a moisture barrier that is necessary in keeping your floors, subfloors and flooring joists in great shape. Some LVT, like COREtec Plus, comes with a built in cork backing, another type of underlayment, already attached to the back. If you have chosen a flooring like that, you don’t need to do this step. To shop COREtec, Click here! For everyone else, you’ll need to lay your underlayment over the entire surface and duct tape it together and to the edge of the floor. Leave about an inch around the edges.

Step 4: Lay your first row

Laying your first row of laminate is extremely important. You want everything to flow smoothly, especially in a large space. You don’t want to have to change directions at any time. Because of this, find a place in the furthermost left corner and work your way to the right and forward. For me, My front door, dining room and part of my kitchen are recessed back a little bit from the wall. You need your first row to flow completely from left of the space to the right to make sure that all of your flooring lines up properly. Because of this, we started as shown below. We added several rows going down, and then worked our way back towards the wall.

 

 

You want to start your first piece up against the wall. You can put a spacer, or a cut piece of flooring standing vertically right between your first piece and the wall to get started. You’re going to just click and lock the flooring on the long end all the way down. You’ll have to make a cut at the very end, which we’ll show you how to do in the next step. With your second row, you’ll want to cut your first piece about half the size of your regular piece of flooring to get the stacked pattern.

You may want someone to stand on your first row of flooring while you work on the next few rows (If you have to start like I did and you don’t have a wall that it’s already butted against) so that it doesn’t shift because you’ll be using your tapping block and mallet to knock the pieces flat on the long ends. Click and lock the flooring in place as best as possible, but then if it’s not 100% flat and locked in, take your tapping block and put it on the edge of the flooring. Tap it down downwards and towards the crack that you’re trying to get flat. Be careful so that you don’t chip off any part of the locking mechanism. This is important in the flooring working properly in the next row.

 

Step 5: Making Cuts

Making cuts is a lot easier than it looks, but make sure you do it right to get the best, cleanest cut and don’t cause a lot of waste. First, you’ll need to flip the flooring board upside down. This is because when you make your cut, the flat cut end needs to be up against the wall, You don’t want to cut off your click and lock mechanism at the end. If you do, it will have no way to lock into place. Mark it with a sharpie or pen.

 

 

Next, take your triangle and get a perfectly straight cut. Next, take it to your saw and CAREFULLY cut it. If you are not comfortable using a saw, they do have non electric laminate choppers that you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot. Make sure you have a little bit of space because you will most likely need to tap your last piece into place. I didn’t take a photo of this but there is an illustration below showing the motion. You can do this on pieces other than the end piece if needed, but majority of the time I don’t find it necessary.

Step 6: Notching Out around doorways, cabinets, and other obstacles

Every home is different, and every space has different obstacles to overcome. There is not always a 1 size fits all answer. In the video below, you’ll see how to do an easy notch out. Some notching will be more difficult, and it may be trial and error, but the main thing to understand is that you want to measure twice, cut once, as the saying goes.

 

 

Step 7: Keep going, keep flowing

Keep the flow going, if you have a hallway like I do, you keep the lines going all the way down. I went into two bedrooms to the right, but I just kept the pattern going.

 

 

For the most part, you aren’t going to have much waste. Even if you cut the wrong end of a board, or you cut the board too short, just use it in a place that the space is smaller, or at the beginning of the next row. When I cut the wrong end, I would place those boards next to the wall that the board would fit, so I always reused those boards.

Helpful Links

  1. A Flooring Type Comparison
  2. Featherweight LVT – Heavy on Style
  3. What is LVT & Why Should I Care?
  4. DIY Installation: Laminate or LVT
  5. Contact a Designer

LAMINATE FLOORING

This flooring type sometimes takes a bad rap for being cheap or too ordinary. But I’ve always adhered to the school of thought that there’s literally beauty in everything, so no matter. There are definitely some positive sides to laminate, some unbeknownst to others.

 

 

The Origin

Rapidly gaining popularity due to it affordable price, ease of installation, and durable beauty, laminate flooring got its start in Sweden in the early 1920s when lamination was first developed. Lamination is composed of many layers, with a wood pulp being the core of it, held together with glue or resin and then cured with heat or pressure. Lamination creates a new material that is stronger than each of its components.

