New technologies improve flooring options

By: Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published June 17, 2015

 Distressed hardwood floors, as seen in this photo, are a popular flooring option, according to flooring experts.

Distressed hardwood floors, as seen in this photo, are a popular flooring option, according to flooring experts.

Photo provided by Matt Pfeiffer


METRO DETROIT — The flooring scene has changed drastically in the last few years, according to flooring experts in the area.

New types of flooring are available, such as luxury vinyl, which can resemble any other type of floor. And other timeless types of flooring, such as hardwood and carpet, have advanced leaps and bounds in terms of stability, finishes, style and softness.

Matt Pfeiffer, owner of Northern Flooring in Lake Orion, said that hardwood is the No. 1 type of flooring in Michigan and the best investment in terms of resale factor.

“The best part about wood is every board is unique and different because it is a product created by nature, as opposed to a product that is a photo under a wear layer,” Pfeiffer said. “(Hardwood) is warm and resilient, and there is a give to it, which makes it more comfortable and offers better sound absorption.”

He said that hardwood is a good option for people with allergies because it is easier to clean and doesn’t trap allergens.

Another benefit to hardwood, he said, is that it does not stain and show traffic patterns over time, like carpet.

“The wood industry has come incredibly far in the past several years,” Pfeiffer said. “The main advancement is engineered hardwood, which is primarily what we sell today over solid hardwood.”

He said engineered hardwood is designed for stability, which is beneficial with Michigan’s dry winters and moist summers, and to be more resistant to growth and contraction. Additionally, the planks are wider.

“The average wood we sell is between 5 and 8 inches. Just 20 years ago, 2 1/4 inches was the standard. Even 10 years ago, there were widths we couldn’t really do with solid wood,” he said.

To hide wear on hardwood, Pfeiffer said distressed wood floors are popular, as well as floors with a natural oil finish instead of urethane, which helps to disguise wear and avoids extra chemicals in the home.

To clean hardwood floors, he said homeowners should use only a microfiber dust mop or a hard-surface vacuum with suction only — no beater bars — and a cleaner specially formulated for urethane floors.

“Never vinegar, never water, never Murphy’s Oil Soap — it puts a coating on floors that eliminates one of the refinishing opportunities,” Pfeiffer said.

The second-most popular flooring, he said, is a new style called luxury vinyl, which is quickly replacing laminate. Luxury vinyl and laminate are both photographs under wear layers, he said, but luxury vinyl is more durable and less susceptible to moisture.

“The hottest new trend is luxury vinyl, which comes in glue-down products and also can clip together,” Pfeiffer said. “It can look like cork, bamboo, wood, tile, leather, gator — a plethora of looks.”

Many homeowners with pets opt for luxury vinyl instead of wood because it is more resistant to scratching, denting and animal waste, he said, since it can be aggressively cleaned with hot water and soap.

“Luxury vinyl is the preferred choice when you have a wet location, like a basement, or an area that is going to receive a lot of traffic or spills, including dog dishes,” said Stan Fons, owner of McLeod Carpet One in Bloomfield Hills. “Even with standing water, it can be taken apart, removed from the house and put back.”

Pfeiffer said technologies have completely changed what most people are still concerned about with carpet. It is also the least expensive type of flooring, he said.

“We actually have carpet today that will be guaranteed forever not to stain from anything,” he said. “It’s beautiful and environmentally friendly. Today’s carpets are the softest ever made, by far. For those of us who grew up in the industry, it’s unfathomable that carpets can be as soft as they are. We’re talking just crazy soft.”

The most popular location for carpets remains in bedrooms and, if stairs are not already carpeted, Pfeiffer said homeowners often install carpet runners along the center of stairs for safety.

“Many of us run around the house in socks in the winter, and stairs become dangers for kids, adults and animals,” he said.

Fons said homeowners also are opting to use carpeting as area rugs in larger rooms with hardwood flooring to quiet noise and add warmth.

“A lot of popular styles today include what we call patterned carpets that have a subtle pattern instead of plain beige, which was popular years ago,” Fons said. “Today, people want their carpets to make more of a statement, with a mix of color and geometric patterns to make the room more interesting looking.”

Many new homes in Michigan are straying away from ceramic tile and stone floors, Pfeiffer said, because they are cold, very hard and “if you drop something, it shatters.” In other regions of the country, they are more popular because the climates are warmer and termites are more prevalent.