What is the difference between vinyl and laminate floors; and the best use for each floor?

Both floors are easy to clean, durable, and will not fade over time. Both floors have impressive color and pattern selections. Vinyl floors are water resistant and have a cushy, giving feel to them, whereas laminate floors have a harder feel to the foot.

Vinyl floors:

Vinyl floors are best for people whose homes include toddlers spilling sippy cups, wet dogs shaking themselves dry, or muddy footprints from whoever forgot to wipe their shoes coming in from the rainstorm. Vinyl floors do not dent, fade, or stain and they are easy to keep clean.
Vinyl floors are flexible and soft to walk on. They feel “cushy” under foot.
Vinyl floors comes in many different patterns and colors, which gives artistic installers the option to create patterns with the vinyl floor.
Vinyl floors are good to install in the bathroom and in the kitchen because they are durable and water resistant.

Laminate floors:

Laminate floors are for people who want the look of hardwood or stone in their house, but do not want to spend a lot of money on the floor or a lot of time installing the floor. Laminate floors are also for the environmentally friendly, as they are not made with wood. Laminate floors are typically cheaper (20 to 25% less) and easier to install then traditional hardwood floors. Laminate floors are reasonably durable and easy to clean. Laminate floors can be placed in high traffic places in the home. Laminate floors are protect against UV rays, so they will not fade over time.
Laminate floors come in a large selection including domestic and exotic wood patterns and colors, porcelain tile and natural slate, and narrow boards and individual tiles.
Laminate floors are good to put in hallways, bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms. They are not recommended for rooms that have running water because laminate floors are not water resistant.

Consider Tri-County Floors for all of your flooring needs.


Causes of Common Laminate Flooring Problems

Causes of Common Laminate Flooring Problems

Image credit: Wikipedia

As an inexpensive alternative to wood or stone, laminate flooring has recently grown in popularity. It requires less professional expertise to install than other flooring types, and it can save time, maintenance, and overhead costs for businesses and homeowners alike. But maintaining a laminate floor comes with its own set of potential problems. This guide provides an overview of common laminate problems, along with possible explanations, and links to sites with helpful repair / maintenance tips.


If you’re looking for information on installing laminate flooring, you can check out the following links:

Creaking, Popping, and Cracking Sounds

Creaking or cracking sounds are usually the result of the laminate flexing under pressure.  A soft crackling noise may be heard occasionally as the laminate presses against the foam layer beneath it. However, if sounds are persistently audible over most of the floor, the laminate may have been incorrectly installed, or a number of precautions may have been overlooked.  The following video provides an example of a noisy laminate floor that may be in need of repair:

Here are some reasons that noises may occur:

  • Lack of proper on-site acclimation: The humidity and temperature of an installation site can drastically change laminate panels, causing them to expand or warp, especially if the panels have not had time to respond to a site’s conditions.
  • No expansion gap: As a preventative measure, a 6-10mm  gap should lie around the perimeter of a room with laminate flooring, allowing for some  expansion due to changes in the indoor climate.
  • Un-level sub-floor: It’s essential that the floor beneath the laminate has been adequately leveled; failure to take this precaution creates weak points in the flooring, forcing certain sections to flex beyond their capacities, and putting undue pressure on the joints between panels.

If you have a persistently noisy laminate floor, there’s a chance that it was not properly installed, and sections of the floor may need to be re-installed or repaired to fix the problem.

Bubbling and Curling

image credit: thefloordetective.com

  • Irregularities:Bubbling and curling are most frequently caused by irregularities in tension, moisture levels, and temperature.  Luckily, this problem can usually be fixed without professional help. You can find a helpful guide for fixing bubbles in laminate flooring here.
  • Problems with panel connections: It’s also possible that sections of the floor were not properly aligned when they were connected, or that something is wedged between two or more panels, causing an uneven surface. You may be able to disassemble a section of the floor yourself, to fix the problem, but it’s still advisable to contact a flooring professional if you did not install the laminate yourself.

For more flooring help, contact us. We serve all of Sonoma County’s flooring needs.