This synergistic quality makes lamination the method of choice when creating products that must be durable and reliable, such as vehicle windshields, giant-sized beams, and floors. Laminate floors are today’s high tech solution to the problem of affordable, durable, and beautiful flooring that is easy to install, scratch and moisture resistant, and virtually maintenance free.

 

 

Today, advanced printing technologies have enabled manufacturers to create a wide variety of laminate visuals that look so close to their original source, they can even fool flooring experts.

 

How It’s Made

Laminate flooring is constructed in layers. The bottom layer is the “backing”. It’s designed to resist moisture that could cause boards to warp.

Above the backing is the inner core. The core is made from high-density fiberboard that is reinforced with a special resin to further enhance moisture resistance and increase durability. The top layer is the wear layer. This layer protects the design from fading, scratches, and damage from everyday wear and tear.

 

Installation

SEE LVT 

Helpful Links:

  1. Why We Chose Laminate Flooring For Our Home
  2. DIY Installation: Laminate or LVT
  3. Wood vs. Laminate and Other Styles
  4. Contact a Designer

CARPET FLOORING

Ah, carpet. The flooring that exhibits a soft, plush feel between the toes, making the room that much more comfortable. Over the years, this flooring has gained a pretty bad rep for being stain-sensitive, but thanks to innovative technologies, our era has been able to squash these killer qualms.

 

The Origin

The carpet industry began in the United States by a guy named William Sprague in the early 1970’s, when he started the first woven carpet mill in Philadelphia. From the initiative, a few other establishment sprung up across the nation in the early 1800’s, but there was one man that completely revolutionized the entire industry. With one invention.

 

 

In 1839, Erastus Bigelow invented the power loom, a device that weaved carpets quicker, more effectively. In fact, within the first year that Bigelow’s loom was invented, carpet production doubled! Then it tripled in the year 1850! Bigelow devoted his life by and for the spark of his ingenuity, and in 1877, he introduced the first broadloom carpet. From there, multiple companies began manufacturing it, strengthening its popularity. The 1900’s marked the beginning of the tufted carpet industry, the 30’s brought the mechanization, competition sweeping the nation, and finally synthetic fibers, our modern way of carpeting.

How It’s Made

Tufting: There are basically three steps to manufacturing carpet. The first step is tufting.

Tufting is the process of weaving the synthetic material into a primary back one. It’s usually made of woven polypropylene, and its purpose is to provide a base cloth while tufting occurs.

Application of Dye: There’s a couple versions of the dyeing process — yarn dyeing, where the color meshes with the yarn before tufting. Or the second version, in which the the color is applied after tufting. This one is usually just called carpet dyeing.

 

Carpet Flooring: Carpet Samples

 

Finishing Process: During this stage, a coat of latex is applied to every “layer” of carpet — the tufted, dyed portion, the primary backing, and also the secondary. The ladder is usually made of a woven synthetic polypropylene material.

 

Those components are compressed by a monstrous heated press, the applied pressure preserving its shape. Then it’s time to “shear” the edges and removes all of the loose ends that occurred during the tufting stage.

After that it’s a matter of wrapping & packing, and there you have it: A brand new roll of carpet.

Installation

First, you need to make sure you have a clean subfloor. Pick up all the joint compound, nails and staples, sweep the entire area, and then for good measure, vacuum. You need a nice good surface. Then remove all the doors within the room, so you don’t have to work around them. Trust me, it’s more hassle than it’s worth if you don’t do this. It’ll be easier to cut the bottom off of the doorjambs. Ten times easier. Install the tackless strips across the entire perimeter, about half an inch away from the wall.

 

 

Then it’s time for the carpet pad. Lay this out perpendicular to the direction you plan to install the carpet and staple it by the tackles strips with a staple hammer. Staple them seams. Trim the carpet pad at the edge. Grab the carpet roll and notch the corners for trimming. Do this by measuring the room at its longest point and add 3” to the measure. Take the carpet outside and notch the back on both sides at the appropriate length. You need someone to help you.

 

Diy Carpet Installation

Trim the carpet to size, and trim the excess carpet. Then roll it on out there. Make sure to glue the seams together, obviously trim around the obstacles, stretch the carpet, and there you go! A carpet install!

