Flooring Guide

Which floor is the right floor?

There are many choices in flooring today: Hardwood, Carpet, Laminate, Ceramic and Vinyl. It's hard to know where to begin. We're here to help. Select a style all your own. We break down the technical information for you, so you can choose the right flooring materials for your needs. Learn how to select the right carpet fiber, which carpet style provides you with the best performance, the benefits of hardwood vs. laminate and how each are constructed, the best rooms for tile, the newest looks in vinyl, and what to expect when having any of these floors installed in your home

CARPET

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CARPET

Producers and suppliers have an almost unlimited choice of carpet fibers, types, styles, colors, construction and performance characteristics from which to choose. Carpets selected must not only be aesthetically pleasing to the designer and the end user but must also retain an attractive appearance through their expected performance life. Paying careful attention to a number of factors in the selection process will ensure that the above noted expectations are achieved.
Many factors enter into choosing the “right” carpet for commercial, institutional and home applications. Amongst the many things that should be considered are the following:

Cost and quality

The cost of carpet is based on many factors, including type of fiber, carpet construction and quality level (appearance and serviceability/life expectancy). The amount budgeted for carpet floor-coverings will therefore limit the range of choices available to choose from. In addition, the total cost for carpet should also consider the following requirements where appropriate:

  • Carpet cushion and installation
  • Removal and disposal of old flooring materials
  • Removal and/or replacement of baseboards
  • Special requirements such as the addition of an underlayment, substrate preparation, etc.
  • Removal and reinstallation of furniture
  • Other charges for rush orders, below minimum run quantities, special colors, custom designs and special sizes

A carpet’s quality is determined both by appearance and serviceability. Styling, face pattern, texture and color will define the level of appearance quality of a carpet, while the ability of the carpet to resist soiling, crushing, wear, color retention/fade resistance and the like will define the service quality of a carpet. In addition, pile density and height, as well as weight of the yarn must also be considered. All of these factors have an impact on the cost of a carpet. The selection and purchase of carpet should never be based solely on appearance alone.
Providing that a realistic budget meeting the performance requirements and design parameters has been established, it is up to the Owner or designer to select carpet based on a fair and equitable evaluation of carpets meeting those requirements. It is very important to be well informed and to compare “apples to apples”. Price alone should not be sole criteria for selecting a carpet. The old adage of “you get what you pat” should be remembered.
Purchasing carpet at special, reduced or give-away prices often results in consumer/user dissatisfaction. Quality carpet and installation can never be obtained at the lowest price. Consumers/Owners should not attempt to “save” on performance and installation when they know they will be looking at the workmanship over the life of the carpet!

Types and styles (texture and pattern – the look and feel or “hand” of the carpet)

Cut pile: a carpet with cut loops, leaving individual yarn tufts. Still one of today’s most popular constructions, its durability is achieved through fiber type, density, tuft profile and the amount of twist in the yarn
Level loop pile: a carpet usually having two to three different loop heights to create pattern effects and a more casual look, this style provides good durability.
Multi-level loop pile: a carpet usually having two to three different loop heights to create pattern effects and a more casual look, this style provides good durability.
Cut and loop pile: a carpet having a combination of cut and looped yarns that provide a variety of surface textures, including sculptured effects such as squares, chevrons, swirls, etc.

Colour

The choice of color is a very subjective matter and one of personal choice. As one of the two main decorative elements within a space (the other being walls) the choice of a carpet’s colour becomes very important in setting the “tone” and in contributing to the ambiance of the space that it is in. A carpet colour can be neutral, blending in with other decorative elements (draperies and furnishings) and with other surfaces (wall paint and covering colours), or it can be a vibrant focal point of the area or room, making a statement.

Performance and appearance retention (location and usage)

A primary concern affecting the choice of carpet is its life expectancy, how long is it expected to last before it will be replaced. A better grade of carpet will give a greater length of service than one lesser quality. The best grade should be considered for heavy traffic areas within commercial and retail space or in multi residential facilities such corridors, stairs, meeting areas, whereas a medium grade will provide good service in areas of less traffic such as offices, bedrooms, etc.

Fiber and density

Choosing the right carpet fiber plays an important part in a carpet’s performance (abrasion and soil resistance, colour fastness, resiliency, etc)

The type of fiber selected as well as any specific modifications made to it by the fiber manufacturer will determine, in part, how a carpet will resist wear, crushing and matting. For any carpet to retain its new look however, face weight and density should be matched to the amount of foot traffic or its expected performance level.  

Considerations and Benefits

Flammability Issues: All carpets sold in Canada must meet the flammability requirements of the Hazardous Products.

