Choosing the Best Floors for Families
Renovation season is here…and many people ask designers and architects if hardwood floors or carpeting is best for maintenance with a family. My response is always: hardwood floors will last a lifetime – and if it is in a low- traffic area, you can fully expose the beauty of the floor, which will ensure that your guests recognize your attention to detail – regardless of your choice of narrow or wide plank flooring.
For those families who have a lifestyle focused on wellness, a hardwood floor will ease cleanup and will patina over time – ensuring that you never forget the moment that your child or long-lost relative decided to roll a toy or suitcase down the upstairs hallway…
Entry foyers and great rooms are often high-traffic areas and can be more aesthetically beautiful if designed with hardwood floors. One feature we recommend is installing the retro look of ribbon inlay on the entry and great room/dining room flooring to create rooms that are elegant and sophisticated.
Damage to any floor is a risk for families with toddlers or pre-teen children. Most parents debate is the “hardness of the floor” aspect which can create bumps on the head or damage to the knees during a crawling or learning-to-walk phase.
To mitigate the fear, parents can install rugs or carpet tiles which will mitigate the impact of falls.
My design firm recommends solid hardwood floors in spaces used by children, as wall-to-wall carpets are sometimes toxic and are not cleaned as often as they should be – leaving children vulnerable to respiratory illnesses and triggers from dust mites, pet dander and other allergens.
ALLERGENS & PETS
Most physicians will suggest hardwood floors for families with individuals suffering from allergies or asthma as it will ease the cleanup of dust, dander and pet hair. Also, many people do not realize that a hardwood floor is often cooler in temperature in the summer and maintains a warmer temperature in winter, so a pet will enjoy the flooring as well.
Solid hardwood flooring is an investment – and it may cost more initially to install, but it is an heirloom product – with multiple options for refinishing during a lifetime of usage. It is not uncommon to enter an old home and to learn that the floor is 50-100 years old, and it is still beautiful in its patina. There are some levels of damage – from water or fire – that cannot be repaired easily, but rarely is a hardwood floor completely damaged, so a skilled millworker can take one section of a floor and make a repair with only awareness by the homeowner.
Remember that the lifestyle of your family is the first consideration and if you know that scooters are going to be used in the hallways, it might be better to use tile…but if you only allow such activity in the driveway, a hardwood floor should definitely be a design option.
My favorite type of floor is wide plank flooring with ribbon inlay for public spaces, and a more narrow plank floor for hallways and bedrooms. As well, a middle level stain will work better in public spaces than an ebonized floor or an extremely light floor which will show dirt more easily.
Many consumers assume that hardwood floors are too expensive, but it is better to inquire with a flooring expert before you rule this out as an option. Most importantly, in the long-term, it is less expensive to maintain, than the replacement of wall-to-wall carpets which typically occurs every 5 years – when you could have 50 years or more in usage from your hardwood flooring. Consider hardwood floors for wellness, beauty and durability, and you will be surprised at the many options available in the market.
Robin Wilson is an eco-friendly interior designer and a lifestyle brand with products sold at Bed Bath & Beyond.com. She is an ambassador to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America and author of Kennedy Green House (Greenleaf, 2010). She regularly appears on the speakers circuit, on television and offers commentary in print on wellness, sustainability and allergy & asthma issues. Learn more at www.robinwilsonhome.com