Helpful Links:

  1. A Flooring Type Comparison
  2. Carpet Installation: DIY or Do It For Me?
  3. Carpet Advancements That Are Completely Flooring Us
  4. Contact a Designer

TILE FLOORING

Ceramic Tile:

Ceramic tile is one of the most popular options for backsplash tile or tile flooring. Ceramic usually reflects the terra cotta color of it’s clay, or can also be white. Ceramic tile is sometimes glazed and occasionally has different patterns on it as a result. Chips can be much more noticeable in ceramic tile than they are in porcelain. If a ceramic tile has been glazed, the chip will reveal a different color internally. Ceramic tile is not as strong as porcelain tile due to the manufacturing process. This means that it cannot be expected to hold up nearly as well.

 

 

 

You typically don’t want to put ceramic tile anywhere that is a high traffic area or that will be exposed to a lot of wear and tear. Ceramic flooring in an entryway, for example, would be a bad idea. Not only will it much more easily chip or crack if you drop something on it, but those imperfections are going to be pretty noticeable. Backsplash tile works well with ceramic tile and you can also use it on countertops if you choose. The consensus is that ceramic tile is easier to install than porcelain tile. If you are a DIY tile installer or a novice tile worker, I would say choose ceramic tile.

 

Porcelain Tile:

The other top choice for backsplash tile is porcelain. Porcelain backsplash tile or tile flooring is almost always going to be white, grey or cream/tan. Porcelain tile is almost always left unglazed. Chips are not very noticeable. This is because porcelain tile is the same color all the way through. This is a big benefit for many people when choosing porcelain over ceramic.

 

 

Porcelain tile is denser and less porous than ceramic tile and doesn’t show its imperfections easily and it’s also more waterproof. However, you still don’t want them exposed to that level of damage from the elements. Because of the water resistance issue, porcelain is a better choice for flooring in bathrooms or on shower walls. Porcelain would be a better flooring choice for most areas that get a high amount of traffic due to their increased durability. Porcelain tile is harder to cut, especially when the cuts are not a straight line. Porcelain can also require special tools to install, so you may want to get professional installation.

Stone Tile:

There are many forms of stone tile, so we won’t go into detail about all of them, but will give you a gist of each. Most stone tiles will need to be sealed before and/or after installing and be kept up with sealing thought out the years. This makes it a little more high maintenance than the rest.

 

 

Marble:

Pros: Beautiful colors and patterns, because its natural, no two tiles are ever the same.

Cons: Prone to staining, will show wear quickly from acid based products.

Travertine:

Travertine needs to be sealed before grouting and after installation. If it’s not sealed, it will stain easily. Travertine tile is a softer stone, which means it can be scratched much more easily.

Pros: Beautiful, unique tile. Can feel soft when used as a flooring. Looks great as a backsplash.

Cons: It can scratch and stain fairly easily.

Granite:

Granite is very heavy. The subfloor must be completely level and have the strength to support such a heavy material. If the floor has bumps or even tiny valleys, granite will crack easily if used as a flooring. It can be used as a backsplash but needs to be installed properly.

Pros: Beautiful color, hard surface that takes wear and tear from normal family life.

Cons: One of the heaviest flooring choices, must have support in place.

Slate:

Slate It is more stain resistant that most other stone, is water resistant and very durable. Slate can be cracked if laid on an uneven subfloor, or if a heavy object is dropped on it. It has been known to flake or peel because it’s formed in layers. This tile needs to be sealed.

Pros: Dark, earthy color works well with a natural, rustic look. Very durable.

Cons: Tiles can be uneven due to the layering quality of the tile.

 

Flooring Tile Size

Large Format Tile:

Large format tile is a great choice for backsplash tile or tile flooring. Because it’s large, you can cover more space quickly, however, it’s still very important to take your time during installation because it can easily have lippage (edges sticking up) because of it’s size. Using a tile leveling system is always recommended with large format tile, which is classified as anything larger than 15″ on any side. Large format can make a space look larger, so it works well for small spaces! When using it on walls, you need to be sure that you’re using an adhesive designed for large tile, otherwise it could come down and take some of your drywall with it!