Static Propensity: under certain atmospheric conditions a carpet can build up an electro-static charge when walked on, with an equal, but opposite charge being accumulated on the walker. If the person then contacts a conductor such as a door handle, an annoying “shock” may be expected. The amount and severity of the charge depends principally on the two materials involved (the pile fiber and the type of footwear) and on the relative humidity of the environment.

Most carpet fibers used in contract carpets are now manufactured with anti-static components contained in them or the carpets are topically treated to prevent static build-up, the latter being a less permanent solution. It is generally accepted that products that have a static range of 3.5kv or less (either positive or negative) under standard test conditions of 20% relative humidity will not bother most people. Most commercial carpets now sold meet this criterion as a minimum.
Acoustical Benefits: carpeting can improve the acoustical quality of an interior space. It has been shown to make a valuable contribution to the reduction of noise within buildings and to give considerable assistance in providing suitable acoustic properties in theatres, concert halls, lecture rooms, etc. Two properties are involved in the control of noise in a room:

Sound absorption: this is concerned with the taking-up of airborne noise

Impact sound insulation: this involves the reduction of sound from walking over carpeted floors, both the room itself and in other areas (the room below) to which the impact noise may be transmitted.

In most cases carpet installed over suitable cushion will provide an adequate noise reduction coefficient provided that the floor system retains most of its original thickness under use.
Carpet cushion will increase the carpet’s effectiveness to reduce sound.
Carpet cushion provides better impact noise reduction than cushion bonded to the carpet back.
Cut pile carpet is more effective for sound absorption than loop pile. As pile height and density increase, sound absorption improves.
For loop pile carpet, height is more important than density.

Guarantees and Warranties
Carpet warranties: there are a number that may be offered by fiber or carpet manufacturers. Some of these include:
Manufacturing defects warranties: these cover defects in materials and workmanship but do not cover appearance. They do not normally cover mill seconds or mill trials and in some cases do not include commercial and non-residential carpet.
Wear warranties: these offer a level of physical or abrasive wear, subject to proper care and maintenance and irrespective of fiber appearance. It offers no protection against manufacturing defects and makes no performance promises.
Fiber warranties: these offer assurance that the fiber was made by a reliable source, an important consideration, but they usually give no indication of the performance quality of the carpet.
Stain resistance warranties:  since there are a lot of stain-resistance process on the market, proven results from the mill or fiber manufacturer should be reviewed. Some cover residential installations only and only common household spills such as soft drinks, milk, etc.
Carpet manufacturer warranties:
Product warranties: these cover faulty materials (fiber, backing, fiber/carpet treatments such as anti-static and anti-mildew treatments)
Warranties against unrevealing, zippering and delamination/deterioration of backing: these usually exclude wet or steam cleaning methods
Appearance retention warranties: these usually state that the carpet will resist matting and crushing as defined by the manufacturer for a specific period of time. This is one warranty that is critical in regard to long-term performance.

 

HARDWOOD

CHOOSING BEAUTIFUL HARDWOOD FLOORING

Why do people choose hardwood flooring? There are a number of reasons why they might, some of which may include the following:

  • Because it is a natural (green and sustainable) material
  • For its warmth and beauty
  • For its appearance – grain and pattern
  • For its variety -no two trees, or even pieces from the same tree, are alike
  • For its colour and wood’s ability to receive many types of stains and finishes
  • For its durability
  • For its retention of value

HARDWOOD FLOORING SELECTION CRITERIA

Many factors enter into choosing the “right” type of hardwood flooring and system to meet a project’s requirements. After considering general flooring selection criteria a number of other things should be considered:

 

Hardwood Cost and Quality:

The cost of hardwood flooring is based on many factors, including the type of wood species (oak, maple, birch, etc), grade and cut, type (strip, plank or parquet), pattern (herringbone, inlays, insets etc.), construction method (solid or engineered), installation method (floating, mechanically fastened, glued down, or glue-less) and finish (site or pre-finished).
The total cost for hardwood flooring is also affected by the following requirements where appropriate:

  • Removal and disposal of existing materials (flooring and baseboards)
  • Acceptability of substrate (including moisture content) and supporting construction (including stiffness/deflection)
  • Substrate preparation requirements
  • Special requirements such as installation over radiant heating
  • Underlayment requirements (acoustical/thermal cushion and installation)
  • Installation method (floating. Mechanically fastened, glue-down including choice of adhesives or glue-less)
  • Provision of matching baseboards and stairs (treads, risers and stringers)
  • Maintenance considerations
  • Moving of furniture in existing areas

An Owner’s appearance, design, and performance requirements for hardwood flooring must be established and a realistic budget drawn up/ This amount may limit the range of choices. It is up to the designer to select an appropriate hardwood flooring system (material, finish and assembly) based on a fair and equitable evaluation of materials and costs to meet the requirements. In this regard it is very important to be well informed and to compare “apples to apples”.

