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roadrunner1659 01-03-2010 03:17 PM

New Flooring for our Condo
 
Hello to eveyone this is my first post!

My fiance and I want to put new flooring down in our new condo, before we move all of our stuff in. We have looked at carpet, laminate wood flooring, wood flooring, and tile flooring.

Our property is a first floor condo, and were interested in replacing all of the flooring in our property. We plan on living at this property anywhere from 5-10 years...maybe longer who knows what life will bring us. Obviously, the question posed in the title doesn't play into the bathrooms, as i plan on tilling them with stone.

So we had thought of laying all new carpet throughout the hallways, living room, and the two bedrooms. From their we though of laying a matching stone tile in foyer area, kitchen, and dinning room.

We have also been given the advise of simply laying laminate wood (pergo or something similar) throughout the entire place, excluding the bathrooms. The only thing i would questions is the warms of this, as it would be placed on concrete.

We believe that the laminate would yield a bigger return than the carpet, but dont know if its to much wood, or if it's going to be colder than carpet on the feet.

So what are your feelings on this subject and what were considering for our flooring.

Thanks

Nestor_Kelebay 01-03-2010 07:16 PM

If you're installing the flooring over concrete, then I would suggest you go with carpet, or perhaps wood. A masonary floor over concrete will be cold, especially in an area with cold winters, like New Jersey.

I'd go with a masonary entrance way because you need a durable flooring to stand up to the grime and muck, salt, sand and water you're going to track in. However, for the rest of the condo, except the bathroom, kitchen and dining room, I'd go with carpet, but not just any carpet.

I'd go with a solution dyed nylon carpet for the greatest durability. Carpet is made of three different synthetic fibers, and is coloured in two different ways. Nylon is the strongest fiber carpet is made of, and so nylon carpets make for the most durable carpets. Over 80% of all commercial carpeting is made from nylon fiber. Olefin is a synthetic fiber similar to polypropylene, and Olefin is amongst the least expensive fibers used to make carpet, so Olefin carpets are generally the least expensive, but they're also amongst the shortest lasting. Polyester isn't as strong as nylon, nor is it as inexpensive as Olefin, and so polyester carpets don't have a "niche" market that they're most appropriate for.

Both nylon and polyester have both been conventionally dyed for decades. Nylon is a polyamide, meaning that it has polar amide groups throughout it, and the amide groups on the surface of the fiber are where water based dyes attach to the nylon fiber to give it it's colour. The problem is that water molecules are polar, and so any liquid that's soluble in water will tend to be polar as well, and those liquids will have a propensity to stick to the polar amide groups in nylon. Thus, nylon's amide groups tend to make nylon more susceptible to water based stains than any other carpet fiber.

Olefin fiber CANNOT be dyed by conventional methods. In fact, the only way to colour Olefin fiber is by "solution dying" which is where coloured particles are mixed in with the molten Olefin plastic before drawing it into a fiber. DuPont has spent a king's ransom trying to make their Antron nylon more stain resistant, and they claim their "Stain Master" carpets are more stain resistant than normal nylon carpets, but for their cost, they're really not as stain resistant as one would hope. What other companies are doing that makes perfect sense to me is to produce solution dyed nylon fiber for making carpets. Thus, the nylon fiber gets it's colour from coloured particles encased in the nylon fiber very much like raisins in raisin bread (and exactly how Olefin carpets are "dyed".) The nylon fiber is then conventionally dyed with a clear and colourless dye that bonds to all of the polar amide sites on the surface of the nylon fiber, making the fiber as stain resistant as Dupont's Stain Master carpet. That is, since polar liquids are going to be attracted to the polar amides on the surface of the nylon fiber, dying the fiber with a clear colourless dye will result in the dye molecules attaching themselves to those sites first so that there are no vacant polar amides on the fiber for any staining liquid to attach itself to. That makes the nylon fiber much more resistant to staining by that liquid simply because there are no polar sites on the surface of the fiber that the liquid would be attracted to.