 

 

I hope we’ve been able to help answer any questions that you might have about backsplash tile or tile flooring choices. There are a lot of options out there so it’s good to have all the information before buying. Replacing tile is a large undertaking most of the time, so make sure you choose something that you will be happy with and that will stand up to the area you’ll be using it in for the next 20 years!

Installation

Step 1: Prep Your Surface & For Tile Type!

This is very important. Inspect flatness before you begin. Is your surface clean and dry? Do you need a leveling compound? Take the time to repair anything that is damaged or uneven before you start. We took out old tile, so there was some dried mortar on the floor for me. I took my chisel and mallet and chiseled it up before I started. I took a shop vac and vacuumed everything up very well.

Make sure baseboards and moulding is off, check out your door jambs to make sure that the tile has enough space under it. If not, you will need to trim. It’s always better to identify this BEFORE you start as opposed to after.

If you are laying large format tile, do research on the unique challenges you may encounter. I laid large format tile in this bathroom, so I had to buy a mortar for large format tile (any tile over 15″ on any side), I decided on a tile leveling system (awesome by the way) to prevent lippage.

Step 2: Lay it out before you lay it

To make sure your layout works, you want to do a dry layout first. This is when you lay out all your tile and you’re happy with the way that it looks, how big your grout lines will be, get an idea of where cuts will be on certain tiles, and any other issues you may encounter.

It’s important not to simply follow the walls to get a straight layout. Many walls are not level, and if you are following the wall, you could end up with a crooked first row, making all of your subsequent tile crooked as well. Mark the center point of each of the walls in the room. Next, snap chalk lines between the center points of opposite walls to pinpoint the center of the room. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure that the intersection creates perfect squares. Starting at the center point, lay a row of loose tiles along the center lines in both directions, using tile spacers as you go to for even grout joints. Once you reach the walls, you’ll need to cut tiles for a proper fit.

I didn’t take pictures of my dry layout, but it worked out very well and I was able to use this to go ahead and cut a lot of my tile!

 

Step 3: Time to Tile

I used premixed adhesive, so I didn’t need to worry about how much I mixed going in. This is why I like it. It won’t dry up. If you run into complications and can’t finish right away, you’re not wasting. Using the flat side of your trowel (see above to make sure you’re using the right size for your tile) lay down your adhesive on the wall farthest from the door. When laying floor tile, you want to make sure you work from back of room to the front, because you will not be able to walk on the tile once it’s laid to get out of the room. This may seem like common sense, but not everyone realizes this until it’s too late!

 

 

When laying floor tile, I put adhesive down one row at a time. I make sure I come out at least an inch or two so that on my next row, I can easily see the thickness of the mortar that was used and can use the same amount. Using the notched side of our trowel, comb in the ridges. This removes excess and gives you a uniform surface. You can go ahead and make all cuts for that row based on your dry layout or cut as you go. Make sure that when cutting out for a toilet flange, you measure your toilet’s width so you know how wide your cut can be.

Make sure you “butter” the back of your tile when laying floor tile. This is rubbing a thin layer of mortar on the back of your tile in addition to the mortar on the floor. This ensures a better hold. I have made the mistake of not doing it in the past and found several loose tiles. When I use this method, they adhere. If you are using a tile leveling system (see how to video above), set them as you go from one tile to the next, along with your spacers.

 

 

Always start at the center of the row and work your way out. This gives you a better end result. If you’re doing a brick pattern, your second row should start in the center of your first row’s center tile. This gives you the perfect brick pattern! Press tiles in firmly or use your leveling block and mallet. With the tile leveling system, you don’t really have to worry about the leveling block because they are going to lock your tiles in place.

Continue your pattern of laying floor tile and move through the rest of the room in the same way, making sure each tile has spacers appropriately applied and is pressed in firmly.Lastly, allow your tile to set at least 24 hours to set before walking on it. Some people recommend more, but I like to see if there are any loose tiles right away. After 24 hours, you can still reset them fairly easily.

 

Step 3: Grouting

When laying floor tile, decide if you’re using premixed or you’re mixing yourself. If you are mixing yourself, make sure you only mix enough that you can use in a 1 hr time period. A small room such as this typically doesn’t take much time so I just mixed mine all at once. I used a grey that was very similar to my tile so that it would be lower maintenance than a white, and it would hide any minor imperfections better (grout has this amazing way of doing that). Remove tile spacers and your tile leveling system.