Purchasing hardwood flooring at special, reduced or give-away prices often results in consumer/user dissatisfaction. Quality hardwood flooring and installation can never be obtained at the lowest price. Consumers/Owners should not attempt to “save” on long-term appearance and performance or on the method of installation when they know they will be looking at the workmanship over the life of the flooring!

Appearance and Patterns:
Since the use of hardwood flooring in any area can have a major effect on the overall appearance the use of an appropriate pattern of flooring is extremely important:

The following should be considered when appropriate:

  • Choice of style, strip, plank, parquet or herringbone and direction of installation (parallel or diagonal)
  • Board size (width and length of strip or plank or size of panel) and arrangements
  • Cut/grain appearance and distribution
  • Finish (colors and stains) that will highlight the grain and pattern
  • Use of borders and/or inlay patterns to compliment the desired total effect.

Selection of a hardwood species should also be made from the full range of color and grain samples that will occur within the selected species grade to show the variations that are to be expected. Is should also be ascertained if the Owner wants some of the color and grain variations graded out of the material selected to be used.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Acoustical issues: Because of the hard surface of hardwood flooring the generation of airborne and impact noise may be a concern within and between adjoining spaces. Where this is an issue the use of an acoustical underlayment /separation layer between the hardwood flooring and substrate below to reduce such noise must be considered.

Installing hardwood flooring over an “acoustical” underlayment may provide an adequate noise reduction coefficient, In all cases how ether, the acoustical ratings specified by underlayment manufacturers must be verified.

Radiant Heating: While radiant floor heating will not harm most hardwood flooring, variances in moisture content will cause it to move in numerous ways. When installing solid or engineered hardwood floors, moisture content is a key factor to successful floor performance. Adding heat to the floor assembly makes attention to moisture even more critical. The installation of hardwood flooring over radiant heated substrates is subject to the flooring manufacturer’s recommendations.

As a general rule most hardwood flooring manufacturers do not recommend nor will they warrant the installation of solid hardwood flooring over radiant heated floors (due to excessive shrinkage) but will recommend and warrant engineered flooring over such heating.

It is important to note that almost all movement in a wood floor is due to moisture and that movement will happen in all wood floors. Therefore, the more constant the moisture content is maintained, the less likely there will be any problems with the floor. Gaps between the boards and checks (cracks in the board) are a result of the moisture content being too high or uneven. In either case, it is usually a result of not allowing the wood to adjust to its environment before it is installed.

While temperature does not harm the wood, it does affect its moisture content. As the temperature goes up, the moisture content generally goes down. Heating the wood too much will cause it to shrink and gaps will occur between the boards. Once the temperature is lowered, the moisture returns, and the gaps close up.

If an indoor humidity control is not present, occupants should expect some seasonal gapping on any wood floor with or without radiant heating.

Warranties:

Material warranties usually cover manufacturing defects of materials and in the case of engineered hardwood flooring may include structural failure and delamination of the flooring material. Material damage due to improper installation, maintenance and water damage are not covered. Since hardwood flooring is a natural product, there will be variations in colour, tone and grain, Such variations are not covered by warranties.

Finish warranties are based on proper care and maintenance of the flooring and are available for a number of extended and pro-rated periods (up to 25 years). Such warranties usually exclude any indentations, scratches or damage caused by lack of proper maintenance, misuse, negligence, spiked hell shoes, pets, insects, water, moisture, erosion, pebbles, sand, other abrasives or insufficient protection on furniture, wet mopping or failure to follow all of the manufacturer’s written maintenance instructions. In addition, use of floor care products and cleaning methods other than those recommended by the manufacturer may damage flooring and may void the warranty.     

Warranties may be limited to the original purchaser of the flooring and may not be transferable.

Warranty claims will require examination by the hardwood flooring contractor/supplier and/or a representative of the manufacturer and if deemed necessary, by an independent third-party inspection services (National Floor Covering Association Quality Assurance Program Inspector). Usually proof of purchase must accompany any claim.

LAMINATE

CHOOSING EFFICIENT LAMINATE FLOORING

Laminate flooring is as its name suggests a “laminate” surface floor product that consists of a surface wear layer (a finish coating), a thin décor or “image” layer (similar to a plastic laminate), a core layer of either medium density fiberboard (MDF) or high-density fiberboard (HDF) and a bottom balancing layer. The surface and décor layers are bonded together under heat and pressure using a continuous pressure laminate (CPL) or a high pressure laminate (HPL) process and then adhered to the core, or they may be directly adhered to the core under heat and pressure using the direct pressure laminate (DPL) process.

Why do people choose laminate flooring?

