Is Vinyl Flooring a Good Option?

Why should you choose vinyl flooring for your home?  On the outside, it may appear that wood or tile would be a better choice but here are four questions to ask yourself that might lead you to deciding on vinyl.

  1. Do you need something versatile?

Vinyl is both nonporous and scratch resistant, this means that you can use it for high traffic areas such as family rooms and living spaces as well as in wet rooms such as your bathrooms, mudroom, and kitchen. Its durability means that it is able to bear up against snow, rain, sand, and dirt alike.  Though vinyl can show imperfections in your subfloor, its malleability can also help to mask problems such as the shifting foundation that we face here in South Texas.

  1. Do you need something water resistant?

Because vinyl is nonporous and doesn’t absorb moisture like laminates and woods, it is perfect for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.  Most vinyl comes with waterproof backing which means that it is 100% resistant to water.

  1. Do you need something easy to install?

The beauty of vinyl is not only that a pro can easily install it for a much cheaper price than hardwood or tiles, but also that it makes for a DIY-friendly project.  There are typically two types of vinyl: peel & stick and click & lock.  Peel & stick will stick directly to the concrete or whatever subfloor you currently have while click & lock is a floating floor.

  1. Do you need something easy on your joints?

While wood and tile floors may seem like better choices at first, many people are beginning to choose vinyl.  This is because vinyl has a more comfortable surface that is conducive to areas where you will be standing for a long time such as bathrooms or kitchens.

If you’re looking for more information to assist you with choosing a floor material, check out a few of our other articles on the subject:

Hardwood VS Laminate

Hardwood VS Carpet

Bamboo Flooring

Have some thoughts about vinyl as a flooring option?  Comment below, we would love to hear from you.


Home Building 101: Major Phases of Construction Part IV

We’ve spent the last few weeks walking you through the process of home building, from foundation to the final inspection, if you haven’t read our blog posts from the previous weeks, you can find them here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Mechanical Trims Finished & Bathroom Fixtures Installation

After your flooring is installed, your contractor will finish the mechanical trims and complete installation of the light fixtures, power outlets, light switches, and if the electrical panel hasn’t already been installed, it will be installed now.  Equipment for the HVAC is installed and faucets, sinks, and toilets in the kitchen and bathrooms are installed as well.

Miscellaneous Installation & Flooring

Shower doors and mirrors are installed next, they are installed at this point in the construction phase in order to keep them from being damaged during the actual construction and painting of the house.  Carpet is also installed now for the same reason and the house is cleaned of all debris and construction material leftovers.

Exterior Landscaping

At this point, the exterior of the house is also cleaned up and shrubs, grass, and trees are planted as well as any other exterior items that are left.

Final Inspection

An official will come to do the final inspection to check that everything follows your area’s building code.  If any issues come up during inspection that need to be addressed, the building-code official will have to conduct a follow-up inspection to ensure these have been addressed.  When everything has successfully passed inspection, the official will then issue a certificate of occupancy (C.O.) which means that you can legally live in the domicile.

Final Walkthrough/Pre-Settlement Walkthrough

Now that everything has successfully passed inspection, your builder will walk through the entire house with you to show off all of the house’s features, explain how to best maintain your home.  This is the time for you to look for any problems, mistakes, or areas requiring adjustment.  Your builder will be able to help you decide how to handle or fix these areas, she or he should also help you look for them but it’s important to be observant yourself.  Some areas to watch out for are: floors, walls, countertops, fixtures, and any glass such as mirrors, windows, etc. these parts are more prone to damage from construction.  It’s imperative to point these things out before you move in because after you move in there’s no way to prove that the damage was pre-existing before the movers came through.

That’s it!  Your home is built and ready to move-in!  Do you have any questions or comments about the process of building a home from the ground up?  If so, drop us a line below!

Home Building 101: Major Phases of Construction Part III

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been walking you through what building a home entails, from the initial pouring, to explaining all of the inspections that take place, we’ve put it all together for you to quickly understand.  Today, we’ll continue to talk about this topic, here’s you can find part one and part two.

Drywall & Interior Textures

After the insulation is installed, the drywall and interior textures are begun.  After this is completed, the interior can be painted with primer to prepare it for the interior paint.

Exterior Textures

The exterior of the house will begin to be installed, this includes finished such as stucco, stone, brick, and siding.

Interior Trim & Paint

The decorative trim for interior doors, window sills, moldings, baseboards, and stair balusters are next installed as well as bathroom vanities, cabinets, fireplace surrounds and mantels.  Interior walls will then be painted or wallpapered.

Exterior Work

At this stage, any walkways, patios, and driveways that you have planned will be poured, though some contractors will wait until the house is completed to pour the driveway.

