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Five key questions to ask when shopping for flooring

Professional installers will have the tools and expertise needed to install floors correctly the first time. [Source: Adobe Stock]

When you think about elements that have a significant aesthetic impact on a home, what comes to mind? While some individuals might jump right to modern appliances or ample greenspace, one of the largest elements of all is right under people’s noses. Or, more accurately, under their feet.

Unlike some other amenities, flooring spans the entire home. When it comes to replacing it, homebuyers should arm themselves with the right questions. 

What flooring considerations are most important for each room?

Different rooms serve different purposes, and as a result, flooring needs will shift from space to space. For example, hardwood floors are easy to clean but don’t resist scratches and scuffs from pets. Carpets make cushiony surfaces for young kids but are prone to stains. If the floor needs to support a wheelchair or walker, look for materials that rate high on the Janka Scale, which rates the durability of hardwood. 

A home’s infrastructure is also an important consideration. According to Patty Beseda, owner of Beseda Flooring, basement spaces are more susceptible to moisture accumulation than upstairs ones. Waterproofing measures or inorganic materials like vinyl can help prevent moisture accumulation. On the other end of the spectrum, hardwood shrinkage can result in gaps between the planks in winter or in rooms where air is dryer.

“Your house is an organism,” Beseda said. “It moves and stretches, and when your flooring breathes, it expands and contracts.”

Will you have to redecorate?

Regardless of the material, the color and finish of a flooring can impact the entire room. For example, lighter flooring can make rooms feel larger but is quicker to shows stains and wear. Darker flooring can make a space feel smaller and cozier at the expense of showing dust. 

Another way to decorate your space around the flooring is by updating the trim and other assets based on the flooring choice. According to Steve Reinhold, co-owner of Reinhold Flooring, flush mounted vents are an aesthetic update that replaces a vent’s existing cover with ones that lay smooth against the grain of the wood and matches the same finish so it blends in with the floor.

How will the flooring work in the home’s current layout?

Floors are supposed to lay level, but in homes with alternating floor types across different spaces, choosing the wrong material can lead to gaps in height.

Roy Field, owner of All Surface Flooring, explained that different floor types have different height levels based on their thickness. For example, the existing hardwood floors in one room might not match the height levels of a new engineered hardwood installation because the latter is comprised of multiple layers. Even different carpets and tile variations can have varying heights. 

“Think about how thick your existing floor is,” Field said. “Then, make sure you match that existing level.”

Who will perform the installation?

Professional installers and craftsmen will have knowledge about how to tackle tasks like ripping up floors, what direction to lay hardwood planks and finish edges correctly. Professionals are also going to have a supply of all the tools needed to install different floor types, from luxury vinyl to carpets and even porcelain tiles.

“It’s a craft, and it requires craftsmanship,” Beseda said. “You’re going to bump into something unexpected. Cuts around pillars or cabinets, a true craftsman can navigate these.”

What are some additional elements to consider?

Installing new flooring is not just laying the groundwork. The process also will include the replacement of items such as trim and thresholds. 

“It’s all about troubleshooting,” Reinhold said.

The additional costs associated with the additional materials and installation time will need to be factored into the project’s overall budget. For spaces with two different floor, thresholds may need to be installed between spaces to minimize tripping hazards.

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