After you mix, make sure you have a bucket of clean water and a sponge ready. Spread grout on the tile surface, use a rubber grout float or a squeegee to force it down into the joints. I used a sanded grout from North American Adhesive because of the size of my tile and grout lines (see link above to determine yours).

 

 

Tilt the float at a 45-degree angle and with the edge of the float, remove the excess grout from the surface immediately. Now tilt the float at a 90-degree angle and scrape it diagonally across the tiles. After you’ve done an area, use your wet sponge and wipe the surface clean. See if any areas need extra grout. Rinse out sponge and repeat. Change water as needed.

Polish with a soft cloth when the grout has dried and a haze forms on the tile surface. Rinse again with sponge and clean water if necessary. Give your newly grouted floor 72 hours before any heavy use and at least three weeks before applying sealers or polishes.

Admire your new tile and give yourself a pat on the back for laying floor tile!

 

Helpful Links:

  1. A Flooring Type Comparison
  2. Tile Flooring & Backsplash Tile Options Compared
  3. 2017 Tile Trends You’ll Go Crazy For
  4. DIY: Tips For Laying Tile
  5. Trendiest Tile Flooring Options For Your Home
  6. Contact a Designer

FLOORING COMPARISON

LVT

Price: This flooring type generally ranges from an all-time low of $1.79 to just short of $6. Our CoreTEC LVT is absolutely amazing, definitely a “more bang for your buck” kind of product. Check the link, peeps, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Installation by Builders Surplus: $2/sf.

Waterproofness: If you did a double take at that word, I don’t blame you. I voiced this word out loud, and my boss was like, “Uhhh…yeah, not a word,” but after a simple Google search, I learned that it IS, in fact, a word. Just a little tidbit. Moving on.

This is where the high-functionality comes from in LVT. This flooring type is 100% WATERPROOF. Not water-resistant, merely repelling droplets..I mean zero-damage. None whatsoever.

 

 

I’ve explained it before, and I’ll do so again. You could pour a jug of water on LVT, leave for a vacation, come back, and the piece would be good as new. It’s that good people.

You could technically put it in your bathroom. Some would frown at it, this being an extremely unconventional approach to a bathroom design, but heck, I say go for it. Literally, go against the grain.

Durability: Another functionality characteristic, LVT doesn’t just Kung Fu the crap out of water, but also scratches. And dents. Plus, it’s strong.

So, the next time you decide to juggle a few cans of green beans, and then time kinda stands still as you watch one go amiss, propelling towards your new floors, remember this blog, remember this passage, don’t forget this sentence — it’s okay.

It’s going to take a little more than green beans and water to damage this flooring type. A hammer, sure. But I’m sure you’ll find other ways to blow off steam than taking a hand tool to your new floors. But that’s none of my business. *Sips tea*

 

HARDWOOD

Price: Unfinished hardwood starts out at $1.39, while finished products typically range from $1.39 to $4.99. Again, the dynamics of each definitely contribute to price, but as a homeowner, as a consumer, you understand that with just about anything, you get what you pay for. We carry Solid Hardwood, Engineered Hardwood, and Cork Flooring, an up-and-coming flooring type that’s truly wondrous to behold.

Installation by Builders Surplus: $2.50/sf

Waterproofness: 100%…NOT WATERPROOF. ‘Nuff said there.

 

 

Durability: Here’s the category where some of the drawbacks nastily congregate. Hardwood tends to be very easily scratched. If you’ve ever moved in or out of a place that sports hardwood floors then you no doubt know exactly what I’m talking about. It can also be dented and quite easily I might add. Better practice your juggling skills outside, people.

BUT…because of this solidness, this flooring type can be refinished, therefore making it an extremely lasting product. All it takes is a nice dose of care and less chaos.

Additional: This is a favorite for many folks. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most home buyers often look for this sort of feature. But, you’ve been warned. Because of its surface, this flooring type isn’t extremely pet friendly, should not be anywhere near water prone areas, and it’s immensely difficult to install yourself. Tongue-and-groove can make a day go south really, really quick.

