Whether you’re building new, remodeling, or just looking for a big change, flooring is an important part of every room and can make a huge impact on your living space. In the world of floors, there are more choices than you may expect. Three of the most popular floor covering options these days are wood, tile, and carpet. Let’s explore the installation and removal of each of these to help you make the best decision for your space.
Wood flooring is available in both solid and engineered varieties. Solid wood flooring planks are milled from a single piece of timber, while engineered planks are made by combining two or more pieces of timber in layers. These are available in many different woods including cherry, oak, or mahogany, as well as the very popular bamboo. With the exception of special situations such as unusual sub-flooring or an intricate parquet design, most wood flooring is installed by a tongue-and-groove method. The planks are specially designed to fit tightly together, and can be installed rather quickly and with minimum fuss. Both solid and engineered wood planks can be glued directly to the subfloor, but engineered planks can also be “floated.” In such cases, the flooring is not directly attached to the subfloor, which allows the floor some room to adapt, such as to increasing humidity. Wood flooring will typically require some kind of sealant such as oil or polyurethane.
Removal of a wood floor obviously depends on how it was installed. A very old wood floor may have been nailed down (not a common practice now) and all those nails will need to be removed. A glued-down floor will be particularly difficult since each piece of wood will need to be removed individually. If you’re removing a wood floor, a floating installation is your friend – they’re definitely the easiest to remove.
Tiles for flooring are available in a few options: ceramic and stone are popular, but there are also cheaper vinyl options for the budget-conscious. Tiles are available in a number of standardized sizes and shapes, and can be mixed and matched to create the style you’re envisioning, from an intricate mosaic to a checkerboard, to a simple traditional grid. They’re also available in a huge variety of colors. Vinyl tiles are available with a handy peel-and-stick option, making installation (on a scrupulously cleaned and leveled subfloor) quick and easy for a skilled worker. Traditional forms of tile need to be laid out carefully, using spacers to ensure an even layout, and when the design is complete, grout is applied between them to solidify the flooring. When the excess grout is removed and the entire floor allowed to set and harden, you have a lovely floor, ready to stand the test of time.
Wood Tiles can be a pain to remove, since they’re individually adhered in place. Industrial-grade removers and solvents will generally be required.
Carpeting is a textile product, and there are infinite variations of it. From cut-pile to needle felted to berber to knotted-pile to tufted and from nylon to wool to acrylic to polyester to polypropylene, there’s a texture and material to suit even the most sensitive feet. Tufted nylon is the most common, though. A quick trip to a home improvement store will provide ample opportunity to see and feel a host of options of texture and material, as well as color. Generally, carpets are all installed by the same method. A special padding is laid over the subfloor and then the carpet is stretched tightly using special tools, and tacked down all around the room. No special care is needed except for an occasional vacuuming. Carpet shows age and wear and will need to be replaced in time.
Carpet removal is a relatively simple process of pulling up the tacks and rolling up the carpet and padding. It can be a filthy process though, due to the amount of dirt that can filter down through the fibers. Carpet tiles are becoming popular, especially for commercial spaces. They are affixed with glue and are designed to be easily removed.