Living Areas
Flooring for the rest of your home's living space really comes down to a matter of personal choice. Some people like tile in their living areas, some wood, others carpet, perhaps all three. Tile offers a nearly unlimited variety of patterns and styles, from the simple to the exotic, which make it possible for tiles to give a room a very creative or exotic feel. On the other hand, tiles can feel cold and hard underfoot, so they may not be the best choice if you're looking for something a bit more cozy. Wood flooring has a natural beauty and elegance, feels warmer and is easier on your feet and back. It is stain-resistant, easy-to-clean and offers long-term versatility because it can be sanded and refinished. You have a number of options when it comes to both hard and soft flooring woods. Oak is the most popular, while maple, birch, and pine are also widely used. These woods all come in a few different quality grades, which allows some control over both the cost and appearance of wood floors, ranging from boards with plenty of irregularities ("character marks") right up to boards that are almost totally uniform--with prices to match. Another choice that will affect your floor's overall look is the actual width of the boards. The term strip flooring refers to the narrower cuts of woods, usually about 2 3/4 inches in width or less, while plank flooring refers to wider boards, up to about 7 inches. Keep in mind that one place to avoid wood flooring is below ground, where constant humidity can cause you some problems. If you want the look of wood floors in a finished basement, for instance, you're better off with a wood laminate. This material is made with a multi-ply core layered over with hardwood, which resists expansion and contraction much better than solid wood. And finally, there's carpet. In terms of sheer warmth and intimacy, carpet is probably tops. It's especially great for bedrooms and anywhere you may like to spend a lot of time barefoot. Carpet also provides a certain amount of sound-proofing, as well as some insulation. So it's a good choice for rooms that have no heat below them, such as over a garage. Carpet is available in a wide array of styles, piles and costs. Whether your preference is for classic wool or resilient nylon, just do your homework beforehand. And remember that the quality and thickness of the pad you use underneath is nearly equal in importance to the carpet itself in determining what its life span will be in your home. Choosing a floor is a big decision, but it doesn't have to be overly stressful. Plan ahead, asking yourself all the important questions beforehand, including who will use the room, what atmosphere you hope to create, how much effort you want to expend installing and maintaining it, and of course, what you're willing to spend. Having done that, you'll be well on your way to picking the perfect floor.

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