 

LAMINATE

Price:  In our stores,  Laminate generally stays around $0.99 to $2.89/ sf. Now, in comparison to the other flooring types, you can see how people could regard this as cheaply made or why you here negative comments about the price. But to me, it’s the opposite.

Installation by Builders Surplus: $2/sf

It’s kind of like when someone is called a lightweight when they’re out socially drinking with their friends, and the person in question fails to see negatory punchline. After all, if three beers gets the job done, who is saving more money in the long run — the lightweight or the pompous friends? Just a little drink for deep-thought.

 

Laminate Floor

 

Waterproofness: As far as complete, 100% water-eradicating measures, no. But, this flooring type is definitely moisture-resistant. Would I trust it in my bathroom, around the shower? No. Absolutely not.

Durability: The haters can say what they want about laminate, but as far as it’s strength, it’s pretty resilient. It is primarily scratch & dent resistant AND extremely long-lasting. There’s a reason, among others, why you may walk into a particularly older home, look down, and see laminate, virtually unharmed.

 

STONE TILE

Price: At Builders Surplus, stone tile usually ranges from $1.99 – $2.99. A very fair price when you consider exactly what you’re getting.

Installation by Builders Surplus: $5/sf.

Waterproofness: Again, folks, we have a winner. Although, any element of tile is going to be 100% waterproof. It’s still a helluva trait, wouldn’t you agree.

 

 

Durability: I’m all for word usage, but it’s tile, y’all. Why waste words? It’s EXTRA durable. And can simply last a lifetime. If you’re like me and absolutely adore the stone look then it’s for you. When it comes to tile, it’s a matter of preference, a choice between color or design, not durability. The next two choices are the same. Phenomenal strength with the capability of lasting a decade.

Additional: This flooring type excels in natural or high-end looks because of it’s appearance. Rarely used in kitchens, but definitely ideal in bathrooms. If you think you’d ever replace your flooring after choosing this, think again. It’s disastrous and definitely more work than it’s worth.

 

PORCELAIN TILE

Price: Some may be surprised when they hear that our Porcelain tile starts out a extra-low price of $0.99. Yup. Less than a dollar for some of the finest material ever made. All the way up to $2.99. Not bad for a flooring type that’s solely responsible for the Tower of Nanjing. Never heard of it? Google it. Magnificent architecture.

Installation by Builders Surplus: $5/sf

Waterproofness: YEP.

 

 

Durability: Short of a jack hammer, you’re not getting through porcelain. Juggle away.

Additional: Very, very low maintenance. Cleaning will be quick and easy. Perfect for every room in the household, and if you feel unsure about putting this down in a particular room, I’ll give you some consolation. I’ve seen porcelain tile in laundry rooms. Name me a room more mundane than a laundry room. I’ll wait. Have fun with this flooring type.

 

CERAMIC TILE

Price: Hold your hats, gentlemen and lady folk. Our ceramic tile starts out at ONLY $0.79/sf. Are you as baffled as I am? That’s a crazy low price. I mean, come on now. Blanket your entire basement for nearly a quarter below a dollar per square foot. Whew. Love it, though. That price, and ranging to $1.49. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Installation by Builders Surplus: $5/sf

 

the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile

 

Waterproofness: Still shaking your head at that word? I know, right? Ludicrous. But yeah, again, water is no match for this tile.

Durability: Scratch-proof, so you can keep your cat.

Additional: As previously mentioned, ceramic isn’t considerably less-expensive than porcelain. Huge plus, for sure. It’s also easy to install, easy to maintain, and perfect for bathrooms.

 

CARPET

Price: Typically ranges from $2.19 – just below $5 a square foot, but at Builders Surplus, that also includes install, so there’s another plus.

Installation by Builders Surplus: The price per square feet includes installation! For as little as $2.40/sf, you can get brand new carpet installed safely, securely in your home.

Waterproofness: Yeah…..no.

 

 

Durability: It kind of goes without saying that as far as stains go, this flooring type is a magnet. It’s inevitable, really. Keeping carpet clean is like trying to keep your shoes dry during torrential rainfall. Dang near impossible.

Additional: I’ll state the obvious. Carpet is not to be trusted near any water-sourced areas.

