The Original Flooring
Our research and other projects indicated that the flooring we had in the house was original. The original flooring choices were:
- Carpet: in the family room, dining room and formal living room, upstairs bedrooms and hallway
- Engineered Wood: in the kitchen, downstairs half bath and hallway
- Vinyl: in the laundry room, and up stairs bathrooms.
All the floors were well past their prime with stains, cracks and other signs of aging.
We aren’t hoarders and we aren’t extreme neatnicks…probably somewhere in between. But, since we moved in we noticed an absurd amount of DUST in the house. Dust on the furniture, dust on the mouldings, picture frames, dust on furniture and dust on dust…dust just about everywhere! It was driving my Wife crazy…she would dust and by the next week it was back… and them some!
So, where was all this dust coming from and can we do something about it?
There was some evidence to support HVAC duct sealing as I learned from the Fed’s Energy Star website that unsealed HVAC ducts could pull in unfiltered air bringing dust/dirt along for the ride with the conditioned (e.g. heated or cooled) air. I also found a Reader’s Digest article “8 Smart Strategies to Make Your House Dustproof” of some help. What was interesting to me in this article is what the RD article stated about carpet:
“carpet is by far the biggest dust reservoir. It’s a huge source of fibers and absorbs dust like a giant sponge. Even the padding underneath holds dust, which goes airborne with each footstep.”
So, would the carpet go? Maybe….
Tile, Carpet, Hardwood, Laminate and What About Bamboo?
We debated the merit (style, longevity, wearability, and seasonal underfoot feel) of different flooring… wavering between hardwood, bamboo, vinyl planks, carpet, tile and laminate.
I can’t tell you how many trips we made to flooring retailers both on and offline. It was a lot! They included:
- Big Blue
- Big Orange
- Bamboo Importers.com
- Carpets by Direct
- Carpet Supermart
- Lumber Liqidators
Tile was a longwearing choice but, was only a partial solution to our flooring needs. We intially envisioned tile in the kitchen, laundry room and guest 1/2 bath. We wavered on running it throughout the entire 1st floor but, shelved that idea because when winter comes to North Carolina, although mild compared to elsewhere, the floor would be cold. So, we opted for tile in bathrooms and laundry room as a future project replacing vinyl “tiles”.
Why we like this floor?
- Made in USA (Production facility is in nearby Tennessee.)
- Accurate color rendition of travertine without the maintenance.
Carpet was inexpensive, soft underfoot and would probably be the easiest to replace. But, we had several reasons for ultimately NOT selecting carpet. For us the reasons were:
- Our cat would without warning expel furballs and food onto the well worn carpet at odd hours (often in the middle of the night). These stains were (despite the use of Dang Oxygen Activated Stain and Odor Remover Gal) permanent and an attractant to our dog who found these “treats” irresistible .
- Necessity of another replacement in a relatively short time.
Hardwood (engineered and solid) were expensive and based on previous installations not the best wearing. In fact, we were opposed to wood flooring on that basis alone.
Aside from that, the original engineered wood floor in the house was also wearing very poorly, cracking and the adhesive used to adhere to the slab was failing.
Although we really liked Jatoba/Brazilian Cherry for it’s excellent Janka rating.
There are two camps in the Bamboo battle. Those that love it and those that don’t. We experienced biases in both directions during our shopping trips. Some salespeople proclaimed it’s strength. Others panned it with statements about potential warping. We decided against bamboo on a cost per sq basis. We also have a small bias against imported products. In the case of bamboo flooring we weren’t entirely confident that the resin used for strain woven bamboo flooring wouldn’t be something we found out later about like we did with the Chinese Drywall and Melamine Dogfood issues.
Vinyl Planks/Sheet Vinyl
Armstrong has some impressive vinyl flooring, particularly the planks. But, we knocked this off our list due to another consideration. An entire home in vinyl (in our minds) just looked too cheap.
We surveyed a variety of laminate choices and decided that our key factors were:
- Wear rating (expressed as in AC rating)
- Realistic look compared to hardwood (e.g. low luster, no phelonic click when stepping, reasonable grain pattern)
- No eased edges which are notorious for dirt and call for additional square footage to install correctly.
- Total installed cost
The Big Blue estimate was $9,000 to install Pergo Max and remove hardwood, carpet and base shoe moulding (excluding curved base shoe for the stair). If we had done some of the work (remove the carpet, tack strip and glued down engineered wood floor) we would get the price down to $7,000. But, Big Blue could not supply the curved base shoe moulding for our staircase.
Our Final Laminate Flooring Choice
We picked Columbia Floor’s Traditional Clickette in Oregon Walnut Fog. We liked that this floor was
- Made in the USA (nearby Virginia, actually)
- Finished to an AC rating of 4 (AC hardness ratings are a standardized measure adopted by The Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (ELPF) . Very tough.
- 20 year warranty
- Sold and installed by Carpets by Direct
Next up the laminate floor is installed and some final pictures.