Sometimes, looking back, we wonder how we ever lived with things like cargo furniture, early American prints and avocado green shag carpeting. But as any designer or home decorator can tell you, what goes around comes around. Patterns, colors and style lines come and go as trends whether you’re talking about kitchen cabinets, furniture or flooring.
With flooring, though, advancements in manufacturing have given us more choices in design and more durable products. We caught up with a couple of flooring experts to ask them about the trends they see now and for 2020. If you’re thinking of replacing any flooring in your home, we think you’ll be excited.
Luxury vinyl tile is the new champ
Certainly not your grandma’s linoleum, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or luxury vinyl plank (LVP) has increased in popularity since it came on the flooring scene a few years ago. And unlike the peel-and-stick your mom put down in the laundry room when you were a kid, luxury vinyl pieces lock together and float on the subfloor much like laminate. They come in a myriad of colors and styles and the best part is they’re virtually indestructible.
“Technology is making flooring more durable,” says Charles Snider, president of Piedmont Floors in Forest. “As the quality of man-made products improves, their popularity increases because of that durability.” And experts agree that indestructibility is the number-one feature homeowners look for in flooring.
“Luxury vinyl tile is without a doubt the hot item,” says Chase Dewitt, president/owner of The Floor Show Carpet One Floor & Home in Lynchburg. “It’s easy to maintain, is water and pet-proof, and functional.”
What started as plank flooring that resembled hardwood, luxury vinyl now comes in a tile or stone look as well. Some plank varieties are textured to give it a more realistic wood feel. “Everyone wants texture,” says Snider. “The hand-scraped, wire-brushed, distressed look—everyone wants it.” Likewise, some styles of LVT are designed to be installed using grout, producing a more authentically ceramic look.
Wider planks are popular, according to Dewitt. Luxury vinyl planks come in a variety of widths from 5 to 9 inches with standard lengths of 36 or 48 inches, although some come in lengths of up to 6 feet. Snider adds that satin and matte finishes are trending now, over the glossy finish seen in laminate flooring just a few years ago.
Will luxury vinyl hold its first-place title in 2020? You bet. “LVT and LVP are very much sought after,” says Snider.
Colors to look for: “Big now are the grays and rustics,” says DeWitt. “But the color palette from 20 years ago is being reintroduced, too. The earthy tones.”
DIY tip: “The lion’s share of mid-grade LVP products don’t require power tools,” says Snider. “Just score and snap to break the pieces.”
Solid hardwood flooring no longer top dog
Everyone loves solid hardwood floors. But, according to our experts, engineered hardwood is less expensive and more durable than solid wood flooring, making it the popular choice.
Unlike laminate flooring, which is constructed of wood fiber covered with a photograph of a wood grain, engineered hardwood is made from multiple layers of solid wood stacked together, not wood fiber. The outer layer is a real wood veneer, not a photograph. The layered construction makes it less susceptible to changes in climate or humidity. Therefore, it can be used in basements where you wouldn’t typically use solid wood. You can also glue or float engineered hardwood on a concrete subfloor, whereas a solid hardwood floor must be nailed down.
Although it’s practically impervious to damage by kids and pets, water is the natural enemy of all wood flooring, even the engineered variety. That’s why manufacturers have designed waterproof joints and topcoats on some of their products. Mohawk’s RevWood Plus combines their Uniclic interlocking system, a Hydroseal coating on the perimeter of all planks, and a special bevel to create their waterproof flooring system. Shaw’s Floorté Hardwood combines a hardwood veneer over a waterproof core and surface sealant to create a 100-percent waterproof product. Experts agree we’re going to see an increase in this technology going into 2020.
Water is only one reason why wood flooring ranks second to vinyl. Sustainability and cost are other factors. “You get more yield out of a tree when making engineered flooring than traditional hardwood,” says Snider. “It’s not as wasteful as with lumber.” And, if you want the popular rustic, antique look, it’s more affordable with the manufactured product.
What’s the prediction for solid hardwood in 2020? Still the classic, natural flooring option, homeowners who can afford it will continue to choose solid hardwood for high traffic areas not exposed to water. However, as homeowners discover the benefits of engineered hardwood, it may leave solid hardwood in its dust.
Colors to look for: “Customers want a variation in colors,” says Snider. “And something with a patina or a weathered, aged look, with not every plank the same as the one before. Another trend is laying the planks in a herringbone or diagonal pattern.”
DIY tip: The top two DIY errors, according to Snider, are “not making sure the subfloor is flat enough and not acclimating the product to the atmosphere before installation.”
Carpet is not dead
Ripped up and replaced with hard-surface options by allergy-plagued families, carpet is holding its place by those who want the soft, warm comfort it brings, especially in bedrooms. “It’s still a popular selection for bedrooms and stairways,” says Snider. And, because of manufacturing regulations and new technology, he says it’s even advancing in popularity.
“Carpet is now easier to maintain, more stain-resistant, and comes with hypoallergenic choices,” he says. The fibers of Mohawk’s Air.o line are created with advanced polymers free of latex and harmful VOCs, making it a popular choice for parents of small children or sensitive pets.
According to DeWitt, manufacturers have greatly reduced the use of formaldehyde and made carpeting more eco-friendly. He says that out-gassing is a thing of the past and some carpets are even waterproof. Shaw’s LifeGuard carpet has a spill-proof backing which prevents fluids and pet odors from leaking through to the padding and subfloor. And, you can now purchase antimicrobial padding that comes with a moisture barrier.
Both flooring professionals have noticed an increase in multicolored carpets. “Whatever is low maintenance,” DeWitt says. “Color flecks, patterns. And for entryways or staircases, you’ll see grid, trellis or diamond patterns.”
And carpet’s still the most economical choice for the budget-minded homeowner. So, contrary to popular opinion, it’s still a sought-after floor covering. “We still do a lot of carpet,” says DeWitt. “My install schedule is backed up right now.”
Will carpet be a major player in 2020? Absolutely. Especially where you want a warm or comfortable feeling.
Colors to look for: “A lot of the greens and blues are coming back,” says DeWitt. “The retro look, styles from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Everything is cyclical.”
DIY tip: “Air.o carpet requires no tack strip and can be installed with two-sided tape,” says Snider. “It also has the padding attached, making it easier for DIYers.”
Who are the outliers?
Ceramic tile is pretty much relegated to the kitchen and bath areas now. And, since luxury vinyl tile is waterproof, more homeowners are extending their LVT and engineered hardwood floors into the open kitchen areas—meaning less ceramic tile.
While natural stone is still popular, it’s expensive. So it’s not the best choice for homeowners who like to change their flooring with each redecorating job. And what about laminate? While some folks still choose this hardwood-look option, it isn’t as waterproof, pet-proof and kid-proof as the luxury vinyl or engineered hardwood.
Keeping up with the times
Both flooring experts agree that customers now seek an online experience. “Consumers want to have the option now to order and shop from home,” says Snider. “We’ve created a new website that is constantly evolving to include our vendors’ complete offerings.” And with the new trade tariffs, experts say that homeowners want American-made more than ever.
In households with children and pets, life happens. And that life can play havoc on your floors. But with technological advances in the flooring industry, ugly damaged floors can be a thing of the past. With the choices we have now, the sky’s the limit.
Photos courtesy of Mohawktoday.com, available at Piedmont Floors ✦