From Travertine & Porcelain, to Wood & Laminate — Where does a Homeowner Start?

By Corena Lea Kessel, Interior Designer — Design Wise San Diego

With so many Flooring options out there, it can be hard for a consumer to concentrate on their main priorities at hand. Function, durability and investment range are some places to start as you look into choosing the right product for your Floor. Being aware of these facts up front will make all of the difference, and give you a perfect end result!


Who hasn’t fallen in Love with a Slate or Travertine Living area? How about an Onyx or Tumbled Stone Entry? It’s just delicious! The only limit to the use of Natural Stone is your Imagination! Natural Stone is unique, highly durable and has a timeless quality that never goes out of style!

The care and maintenance of Natural Stone is simple to maintain. Keep it looking its best by sweeping, dust- mopping or vacuuming prior to wet- mopping with a pH- balanced neutral cleaner or warm water.

Porcelain does not absorb water because it is a high- density material, it is not prone to scratches, cracking, or chipping. Because most Porcelain tiles have the same color all through out, it will be highly resistant to color fading. Porcelain tiles are also weather- resistant. They are capable of withstanding extreme heat, cold, water, dust and dirt. Even fire wont damage porcelain much!

Make sure your installer uses a sealer relevant to your product. Natural Stone is like a sponge and will absorb its living environment if NOT sealed properly!

Porcelains, even if glazed, have its share of imperfections on the surface. These flaws can trap in dirt that would be otherwise hard to remove. Sealing it will prevent this issue.

When installing a 12×12 or 15×15 Tile, put it at a diagonal. Not only will it open up a room and appear bigger to the eye, it adds character. This is not the case with smaller tiles, you will have more lines and it will appear busy. Have your tile installed as close as possible; a good installer can get those grout lines to a ¼”, depending on your product choice. Coordinate your Grout to the overall color of your tile, they have TONS of color choices now and it really does add the perfect touch!


Some favorite Hardwoods, to name a few, are Brazilian Cherry, Teak, Santos Mahogany and Bamboo. Bamboo is the “Greenest” of Hardwoods and is one of the strongest among all. Most species of Hardwood will develop a natural patina and will deepen in its color. The majority of this aging will happen within the first 3- 6 months.

If you have a dog or children that like to ride their bikes in your home, make sure you are aware of the wood products “wear layer”. It also helps if you choose something that is hand scrapped or naturally distressed. Making that daily family traffic the last of your worries!


Laminate flooring is made from wood products and plastics that are compressed and bonded under high pressure to form an incredibly hard plank with an aluminum- oxide finish that is almost as hard as diamonds. It is nearly impossible to stain; it doesnt fade, never needs waxing or polishing and will probably never wear through.

Laminate is a good choice if you want to cover up that dated tile. The tile actually works as a great subfloor and the laminate can “float” over the existing tile. Although Laminates are considered less earth friendly than many of the alternates, its cost may be the first thing that draws the consumer.


Nylon and Wool are the most durable and resilient of all Carpet fibers. This is what keeps them looking like new longer than any other fiber. They are one of the more expensive choices, but if you have a lot of traffic and longevity is your biggest concern, this is your choice!

Polyester is one of the least expensive fibers to manufacture. A thick Polyester carpet may feel nice and soft, but it is not a resilient fiber, and it does not make a long- lasting carpet. When you walk on Polyester, you bend and compress the fibers and soon they begin to fall over. Once polyester fibers are crushed, they wont spring back to their original position.

The proper padding prolongs the life of your Carpet because it helps it sustain the pressure of daily usage. It also prevents the carpet- back from stretching and wearing. If you simply had carpet down on the concrete slab, it would eventually wear holes in the high traffic areas.

TIPS on Carpet Installation Preparation:

Some things you can do before your installer arrives.

- Drain and remove anything with water in it.

- Disconnect and move all electronics and breakable items out of the installation area.

- Empty your china cabinets, hutches, and bookcases.

- Clean any closet floor of shoes, clothing, and other items. 2- 3ft up from floor is good. You can always use your bathtub for storage.

- Normal installation methods may lightly scuff your existing baseboards, walls, door casings, or wallpaper. A good installer will use extreme care to minimize this, but be sure to keep touchup paint or stain for after your installation.

All of these precautions will help the installation be smooth and protect your belongings.

Basic Flooring Tips:

- Keep in mind that with any Natural Product, variations in color, tone and grain are what keeps the appeal, that’s the beauty of it!

- Assure that both room and flooring are properly acclimated to temperature and humidity conditions. Do not open the flooring packages until you are ready to begin installation.

- Always order a couple pieces of whatever you are choosing so that you can see what the current run looks like; it will give you an idea of exactly what you will be getting. With that, after you purchase what you will be installing, have your installer work out of several cartons at the same time to insure color and shade mix.

- When Flooring is ordered, make sure 5% is added to the actual square footage needed for cutting and grading allowance.

- Know where your Flooring is coming from. If it’s Natural Wood you seek, ask if they are one of the company’s that plant a tree on behalf of your purchase, because most of them do

** Remember, bringing in a professional will guarantee that you have all of your ends covered.

They will not only be able to explain the appropriate application, but ask you the right questions like preference style and the performance that you want that living area to live up to. And last but not least, doing this right the first time will save you the headache and funds of doing it twice!

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