bayberrybush (bayberrybush) wrote in house_and_home,

Tile, hardwood, bamboo

Hard surface flooring is a great, practical, easy to care for choice for your floors. Hard surface flooring is great for people with allergies, because it is easy to keep clean, does not produce dust, and cannot harbor tiny allergens the way carpet can.

Ceramic, porcelain, and stone tile serve similar functions. Many people aren't aware that there is even a difference between porcelain and ceramic; porcelain is a much denser material than ceramic and so can be used outside even in areas where the temperature goes below freezing. Otherwise, the decision to use ceramic, porcelain, or stone is really determined by what look you want to achieve. All are super easy to clean, extremely durable, and will last many years if installed properly. The key to success is to have a reputable installer do the work, so that you aren't plagued by cracked tiles in the future due to slight variation in the setting of the tiles.

Hardwood is a controversial subject: on one hand, it is renewable; on the other, harvesting hardwoods has caused huge amounts of damage to this country and others. One way to get the beauty and durability of hardwood without the concern of whether it is contributing to losing forested land is to look for the FSC seal. The Forest Stewardship Council certifies hardwoods as sustainably harvested, which means it comes from a managed forest.

Bamboo is a great choice for sustainability, since it can regrow in as little as 5-6 years, and it looks fabulous. Like hardwoods, however, it can be dented if something heavy or sharp is dropped on it, and it must be well acclimated to the location before being installed.

A word about laminates: Many people choose laminates because it is so easy to care for, it can look remarkably like real wood or stone, and it is a little less expensive than the "real thing". These are great advantages to having laminate flooring. One caveat, however - many of the more passionate advocates of healthy houses avoid laminate because of what it is made of (essentially fiberboard). Its ingredients tend to include things like formaldehyde which can be released into the home. However, if you have throngs of running children and dogs with nails, laminate is a tough and durable alternative to ceramic tile.

Every item has its purpose, and we won't all be well-suited by the same material.
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