There may be a number of reasons some of which may include the following:

  • For it’s aesthetic appearance
  • Because it is relatively easy to install
  • Because of its cost when compared to hardwood or engineered flooring
  • Because it is easy to maintain (it does not need wax or polish)
  • Because of its performance and durability (the flooring is quite stain resistance and will not fade from ultra-violet sunlight)

Laminate flooring unlike hardwood flooring can be installed above or below grade and over virtually any other flooring surface. It offers a long-lasting, durable and affordable option to hardwood flooring. Because of this laminate flooring has become a popular type of flooring today.

Although laminate flooring may look like hardwood, specific grades are not available. This because the laminate flooring décor layer is in reality only a photographic image that faithfully reproducer the grain and color of a natural hardwood or softwood.

Patterns and Finishes:

Laminate flooring is available in a variety of patterns that include wood grains, natural stone, ceramic tile, and other textures.

Installation Types:

Laminate flooring uses a floating installation method (the floor is installed without the use of fasteners or adhesive on top of substrate) and requires a special padding underneath for cushioning, acoustical and or moisture barrier purposes and to allow it to move freely.

Buyer Beware:

Laminate flooring varies greatly in quality characteristics including quality of photographic décor layer image, structural integrity of joints system, moisture resistance of core board, ect. Because of this, Design Professionals and Owner’s must review all of these characteristics with each product selected.

To alleviate problems resulting from the improper selection and/or installation of laminate flooring, it si the Consumer’s responsibility to be properly informed. Both th design professional and the laminate flooring dealer also have an obligation to inform the consumer of the pertinent facts in choosing an appropriate laminate flooring system.

One way to be assured of receiving a quality laminate floor covering and a professional installation is to deal with reputable and knowledgeable firms who will charge a fair and reasonable price for all materials and installation services. Firms that are proud to provide a quality installation are aware that by doing so they have created one more satisfied customer who will return to purchase again or one who will recommend them to others.

Laminate Flooring Over Radiant In-Floor Heating:

There are a variety of radiant in floor heating systems. Some of these include heating elements (hot water piping) installed within concrete slab or concrete topping or on the underside of wood subflooring, or an electric flat wire blanket installed below a thin concrete topping. Some systems are not suitable for the installation of laminate flooring. The following precautions must be adhered to:

The slab must be tested for moisture and confirmed dry

The flooring manufacturer must be consulted to determine if the radiant heating system needs to be on or turned off and the flooring installed on cool slab.

Thermostat controls must be fully operational to avoid overheating the floor.

Radiant heating water temperature must be controlled to keep it below a maximum of 52◦C (125◦F) That the slab surface temperature does not exceed 20◦C (85◦F). Unless otherwise required by the flooring manufacturer a temperature of 20◦C (68◦F) should be maintained.

Laminate Warranties:

Laminate flooring manufacturers offer warranties on their products that will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. In general, such warranties include the following provisions:

Laminate flooring must be installed in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions on acceptable substrates using manufacturer’s recommended underlayment, materials and accessories

Laminate flooring must be installed in interior locations only

Any surface wear or damage that is not the result of accidents or abusive conditions such as, but not limited to, damage caused by severe impact, scratching or cutting, insects, improper alterations or modifications.

Laminate flooring manufacturer’s water-resistant warranty provisions usually are limited to resistance to topical water that is cleaned up immediately. Such warranties usually exclude damage caused by washing floor (except for damp mopping), leaking appliances, pet urine, flooding or acts of nature.

Laminate flooring manufacturer’s wear warranty provisions usually cover wear, staining and fading within a special warranty period provided that the flooring is cleaned and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use of cleaning products and methods other than those recommended by the manufacturer may void any warranty claim.

VINYL PLANKS

CHOOSING MODERN AND BEAUTIFUL LUXURY VINYL PLANKS AND TILES

LVP is luxury vinyl flooring that looks like wood planks in everything from color to species. Surface textures often include the look of scraping or embossing, which dramatically heighten the realism. Because vinyl plank imitates hardwood, you’re sure to find a version that matches the rest of your home’s decor. Additionally, vinyl is the budget-friendly choice for renovators who want the look of hardwood without the challenging installation and cost.

Also like wood, planks may be installed in sophisticated ways—in brick fashion, diagonally, and so on. The result? Stunning.

LVT is a luxury vinyl product that looks like stone or ceramic tile, complete with gorgeous natural colors and surface texture that feels like the real thing. Some styles are even made to be installed with grout. Talk about realistic!

Purchasing wood or ceramic look vinyl flooring can be a smart investment, it’s designed to meet today’s demands, resilient-vinyl floors look great and work hard.

