New Orleans is a port city that straddles the Mississippi River, creating a distinct set of conditions that influence construction in a region where much of the land is below sea level. Because of this situation, New Orleans proper and its surrounding neighborhoods enjoy a variety of home designs as historic structures and modern construction intersect to create the landscape of the Gulf South. The myriad architectural designs create an interesting palate for both renovations and for those creating new structures, and the flooring options for these projects are no exception.
As the Crescent City approaches its 300th anniversary, the creativity and diversity of floor covering is evident as new homes and businesses are constructed amid the breathtaking creations of the past. Regardless of old or new, when it comes to selection flooring, the union of function and form heavily influences decisions.
Laura Hobbs, Sales Associate at Pieri Tile & Marble Co., notes that the most popular products in the store at the moment are uniquely shaped tiles. “Using an arabesque or a standard square or rectangles in a new way to create a pattern appeals to many of our buyers.”
Similarly, at Stafford Tile & Stone, owner Peggy Stafford explains how people love custom mosaics from brands like Walker Zanger and New Ravenna. “Another local favorite that I carry,” she says, “are these wonderful hand-crafted, patterned terra cotta tiles.”
As buyers move away from natural wood, porcelain planks that resemble wood flooring are growing in popularity. Chris Judge of Adda Carpet & Flooring attributes this popularity to the fact that “The looks of these planks can vary dramatically, from classic mahogany or cherry, to aged and distressed barnwood.”
Pieri Tile & Marble Co.
For traditionalist, the classic white never goes out of style, as evidenced by the continued popularity of items such as Bianco Carrara marble or basic white ceramic subway tile that continues to be the front-runner for home owners, builders and house flippers shopping at Floor & Decor.
Tile continues to be a mainstay for areas of high traffic as they can endure a lot of wear and tear and are incredibly easy to clean. Stafford Tile & Stone promotes inlaid large format porcelain tiles selected from their array of hand-made local products. “Some new patters can be done with water jet on the porcelains,” says Stafford, “So you get not only a durable product, but also something unique and interesting.”
At Palatial Stone & Tile, “Customers have been drawn to our hand painted terracotta tiles and new cement tile lines, both can be customized to
your unique color scheme and design. White marbles such as Calacatta, Carrara & Thassos are also very popular right now, their beauty is timeless,”
says Audrey Manning, design specialist.
Kitchens are notorious for heavy traffic but are also growing as the “hearth” in homes where families and friends gather. For this reason, the open kitchen is a priority for many embarking on a renovation, with the floor as a key component.
“I typically favor porcelain tile for kitchens and other high traffic areas,” says Judge, “There are so many colors and textures to choose from – some terrific natural stone looks.” For a more contemporary look, Judge suggests an ultra-large porcelain tile as they have fewer grout lines effectively making a “seamlessly stunning appearance.”
Stafford Tile & Stone
For those seeking value, the best bang for your buck at Floor & Decor also comes in porcelain. “We’ve got an awesome selection of porcelain penny tile starting at $2.99 each that can’t be beat!” says Swenson. “So much style for so little money. We also have a white arabesque mosaic that’s super trendy right now for only $3.79 each.”
Stafford recently traveled to hand-select pallets of marble tiles. Although this might not traditionally be considered among the list of “bargain” products, Stafford explains how the best value at Stafford Tile & Stone is currently Calcatta marble tiles in 18-by-18 inches and veined Cararra tiles in 20-by20-inch sizes. “These are great because it is often difficult to get the best, cleanest look for a very good price.”
“A great value is the use of remnants,” says Hobbs, “but this is not a real possibility for flooring. For flooring, ceramic tile is the product your are looking for.Tile floors will give you the impact you are looking for at a lower cost per square foot.”
A softer look is possible with carpeting. Carpet is economical and boasts several advancements in current times. Pet-proof carpeting is one of these advancements, and when installed with pet-proof padding it is a smart choice for either pet spills or other liquids like wine. “I really love the delustered, low-pile carpets that are a twin for wool, but are much more economical and easier to care for,” says Judge.
For a permanent investment, Pieri Tile & Marble Co. offers stone flooring. “They will always be in style,” says Hobbs. “A great pattern or unique shape will help the floors stand out. A hexagon is a classic pattern that we are seeing a lot more of these days.”
Manning at Palatial Stone says, “Natural stone floors can last a lifetime. No two pieces are alike and its beauty is unparalleled…Natural stone also adds excellent resell value to your home. Stone floors can be vacuumed or dust-mopped frequently to remove debris from the surface. Natural stone should be cleaned with neutral p.H cleaners; stone cleaners should never contain acids as they will etch and eventually damage the surface.” She also suggests sealing your natural stone if you go that route, because it provides stain protection and acts as a moisture barrier. “The lifespan of sealers varies from product to product, so it’s always best to reference the manufacturer’s literature for specific duration of protection.”
Floor and Decor sells a line of Dupont sealers that are top of the line. As market trends continue to reinforce the fact that natural stone increases value, homeowners will do well to take the time for proper maintenance. “Cleaning with a stone specific cleanser so you don’t prematurely strip off that sealer is paramount,” says Swenson. “Resealing every three to five years, depending on the product you sealed with, is non-negotiable…[Natural stone] is a bit more work, money and maintenance, but nothing man-made will truly give you the look and feel of natural stone. It’s well-worth the investment.”
Regardless of new or old construction, the appeal of Old World Southern is undeniable. At Adda Carpet & Flooring, this effect can be achieved in the entire house by installing smoked oak woods with a hand-waxed polish, suggests Judge.
“If money were no object,” shares Stafford, “I would choose the new Aurora Collection in my showroom. This mosaic line delicately details with 24 carat gold accents with strips of Mother of Pearl. With this line, a customer could even design their own pattern of mosaic and fulfill a very personal dream of their own.”
As many people move toward greener living, engineered wood is a viable substitution for traditional hardwood. Also called composite or man-made wood, these planks are created from fusing the scraps of fibers and particles of a variety of woods with adhesives to make a new product.
Stafford Tile & Stone also boasts a variety of LEED certified products that are very eco-friendly. Notably, the glass tile line from Oceanside Glasstile is fantastic for those committed to sustainability and recycling as they use 80 percent post consumer waste in many of their glass tile products.
The internet enables even a novice designer to envision their dream home. “Houzz is an extremely useful site for gathering design ideas,” shares Judge, “thousands of pictures are posted from around the world…including some of my own.” A customer recently made an impression when she walked into the Adda Carpet & Flooring showroom with a Houzz picture of a natural stone tile shower. “She asked if I knew where to find this gorgeous tile … and out of literally thousands of pictures posted she had chosen a photo I just posted of my own master bath renovation.”
Working with customers to bringing their dreams to life is a part of her job that Laura Hobbs embraces, and the rise of social media and Pinterest is a great way for many to find their voice. Whatever your desire, with a little research and some help from experts, the perfect flooring is within reach.