Flooring choices get both bigger and better
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When it comes to tile these days, bigger is definitely better, according to Century Tile's Mike West, president, and Elaine Carlson, vice president/general manager.
"With larger tiles, you lay more square footage with a single piece and, as a result, you have fewer grout lines," Carlson said. "When you have a small room, to make it look larger, you want to minimize grout joints. The fewer the grout joints, the larger the room will look. So when you have a small room, you want to choose large tiles."
Century Tile is a Chicago-based, family-owned company with 12 flooring stores around the area.
How much larger are the tiles homeowners now select?
"Today's most popular sizes are 18-by-18 (inches), 24-by-24 and 24-by-36," West said. "They are much more of a challenge to install, however, because the sub-flooring has to be exactly level or they might crack. Large tiles are less forgiving than small tiles, but they look wonderful."
Carlson encourages homeowners to mix it up, too, when it comes to tile shapes. Modular floors create interest, she said, but don't necessarily increase the price tag.
One of the newest looks is porcelain tile that looks like wood, West said.
"More and more factories are offering planks or rectangular tiles and those that look like real wood are becoming more common. Some visuals are so realistic, it is difficult to tell them apart from the real thing," Carlson said.
When it comes to color, earth tones are still hot and Century Tile is seeing an upswing in the popularity of grays, West said.
"Tile is not easy to remove so it is going to be in place in a home for a long time," he added. "Therefore, you don't want to limit yourself when it comes to color. Eighty-five to 90 percent of people are choosing earth tones or grays for that reason. They usually add an accent strip of some kind to dress it up, and then add their color in accessories that are easily changed."
Keep in mind that floor tiles can be installed on walls, but wall tiles cannot be installed on floors because they are not made to take the punishment of people walking on them, Carlson said.
It is not unusual today to see designers carrying the same large floor tile up onto the walls, all the way to the ceiling, making the room appear much more elegant. Many manufacturers are also trying to take the guesswork out of coordinating patterns by offering wall, floor, glass and mosaic combinations.
"Glass liners and accents add a whole new dimension to decorating," Carlson said. "Many kitchen backsplashes are installed with this material. They look great and are very easy to clean up."
Another hot trend in ceramic tile floors involves the installation of energy-efficient warming systems under the floor tile. Many such systems are controlled by programmable thermostats. Warm floors are a wonderful addition to any flooring project, she said.
In business for 66 years, Century Tile sells ceramic tile, carpet, wood, vinyl, laminate, marble and stone, as well as all the necessary setting materials. It also provides installation services and offers a lifetime warranty if it installs the floor.
"Carpeting still makes up 50 percent of all flooring sold in the United States," West said. "And the carpeting being sold today is extremely soft, thanks to the fact that the yarn being used is larger and has a different twist. They have learned how to make it softer without sacrificing durability."
Most carpet today is made of nylon or recycled plastic products. There is very little wool carpeting sold any more, West said.
Bedrooms are the most popular place for carpeting.
"Some people don't like that cold, hard feeling under their feet in the morning," West said.
Century Tile was founded on Austin Avenue in Chicago by partners Frank Parks Sr. and Paul Spiewak and their children and grandchildren are still running the business, with the help of an outside president, West. It is currently one of the 25 largest floor covering retailers in the country.
For more information, visit www.century-tile.com to find a nearby store.
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