Tri-County…now offering our clients The Full Package

Tri-County is proud to announce an expansion of our services. We now are able to provide home owners with design-to finish, state-of-the-art kitchens and bathroom remodels, and new construction. We’ve brought the able-bodied staff of Alioto and Assoc. (in business for over 60 years) on as part of Tri-County’s pro line-up. A full-time draftsperson, an interior design architect, and a licensed building architect are all now part of the talent base at our disposal. These professionals have over 100 years of combined hands-on experience to bring to any project.

We’ve also incorporated the professionals at BJM Construction (a full-service contracting firm, in business for over 28 years) to be part of our team. By adding these elements to our service menu we are able to completely remove the confusion and frustration that has historically been the norm for homeowners involved in remodeling and/or custom-building.

For the past 20 years in the North Bay area, Tri-County has developed an excellent reputation as the homeowner’s best choice for quality flooring options and installation. Many of our clients have told us fairly frightening stories of how, while trying to organize two or three separate private contractors, the estimates and schedules became impossible to control… not to mention the issues of quality control. By having one reliable company handle your project, from inception to delivery, the homeowner is free to watch their dream take shape, without the headaches.

5500 square feet of showroom space at our Petaluma location and over 1600 square feet at our Sonoma satellite feature every option imaginable to choose from. We have design packages guaranteed to fit your taste and your budget. Plus, if designing and building a one-of-a-kind kitchen or bath is your preference, Tri-County Design Center can provide the brand names and in-house designer/construction teams to bring any custom blueprint to life.

Come by (in Petaluma at 1180 Holm Rd., Suite B or in Sonoma at 644 3rd St. West) and take a look. Talk to any of our qualified and friendly staff. We’ll show you how your ideal kitchen and/or bath can go from dream to reality.

How to restore your wood floor

Refinishing a wood floor

Check out this excellent video on how to restore your old wood floor, and make it look new again:

If you need further help, contact us and we can assist you.  We offer high quality tile flooring, carpeting, and hardwood flooring services throughout Sonoma County. (Serving areas such as Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, and Windsor.)

What is the best type of flooring for a kitchen?

Flooring Guide

How do you choose the best type of flooring for a kitchen?  We can help.  To make the right choice, let’s first look at the properties of kitchens:


  • Kitchens are high traffic rooms
  • Spills are common with lots of messy food products.  Ease of cleaning is very important. Water resistant flooring is crucial.
  • Non-slip flooring is necessary for safety purposes.
So, what are the options?

Vinyl or Linoleum Flooring for Kitchens:

The benefits:

  • Vinyl and Linoleum are more affordable than the other flooring options.
  • It is also the easiest of the options to clean.  Just sweep, and then mop with soap and water.
  • Vinyl flooring also has some give, so if you drop a glass, it may not break.
  • Vinyl is easy to install and is available in an endless array of colors and patterns.
Keep in mind:
  • Vinyl will melt if a lighted match or cigarette lands on it, linoleum can’t.
  • Linoleum can be used on countertops and backsplashes where vinyl cannot.
  •  Durability – linoleum can last 30-40 years where most vinyl cannot.
  • Linoleum requires an acrylic coating upon installation and then again annually where vinyl flooring does not.
  • Vinyl flooring is a synthetic product made of chlorinated petrochemicals and linoleum is made from raw and natural ingredients.
  • One of the drawbacks of vinyl floors is that the edges can curl.

Ceramic Tile Flooring for Kitchens:

The benefits:

  • Ceramic tile flooring is arguably the most aesthetic option.  It allows for a great deal of customization in terms of colors and patterns.
Keep in mind:
  • Though tile is easy to clean with a damp mop, the surrounding grout can be difficult to maintain.
  • We recommend using the largest tiles possible to minimize grout lines.
  • Tile can be hard on the legs and feet, and even harder on dropped dishes.  You can use a room rug over the flooring to solve these issues.
  • Tile doesn’t help with sound control in a kitchen.
  • It can be cold underfoot, unless you get Radiant Heating installed below.
  • If there is any foundation or standing water issues below the flooring, uneven flooring can cause the stiff tile to crack.
  • One of the drawbacks of vinyl floors is that the edges can curl.

