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Flooring Trends for 2012: A Fresh Start with New Flooring

Every industry has its own premiere event; the hardwood flooring field is no exception. Laminate, tile and wood flooring manufacturers just kicked off 2012 with DOMOTEX, one of the largest hardwood flooring exhibitions in the world, occurring in Hanover, Germany. If you’re looking to spruce up your home in the New Year, consider the 2012 hardwood flooring trends we’ve gathered below, which were highlighted at the DOMOTEX conference.

Flooring Customization

Business visionaries such as Joseph Pine and Stan Davis have spent the last decade predicting that manufacturing will soon undergo a shift toward customization. Pine and Davis predicted that manufacturers would use software technology to adjust product variables on a customer-by-customer basis. Today, the flooring industry is moving toward mass customization by offering nearly unlimited flooring materials, finishes, designs and textures.

Indeed, the theme for this year’s DOMOTEX was “Customized Living.” Use your knowledge of this trend by asking your tile or hardwood flooring provider to show you the many personalization options available. You can definitely find a combination of materials and designs that will make your floors completely unique.

Porcelain Tile Flooring

Designers love how porcelain tile multi-tasks: it’s beautiful, durable, and easy to maintain. When compared to ceramic tile flooring, porcelain tile is less likely to become scratched or dinged. That’s because sand-based porcelain is denser than clay-based ceramic tile flooring. Additionally, porcelain tile is available in nearly any look you desire, and at an affordable price.

Many homeowners and designers are using porcelain tile as a less expensive way of achieving a classic marble flooring look. Designers can actually digitally scan marble patterns onto tiles, producing a timeless style for a fraction of the real cost of marble tiles. Porcelain tiles are even available in wood textures! For those who want to the look of hardwood flooring without the scratches of actual wood flooring, wood-textured porcelain tiles are perfect. They won’t scratch, break, stain or require future coats of sealant.

The Hand-Scraped Wood Flooring Look

There’s another way to stop worrying about scratches in wood flooring: Make the scratches an intentional part of your design. Hand-scraped hardwood flooring will continue to enjoy popularity in 2012 and beyond. Consumers and designers like the rich character that scraping lends to wood flooring, and homeowners love that it will shine in even the roughest household.

However, all that physical labor does raise the price of hand-scraped wood flooring. For a less expensive alternative, consider laminate alternatives. Today’s laminate flooring can be textured to expertly mimic the feel of hand-scraped wood flooring.

Wood and Ceramic Tile Flooring: Think Big

Another movement in the flooring arena is toward larger interlocking pieces. For instance, porcelain and ceramic tile flooring is now available in large pieces, some as big as 36 inches by 36 inches. That means you’ll have fewer grout lines and less work over time. Larger tiles can also make a space appear larger.

Similarly, hardwood flooring manufacturers are finally recognizing that many consumers prefer longer, wider floor boards. Some floorboards are available in widths exceeding 7.5 inches and lengths as long as 7 feet! Floorboard and tile size is certainly a trend that will grow in 2012.

Outdoor Flooring

Although recent indicators, such as the increase in new homes being built, suggest that the economy is slowly improving, many consumers are still unable to expand their living areas as they’d like. This explains the continued interest in outdoor living. By adding a patio, deck or tiled area outdoors, you can expand your living space without draining your bank account.

Outdoor flooring is usually composed of tiles that snap together quickly to create a beautiful, durable surface.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Until recently, builders had to grapple with the natural expansion and contraction of wood when installing hardwood flooring. Well, no more. Today’s designers and contractors can instead install engineered wood flooring, which features bonded plywood and finished wood. Before, humidity concerns prevented designers from installing wood floors in high-humidity areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms. However, since engineered wood flooring doesn’t twist or warp with moisture, it can be used in any room and any climate.