Vinyl flooring is water resistant, making it a great choice for both bathrooms and kitchens. In fact, vinyl is better at sealing against water damage than laminate and hardwood.

The top of vinyl plank will look like hardwood and have that strong feel, but standing on vinyl for long periods of time is easier than standing on real wood. Additionally, objects are less likely to break when dropped on vinyl, which is good news for glasses and mugs.

Vinyl plank can be installed directly on top of your subfloor, making the process quick, cost-effective and easy (given that the subfloor is in good condition). When you remove your old flooring, inspect the subfloor to make sure it’s in good shape before adding vinyl on top.

If you don’t want put a lot of effort into maintaining your floors, vinyl plank is a wise choice. The product is long-lasting, requiring only routine cleaning (i.e., sweeping and occasionally mopping) to keep it looking like new.

Vinyl is a long-lasting flooring product and can last up to 20 years. Once it’s down, you’ll have a great floor for years to come.

You can install in-floor heating beneath vinyl planks if you’re looking for ways to increase luxury in your home.

Energy Efficiency: Because of its durability, most vinyl flooring does not have to be replaced so often as many other types of flooring. This durability is a significant benefit for the environment because less energy and other resources are used to make and install new floors.

Indoor Air Quality: vinyl flooring, when installed as recommended, has minimal impact on indoor air quality.

During the vinyl flooring manufacturing process, most of the scrap is recycled for use in the finished product. Some manufacturers now have a reclamation program for reuse of vinyl flooring scraps from flooring installations.

CERAMIC TILES

Ceramic is dynamic. Its unique character, texture and nature-made material add energy, excitement and enchantment to any room.
Ceramic is optic. Its multitude of styles, shapes, patterns, colours and finishes offer you a visual home from elegant, quiet and sedate to vibrant, emotional and provocative.
Ceramic creates magic and mystique. With a tradition that dates back to ancient civilizations, ceramic tile can be found in a variety of settings in diverse cultures and structures around the world.
From palatial homes, institutions and government buildings, to mystical religious structures like cathedrals and mosques.

OLD YET CONTEMPORARY.

Ceramic tile has been around for centuries, and with today's technology manufacturers have created new design and application possibilities that were not available a decade ago.

If you have never used ceramic tile before or if it has been a long time since you have done so, you will be amazed at the wide selection of colours, sizes, shapes and new textures that are now available.

NATURAL INGREDIENTS MAKE IT A NATURAL FOR HOMES.

Ceramic tile is a natural product made up of clay, a number of other naturally occurring minerals, and water. Glazed ceramic tile has a ceramic coating applied to the tile body, which gives the tile its colour and finish. Glazed ceramic tile is the natural choice for your interior floors and walls. And there’s logic to glazed ceramic, through these numerous qualities.

Durable - a properly installed ceramic tile will outperform and outlast nearly any other floor covering product created for the same application.
Easy care – and that’s for you, right? Glazed ceramic tile resists stains, odours, and dirt and can be cleaned up with a damp mop or sponge or common household cleaners.

Ceramic tiles are essentially a low-maintenance material. However, even glazed tiles are somewhat porous, and require care and attention, especially in heavy traffic areas. In our ceramic maintenance segment we’ll share ideas on how to keep tiled surfaces looking their best, and performing well for you year after year.

Scratch resistant - Grade III and Grade IV glazed ceramic tiles are extremely resistant to scratching and you never have to worry about a cut or tear like you do with some other types of floors.
Environmentally friendly - ceramic tile is manufactured using natural materials and does not retain odours, allergens, or bacteria.
Beautiful and versatile - modern ceramic manufacturing technology has created virtually an unlimited number of colours, sizes, styles, shapes and textures that will add rich beauty and character to any room’s decor.
Fire resistant - ceramic tile doesn't burn nor emit toxic fumes. Even hot kitchen pans or skillets will not scorch or melt the surface of glazed ceramic tile.
Water resistant - most glazed ceramic tile has a dense body that permits little or no accumulation of moisture. This means spills from common liquids found in a kitchen are not a big concern.

In summary, ceramic tile is a practical, functional choice for your floor that offers you a unique opportunity for self-expression because of its beauty, flexibility and design potential.
Ceramic tile exhibits a versatility of coloured glazes and decoration, and can range from simple terra cotta tiles to highly decorated individual ceramic tiles creating intricate mosaics. Your choices are almost endless.
But whether it be a simple layout, or a decorative patterned design, ceramic tile is important in defining the character of the home.
Their simple geometric design make ceramic tile easy to design into different sized spaces and in a diverse range of home styles, and explains much of the popularity of ceramic tile throughout history.
The extensive range of colours, textures, sizes and styles will allow you to reflect your personal style, to create a living space that is a true reflection of you and your lifestyle. Or you can opt for an understated look with more universal appeal, which will help add value to your home. 
Unrivaled in visual appeal and lasting beauty, ceramic tile will elevate and enhance any room in virtually any style home. We hope our entire section on ceramic products will add to your knowledge and understanding, and make you a smarter shopper.