Floor, Counter tops, Exterior Grading

All vinyl, hardwood, and ceramic tile flooring is now installed along with kitchen and bathroom counter tops (we have a post comparing Corian and granite counter tops which might be helpful to you).  Any carpeting will be installed later in order to prevent any damage.  Not sure which kind of flooring to choose for your home?  You might want read our posts comparing hardwood and carpet, hardwood and laminate, as well as some general information on bamboo flooring.  Exterior grading is complete to make sure that water drains properly away from the home to prevent any foundation issues.

We hope that you’re enjoying reading this series of posts as much as we’re enjoying writing them.  If you’re looking for some home building ideas, it might be helpful to visit our post about luxuries to consider for your custom home, or how to build an energy efficient home on a budget.  Any suggestions?  Drop us a comment below.  See you next week when we wrap up this topic.

Radiant Floor Heating 101

Radiant floor heating, or underfloor heating is an energy efficient and practically invisible method of heating your home. If you’re remodeling an existing home, adding the finishing touches to your new home’s plans, or just dreaming a little, radiant floor heating is worth knowing about.

What is it?

This type of flooring can be found as far back as the Romans who invented this method of heating their marble floors. With this method, heat is conducted through the surface of the floor instead of through the air.

How does it work?

Most radiant flooring falls under two types: hydronic, heating through hot water pipes, and electric, heating through electric wires. Both types of underfloor heating are buried under the floor. An electric radiant floor heating system is more cost-effective and easier to install, but tends to be more expensive in the long run while the hydronic radiant floor heating system is more expensive and difficult at installation and less expensive to operate. How to choose? The rule of thumb is that electric works better for smaller areas while hydronic is more efficient for larger areas or the entire house.

Pros and Cons

Because heat rises, radiant floor heating is an energy efficient way to make certain that you stay warm. With more traditional Western heating methods, heat often gets trapped near the ceiling, or in houses that aren’t sealed well the heat escapes outside. Underfloor heating systems can be tricky to install in an existing floor, you will need to tear up the entire floor to install it. There are a few other options if you want the benefits of radiant floor heating but don’t want to go through the pains of installation in an existing house. Electric radiant pads are one of these options and worth exploring a bit more.

Stone, ceramic tiles, and concrete all work very well with radiant floor heating. Wood floors might not work so well, but talk to your custom home builder about your options if you just can’t live without a hardwood floor and radiant floor heating, there are still some ways to make this work. Vinyl and laminate flooring, as well as carpeting do not work very well with the necessary heat flow.

More Custom Home Luxuries

Building a custom home comes with many perks, one of which is being able to incorporate what are considered “luxuries” into the design and many times paying considerably less than if you installed the luxury into your existing home.  We posted another blog post a few weeks back about our favorite luxuries to consider for your South Texas home, here are a few more that we also love.

Self-Closing Drawers and Cabinets

Your dream kitchen and bathrooms will be all the better with this tiny improvement; not expensive to add, you will love how softly everything closes and how tidy this makes your home.

Underfloor or Radiant Heat Flooring

A subtle addition to your dream home, you’ll definitely notice the difference in the winter months.  Imagine stepping out of your shower, or poking your feet out of bed and being met by a soft warmth instead of ice cold.  Now that would be a luxury worth paying a bit extra to obtain.  The great thing is that radiant heat flooring can be energy efficient as well.  You can read more about radiant heat flooring here.

Double Dishwashers

We’ve all heard the hype about double ovens, but have you considered double dishwashers?  They’re just the thing for entertaining or large family gatherings.  You can install the second one in a bar or in your island, or just about anywhere you find convenient.

Pullout Cabinet Shelving

Pantries and cabinets can benefit from having pullout shelves that help you access those difficult to reach spots in the back.  This way you won’t be losing cans of soup, or buying two hand mixers because you can find one.  These are easy to install and won’t cost you much more, but we guarantee that you’ll love the convenience of them.

Light Switch Dimmers

Whether you’re installing lights in your new custom home, switching out existing lights, or just want something to combat the harsh lighting in your home, dimmers might be an excellent option for you.

What are your top dream home luxuries?  Drop us a line in the comment section, we’d love to hear from you!

Hardwood Floors VS Laminate

Laminate flooring is a great and cost effective option to make your custom home appear that it has hardwood flooring, but is it worth the investment? This post is part of our series on flooring pros and cons, you can read our previous posts about bamboo flooring and hardwood flooring vs. carpet.

Benefits of Laminate

Laminate flooring is significantly cheaper than hardwood flooring and can also be more resistant to scratches, moisture, and stains.  This of course depends entirely on the quality of the laminate and maintenance.  Laminate can imitate the appearance of hardwood or stone, or almost anything.  Because hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture or direct sunlight, it is not always the best choice for bathrooms, kitchens, or in rooms with harsh sunlight.  Upkeep for laminate flooring is easier than hardwood, there is no need for polishing or waxing, but it should be frequently cleaned. The average cost of laminate flooring averages from $4-8 per square foot, but can often be found for less.

