Get Floored

Tips from the pros on choosing and installing the right type of flooring for your home
Installing Wood Flooring Hammering

The floor is one of the most important parts of your home. It takes up a lot of space and must withstand constant daily use. Like any other part of home construction or renovation, choosing and installing the right floor for your house requires care and planning to get the result you want.

Waterproof flooring is becoming increasingly popular in New Orleans. Lindsay Swenson, chief executive merchant at Floor & Decor, said luxury vinyl plank is an in-demand option for this reason. With an attached backing, it’s very easy to install, does not require any acclimation and is highly durable. It can also be installed over existing flooring.

“The visuals and texture are of such a premium quality, it’s actually hard to tell it’s not wood,” said Swenson. “More and more, homeowners don’t want to worry about maintenance.”

Swenson said other popular options include pattern tile, which allows homeowners to bring artistry, color, and fun into their living spaces. For wood flooring, wide boards with lighter and more natural finishes are in demand.

Peggy Stafford, owner of Stafford Tile & Stone, said she is seeing a lot of people choosing terrazzo tiles. Some of these options include encaustic cement tiles with a sprinkle of terrazzo material and mosaics with metal inserts or stone pieces.

Moisture is a problem in a damp, swampy climate like New Orleans. Swenson said it is a big concern for solid-wood flooring. Buckling, cupping, and cracking are just some of the problems that can occur from too much moisture.

When you are shopping for flooring, think about things in the long-term. You use your floor every day, so it needs to be tough and it needs to have a look you’ll be happy with for many years to come. It is not a place where you should even consider cutting corners.

“Getting the best product you can afford in a timeless look is key,” said Swenson. “You won’t be changing it out anytime soon, so spend the extra money on the item you love that’s made to last a lifetime. Getting a low-end product can actually devalue your home.”

Stafford agrees with this assessment. She said it’s important to take your time and look at as many flooring options as possible before making a final decision. Thorough deliberation and planning saves money in the long run.

“A common mistake [from homeowners] is not allowing …enough time and energy for the selection process of tile and stone in their projects,” said Stafford. “It would be unreasonable to think that you can select these items in a few hours … A well-executed plan usually has fewer mistakes and less headaches.”

Once you have settled on the right look, make sure you hire a reputable installer for your floors. It’s a good idea to do your homework ahead of time so you can be sure your installer is following proper guidelines.

“Many people don’t realize that a simple mistake from an installer like not letting the flooring properly acclimate in the space or not leaving an expansion gap around the perimeter can cause your floor to fail and it won’t be covered by the warranty,” said Swenson.

Stafford said COVID-19 restrictions require customers to make an appointment with her to discuss flooring and tile options. She thinks this practice might be a good idea for customers even when pandemic restrictions are lifted. She said an appointment makes homeowners more focused, mindful, and prepared when they show up to discuss options.

If you’re handy and adventurous enough to install your flooring, the DIY Network said to lay flooring perpendicular to the joist, ensuring the floor will be as strong as possible, and reducing the odds of warping or separating down the road.