Laminate floors are reasonably easy for a DIY homeowner to install. Laminate flooring is packaged as a number of tongue and groove planks, which can be clicked into one another. Sometimes a glue backing is provided for ease of installation. Installed laminate floors typically "float" over the sub-floor on top of a foam/film underlayment, which provides moisture- and sound-reducing properties. A small (1–10 millimetres (0.039–0.394 in)) gap is required between the flooring and any immovable object such as walls, this allows the flooring to expand without being obstructed. Baseboards (skirting boards) can be removed and then reinstalled after laying of the flooring is complete for a neater finish, or the baseboard can be left in place with the flooring butted into it, then small beading trims such as shoe moulding or the larger quarter-round moulding can be fitted to the bottoms of the baseboards. Saw cuts on the planks are usually required at edges and around cupboard and door entrances, but professional installers typically use door jamb undercut saws to cut out a space to a height that allows the flooring to go under the door jamb & casing for a cleaner look.
Improper installation can result in peaking, in which adjacent boards form a V shape projecting from the floor, or gaps, in which two adjacent boards are separated from each other.
It is important to keep laminate clean, as dust, dirt, and sand particles may scratch the surface over time in high-traffic areas. It is also important to keep laminate relatively dry, since sitting water/moisture can cause the planks to swell, warp, etc., though some brands are equipped with water-resistant coatings. Water spills aren't a problem if they're wiped up quickly, and not allowed to sit for a prolonged period of time.
Adhesive felt pads are often placed on the feet of furniture on laminate floors to prevent scratching.
Inferior glueless laminate floors may gradually become separated, creating visible gaps between planks. It is important to "tap" the planks back together using the appropriate tool as gaps are noticed in order to prevent dirt filling the gaps, thus making it more difficult to put into place.
Quality glueless laminate floors use joining mechanisms which hold the planks together under constant tension which prevent dirt entering the joints and do not need "tapping" back together periodically.
Wood flooring is any product manufactured from timber that is designed for use as flooring, either structural or aesthetic. Wood is a common choice as a flooring material and can come in various styles, colors, cuts, and species. Bamboo flooring is often considered a form of wood flooring, although it is made from a grass (bamboo) rather than a timber.
Solid hardwood floors are made of planks milled from a single piece of timber. Solid hardwood floors were originally used for structural purposes, being installed perpendicular to the wooden support beams of a building known as joists or bearers. With the increased use of concrete as a subfloor in some parts of the world, engineered wood flooring has gained some popularity. However, solid wood floors are still common and popular. Solid wood floors have a thicker wear surface and can be sanded and finished more times than an engineered wood floor. It is not uncommon for homes in New England, Eastern Canada, and Europe which are several hundred years old to have the original solid wood floor still in use today.
Engineered wood flooring is composed of two or more layers of wood in the form of a plank. The top layer (lamella) is the wood that is visible when the flooring is installed and is adhered to the core. The increased stability of engineered wood is achieved by running each layer at a 90° angle to the layer above. This stability makes it a universal product that can be installed over all types of subfloors above, below or on grade. Engineered wood is the most common type of wood flooring used globally.
The several different categories of engineered wood flooring include:
All timber wood floors are made from sawn wood and are the most common category of engineered wood flooring. They do not use rotary-peeled veneer, composite wood (such as HDF), or plastic in their construction.
Veneer floors use a thin layer of wood over a core that is commonly a composite wood product.
Acrylic-impregnated wood flooring uses a layer of wood that is impregnated with liquid acrylic then hardened using a proprietary process.
Laminate and vinyl floors are often confused with engineered wood floors, but are not; laminate uses an image of wood on its surface, while vinyl flooring is plastic formed to look like wood.
Wood can be manufactured with a variety of different installation systems:
The two most popular modern finishes for wood flooring are oil-modified urethane and water-based polyurethane. Within both categories there are many variations and other names used to describe the finish. Oil-modified urethane and water-based polyurethane also have very different refinishing and maintenance regimes.
Generally, hardwood floors need to be buffed every 3–5 years. The process usually takes about one day. Buffing refers to the process of using a stand up floor buffer. The floor is abraded with 180 grit screen on the buffer. This allows for the new coat of finish to mechanically adhere to the floor. This process works with great results as long as the floor hasn't had any waxes or synthetic cleaners.
Sanding the finish off old wood floors and smoothing them out.
Sanding provides a method for smoothing an installed floor, compensating for unevenness of the subfloor. Additionally, sanding is used to renew the appearance of older floors. Sanding using successively finer grades of sandpaper is required to ensure even stain penetration when stains are used, as well as to eliminate visible scratches from coarser sandpaper grades used initially. Prior to modern polyurethanes, oils and waxes were used in addition to stains to provide finishes.Beeswax and linseed oil, for example, are both natural crosslinking polymers and harden over time
Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is a finished flooring material used primarily in commercial and institutional applications. Modern vinyl floor tiles and sheet flooring and versions of those products sold since the early 1980s are composed of colored polyvinyl chloride (PVC) chips formed into solid sheets of varying thicknesses (1/8" is most common) by heat and pressure. Floor tiles are cut into modular shapes such 12" x 12" squares or 12" x 24" rectangles. In installation the floor tiles or sheet flooring are applied to a smooth, leveled sub-floor using a specially formulated vinyl adhesive or tile mastic that remains pliable. In commercial applications some tiles are typically waxed and buffed using special materials and equipment.
