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Choosing and Buying Resilient Flooring

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Resilient flooring -- softer underfoot than any other flooring except carpeting -- is available in the form of tiles or sheet goods.

Resilient tiles have been a popular do-it-yourself item since World War II, although they have changed considerably in size (from 9 to 12 inches square), appearance (from dull, streaked greens and beiges to vivid colors and patterns), and composition (from asphalt and asbestos to varying blends of vinyl).

Sheet goods have been around awhile also. Because they come in rolls up to 12 feet wide, installing them is more difficult. Installation kits are available, but be aware that a cutting mistake can ruin an entire roll, not just a single tile.

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Choosing the right resilient flooring depends to some extent on the type of use your new floor will get.

Cushioned sheet flooring, usually with a pattern printed on the surface, is soft underfoot, has a minimum of dirt-catching seams, and does a decent job of soundproofing. Some surface-printed tiles are similarly cushioned. ¿Commercial¿ tiles are less expensive, easier to install, and much more resistant to dents from items, such as chair legs. Also you should consider whether you want a smooth or a textured surface.

Before you buy, be sure you are clear about the installation directions. Most resilient flooring can be installed on any sound subsurface. Install over existing resilient flooring only if it is firmly stuck at all points.

Beware: Resilient flooring does not cover up imperfections in the subsurface; this is especially true of surface-printed tiles and sheets. If the existing floor cannot be sanded smooth, install subflooring and underlayment above it.

Because most of today¿s tiles are 1-foot square, determining how many you will need requires only simple computations. Estimating the amount of sheet flooring needed is trickier, especially if there¿s a pattern involved and a seam is needed. It¿s best to make an accurate plan of the room on graph paper and then take it to a flooring dealer.

Caution!

Asbestos Tile. If you need to remove tiles to lay a new floor, be aware that many older tiles contain asbestos. Some states require a licensed asbestos remover to take them out. Ask your flooring dealer how to test old tiles for asbestos and whether you need to hire a licensed firm to remove them.

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