Benefits of Hardwood

Hardwood flooring, because it is made from natural, durable material and finished, can last more than 75-100 years when properly maintained.  In comparison, laminate flooring, made of synthetic fiberboard with a laminate finish will never last that long; top quality laminate will need to be replaced about 15-25 years after installation but repairs and installation can be far cheaper than repairing or replacing hardwood floors.  Upfront costs for hardwood flooring is the primary deterrent of installation, the average price of hardwood floors is $8-15 per square foot (though the cost can range from $2.75-200 depending on the quality and type of wood).  The general rule for hardwood flooring is the harder the wood, the more durable and more expensive.


As a rule, laminate and hardwood are both easy to maintain but that doesn’t mean that maintenance is not necessary.  Both types of flooring will last longer when harsh chemical treatments are not used and when kept clean.  The use of rugs and felt pads on the feet of furniture is also a good way to ensure that your floors last longer.

Hardwood Floors VS Carpet

The struggle over the choice of flooring for your dream home is an age-old problem.  Hardwood floors speak of quality and will last much longer than carpeted interiors but carpet is cheaper to lay down and so the upfront cost is much lower.  Your custom home builder can answer a lot of your questions about what is the best option for your home, but here’s a bit of general information to get you started.

Benefits of Carpet

As mentioned above, carpet is both easier and cheaper to install, prices can range from $0.50 up to $8.50 per square meter while hardwood flooring prices (depending on the type of wood) can range from $2.75 to $200 per square foot.  Proper carpet installation is much quicker than installing hardwood floors because hardwood flooring requires precision and any small mistake can quickly become an expensive problem.  Sometimes improper installation of hardwood can lead to your floor being more prone to water damage.

Carpet, though it requires much more rigorous and regular maintenance, can be replaced easily and cheaply while a hardwood replacement is going to cost quite a bit more.  Carpet also has a wide range of color, design, and texture options available and is a good insulator for heat and sound.

Benefits of Hardwood

Hardwood flooring is known for its durability; if maintained and treated properly, it can last up to 100 years and will get more beautiful with usage and age (not really an option for carpet).  Carpets have a comparatively short lifespan with the top quality carpets lasting about 15 years.  On average, a carpet will only last about 6 years as they can quickly begin to look worn from collecting dust and stains.  When your hardwood floor begins to look worn, your first response isn’t necessarily replacing it.  Most hardwood floors will need refinishing about every 20 years and you can also just repair portions of it by pulling up the damaged boards and replacing it with matching wood.  Cleaning is also far easier and hardwood won’t trap allergens and dust as carpet does and therefore the air inside your home will be cleaner.

As a homeowner, you should always consider the resale value of your home.  Hardwood flooring is an elegant addition to any home and it is generally viewed very favorably by home buyers therefore the resale value is usually increased when hardwood flooring is present.

If you want to read more about types of hardwood flooring, we recommend our post about bamboo flooring.

Bamboo Flooring: What to Know

Wood floors are a luxury that a growing number of homeowners in South Texas are choosing to have in their homes.  Your interior designer can help you select the perfect color and type of wood for your needs, but it’s always good to walk into the conversation with some knowledge in hand.

Bamboo is a beautiful choice for flooring, it is not only an environmentally friendly choice (bamboo renews itself every four years) but also typically easier on the pocketbook.

Why is bamboo a good choice?

Because bamboo is actually a type of grass, it takes only five years to reach maturity while trees take fifty or more years.  Bamboo is a sustainable source of material which will also grow back after it has been cut.  It’s important to ask where and how your bamboo flooring was manufactured; some companies use toxic glues containing formaldehyde that can possibly release toxins into your home.

Types of Bamboo Flooring

There are three types of bamboo flooring that can be found.  The first is vertical cut or solid bamboo flooring, these are solid pieces of bamboo that have been bonded together which creates a thin striped appearance.

The second type of bamboo flooring is engineered or horizontal cut.  This is made of a solid layer of bamboo that has been adhered onto a substrate.  It’s the most common type of bamboo flooring and is easily recognized with distinctive horizontal bamboo ring marks.

The last type of bamboo flooring is strand-woven.  This is the most durable type of bamboo flooring because of the way in which it is made.  The bamboo is shredded and then is pressed with adhesives into a plank.  The result doesn’t appear very “bamboo-like” but is the most versatile as many different colors and lengths can be manufactured.

Colors & Durability

Modern bamboo flooring can be just about any color that you want, the technology to produce light, dark, and any color in between is readily available.

Compared with traditional hardwood flooring, bamboo flooring durability depends entirely on how it is manufactured.  The Janka Hardness Test finds strand-woven bamboo to be the most durable (over twice as durable as other types of bamboo flooring), but engineered and solid bamboo floors are comparable in durability to pine and beech wood floors.