If you're looking for a floor covering that combines the rich look of hardwood with the easy care of a laminate counter top, you might want to take a look at one of the new laminate floors that have been steadily gaining popularity since their introduction a few years ago.
Laminate flooring - Pergo is probably the most recognized brand name, along with Wilsonart - has a unique composite of layers that makes up its construction. The bulk of the flooring plank is a thick, water-resistant core material designed for uniformity and dimensional stability, with a polymer backing paper attached to the bottom surface of the core to add stability and help the floor adjust as temperature and humidity levels in the house change.
The top layer of the composite is the finished flooring material, which is actually a decorative laminate that is somewhat similar to the popular laminates used for kitchen and bathroom counters, but with some important differences. Pergo, for example, uses a three-layer composition of decorative cellulose paper, melamine resins, and a strong, heat-resistant base layer, bonded to one another and then bonded to the central core material. Hardeners are also added which, according to Pergo, make the laminate layer some 25 times harder than the laminates used for counters.
Lots of Options
Laminate flooring is available in a couple of dozen colors and patterns, most of which are designed to be an almost indistinguishable match for hardwood planks. There are designs patterned after everything from oak and maple to pine, beech and mahogany, and in colors ranging from natural to dark stains of walnut and cherry - and even blue.
The material comes in individual boards with tongue and groove edges, roughly eight inches wide by four feet long. In addition to the boards themselves, there are transition strips, edge and end moldings, stair nosing strips, and even matching quarter round and base moldings made from the same material.
The construction of a ceramic tile is quite simple. The bisque is the body of the tile, made of clay. The glaze is colored glass, which provides the design and surface finish of the tile. These two components become permanently fused together in the firing process.
Looking at the back of a tile, you’ll see that some tiles have darker bisque than others. These are “red body” tiles . . . as opposed to those with a “white body.” They are simply different kinds of clay chosen to produce a certain visual effect; there is no difference in performance.
You may also find some tiles labeled as “glazed porcelain” that have a stronger, denser and less porous bisque than typical ceramic tile.
Ceramic tiles are made to suit different applications: mainly floors, walls and countertops. The Armstrong Ceramic Tile Collection offers all three types, recommended for indoor use only.
Our floor tiles are suitable for any room in your home. Kitchen tile countertops are a beautiful complement to ceramic tile floors, wall tile displays, or ceramic tile in hallways and foyers. Many styles are even appropriate for commercial applications. Furthermore, our ceramic floor tiles can also be used for wall and countertop installations.
The wall tiles in our collection have been carefully designed to coordinate with our ceramic tile floor products. Unlike floor tiles, wall tiles are suitable for walls only. Made lighter in weight for better adherence and simpler installation, they are not designed to withstand foot traffic.
It takes high-quality tile to make high-quality ceramic tile floors, wall tile applications, and countertops. If you’re considering other brands of ceramic tile, recognizing the signs of lesser-quality tile will help you avoid making a poor choice.
You may see picture framing, when the design doesn’t go all the way to the edge of a tile.
Poorly printed designs may appear fuzzy or unclear. And undesirable spots in the surface of the tile indicate that small holes developed in the printing screen during manufacturing. These are indications of old silkscreen applications.
Finally, a dark line running through the edge of the tile – known as a black core – indicates impurities in the clay that can weaken the tile.