Sick of stone? Weary of wood? Not to fear. There are new choices for flooring all the time. Whether any of them "stick" and become mainstream favorites remains to be seen, but they certainly offer some exciting new possibilities. Here is just a sampling:
: It's not just for pandas anymore. This tall tropical plant
is actually a grass. That means that unlike hardwood trees, it has a very short
life cycle - three years from planting to harvesting maturity. So, presto! What
we have is a truly renewable resource. Bamboo is now being manufactured and
sold just like wood, in a variety of colors and finishes, for far less than
wood costs. Some claim that its hardness matches that of maple, its strength
matches that of red oak, and that it shrinks and warps far less than wood. Unfortunately,
it is such a new application that little is known about how it stands up to
long-term abuse. Nevertheless, for the environmentally friendly, this could
be just the thing to soothe the conscience. Cork
: Ah, the feel of cork. There's nothing quite like that wonderful
resilience. For those concerned with the ergonomics of the foot and spine, cork
is certainly a tempting choice. Purveyors of the new cork floors claim the treatments
make them stain-resistant, and they are reputed to be surprisingly durable,
too. What could make a bedroom more snug?
: Admittedly, the phrase "leather floor" does sound a bit Austin
Powers, but don't be too quick to dismiss it as just another gangster/international
man of mystery fad. Leather can be used as an extremely sophisticated design
tool as well. Luxurious to the eye, warm and supple on the feet, leather definitely
has its charms. And as for durability - it's tough as"¦well"¦leather. As you might
guess, it doesn't come cheaply, but chances are, if you're looking for leather
floors, you're someone who can afford to pay for originality. And you can bet
that it'll be a while before anyone rolls his eyes and yawns, "Oh. Another leather
: Strictly speaking, tile is not new. But the advances in tile
manufacture are, and they've been fueling the tile trend to new heights. According
to Rebecca Alston, of Rebecca Alston, Inc., a Manhattan interior/architectural
design firm, "These days you can get extremely durable porcelain tiles that
look almost indistinguishable from real stone, for a fraction of the cost of
the real thing. There's a particular company called GranitiFiandre that has
introduced a line called Geologica, which is really taking things to a new level."
Then there are the new glass tiles as well. "Glass tiles have great translucent look that's very popular right now. But they're more expensive than ceramic - depending on the pigment, they can range anywhere from $20 per square foot to $500 per square foot for gold," she says. Of course, regular old, glazed ceramic tiles are still a perennial favorite because they're so easy to clean and they're very affordable.
So, if your feet have gotten tired of the same old, same old, there's sure to be something out there that fits your floor and your fancy.