Buying ceramic tile can be challenging, unless you know this.

The good news is that ceramic flooring offers you a multitude of styles, textures, patterns and price points. However, all that variety, and decisions, can be real challenging for the unknowing shopper. In this section we’ll introduce you to information on topics such as ceramic tile trim, colour and shading, moisture absorption and grout. All in our effort to make you a smarter shopper long before you open your checkbook or get out the charge card.

That way your final decision not only creates a warm, beautiful living environment but also delivers what ceramic floors are noted for: excellent durability and easy maintenance.
So we invite you to read on. Come learn the ins and outs, the tips and hints, the delights and discoveries of this unique product called ceramic tile.

FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO CUSTOMIZE, CERAMIC RULES.

The beauty of ceramic tile is the flexibility you have with design options, especially through the use of the accent pieces: trim work and decorative tiles. However, if you’re interested in applying trim work and decorative tiles you should know that there is a definite step-by-step procedure.

The correct order of this process is to first identify the room and its application, select the type of tile, then its colour and shade, and then its texture and size. Finally, a layout pattern is designed, the trim and decorative patterns are determined, and the grout colour and type are chosen. Adhering to this process will ensure a smooth installation without any missing elements. To help you insure a smooth understanding of floor tile trim terminology, allow us to cover a few definitions.

IMPORTANT TIPS ON VARIATION, TEXTURE, SHADING AND COLOUR.

Many of today’s popular styles of ceramic tile are designed to look and feel like natural stone, emulating their rugged surface and colour variations.
It’s important that you understand these variations when designing with ceramic tile.
These tiles are intended to show colour and texture variations, just like natural stone. Since the composition of the tile’s glaze also varies, different tile styles will also exhibit different gloss levels.
You should also be aware that solid colour tiles provide a consistent look, however shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products and certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots.
Shade variation is usually listed on the back label of each sample with a low, moderate, high or random rating. Here, to help you, are the definitions:

  • Low. Consistent shade and texture
  • Moderate. Moderate shade and texture variation
  • High. High shade and texture variation
  • Random. Very high shade and texture variation

The colour of the body of the tile is determined by the colour of the clay used by the manufacturer that is available in their geographic region.
Look at the body of the tile to see if the colour is red or white. The quality of the tile is more related to the quality of the manufacturer, not the colour of the body.
Color variations will also be present between manufacturers’ samples of the same colour and throughout installed countertops, wall tile or ceramic floors.
Color consistency is something you should understand and carefully consider when selecting ceramic tile. Our sales associate will be happy to review with you what to expect from different ceramic tiles.

WHAT SMART SHOPPERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MOISTURE ABSORPTION AND TILE DENSITY.

As the composition of glaze varies, different styles of tile will exhibit different gloss levels and surface textures. This is important to note when choosing your ceramic tile flooring.
For example, in areas that are used while wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor, they should have low moisture absorption and good slip resistance.

Moisture Absorption means that, as the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less.

Tile Density means that, as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile.
Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. What this means is that as the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less.
Tile density and moisture absorption is important for you to understand when selecting tile for different applications. Here is some information to help in your decision-making process.

Non-Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. They are suited for indoor use only.

Semi-Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They are applicable for indoor use only.

Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture. They are referred to as frost resistant tiles but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze- thaw conditions could cause tile cracking.

Impervious Tiles are tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades.

THE INS AND OUTS OF GROUT.

Grout is typically mixed on site, but slight colour variations can occur within different areas of the same installation with the same grout colour, and can vary from the manufacturer’s sample you saw in the store.
This can be attributed to variations in temperature and humidity at the time of grouting and it’s just a fact of life.
It is also common to see grout variations when comparing the grout colour in a tile floor and the same grout colour on the tile countertop or wall.
When choosing a grout colour you can select a colour that blends in with the overall colour of the tile to minimize the appearance of the grout.
Or you can select a grout colour that is lighter or darker than the tile.
If the tile is installed in a high traffic area then you may want to select a darker grout.
Exact layouts, type of grout and grout joints widths are determined by the tile setter at the time of installation and are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile, and the exact dimensions of the areas to be covered.
Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it is your responsibility to maintain all caulked areas to guard against water damage. Grout may also darken over time in areas with heavy water use.
Also, changes of season can cause surfaces adjoining the tile to expand and contract, causing the grout to crack and separate.

A WORD OR TWO ABOUT SUBFLOORS.

