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Tips and Guides

6 Types of Floor Finishes You Need to Know

Learn the pros and cons before choosing the best type for your space

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Photography: Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions and Tammy David (Main Photos)

If we think about it, the floors at home take a beating everyday. We walk on it—sometimes with our dirty shoes on, it's prone to stains, and even the occasional spills. While it's important to choose a floor finish that's durable and easy to clean, you also need to think about how it can complement and work with your chosen theme. To help you decide, here's a guide on the common types of floor finishes you can work with. Make sure you review the advantages and disadvantages of each before making a final decision:

Hardwood/Engineered Wood

Hardwood floors mostly come in solid planks but can also be in smaller pieces like parquet. Engineered wood, on the other hand, is manufactured high-quality plywood topped with a thin layer of veneer hardwood.

PROS:

  • Most can attest that hardwood flooring can last for decades—especially with proper maintenance like keeping it dry and sanding once every few years.
  • Its timeless aesthetic and recyclability make it more valuable than most flooring finishes.
  • Engineered wood can give you the same look and feel of hardwood floors and can even be sanded once or twice. It is easy to install and can be walked on as soon as it is laid out.

CONS:

  • Hardwood can be pricier and can now be hard to acquire.
  • Most of the hardwood flooring that we get come from old demolished houses and it's even harder to get new solid ones.
  • Engineered wood offers limited variety when it comes to the kind of wood used.
Concrete

With the popularity of modern industrial style interiors, concrete or cement flooring has become a go-to option when it comes to finalizing the floor finish in a space. 

PROS:

  • Concrete finishes tend to be cost-effective, especially since no other additional floor finish will be added to the cost.
  • It is durable and can withstand hard traffic.

CONS:

  • Installation is left to professionals since there will be sanding and sealing involved in the process.
  • Hairline cracks may also be visible through time.
Laminates

The composition of laminated flooring consists of a clear coat with a photographic appliqué with melamine resin and fiberboard core. It often simulates wood and also comes in various sizes and shapes.

PROS:

  • Laminates come in a variety of finishes.
  • With HD printing and photography techniques nowadays, it almost looks like the real thing. 
  • It is budget-friendly, easy to install, and remove.
  • Often used in bedrooms, dining, and living areas, it is easy to maintain and relatively durable. Laminates are scratch- and stain-resistant because of its wear layers as well.

CONS:

  • This type of floor finish cannot be refinished, so once a plank is subjected to wear and damage, you need to replace it instead.
  • Most laminates are made from high-density fiberboard—making the planks seem harder than real wood. It also makes sound bounce around a room, resulting in an area that's acoustically weak.
Resilient Flooring

Carpets are textile floor coverings which provide warmth and comfort. It is a good acoustic insulator—making it a popular floor finish for home theaters. However, once stained, it can be difficult to remove these and it can harbor dust mites and other insects because of the pile.

Linoleum is made from natural materials, mainly of linseed oil. It is easy to install and easy to clean. However, it can be prone to discoloration when exposed to extreme sunlight. It is recommended for indoor use.

Vinyl is often used in sheets and comes in various finishes and patterns. It is highly durable and can last for almost 15 years if well-maintained. It's important to note that vinyl is also prone to dents and tears if not installed properly.

Natural Stone

Natural stone flooring refers to mountain born materials like marble, granite, or slate. Since they come from the earth, each tile that you get is unique when it comes to streaks, color, and composition.

PROS:

  • Going for this kind of floor finish gives you longevity, durability, and beauty overtime.
  • These are best for high traffic areas and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • It’s also ideal for warm climates since stone tends to gain heat slowly.

CONS:

  • Taking into consideration the solidity of stone, it can be hard on the knees and feet.
  • It is also expensive as it is not renewable until after a million years.
  • Installation and maintenance can also be a bit costly.
Ceramic Tiles

Known to be one of the most popular finishes, ceramic tiles are used most especially in (but not limited to) kitchen and bathroom floors. Ceramic tiles are made from sand and other natural materials and it can come in glazed and unglazed qualities. These pieces are often installed using tile grout applied in between the gaps of the tiles.

PROS:

  • Aside from being very affordable, ceramic tiles can cover a wide range of faux finishes, even those mimicking wood grains.
  • It is durable and easy to clean, even recommended for spaces that require high standard of hygiene.
  • Tile shapes are also not limited to rectangular pieces; there are suppliers that produce octagon- and hexagon-shaped tiles.

CONS:

  • Installation can be costly and difficult—moreso if you're going for a special execution that forms a herringbone pattern.
  • You need to clean it frequently as grout in between the tiles can accumulate mildew, especially in humid areas like bathrooms.

An original feature can be read in the May 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to summitnewsstand.com.ph/real-living for more details.

PHOTOS: Paolo Feliciano (1,4,5, and 7) | Dairy Darilag (2 and 3) | Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions (6,11, and 12) | Miguel Nacianceno (8) | Tammy David (9 and 10)

More on Realliving.com.ph

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10 Filipino Carpentry Terms that You Need to Know

Building 101: Types of Philippine Hardwood

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