Unfortunately, solution dyed nylon fiber has only been used so far to make level loop commercial carpets, but these can still be installed in residential settings. I own a small apartment block, and I'm installing Shaw "Franchise" level loop solution dyed nylon carpet in the "Starry Night" (Colour # 10405) in each of my suites. My thinking is easy to understand: The level loop nylon pile makes for great durability and therefore a very long lasting carpet. The solution dying means that the pigments from which the carpet fiber gets it's colour are all encased in nylon plastic, and that means that if the carpet ever does get stained, I can use bleach straight out of the jug to bleach the stain out of the carpet without affecting the colour of, and hence harming, the carpet. Where I have used bleach, I expect that I may damage the clear colourless dye on the exterior of the nylon fiber, and make that area more susceptible to staining. But, by the same token, if that area does get stained again, I can still use bleach again and again and again to remove the stains without changing the colour of the carpet. That is, because the nylon fiber is solution dyed, I can use bleach to remove stains from it as many times as I want.

I can speak with some authority on this matter because I have been using bleach for over 20 years to remove candle wax dye stains from solution dyed Olefin carpets that I've previously used in my living rooms.

And, of course, you would lose little by picking up one of those door mat size samples of solution dyed nylon carpet and torturing it with KoolAid, Easter Egg dye and bleach just to confirm that what I'm saying is in fact true.

The most practical flooring for the bathroom would probably be a sheet vinyl, or a natural linoleum like Marmoleum.

If you go with a plastic laminate wood product for the kitchen and dining room, get one that won't be damaged by liquid spills.

roadrunner1659 01-03-2010 07:53 PM

Nestor Kelebay thanks for the detailed post. Again, being that this is our first condo, we want to make a smart decision and choice. Like I said, we want to put carpet down in the hallways, bedrooms, and family room. I will look into the carpet type you suggest.

Leaving the foyar (how ever small it is), the dining room, and kitchen. I was thinking of laying a stone tile...something that goes along with the wooded area in which we live in. Any suggestions here? If i do a tile flooring in these three areas, would it be ok to lay the same tile and in the same fashion? Any style inputs (were looking to do a contemporary feel in our condo. Also, do you recommend a specific size...ie 12x12...and is their a size in which we should stay away from?

Thanks

Nestor_Kelebay 01-05-2010 11:20 PM

Well, after having re-tiled 21 bathroom walls, I've set more than my fair share of wall tiles, but I have yet to set my first floor tile. So, I'm no expert on floor tiles at all. But, I'll tell you what little I know...

However, you should be aware that since floor tiles are individually set by hand, it's not at all uncommon to have slight variations in the tile height from one tile to the next. Most of the time you don't notice this height difference on a floor because it's small and the tiles LOOK like they're all at the same height. Your brain presumes they're all at the same height mostly just because of lack of visual evidence to the contrary. However, one of the most common problems using ceramic tiles for bathroom floors is the slight difference in height between individual tiles under the toilet which cause the toilet to "wobble" a bit. Tile setters will wedge coins (like pennies and dimes) under the base of the toilet bowl and then caulk around the base (to hide the coins) to prevent the toilet from wobbling and the customer from complaining.

If you look at a bag of thin set mortar, they will typically recommend a 1/4 inch square notched trowel for tiles smaller than 10 inches by 10 inches, and a 3/8 inch square notched trowel for larger tiles. The reason for the difference is to accomodate more of a variation in the floor height under a larger tile. That's the same as saying that the smaller the tile used, the more the tile floor will conform to the shape of the floor you're setting the tile over. Most people just aren't aware that floors often aren't flat, and that's mostly because the mind assumes floors are flat unless there's clear visual evidence to prove they aren't. I really don't know if wood or concrete floors tend to be better in that regard, but a concrete floor would always make a better base to tile over because of it's strength, rigidity and dimensional stability.

I don't see any problem using the same tile in different areas or rooms of your house. I think that would look better than using different tiles in different areas. But what's most important is to use a practical flooring in each room, according to the expected activity in that room. At the end of the day, that's always going to be more important than how the flooring looks in that room.

