Choosing Your Eco-Flooring
So, you’re ready to get rid of the dirty carpet, replace the vinyl, turn the garage into a studio or are building your dream home. To assure you will get a floor that you love and functions well for your household, choose a reputable flooring manufacturer, choose the right material for your lifestyle and make sure the installation is correct! Flooring decisions can and should be based on several factors:
- What is currently on the floor?
- If you are replacing an existing hard surface flooring, floating floor planks can simply float directly on your existing floor if it is well secured and flat. In fact, if you have very old synthetic tile – they could contain asbestos and it’s best just left in place and covered.
- Do you have a worn, ugly wood floor – or is there an old wood floor under the carpet ? Perhaps just a good sanding and recoat is all you need. Remember to use less toxic, healthier stains and finishes – yes, we offer those!
- What is the substrate the flooring be installed on top of?
- Concrete slabs are most common here in New Mexico at ground level. If your concrete slab is in good shape you can simply etch, stain and seal. If it needs repair, spread a concrete micro-topping before staining and sealing. If you prefer not to live on a hard and chilly floor, woods, bamboo, natural linoleum (marmoleum) and corks are available that just ‘float’ – no glue or nails required. Several styles have a built-in underlayment – the woods will require an additional underlayment – we like 1/8″ cork.
- Some solid woods can be glued directly to concrete.
- Tile can be installed directly on concrete, but again is hard and cold.
- If you have in-floor radiant heat a floating floor can work great but some certainly work better than others in conducting heat and/or performance.
- Plywood or particle board is another common floor substrate. Most all flooring choices can be either glued, nailed or floated on this substrate.
- Will you hire somebody to install your floor or Do-It-Yourself?
- Some flooring materials are best installed by a professional. For instance, sheet marmoleum requires special skills, tools and knowledge of the material.
- Gluing and/or nailing a wood floor also requires a skill level and the appropriate tools.
- Drop-n-Lock or click panels are the easiest to install or the least expensive labor.
- There are lots of great videos online to help instruct you along the way. Rent or borrow the tools you may need.
- How will the room or space be used?
- Consider how much use and what kind of use you expect the floor to manage. For instance, cork is a wonderful choice for kitchens and bedrooms where we spend lots of time on our feet and/or barefoot, but may not be a great choice for a mudroom.
Planning and Prepping
- If you are hiring a contractor, have them look at the job prior to ordering materials, they can help determine the correct amount of material to order and explain exactly what will be required to get the best install. We can recommend an installer that is experienced with our flooring if you like.
- The flooring you choose most likely needs to be ordered and shipped to the store. Allow for 10 days to 2 weeks for the product to arrive at the store.
- Flooring products require time to acclimate in your home before installation. Solid woods can take up to 3 weeks while engineered woods, cork and marmoleum only about 3 days.
- Assure your floor or substrate is level enough – some filling and sanding may be required before installation.
- What about the baseboards? Can they be re-used?
- Pre-finished materials can be lived on immediately, while refinishing a wood floor or staining and finishing a concrete floor will take more time. The finishes need to dry and cure before moving back into the room.
Care and Maintenance
- Most all hard surface flooring manufacturers will require and/or suggest a humidifier – keeping the humidity to between 30% and 50%. In reality most of us do not run a humidifier and most floors do okay without them, however it may invalidate your warranty.
- Keep the floors swept – dust underfoot acts as sandpaper, wearing your floor.
- Damp mop as necessary.
- Use the manufacturer’s recommended cleaner. Usually a good, PH Neutral cleaner will work. Always test a small spot if unsure.
- Manufacturers also may have their own polish. These are applied as necessary to renew the luster of the floor.
Southwest Green Building Center would like to help you choose a beautiful floor! We will make sure you leave with installation and maintenance instructions! Do it right the first time for a healthy floor that will last a lifetime!