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Deep, dark colors, such as this luxury vinyl tile floor,are trending up.

Make way for fashions underfoot

Bamboo, frieze, luxury vinyl … these are not the floors of yore

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Cork flooring comes in many shades and styles. These are available at Fort Wayne Tile’s Abbey Flooring Center.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
George Smith, owner of Fort Wayne Tile’s Abbey Flooring Center, holds a piece of engineered walnut, an earth-friendly flooring option.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Designer Heather Hoover displays samples of porcelain tiles in the showroom.
A high-contrast hardwood floor is one of the trends for 2014.

Stephen Lipp, owner of Carpet One Floor & Home, 1111 W. Washington Center Road, had some fresh carpet put down at the company’s display booth at the recent Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show.

The carpet’s fate? Near oblivion.

With all the foot traffic from people with wet, dirty and salt-coated shoes, “It was trashed,” Lipp says.

With floors in many area homes facing a similar beating this winter, he suspects that some folks might be realizing about now that their floor coverings have seen better days.

But because flooring tends to be a long-lasting – and big-ticket – item, homeowners might not be aware of how much things have changed in the past few years, says George Smith, owner of Fort Wayne Tile’s Abbey Flooring Center, 6167 W. Jefferson Blvd.

“What we find is that people … are looking for change from what they’ve had in the last 10, 12, 15 years – something that will bring them into the new millennium,” he says.

“A lot of it right now is cabin fever,” Smith continues.

“People have been looking at that project they’ve been planning on doing but haven’t gotten to.

“And, with this winter, they’ve had a long time to look at it.”

Todd Yarger, assistant manager of Lumber Liquidators at 2639 Goshen Road, says that regardless of what might be trendy in flooring, homeowners should first determine how the floor will be used before they decide on a floor material or style.

Some floor coverings are more suitable than others for high-traffic or high-moisture areas.

“Make a budget and look at your options,” he says.

Here’s what several area experts say about trends in flooring.

In: Porcelain tile Out: Ceramic tile

Ceramic tile flooring was what everybody wanted in the kitchen, bathroom and other high-moisture areas just a few short years ago.

Now, Smith says, more people are turning to porcelain tile.

Porcelain, with an average life span of 50 years, is durable and won’t chip, crack or pit as easily, he says.

Porcelain tile is heavy, so an area where it’s installed needs to be able to support its weight.

But it has also become more decorator-friendly, with large formats, plank styles, textures and glazes, border patterns and minimal grouting.

“You’re not locked into solid shades any longer,” Smith says.

“A lot of the companies are making tile now that looks like stone. It can have subtle tones and shades and colors so that if a homeowner decides to repaint in a few years, you’re not locked into colors.”

Fort Wayne interior designer Cindy Friend recently used varied colors of brown porcelain tile that looks like reclaimed distressed wood in a master bath. The homeowner liked the product because it gave the room an antique look.

“It goes with several styles. That was a very elegant bathroom with s very casual floor that made it look like an old home. And the higher variation in tone, the more popular it is,” she says.

In: Luxury vinyl tile Out: Sheet vinyl

If you think vinyl flooring means something that comes on a big roll with a floral pattern only your grandma could love, think again, Smith says.

“The sheet vinyl industry was down over 20 percent last year, and that’s why the companies are coming out with new styles,” he says.

Lipp notes that a substantial number of sheet vinyl styles are being discontinued.

The new industry trend is luxury vinyl tile, or LVT. The material can look like hardwood, metal or stone, as in Armstrong’s Natural Creations and Arbor Art lines.

Some vinyls are textured and come in wood-look plank form, with sizes much wider than the standard 2 1/4 inches becoming increasingly popular.

“Vinyl planking is very contemporary looking, and it clicks together to install,” Lipp says. Smith points to the Parkview North hospital lobby’s floor as an example.

Vinyls have insulating properties are generally softer than tile in foot-feel and so are good for kitchens or other areas where standing might be prolonged, according to Lipp and Smith.

In: Sustainable wood Out: Wood laminate

Ten years ago, creating a wood look was all about putting down snap-together laminate flooring with a light oak finish. But today, laminates are not as popular, Smith says.

“The laminates are going away. They’ve been done in Europe for over two years,” he says, adding that one large maker shut its Texas plant a couple of years ago, and Armstrong recently dismantled its sales rack of laminates at his business.

The problem: Some older laminates just did not stand up well to moisture, with peaking and buckling as a result, Yarger says. However, improvements have been made.

“Most now have moisture-repellent cores and different locking systems,” he says. “Around here, it (laminate) still sells pretty well.”

But people trying to trim the cost of hardwoods can turn to engineered wood – think plywood with a hardwood finish – and sustainable materials such as bamboo and cork.

Bamboo, a fast-growing tree, and cork, made from the bark of cork oak trees, are earth-friendly. But they can have drawbacks.

Both come in glue-down and snap-together versions but can have installation and adherence issues, Smith says, adding that neither has become as popular in this region as in other areas of the country.

Colored bamboo may be subject to fading, he says.

Some engineered woods are manufactured from reclaimed wood, making them earth-friendly also.

In: Frieze Out: Shag

Shag made a bit of resurgence during the past decade, but now it’s yielding to frieze (pronounced free-zay). These carpets, often in a soft polyester or nylon blend, have short, tight, twisted fibers that make wear – and dirt and stains – less noticeable.

The fibers also allow for many variations of color to be woven together, making for subtle texture that contributes to a less-boring floor.

The same advantages can be disadvantages, so that stain-resistant or treated fibers become important and different fibers and threads per square inch have different characteristics and price points, Smith says.

With the popularity of remodeling 1960s and 1970s homes, frieze can be a good fit, he says.

In: Patterned carpet Out: Berber

“Berbers are a piece of history,” Lipp says. “All they do is hide dirt and show stains and seams.”

OK, then.

People who want pattern on the floor are turning to large-scale woven-in patterns that create dimension without highs and lows in the carpet fibers.

Swirls, curlicues, leaf and vine designs and semi-abstract geometric and florals are all trending, Smith says, adding patterns give a contemporary look and often are used in wall-to-wall applications to accent an area or as area rugs.

“For 2014, most of the mills have come out with patterned goods,” he says.

In: Shades of gray Out: Green

“The grays are the new greens. That’s what the designing industry says,” Smith says. But, he says, “the grays aren’t really grays, the solid light gray, dark gray and silver. There are these new soft shades that blend all sorts of colors and tones together.”

He says the trend is across the board in carpets, tile, vinyl and even countertop and backsplash materials.

In general, Lipp says, people are looking for darker floor tones, whether in the grays or browns. Sometimes they’re mixed with black or cream, he says.

The softer shades complement pastel colors. Carpet One’s national designers say colors that pair well with gray include buttery gold, coral, indigo and aqua, soft greens such as mint and jade and berry-inspired reds and purples.