So, I think that it's fair to warn you about potential problems like this if you use any kind of ceramic tile or natural stone in your dining room or kitchen. You may find that you have to wedge something under one of the legs of your dining room table or kitchen stove to prevent it from wobbling a bit, although you'd expect the problem to be worse with a toilet because of it's smaller footprint and the fact that porcelain is so much more rigid than wood. (Also, normally the two front feet on stoves and fridges will be adjustable so you could always adjust the feet of these appliances to be stable regardless of a fluctuating floor height.) But, the normal variation from piece to piece in natural stone is only going to exacurbate this problem, tho. I'd suggest using natural stone in a front or back entrance way where you're going to be tracking in mud, salt, snow, etc. You need a strong durable flooring to stand up to road grit tracked in by footwear. If you do use a stone in your entrance ways, be sure to use a HARD material to stand up well. Ceramic floor tiles are rated according to their hardness with a "diamond number". The more diamonds, the harder the tile. Typically, the hardest tiles (called "porcelain tiles") will be rated at 5 diamonds. I've never seen a ceramic floor tile rated at anything less than 3 diamonds. Some natural stones, like marble are relatively soft and simply don't stand up well to abrasive stuff like road grit or sand on them. Walking on that sand or grit grinds the sand or grit into the relatively soft marble, and that results in the high traffic areas starting to show as "worn areas" on the marble floor. I'd suggest using granite if you opt for a natural stone, and the hardest ceramic tile you can find (that still won't be slippery when wet) if you opt for a tile.

If you do use a natural stone or ceramic tile in your kitchen and/or dining room, then you would do well to "seal" the stone, tile or grout lines. There are two kinds of grout sealers; those that penetrate into the grout and those that form a film over the grout. In a shower, then the penetrating grout sealers are a better choice because the grout protects the sealer from getting worn off or eroded by the shower water spray. However, in a kitchen counter top, kitchen or dining room floor, it makes more sense to use a film forming sealer. That's because penetrating sealers won't plug the porosity of the grout, and so soft foods like peanut butter can get mooshed into the porous surface of floor tile grout, where they can provide a food source for bacteria and even bugs. On kitchen floor or counter top grout, I'd use a film forming sealer rather than a penetrating grout sealer.

Also, there are two kinds of film forming grout sealers; silicone based and acrylic. The problem with all silicone based grout sealers is that nothing sticks well to them, not even silicone based grout sealers. So, if after 20 years, you find that the silicone grout sealer on your floor or counter top grout is wearing off or wearing thin, then you can't really add another coat because that new coat won't stick well to the stuff that's already on the grout. Acrylic film forming grout sealers don't have that problem. They're exactly like latex paint in that each coat adheres to an underlying coat as well as the original coat adhered to the grout. There's a company in California called Glaze 'N Seal that makes a general purpose acrylic film forming grout sealer that I'm using in my bathrooms that seems to be very durable. It's just called "Grout Sealer".

http://www.glaze-n-seal.com/sealers.html
http://www.glaze-n-seal.com/images/lg_grout.jpg
Take a look at the product data sheet for this sealer. I imported 4 quarts of it from California to Canada, and so far I like it a lot.

Another option you probably haven't considered for the entrance areas would be synthetic rubber flooring. Synthetic rubber is one of the most durable flooring choices I know of. I have synthetic rubber stair treads in both the front and back stairwells of my apartment block, and the stuff is bullet proof. You cannot harm this flooring with anything duller than a razor or cooler than a torch. Synthetic rubber flooring is the only flooring I know of that's used in golf shops and skating rinks where people walk on the flooring with ice skates and spiked shoes. Also, nothing beats the coefficient of friction between a rubber soled sneaker and rubber flooring, and synthetic rubber flooring is available with a textured surface for use in wet areas. Johnsonite is the biggest name in synthetic rubber flooring by far, so why not spend an evening at www.johnsonite.com to see what's available in synthetic rubber. Be aware, however, that synthetic rubber flooring is not inexpensive.

A practical option for your kitchen would be a strong natural linoleum (like Marmoleum) that would be strong enough to allow you to move the fridge and stove out without tearing the flooring. Marmoleum would be a practical flooring for a dining room, too.

Maybe keep in mind that you're only going to LIKE the look of your floor when it's brand new. Before long, you're going to take the floor for granted, just like you take the styling and colour of your car for granted now. When's the last time you looked at your car for any reason other than to find out where it was. So, as you become used to the appearance of your floor just as you've become used to the appearance of your car, what's going to become progressively more important is how suitable the flooring is to the activity in the room it's being used in. A natural stone floor might look great in your dining room when it's new, but if you find you have to wedge something under one leg to stop the table from wobbling, that's going to get real old real fast. So, pick your flooring with practical considerations in mind. You're going to get used to the look of the flooring within a year or two, but you'll have to live with it for a lot longer than that.


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