Modern vinyl floor tile is frequently chosen for high-traffic areas because of its low cost, durability, and ease of maintenance. Vinyl tiles have high resilience to abrasion and impact damage and can be repeatedly refinished with chemical strippers and mechanical buffing equipment. If properly installed, tiles can be easily removed and replaced when damaged. Tiles are available in a variety of colors from several major flooring manufacturers. Some manufacturers have created vinyl tiles that very closely resemble wood, stone, terrazzo, and concrete and literally hundreds of varying patterns.
LVT is an industry term, not a standard, for vinyl that realistically mimics the appearance of natural materials with an added layer to improve wear and performance. The extra layer of protection is usually a heavy film covered with a UV-cured urethane that makes it scuff, stain and scratch resistant.
A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass, generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops. Alternatively, tile can sometimes refer to similar units made from lightweight materials such as perlite, wood, and mineral wool, typically used for wall and ceiling applications. In another sense, a tile is a construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters used in playing games (see tile-based game). The word is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of fired clay.
Tiles are often used to form wall and floor coverings, and can range from simple square tiles to complex mosaics. Tiles are most often made of ceramic, typically glazed for internal uses and unglazed for roofing, but other materials are also commonly used, such as glass, cork, concrete and other composite materials, and stone. Tiling stone is typically marble, onyx, granite or slate. Thinner tiles can be used on walls than on floors, which require more durable surfaces that will resist impacts.
These are commonly made of ceramic or stone, although recent technological advances have resulted in rubber or glass tiles for floors as well. Ceramic tiles may be painted and glazed. Small mosaic tiles may be laid in various patterns. Floor tiles are typically set into mortar consisting of sand, cement and often a latex additive for extra adhesion. The spaces between the tiles are nowadays filled with sanded or unsanded floor grout, but traditionally mortar was used.
Natural stone tiles can be beautiful but as a natural product they are less uniform in color and pattern, and require more planning for use and installation. Mass-produced stone tiles are uniform in width and length. Granite or marble tiles are sawn on both sides and then polished or finished on the top surface so that they have a uniform thickness. Other natural stone tiles such as slate are typically "riven" (split) on the top surface so that the thickness of the tile varies slightly from one spot on the tile to another and from one tile to another. Variations in tile thickness can be handled by adjusting the amount of mortar under each part of the tile, by using wide grout lines that "ramp" between different thicknesses, or by using a cold chisel to knock off high spots.
Some stone tiles such as polished granite, marble, and travertine are very slippery when wet. Stone tiles with a riven (split) surface such as slate or with a sawn and then sandblasted or honed surface will be more slip-resistant. Ceramic tiles for use in wet areas can be made more slip-resistant either by using very small tiles so that the grout lines acts as grooves or by imprinting a contour pattern onto the face of the tile.
The hardness of natural stone tiles varies such that some of the softer stone (e.g. limestone) tiles are not suitable for very heavy-traffic floor areas. On the other hand, ceramic tiles typically have a glazed upper surface and when that becomes scratched or pitted the floor looks worn, whereas the same amount of wear on natural stone tiles will not show, or will be less noticeable.
Natural stone tiles can be stained by spilled liquids; they must be sealed and periodically resealed with a sealant in contrast to ceramic tiles which only need their grout lines sealed. However, because of the complex, nonrepeating patterns in natural stone, small amounts of dirt on many natural stone floor tiles do not show.
The tendency of floor tiles to stain depends not only on a sealant being applied, and periodically reapplied, but also on their porosity or how porous the stone is. Slate is an example of a less porous stone while limestone is an example of a more porous stone. Different granites and marbles have different porosities with the less porous ones being more valued and more expensive.
Most vendors of stone tiles emphasize that there will be variation in color and pattern from one batch of tiles to another of the same description and variation within the same batch. Stone floor tiles tend to be heavier than ceramic tiles and somewhat more prone to breakage during shipment.
Rubber floor tiles have a variety of uses, both in residential and commercial settings. They are especially useful in situations where it is desired to have high-traction floors or protection for an easily breakable floor. Some common uses include flooring of garage, workshops, patios, swimming pool decks, sport courts, gyms, and dance floors. Plastic floor tiles including interlocking floor tiles that can be installed without adhesive or glue are a recent innovation and are suitable for areas subject to heavy traffic, wet areas and floors that are subject to movement, damp or contamination from oil, grease or other substances that may prevent adhesion to the substrate. Common uses include old factory floors, garages, gyms and sports complexes, schools and shops.
Carpet is a soft floor covering made of bound carpet fibers or stapled fibers. Carpeting refers to wall-to-wall coverage, whereas a rug is simply used to cover a space. This type of flooring is typically used indoors and can be used in both high and low traffic areas. It typically lasts for 15-18 years before it needs to be replaced. The quality of a carpet is usually measured in face weight, or how many fibers there are per square inch. The higher the face weight the more plush a carpet will feel.
Carpets come in a variety of materials including wool, nylon, olefin and polyester.
Padding can be placed underneath the carpet to add comfort and provide some noise insulation. The level of comfort is determined by the type of material used, which can include memory foam and rubber regrind.