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Posted by Sirena Rubinoff | Sep 22, 2009

Remove that Carpet and Expose Hardwood

All You Need to Know About Carpets, Wood, Laminates, and More

Does your carpet look, smell, or feel old? Are you looking for a change? If your answer is yes, a hardwood flooring makeover might be just what your home needs. But before you go out and spend your hard-earned money on such a big project, read up on the benefits, options and issues with wood flooring so that you can make an informed decision.

Benefits of Hardwood Over Carpet

You know the age-old saying, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." Well, let it suffice to say that carpeting oftentimes falls short in the cleanliness department. It collects dust, germs, and bacteria that can trigger allergies or breathing problems if not cleaned properly. Light colored carpet shows every speck of dirt that you or your family and pets track into the house and can be a hassle to clean. And if you're religious about cleaning your carpet regularly, the nature of the beast is that even if you are able to remove stains and smells, the chemicals from carpet cleaners, powders, and fresheners settle into the carpet fibers and can soak through to the carpet pad or even the foundation.

Hardwood flooring looks beautiful and is much easier to keep germ- and dust-free. For spills, you need simply to wipe away the mess with a paper or regular towel and for regular cleaning, simply sweep away dust and dirt and then mop with a floor cleaner. No more running to the store for soda water and salt in the hopes that you'll be able to salvage your carpet from a red wine spill! Hardwood floors will save you time and energy, while still allowing you to maintain a beautiful, healthy home.

Solid Hardwood vs. Laminate Wood

If you're thinking about getting rid of your old carpet and replacing it with wood flooring, you have two options to choose from: solid hardwood and laminate wood. Solid hardwood is exactly what it sounds like - pure wood flooring that can be purchased either with a polyurethane coating or unfinished. The difference is that pre-finished hardwood is ready for use immediately after installation, while unfinished hardwood requires sanding after installation. The upside of unfinished wood is that it is less expensive than pre-finished wood and you can do spot touch-ups if an area gets nicked or scratched, whereas prefinished wood does not allow you that luxury. Solid hardwood flooring can be expensive, with most commercial retailers selling it for upwards of $5 to $10 per square foot. However, if you look online, you may find a steal. Cheaper still is laminate wood flooring, which can be as little as half the price of solid wood floors. Laminate floors are essentially plastic material that is made to look like hardwood, and some laminates are even treated to have a wood grain feel. Laminate flooring is usually more dent and scratch resistant than traditional wood and will never require sanding.

Issues with Solid Hardwood

Nothing is perfect in life and so too with your new hardwood floor. However, if you're aware of potential flooring problems from the start, you may be able to minimize or prevent future issues. First off, it is important to know that wood expands and contracts with temperature and humidity changes. This kind of tension or stretching can result in the floor squeaking. So, if you don't want your home to sound like a haunted house, think about limiting hardwood flooring to the rooms that are more insulated and consider using tiles in areas more prone to inclement weather. Secondly, hardwood floors can and probably will get scratched over time. In some cases, you will be able to sand or re-finish these scratches away. However, know in advance that there are some scratches you may not be able to get rid of without replacing the wood. This is simply a risk you must take when investing in wood flooring. Third, we suggest you choose a light color wood for high-traffic areas that attract dust, dirt, and footprints because darker colors make these things more visible, which might force you to feel the need to sweep more often. Lastly, you should always be careful with liquids on hardwood. Don't let water or wet items sit on any wooden surface for an extended period of time as it can stain, discolor, or buckle the wood.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

If you're worried about giving up that warm, cozy feel that your old carpet had in exchange for the look and cleanliness of hardwood flooring - well, don't be! You can and should still use carpeting in your home. All you have to do is get used to the idea of switching out your old, germy wall-to-wall carpet for washable floor rugs. Non-permanent rugs give you many more design options with regard to shape, color and size and you can still keep them in place by using non-slip padding underneath. In this way, you can have the cozy atmosphere and underfoot warmth of carpet, while simultaneously maintaining a germ-free environment by regularly washing your rugs.

In the end, you'll find that redoing the flooring in your home might seem like a daunting task at first, but when you break it down by its benefits, it is a great investment. Hardwood is one of the most desirable flooring options in the American housing market these days and is guaranteed to add long-term value and beauty to your home.

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