From hardwood and tile to area rugs, our design expert explores the latest and greatest offerings in flooring.
Our floors have a big job to do. Not only do they need to be functional, they make a big statement about the style of your home. Luckily, today’s flooring come in a diverse mix of materials, allowing for plenty of choice and originality.
Walking on Wood
The majority of new homes constructed today feature wood flooring in the entire home, with the exception of the main bathroom and laundry room areas where water (the enemy of wood floors) is in heavy use. Even the powder room can have wood flooring.
Wood floors add physical and esthetic warmth to any room. They are also a softer choice for prolonged standing or walking and fairly durable for family traffic.
With advancements in the durability of factory-finished floors, the majority of floors installed today are prefinished with stains. Dozens of wood species and colours are available, and pre-sealing means less toxic chemicals on site, no sanding and easier installation. For the longest lasting floor, choose a stain color that enhances the wood rather than trying to make it look like a different species of tree.
For Jawl Residential’s 986 Heywood condo project in Fairfield, Island Floor Centre used engineered European-sourced Hakwood flooring throughout the kitchen and living area.
For example, maple and birch are good choices for floors, but darker stain colours can appear blotchy, whereas lighter stains enhance the natural features of the wood. Mahogany and cherry are naturally red-based so no amount of stain can absolutely remove their red/purple undertones.
White oak is the top choice today: rift-sawn options have a very linear pattern to them, while plain-sawn boards will feature the heart grain that oak is known for. On a larger floor, you may want more pattern and interest by using the plain sawn, while a smaller area would look calmer using rift-sawn boards.
Big Blue Mill Luxury Vinyl Tile in Indigo Allusion from Armstrong Flooring (find local retailers at armstrongflooring.com)
Another category of wood-like flooring that is gaining popularity is vinyl-plank flooring. There are options that pass as wood-plank flooring, or you can choose styles that look like tile. One of the major benefits of vinyl flooring is its ease of cleaning and resilience, so it’s ideal for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, but it is also ideal in high-traffic living rooms or in homes with pets.
Make it Tile
Although many main-floor powder room floors are being done in hardwood, tiles are still the most common choice for bathrooms. While smaller tile is still available, there is a movement to using extremely large tiles for bathroom and common area floors. Tiles as large as two by three feet look sleek and contemporary when done in faux marble or concrete-style designs.
Marble mosaic tiles are also very popular and timeless, with more contemporary designs incorporating bars of brushed gold and/or silver as an accent. Consider using mosaic marble to create the look of an area carpet in a small bathroom.
Another popular tile option for flooring is encaustic tiles in bold designs. These tiles are still made using age-old moulds and can be used for bold colour combinations. Scale is important in using these tiles — a small room might not be able to accommodate the pattern repeat, and in a large room, the pattern may become too busy. Used in a laundry room area, they can be perfection.
Encaustic porcelain tiles from Centura (find local retailers at centura.ca)
Bring the Heat
If opting for easy to clean and extremely durable ceramic tile floors, consider having a heating membrane installed below. Tile and stone floors hold heat for an extended period of time, making them a semi-efficient way to heat your home. Heat systems under engineered hardwood floors work very nicely as well but don’t hold their heat for as long.
If you have a heating system installed through a concrete subfloor, you can even have heat under carpeted surfaces. In lower areas the heat will rise through the home and benefit higher floors as well. Some words of advice: leave heated floors to the experts. These systems need to have the proper components and power source to run efficiently.
Accessorize Your Floors
With most of our flooring being hard surfaces, the injection of area carpets is essential to create a cozy environment, divide up our spaces and create interest. There is a general trend to using casual area carpets and less formal Persian rugs. Popular choices are recycled, over-dyed and patchwork Persian carpets. Abstract designs with strong injections of colour, along with textured rugs or those with geometric designs are suitable in both traditional and contemporary homes and layer nicely over wood floors or even large scale tiles.