A Discussion of Flooring
Choosing flooring for your home is a big decision. It can be a stressful decision to make because there are few other finishes in your home that are so embedded in your space that a change would mean ripping up your house and requiring everything to be removed for days or weeks. So, you really want to get it right the first time, right? Unfortunately, I speak from personal experience on this matter. I chose a mahogany wood flooring for my house when we where building it. It was beautiful, and I just loved it. "Loved" being the important word. Six years, two active children, and two large dogs(who really carry most of the blame) have wrought havoc on my formerly beautiful floors. They are now a sea of scratches that I can do nothing about. (Sigh.)
So clearly, the lesson is that making a flooring decision is as much about your lifestyle and personal preference as it is about aesthetics.
Tile is generally easier to install and easier to care for than other options for hard flooring. There are endless options for color and style for tile. All you have to do is visit your local home improvement to find that out. But if you are shopping for tile, don't stop there. Your local tile specialty store will have even more options for you to choose from, and they are not necessarily more expensive. Keep in mind that, while porcelain and ceramic tiles can usually be interchangable in the same application, porcelain is generally considered more durable. This is mainly due to the fact that porcelain is more dense and is the same material (and color) all the way through. So in cases where a tile is chipped, a porcelain tile will still show the same color, but the color in a ceramic tile is only on the top layer. Once it is chipped, you are seeing the underlay.
Stone flooring (generally Travertine) is a bit more temperamental than tile. It is more labor intensive to install, and therefore can be significantly more expensive. The beauty of natural stone cannot be denied, and to me, there is something about it that is just warmer feeling than tile. Stone also has more workability. It can be honed on the edges for a finished looking edge, often eliminating the need for a separate bullnose piece. But travertine needs to be taken care of correctly. You must be sure to seal it, and to only clean it with products that are natural stone friendly.
Wood is definitely a favorite choice of mine. It is warm and lovely, and has such a variety of colors and styles. But, as I have already mentioned, it can scratch quite easily. Wood can be used just about anywhere, including kitchens, as long as it is properly maintained. Wood can be laid in various patterns, depending on personal design preference, and running the wood lengthwise will give the illusion of a longer space, and running it widthwise will give the appearance of a wider room. Wood and natural stone can be installed together in various patterns, creating a really interesting look. This is a great way to define an entryway, hallway, or transition between rooms.