 

Helpful Links:

  1. A Flooring Type Comparison
  2. Basement Flooring: The Best and the Worst
  3. What’s The Real Difference Between Ceramic & Porcelain?
  4. Contact a Designer

WHICH DIRECTION SHOULD I RUN IT?

Run Your Hardwood Floor From Your Door

No matter which flooring you choose, the ultimate goal is to achieve that elegant, professional look. Starting from the door, running the floor perpendicularly from it, will give your hardwood floor a seamless appearance. Imagine you’re looking down a hallway, toward your entryway, and you can visualize how if a floor is set in one motion – it will do wonders. Now, of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. If  you’re laying a special pattern or in-lay, this would of course switch things up a bit. Essentially, it all depends on the layout of your home. In small areas, for example, different layouts look as I discussed before – choppy and out of place.

 

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Running Your Hardwood Floor Diagonally

As far as stability goes, running your floor diagonally is just as sufficient as running it perpendicularly. It’s really all about the look with this approach, and it’s best achieved in large rooms like a living or dining room. The appearance is so appealing, stunning really. The degree of the angle really depends on the look you want to achieve, but 45 degrees is the most common by far. Although, there’s variations, especially when dealing with a skewed wall or a small space. Note: This method usually takes more time (a bit more expensive) because you end up wasting quite a bit of wood from all the desired cuts. But, in my opinion, it is well worth it.

 

 

How Not To Run Your Hardwood Floor

Whatever you do, try to refrain from breaking up the patterns in a floor. Try not to use different patterns in different rooms because where it may seem like a great thing to do at first, using other designs for each room, the finished product will end up looking broken. It’ll be distorted in a way that makes each floor look messy and unorganized.

 

 

The proper way to run your hardwood floor pretty much depends on your choice of flooring. What is fundamentally clear, however, is that with whatever choice you pick, there is a sure way to make your flooring both visually attractive and concrete in stability. Just take note of the angles you’d like to use, the size of the room you’re working with, and be mindful of your transitions. Always be cautious of which way your joists lay for stability.

Helpful Links:

  1. Which Direction Should You Run Hardwood Floors?
  2. Should You Upgrade to Hardwood Floors Before Selling?
  3. Contact a Designer

THE FINISHING TOUCHES

Whether you’re a DIYer or a professional, you know the importance of a finished product. When it comes to flooring, there are a few finishing touches you should be aware of — baseboards, quarter round, and transition strips. These are the elements of the project that will make everything blend together, accentuating design for a lovely, final product.

Base Moulding

Base Moulding is used to hide the gaps between flooring/tile and the walls encasing it. That is its main function, but as you can see, it definitely adds a certain decor and can be seen as a beautiful transition from floor to the wall. It hides the cracks, gaps, and drywall fringes and give a modern touch to the whole look.

 

Quarter Round Molding

It’s only fitting that this type is mentioned next after baseboards because they compliment each other. Yes, baseboards are seen as the transition, but installing quarter-round — which is almost like scribe, but thicker — is installed at the very bottom of the your baseboards, so it hides that gap AND the possible nail holes. Functional and decorative, quarter round is a must do if you’re looking for that perfect look.

 

molding

Transition Strips (T-strips)

This finishing touch is responsible for the subtle transition of flooring types from room-to-room. Essentially, this is just a long piece of inverted trim that sets in the middle of the doorway and acts as the gentle punctuation of style from room to room. A nice, calm pause if you will. It looks best to install this piece right in the center of the doorway or aligned with the front edge.

 

 

Helpful Links:

  1. A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Baseboard
  2. Types of Molding and Why You Need Them
  3. Contact a Designer

 

In Conclusion

As you’ve noticed, there are quite a few of flooring types to choose from. It is within our hopes, all of us at Builders Surplus, that this guide will act as a primary resource as you make your final flooring decision. It is true, home remodeling is a multi-faceted expedition, but each piece is important. When it comes t o your flooring, your choice is vital, the decision, significant.

Luckily, we were all blessed with different desires, so variation is inevitable. Choose the flooring that best suits you and your family, look within instead of imitating others, and find the best style & design that will give you the same euphoric feeling every time you enter the room. That is how you achieve satisfaction, by turning a house into a home.

 

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