Smart Design With Suzette: Flooring

Smart Design with Suzette

Let me count the ways … tile, bamboo (technically a grass), cork, wood, linoleum (not vinyl), terrazzo, stained concrete and carpet to name a few.

I need new floors desperately! My husband and I moved into our house more than 12 years ago and the floors were worn then. There are six, yes I said SIX, different floors in my house. I know, I know, you are taken aback. Yet, I am just like you when it comes to deciding on flooring that will work for the entire family that everyone disagrees on.

I grew up with wood floors. They have great appeal to buyers when it’s time to sell. My husband thinks our tile is fine (yuk!) and the carpet has to be 15 years old in the bedrooms. He wants more carpet and I have allergies, so I don’t want carpet.

We have a downstairs walk out so there is tile in the hallway, stained concrete in the wine cellar. Yes, my husband makes wine – lucky me! If you can’t find me in the house, look for me in the wine cellar!

Okay, back on track … we have another different tile in the downstairs bathroom and more carpet in the bedroom and living area downstairs. Oh, I forgot to mention we have two dogs, and one is a puppy. There are kids running around and lots of activity at all times. God help me!

While I’m still trying to get my way, let me walk you through the benefits of different floorings so that perhaps you can decide what is best for you and your family.

An example of cork flooring. Photo by Suzette Fox

  • Tile can be made from ceramic, porcelain, terra cotta, earthenware (all types of clay), recycled glass, cement, stone and terrazzo. It is highly durable and lasts for years. It can be very aesthetically pleasing if correct color is chosen that will be classic for years. It takes high energy to produce and transport so look for tiles manufactured regionally. Overall, tile is healthy and can be installed with no off-gasing. Use sanded grout or low VOC solvents.
  • Bamboo is technically a grass. It is harder than oak or maple. It’s high-density version works well for under-floor radiant heat. However, all bamboo is NOT created equal. Pesticides and fireproofing chemicals may have been used on them. Many manufacturers use urea formaldehyde as a binder – so check for details. High moisture can make it can warp or weaken so do not install in baths were humidity exceeds 60 percent. The only negative is that it is not grown here so transportation is a carbon problem.
  • Cork is extracted from oak trees. Avoid cork with vinyl or styrene backing. It’s good attributes are that it is pliable, absorbs sound, bounces back, is naturally water resistant, has anti-microbial properties, doesn’t mold, non slip surface and doesn’t off-gas.
  • Wood is logical for families with children, pets and people with allergies. It can last a lifetime so it is high on the ‘green’ list if that’s important to you. There is solid wood and engineered wood for residential homes. Engineered wood has a shorter life span and make sure you specify formaldehyde-free. Another type of wood is reclaimed wood. It is eco-friendly. Try to reuse whenever possible.

Sample of a tile floor in a bathroom. Photo by Suzette Fox

Next time we’ll talk about linoleum, terrazzo, stained concrete and carpet. Always remember to measure well to eliminate waste and that any new wood product you purchase is FSC certified. FSC stands for the Forestry Stewardship Council. It is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Look for the symbol on new wood flooring for sustainability.

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Design Suzette Fox to suggest specific design topics or for help with your home. For more information, find her on Facebook at and on her website