Expert Advice: Help, I Hate My Floors!

Bad floors, begone.

Photographed by Ana Kamin for Lonny.
Photographed by Ana Kamin for Lonny.

Floors are the foundation of a room. But while living with an unsightly “fifth wall” can cause some serious interior angst, (get outta here, ‘70s linoleum!), updating it can also be a major undertaking. So, to help make the prospect of an underfoot overhaul a little less daunting, we turned to Homepolish designer Ana Claudia Schultz.

Below Claudia gives us a flooring 101, sharing everything from quick fixes to timeless materials to exactly what professionals you should hire for the job. (And yes, in most cases, Claudia does not recommend updating your floors solo.) If you’re tired of that cheap, outdated, or otherwise eye-offending situation happening south of your feet, read on and remedy that frightful floor with confidence.

What’s the first thing to consider when choosing a new floor?
First you have to consider the room and its use. If the area is part of the rest of the space, then you need to consider whether you want to match it for fluidity or break up the space.

How much does replacing your floor typically cost?
It depends on the material and price per square foot, and on the contractor's bid. It can be as low as $1.50 per square foot for flooring, to up to hundreds per square foot. Some contractors take the price of the material and match that for installation costs, or it's a flat fee. If the design is mosaic and a lot of labor, then it will cost more no matter what.

Photographed by Nicole Franzen for Lonny.
Photographed by Nicole Franzen for Lonny.

Can you pick out and install new floors yourself, or should you hire professionals?
Do not install yourself unless you are more than handy, but also have amazing talent to do so. Even with engineered wood floors [you should hire help], because the installation may be easy but the finishing touches are just as important. How did you finish the edges? Does your baseboard cover the edges or do you not have baseboards and need to cut the wood perfectly on the edge? What about transition on a turn? All things to consider.

Who, if anyone, should you hire?
A great contractor makes a great designer look amazing. Always hire a great contractor, with or without a designer. One of the roles of the designer is to make sure we help you make the right decisions once for the overall look for the room and home instead of re-doing and replacing it in the near future.

What materials are most durable? Best bang for your buck?
Bang for your buck is porcelain, even for faux wood, and it's more durable than engineered wood. Natural stone is most expensive and least durable. You will need to constantly maintain it.

Are there any quick-fix options to improve the look of your floor without replacing it?
If you have wood floors, always consider keeping them! Don't cover them up and re-stain them, even if they have a parquet pattern. Parquet has a bad rap, but it adds texture. Plus, it's always better than carpet.

Photographed by Amy Bartlam.
Photographed by Amy Bartlam.

Current trends?
Natural oak finish is back! And it's the least expensive way to finish your natural wood floors. White and bleached oak is "out", which was one of the most expensive options for staining.

Any flooring that never goes out of style?
Wood, no matter what finish, because it can go out of style one year and a few years later, come right back.

Anything else to consider in choosing a new floor?
You need to love it! Ignore trends. Love everything in your home and it will always put a smile on your face.

Photographed by Nicki Sebastian.
Photographed by Nicki Sebastian.

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