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posted: 9/27/2013 12:51 AM

New flooring trends underfoot

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  • Wood floors with wider planks and a worn, distressed look have grown in popularity.

      Wood floors with wider planks and a worn, distressed look have grown in popularity.
    Courtesy of KLM Builders

  • In recent years, many customers have opted for a darker stain on their wood floors.

      In recent years, many customers have opted for a darker stain on their wood floors.
    Courtesy of KLM Builders

  • Wood is often the flooring of choice for first-floor living spaces, while carpeting rules in the bedrooms upstairs.

      Wood is often the flooring of choice for first-floor living spaces, while carpeting rules in the bedrooms upstairs.
    Courtesy of Shodeen Homes

  • Many homeowners select a classic pattern carpet that hides traffic patterns and gives the room a little bit of interest, said Lisa Carlson Nelson, owner of Carlson's Flooring in Geneva.

      Many homeowners select a classic pattern carpet that hides traffic patterns and gives the room a little bit of interest, said Lisa Carlson Nelson, owner of Carlson's Flooring in Geneva.
    Courtesy of Carlson's Flooring

 
By Sherry Giewald
Daily Herald Correspondent

What's underfoot makes a material difference in the ambience of your new home.

Whether you choose cushy carpeting, rich hardwoods, or pretty tiles, you'll be floored with the amazing selection of materials out there today. That's not all. You can give your flooring personality with the new styles, colors, textures and patterns that bring interest to the world of flooring.

Amid the exciting new changes in the flooring industry, there is one constant at Meritus Homes: "Every buyer wants something different," said Brian Brunhofer, president of the company.

"People walking in our doors know exactly what they want and where they want it. They've done their research, which is the beauty of the Internet, and Pinterest helps them visualize how a house will look with a specific floor covering."

As with the fashion industry, flooring is all about looking beautiful, feeling good and being comfortable.

Hardwood flooring

Hardwood rather than carpeting has been the trend in parts of the Midwest and Chicago for a while now, said Nathan Amidon, speaking for Shodeen Homes as division manager for New Home Star Illinois Division.

"More people want upgraded hard surfaces and expect it in their new homes. They're moving from traditional planks to wider plank hardwoods, and many people like the distressed look," Amidon said.

Distressed it is at Floor & Décor, where people want solid hardwoods that look distressed, weathered and aged, and they like the wide-board barnyard look: very rustic, textured," said Mark Galat, pro sales manager in the Arlington Heights store. "There's a lot of texture in the hardwood flooring industry now."

Hardwoods are also big at KLM Builders, especially the hand-scraped wider plank flooring, said Kim Meier, president of the company. "We own our own flooring company, so besides our new construction, we go into existing homes and replace flooring for homeowners."

Some people like using multiple-sized planks and more exotic wood species leaning toward darker stains with a growing interest in gray tones.

Bamboo flooring is also popular now, Galat said. "It's a different look and style with a smooth surface."

At Meritus Homes, where most of the clients are downsizers, people go for the traditional look, and Brunhofer sees this as a strong trend in its St. Charles, Inverness and Long Grove communities.

For example, some buyers want hardwood floors on all levels throughout the home, although the last 10 of 15 buyers have gone with the traditional 3¾-inch wide boards rather than the wider plank, he said.

"I think 18 months ago, people were looking for the wider plank, but we're recently seeing 3¾ on-site finished floors stained to client specifications to go with the traditional-style home, furniture and artwork," Brunhofer said.

Carpeting

Though there's no denying the popularity of wood floors, carpeting is alive and well, said Lisa Carlson Nelson, owner of Carlson's Flooring in Geneva.

"We're known for our nice selection of wool carpeting. It's a good investment for people who plan to stay in their homes for a while. It performs well for many years; it won't mat or crush; it's like having naturally curly hair."

Nelson also likes SmartStrand, a very soft yarn system that is stain-resistant and performs well, especially for families. People like the way it feels, and it's been a big hit, she said.

"A lot of people are going with more of a classic pattern cut and loop that hides traffic patterns and gives the room a little bit of interest," Nelson said. "Flecked carpeting is a good choice for the family room for people with children.

"For families with children, spills and stains may be a concern, but today carpeting is very stain-resistant against mustard, bleach and everything," Nelson said.

Meier of KLM Builders agrees that carpeting wears longer than in the past, and coatings prevent it from staining. She also appreciates the new soft yarns that make carpeting so soft to walk on and "comfortable enough for a nap."

Meritus' Brunhofer finds that a lot of people still like carpet in the bedrooms. "They're looking for comfort, and carpeting is soft and plush, and they're only putting it in specific areas to meet their needs," he said.

At Shodeen Homes, friezes and plush carpeting are popular, Amidon said. "Five or 10 years ago, it was Berber and shag, but not anymore. I can't remember the last time we put Berber in a home."

Tile

From a large glazed porcelain tile that looks like a slab of polished stone to a rusty, crusty metallic look for the industrial chic décor, tile takes on many cutting edge looks today.

Porcelain steps into the spotlight as a popular choice and tile trend, with faux hardwood porcelain a recent innovation that looks like real hardwood.

Porcelain flooring is a popular choice at KLM Builders. "It's a desirable, hard material with no maintenance, and it holds up well," Meier said.

The 18-by-18-inch tile is a favored size, and people even like the larger 24-by-24-inch tiles. They can use different sizes and create an interesting pattern on the floor.

The 12-by-24-inch rectangular porcelain tiles are very popular at Floor & Décor, and it also carries a porcelain tile that is 6 by 24 inches, which has a wood look, but porcelain, Galat said.

"These are newer, a lot more attractive and more popular with a lot of colors coming out and more sizes -- some up to 48 inches long. It's a very unique look because it's not a typical size tile."

The luxury vinyl plank flooring, or LVP, is also popular. It's a wood-look vinyl, very durable, and it mimics the look of expensive woods, Galat said.

Mosaic tile is fashionable for backsplashes, and when mixed with other tiles, it gives a room some pizazz. Brunhofer finds that some people want an intricate look with decorated tiles on the floors and walls in their bathrooms. "Bringing in a picture speaks 1,000 words, and not much is lost in translation," he said.

For the avant-garde, some tiles that appear bent or stretched and twisted to give movement to an entire wall or floor.

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