Specifying Great Flooring For Your Home

There are several major concepts that professional interior designers consider when engineering a flooring system for clients. We examine the client’s use of each space, the relationship to the spaces around it, the floor direction, pattern, rhythm, balance, color, texture and sheen all provide a portal through which designers can determine what is appropriate for the home.  We also closely examine the floor construction, function and appearance.

Proper flooring always begins with excellent sub-floor construction. This is truly the most critical aspect of any finished floor. Floor construction found in most residential structures are generally wood sub-floors. Wood sub-floors are comprised of several structural elements. Usually built over a crawl space or basement, and supported by the foundation walls, support beams, joists or trusses, a sub-floor and a finished floor compose the basic flooring system. Typically 1/2” thick plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) is currently used as the first layer for sub floors by typical builders. We actually prefer ¾” thick plywood covered again by a specialty 3/8” thick multi-ply which is laid in a perpendicular direction to the first sub-floor layer, glued and screwed every six inches. This method insures that all surfaces are adhered to one another securely, stiffens the sub-floor, prevents squeaks, keeps floor heights to a minimum and gives the final installer a smooth and clean surface for installation of the top treatment.

Your designers evaluate the finished flooring treatments in two major categories: hard surface flooring materials and soft surface floor coverings.

Hard surface flooring materials are thought of as elements which are structurally part of the floor and are usually more permanent than soft floor coverings. Materials commonly used include wood, ceramic and porcelain tile, concrete and masonry. Wood is a natural choice for many homeowners as it provides a look and feeling they desire. A multitude of wood species exists, and your designers base specifications on several factors including the hardness and durability. Ceramic and porcelain differ not only in material make-up but in the kiln firing process. Porcelain is made of a more dense clay and fired at high heats to increase its durability and provides “through-body” color, unlike ceramic which is fired at lower heats and has color applied to the top surface only. We obviously prefer through-body color porcelain flooring over ceramics. Masonry or concrete floors are typically used on garage floors with specialty coatings or polishing available but modern homeowners are bringing this surface inside the house on floors and countertops these days.

Soft surface floor coverings play a large and important role in design today. Even though they can be changed more often than hard installed flooring materials, they can last for years, can be purchased on a smaller budget but still should be chosen with great care. Carpet is the most popular soft covering and is attached directly to the sub-floor, generally covering an entire room from wall to wall. Conversely, area rugs are not fastened to the floor and do not cover the entire floor. Carpet characteristics are defined by its fiber content, construction, texture, density and the type of padding placed underneath. Today, 90% of the world’s carpeting is made from synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester, olefin and our favorite, nylon. For durability and longevity, wool is a fabulous carpet and area rug fiber, but is the most expensive of the fiber choices. Other soft floor coverings include resilient floor coverings which are generally smooth materials and are sold in either sheet goods or tile formats. Sheet goods formats are especially desirable when a seamless floor is necessary for areas that receive a lot of spills. Examples of resilient flooring include cork, vinyl, linoleum, or rubber flooring in an exercise room.

There are key functional considerations when choosing your finished flooring which your designer can assist. Comfort, traffic, dirt and moisture all play a part in proper specifications.

The appearance of your floor will convey different moods and evoke various emotions from occupants and visitors. Certain types of flooring blend better with some styles of décor than others. Flooring helps unify and harmonize all other elements within a space. It should flow with the color palette, pattern, style and formality within a room. It should also relate to the spaces adjacent to it. Bold and dominant colors and patterns become a focal point in rooms with minimal and sparse furnishings. Simpler, more subdued patterns and colors should be balanced with more dominant furnishings or accessories. The type of floor covering used can convey a warm or cool feeling. Smooth treatments generate a cool atmosphere while more textured treatments generate a felling of warmth.

Great flooring is one of the most expensive and costly investments any homeowner will make because of the prep work and volume of flooring it takes to finish a home. It is therefore imperative to make excellent decisions when choosing flooring for your home. Beautiful flooring defines spaces, supports the furnishings and creates a strong design backdrop for the entire home. Your floor will ultimately determine the final design and look of your space for years to come.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.