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Karl Lohnes: Flooring options offer style and durability

Outdoor carpets can make a colourful statement inside a family home, too. Eight-by-10-foot Leaf Print Outdoor Rug, $60, HomeSense.
Outdoor carpets can make a colourful statement inside a family home, too. Eight-by-10-foot Leaf Print Outdoor Rug, $60, HomeSense.

It used to be that the only family-friendly floor covering was a roll of vinyl flooring from the local hardware store. Options were often limited and styles became outdated very quickly.

Although vinyl is still a great choice (having seen a resurgence over the past few years), there are many other options for creating a stylish home that can take the wear and tear a busy family brings. From hard tile surfaces to cushy carpeting, there’s something durable for everyone’s style and for comfort under foot.

Tiles

If you are looking for durability and an easy-to-clean option, then tiles are the way to go. In Canada, we tend to use them in kitchens, bathrooms and high-traffic areas like foyers. But more and more, designers are using tiles as a main source of flooring throughout the entire home.

Authentic stone requires the maintenance of polishing and the natural fissures (veining) make them more liable to crack than manmade tiles. Porcelain is considered one of the most durable choices, while wood or stone patterns can be impressively realistic, giving the look of real wood with the easy-to-clean durability of tile. Larger slip-resistant tiles and neutral warm colours can help give porcelain tiles a long life without outdating themselves. Tip: Tiled floors can be cool to the toes, so think about underfloor heating.

Wood

I believe the simplest way to choose a wood floor style for your home is to take a cue from your home’s architecture. Got an Arts & Crafts style home? Choose a cherry-stained floor. Mid-century modern? Go for pale wood tones. The most classic stain colour is walnut, which is one of the most neutral brown colours. For durability, red or white oak are tops.

Oak has a Janka rating of 1,300 (one of the highest). A Janka rating measures a wood’s hardness and its ability not to dent — a minimum of 1,000 is desirable for wood flooring. Oak’s wood grain is forgiving to small scrapes or dirt; it’s grown in North America so creates a smaller carbon footprint compared with imported, exotic woods; and it can hold any stain colour well due to its strong graining and large pores that absorb stain. I’ve said it many times: an oak floor with walnut stain will be a success in almost any interior.

Tip: If you want the look and warmth of wood, check out laminate, vinyl and cork, too. All are less expensive options to solid hardwood, are durable, come in warm “stains” and colour ranges similar to wood.

Rugs

A great alternative to a hard-surface flooring is wall-to-wall broadloom. It not only adds warmth and softness under foot but also absorbs sound. The best family-wearing broadloom is a looped pile (the fibres are wound around rather than sheared cut ends), as it wears longer and shows less foot traffic. It can be used in almost any room in the house (except the bathroom and kitchen) and is a good six-to-10-year option during the busy young family years.

A synthetic fibre is best for stains and fading. I like to choose a colour similar to a floor stain. A camel/brown colour will create a neutral backdrop to furnishings and even to a smaller area rug layered on top. As looped pile tends to be less cushy on the foot, a good underpad helps create extra softness. Looking for a durable family-friendly area rug that won’t break the bank? Check out synthetic outdoor rugs — they come in many styles and are perfect for children’s rooms, play areas and casual family rooms.

Inexpensive solutions

Got old wood floors and a low budget? Paint them for a quick fix! The best on-trend colours of the moment: pale caramel, sage green or navy blue. Here’s how:

• Clear the room and sand the floor surface with 220 sandpaper (a rougher surface will allow the paint to grip).

• Clean floors of dust.

• Paint two coats of latex floor/patio paint, letting dry between coats.

• Allow the paint to cure up to a week before adding rugs and furnishings.

Do you have a decor dilemma or want to give feedback? You can contact Karl on Instagram at Karl Lohnes.

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