Flooring Choices

Choosing the right flooring is one of the most fundamental aspects of home design, but it’s often one that is glossed over quickly. We’ve had the opportunity lately to use some really great materials.

Hardwood is a classic choice for any home, but there are so many options in terms of wood type, grade, plank size, installation technique. Recently, we installed a number 2 grade maple floor. Although some might consider number 2 to be a lesser-grade of wood, it has a natural character that really reveals the wood’s beauty. Red and white oak are always beautiful, but hickory, pine and even poplar floors can be excellent choices. We just finished a stunning staircase using locally milled poplar.

In terms of tile, there are so many options. In ceramic and porcelain tile, you can really achieve any look – even woodgrain! We’ve had good experience lately using both handmade clay tile (Saltillo tile), which is really gorgeous and earthy, and handmade cement tiles. Both are affordable and unique, and can really set the tone for your whole project.

Linoleum has earned a mixed reputation. While it’s been lauded for their sustainable properties (newer linoleum is made of recycled and renewable materials, like linseed oil), some homeowners automatically dismiss linoleum flooring as tacky or outdated. Think again! The new linoleums are really cool, and they can be a great option when choices are limited. In a renovation that we worked on recently where we were remediating a wet basement, we were reluctant to put down anything that would be harmed by moisture. Carpet and hardwood were both out. We installed linoleum, and I think the results were really impressive.


Other flooring options in spaces where moisture is a concern – or just for a hip look – include concrete. Polished, acid-etched or stained, it’s a functional and high design choice. We’ve done several recently.


Laminates have also come a long way in terms of design, and in terms of function, they can really perform. Laminates are made up of several layers of material.  We recently installed a laminate (a.k.a. “engineered”) red oak (aka engineered) floor to match hardwood red oak in the rest of the home. The laminate flooring was installed over concrete, and since we wanted to lay a pad underneath to soften the blow on the feet and make it more comfortable, laminate was the perfect choice.