Floor covering 101 for first-time buyers

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The choice of flooring determines the appearance of many first-time home buyers

Author of the article:

Kathleen Freimond

Release date:

20th September 2019 • • 20th September 2019 • • Read for 3 minutes • • Join the conversation The wide-plank hardwood floors in a classic herringbone pattern are eye-catching in Chelsea, the Cressey Development Group's low-rise housing project on 31st Avenue and Cambie Street in Vancouver. The wide-plank hardwood floors in a classic herringbone pattern are eye-catching in Chelsea, the Cressey Development Group’s low-rise housing project on 31st Avenue and Cambie Street in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of the Cressey Development Group

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As one of the largest areas in any home, flooring needs to be durable, look good, and come at a price that fits your budget – not an easy question.

As one of the first decisions for any selection of materials and color palettes put together by condo interior designers prior to sale, flooring often determines the appearance of many first-time buyers’ homes.

While the floors in the bedrooms are often carpeted and the bathrooms are porcelain or ceramic tile, the main living areas are usually hardwood, hardwood, laminate or luxury vinyl planks (LVP).

Although the type of flooring is often part of the standard package offered by the developer, there is sometimes an option for an upgrade. Hence, you should understand the pros and cons of the four main flooring options.

According to Kjell Nymark, vice president of the BC Floor Covering Association, solid wood floors that have been around for more than 100 years are still being refinished.

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A solid wood floor probably offers the best value of any flooring, says Nymark.

“It can be reworked several times. As styles change, the floor can change too, rather than removing and replacing it, ”he adds.

Wood floors are made from a hardwood veneer that is attached to a decking. Depending on the wear surface – the thickness of the wood veneer layer – they can also be reworked several times, says Nymark, the board member of the BCFCA Portfolio responsible for the training.

Companies have different processes, but by and large, the wood veneer is bonded to the decking boards chosen by the manufacturer, which can be plywood, individual panels, slats that run in opposite directions, or medium density fibreboard (MDF).

The thickness of the wear surface determines the price of the product. The thinner the veneer or the wear surface, the cheaper the product.

“However, if you are using thin veneers, there are no sanding options available, so the longevity of this floor is not as good as it is with thick veneers,” says Nymark.

While laminate floors have the look of wood, they’re not a wood product, says Nymark.

“Laminate is similar to wood and although the core is usually MDF, laminate is not considered a wood floor,” he explains, explaining that the surface of the laminate is actually a photo attached to the MDF.

Laminate is often a budget dictated choice.

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While laminate floors have the appearance of wood, they're not a wood product, says Kjell Nymark, vice president of the BC Floor Covering Association. While laminate floors have the appearance of wood, they’re not a wood product, says Kjell Nymark, vice president of the BC Floor Covering Association. Photo by Getty Images

“When someone wants wood, but then looks at their budget and options, they go for something that looks like wood as opposed to the cost of real wood,” says Nymark.

However, laminate does not have the benefit of the durability of hardwood or parquet floors.

“There are some surface manufacturers out there who claim you can refinish laminate flooring, but usually for the price – if you are repainting a laminate floor – it is usually not cost-effective,” he says.

Vinyl is making a comeback – in the 70s and 80s, carpet and vinyl were common in most households, recalls Nymark. At the time, the vinyl was supplied as a floor covering – often with a pattern. Now luxury vinyl planks (LVP) come in a variety of lengths and widths and look like wood – they’re another wood that is similar and has the advantage of being waterproof.

“Right now the trend in flooring is very weak, has a low gloss, and a lot of LVP products are good at creating that look. They’re very durable and easy to maintain, ”says Nymark. “Often it depends: People are attracted to wood, but have to take budget and comfort into account. They say, “I love the look of wood, but I don’t know if I can afford it now.” Then consider other options. “

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