No subfloors are perfectly level. So, you may hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges.
Be assured that this does not affect the integrity or installation of the ceramic tile. Hollow sounds are normal and are not considered a product or installation defect.

GET ON TOP OF THE BOTTOM LINE. KNOW THE ENTIRE COST OF OWNERSHIP.

The “cost per square foot” of your ceramic floor is just one component of the entire project cost. To ensure there are no surprises, and the ceramic you select fits within your overall project budget, be sure to ask us to calculate the total cost of your floor covering project.
Here’s a list of potential additional expenses you may incur:
Furniture removal/replacement.
Demolition/disposal of old floor covering. Depending on the existing floor covering, this can be an expensive item; also, be sure to include the cost to dispose of the old floor covering.
Subfloor preparation. Depending on the condition of the subfloor, it may require additional work.
Product delivery.
Installation. Determine the cost per square foot to install it.
Materials required to complete the installation. Your new floor may require additional materials to install it properly.
Also, don’t forget to ask the retailer and consult the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on how frequently your floor should be cleaned and the cost to clean it.

There’s a lot to know and consider before buying your ceramic tile floor, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you’re a smart and knowledgeable ceramic tile shopper it will put us in fine spirits. And, hopefully, put your home into showcase status.

TILE MAINTENANCE

Sooner or later, time and traffic, life and living, will take its toll on any floor covering. Ceramic tile is no exception. But take heart, keeping your tile as clean and beautiful as its first days in your home just takes know-how.
In fact, understanding the best methods to care for your ceramic flooring will help maintain its beauty and keep it close to its original condition.
Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of ceramic tile to purchase.
All reasons why we called on our years of experience and created this section on ceramic upkeep.

CERAMIC TILE SHOULD BE SWEPT AND NOT BEATEN.

It’s important to sweep a tile floor regularly. Dirt can adhere to the surface of tile, particularly styles with a textured surface. Regular sweeping loosens and removes most of this dirt.

Don’t forget those labour saving devices, either. Feel free to use a vacuum cleaner to sweep, but be sure to use one without a beater bar to avoid dulling and scratching the tiles.
However, the attachments that accompany vacuum cleaners are useful to collect dirt along edges or in between tiles.

DON’T LET DIRT HAVE ITS WAY.

Be sure to use walk-off mats to minimize and contain dirt being tracked in at entryways. And shake them often.
This reduces the amount of dirt being tracked across the tile floor, and reduces the wear to the finished surface.
Ceramic tile floors should be damp-mopped regularly using the manufacturer’s recommended grout and tile cleaners.
For heavier soil, you can spot clean the floor with a sponge or clean cloth using the recommended cleaners.
Rinse well and wipe dry for more shine. Textured tiles may require mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber.
After cleaning with a mild detergent rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to help remove any leftover residue. If needed, wipe dry with a clean towel to remove any film.
For soft water situations you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner. Apply to the floor, let stand for 3 - 5 minutes, lightly scrub with a sponge, rinse well and you’re home free – dirt free too.
For heavier cleaning tasks there are cleaning products available from your local grocery store that can be used to remove soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew stains.
You’ll want to consult the cleaning product’s instructions to make sure the product is compatible with your type of tile.
After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry for optimum shine. And maximum pride.

CAUTIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS.

Avoid using steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives that can scratch the finish of the tile.
Don’t use bleach or ammonia based cleaners, as these products can discolour your grout if used too often.
Also, do not clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners.
Be fast on your feet. Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible so that the grout or tile doesn’t become stained.
While ceramic tile is considered very durable, it’s not indestructible and may crack or chip under extreme force.
Take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across your tile floor. Get a small army to help you move that grand piano. Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage. Keep in mind that if a repair is necessary in the future, the replacement product may be a slightly different dye lot and/or texture than the initial installation. However, the good news is that, with time and usage, the repair will blend in with the original product.

TWO MEASURES FOR PREVENTION: CAULKING AND SEALING.

Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it’s your responsibility to maintain areas exposed to water by caulking.
Caulking will prevent expensive subsurface damage, as well as keep the tiled areas looking their best.
Depending on your lifestyle, sealing new tile and grout may be an option.
After the installation process is complete and the grout has had ample time to cure, sealing the grout and tile can provide protection from dirt and spills by slowing down the staining process.
Today there are also innovative grout colorants you should be aware of.
These products can transform the original colour of grout and in some cases can act as a form of sealant. Please be aware that non-epoxy grout joints should be treated with a silicone sealer.
Knowing how to care for and maintain your ceramic floor will help keep your investment beautiful, durable and a source of pride for years to come.
For more maintenance information specific to your ceramic tile flooring, remember to consult the manufacturers’ recommendations.

