The 70s are over. Time to get rid of that shag carpet in the family room. But what to replace it with? Two of the more popular flooring trends are tile and laminate. The choice between these two options depends on several factors, including your budget, where the flooring is going to be installed and, most importantly, your own personal style.
The use of tiles as floor covering goes as far back as the Romans, who used it to finish and decorate the floors of their villas. Floor tiles can be made out of a number of materials including natural stone, the most common for home installation being ceramic. These tiles are thick, usually 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch, and come in larger sizes, mostly above six inches per side.
Although laminate flooring was only introduced to the United States in 1994, it's quickly become a popular choice for homeowners. Often designed to look like natural wood materials, laminate is made up of a number of different recycled materials and resins pressed together. Some styles are even made to look like marble or stone.
Advantages of Tile
Tile can be used in just about any room--kitchen, bathroom and living areas. It's durable, strong and comes in a plethora of colors and textures. Tile also comes in varying strengths suitable to the traffic in the room where it will be used. For kitchens and wet areas, like bathrooms, there are a number of "no slip" tiles to give a safer, more secure footing. Broken tiles are relatively simple to repair.
Advantages of Laminate
Laminate flooring can give your home the glow and warmth you get with wood, that tile just does not provide. Also, laminate is easier and cheaper to install than tile. Most types of laminate don't require any glues, staples or nails. You simply snap each piece into its neighbor. It's very easy to keep clean, as well.
Disadvantages of Tile
Tile is more expensive to install. If you're doing it yourself, it also requires skill and precision to make sure that the tiles seat evenly. The surface that tile sits on has to be level and free of bumps or ridges, more precisely than for laminate. This might require you to do some work on the subfloor, such as applying a self-leveling compound, to make it ready for tiling. Tile is also harder to keep clean. Spaces between the tiles, where the grout sits, become a magnet for dirt and grime.
Disadvantages of Laminate
Although laminate can be used in wet areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, constant exposure to water will warp and buckle the laminate, necessitating costly repairs. If a laminate board in the middle of the room becomes cracked, half of the boards in the room will have to be pulled out in order to repair the cracked piece.
Whether you're installing tile or laminate, you'll need to make sure the floor in the space you're finishing is level. To fill in gaps on a tile floor, you'll need to use a self-leveling compound. For laminate, you can use pieces of roofing shingle, laid out underneath the padding, to make things plumb.
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