 

 

COMMERCIAL FLOORS

 

With commercial flooring, the first thing that you want to do is consider the specific application that it will be used for. Flooring for a high traffic hallway has different requirements then flooring used in a showroom for a retail outlet. You have to match the materials to the environment, traffic, and use.

Installation: Any flooring that you choose is going to have an initial cost associated with purchasing and installing the material.

However, you want to look at both that and long-term costs associated with your choice. In some cases, selecting the more expensive flooring option may pay off by requiring less maintenance or repair.

Maintenance: It’s important to consider the costs associated with maintaining any commercial flooring application. Materials such as stained concrete or epoxy treated floors are relatively easy to keep clean. Carpeting can simply be vacuumed on a regular basis. Materials like natural stone and vinyl may require more labor-intensive cleaning and buffing in order to maintain their appearance.

In areas where fast and easy cleanup is important hard surfaces are vital. In wet environments, you need impenetrable surfaces in order to avoid cracking and the growth of mold.

Durability: Even with regular maintenance many commercial flooring applications will wear out and need to be replaced every few years.

The longer the life of the material, the less this will be a cost issue.

Ease of Replacement: The durability of a material can be balanced against how easy it is to remove and replace. While granite is extremely durable it is also quite hard to remove. On the other hand, carpet wears out every few years in high traffic applications, yet it is relatively inexpensive to replace.

Weather: In some cases, the climate of a region may be important when choosing commercial flooring. If it is an environment that is particularly wet, or where snow tends to accumulate during winter months, then you have to consider moisture control.

Safety: The traction of a flooring material is especially important in high traffic areas. Polished marble floors are attractive and elegant, but when buffed they will present a danger for slippage in hallways and high traffic areas. If it is a moist environment you may want a material with extra traction such as epoxy quartz.

Comfort: Depending on how the environment is used, you may want to use the flooring to create a certain ambiance. Carpet is popular in spaces where you want people to feel warm, and at ease, such as in hospitals or schools. Carpet can also dampen noise in applications where people will be trying to concentrate or rest. In places where you want to impress, such as retail showrooms, you may see marble, slate, or mosaic porcelain tiles used in flooring.

Sectors

 

Healthcare flooring solutions

Healthcare establishments can appear complex, busy environments and different operational areas will have different flooring performance and quality requirements.

Due to its hardwearing, water-resistant nature and ease of cleaning, vinyl is often the product of choice for many of today's modern healthcare facilities.

Fit-for-purpose healthcare flooring solutions from Polyflor.

  • Hospitals
  • Health Centres
  • General Practice Surgeries
  • Care Homes
  • Dementia
  • Adaptations

 

Education flooring solutions

Educational establishments are busy and challenging environments and the required performance of flooring can depend upon the function of the space, activity levels and the intensity of footfall.

Aesthetics, sustainable slip resistance and ease of maintenance are key requirements of most school flooring's.

Fit-for-purpose education flooring solutions from Polyflor.

  • Early Years & Primary
  • Secondary
  • Further & Higher Education
  • Youth Clubs

 

Retail flooring solutions

Flooring within Retail establishments is one of the hardest working elements of interior design when it comes to creating inspirational spaces.

High design, high performance and value for money are key to providing products suitable for both front and back of house areas.

Fit-for-purpose healthcare flooring solutions from Polyflor.

  • Boutiques
  • Stores

Housing flooring solutions

Flooring within housing is an opportunity to inject a sense of individuality and style into home interiors.

With a realistic choice of authentically replicated colours, patterns and textures, both stylish and practical options are available to complement both traditional and modern interiors,

Fit-for-purpose housing flooring solutions from Polyflor.

  • Housing
  • Social Housing
  • Student Accommodation

Leisure flooring solutions

Functionality, durability and design are key requirements for flooring within diverse leisure environments, along with conformance to internationally recognised standards for fire, slip and abrasion resistance.

Where high levels of footfall are expected, superior cleaning benefits and improved appearance retention are key.

Fit-for-purpose leisure flooring solutions from Polyflor.

  • Sporting stadia
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Fitness Centres
  • Tourist Attractions

Pharmaceutical flooring solutions

Flooring within the pharmaceutical sector needs to be easy to clean with an impenetrable surface that offers no sanctuary to dirt and bacteria.

A combination of flooring and wall & ceiling cladding can provide the required clean room classification and specialist ESD flooring combines static control properties with hardwearing and decorative qualities.

For fit-for-purpose pharmaceutical flooring solutions from Polyflor.

  • Laboratories
  • Clean Rooms

 

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Ongoing in-house training and product education at mills and manufacturing facilities around the continent. We maintain a level of product knowledge that we believe is second-to-none in the industry.

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