Laminate Flooring for Kitchens:

The benefits:

  • For homeowners who like the look of wood, but want a floor that is extremely durable and requires little maintenance, laminate is an option.
  • It is easy to clean.
  • Laminate is factory-finished, and it can be put in over an existing floor.
Keep in mind:
  • Laminate looks like wood flooring, but it typically lacks the warmth of hard wood flooring.
  • Some people find it noisy.

Wood Flooring for Kitchens:

The benefits:

  • Wood comes in a variety of colors and types, and fits many decor styles.
  • It generally looks great.  You can also use a rug over the wood.
  • It’s easy on the legs and feet.
  • It’s a quiet option.
Keep in mind:
  • The maintenance and durability of a wood floor depends greatly on what species of wood is being used and how that wood is finished.
  • Wood is that it may scratch, but remember that wood floors can always be sanded and refinished.  See my post on refinishing a wood floor to learn more.

Bamboo Flooring for Kitchens:

The benefits:

  • Bamboo provides the look of wood, but is made from bamboo grass, a rapid-renewable resource.

Keep in mind:

  • If you choose bamboo because it’s eco-friendly, make sure the factory finish is formaldehyde-free.
There are pros and cons to each flooring choice.  Feel free to contact us for more help figuring out what’s best for your particular kitchen.  We can help you chose a floor that’s best for you.  We can work with all of these materials, and more.  We serve all of Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, and Windsor.

Carpet Care and Maintenance (Cont.)

Carpet Care and Maintenance

Long Term Care – Deep Cleaning

While vacuuming on a regular basis is essential, consider deep cleaning carpet at least once every twelve to eighteen months.  A professional cleaner may be called or you may wish to do it yourself.  If the choice is to personally clean the carpet, review the manufacturer’s recommendations so that the method used does not void the warranty.

Dry Method – Either absorbent compound, absorbent pad or dry foam method.  These methods are minimum-moisture systems that may be applicable for certain types of floor coverings.

Wet Method – Either shampoo cleaning or hot water extraction method. It is extremely important to not over-wet the carpet.  Over wetting can result in staining materials bleeding through from the backing.  Over wetting may also promote the growth of mold and mildew on the backing or cushion and may result in wrinkling of the carpet.  It is necessary to remove furniture or place plastic or aluminum foil under and around the furniture legs to prevent rust or stains.  Let the carpet dry completely before walking on it. Fans, open windows and moderate room temperatures will speed up the drying process.  The carpet and cushion should be thoroughly dried within 12-24 hours in order to avoid the possible growth of mold and mildew. Be sure that the room is well ventilated with fresh air during and immediately after the cleaning process.

Carpet Care and Maintenance

If your carpet is properly cared for on a regular basis, both soil and wear will be reduced.  Vacuuming won’t wear out a carpet but soil will.  If not removed, dirt and grit will become embedded in the pile resulting in matting and ‘graying’ of the color.  It is essential to vacuum often and on a regular basis using a top quality vacuum cleaner with an efficient dust catching filter to prolong the life of the carpet.  The vacuum cleaner used can help improve indoor air quality while a low quality vacuum may increase the amount of airborne particles.

The following information is take from the Carpet and Rug Institute’s ‘Carpet Owner’s Manual.’

How to Vacuum Your Carpet

Let’s take the light traffic areas first.  You should vacuum non-traffic areas at least once a week.  Areas subject to light traffic should be vacuumed twice weekly with up to 3 passes of the vacuum.  Moderate to heavy traffic areas will require more of your attention and more thorough cleaning or vacuuming.  Thorough meaning at least 5 passes over these areas with your vacuum from 2-5 times per week. Vacuuming slowly can allow the beating and suction action of the vacuum to thoroughly remove embedded particles. Developing frequent and thorough vacuuming habits will help you maintain the beautiful appearance of your carpet and postpone the need for professional cleaning services to restore the color and texture of your carpet.

Carpet and Your Health

Many of the flooring staff at Tri County Floors have been in the flooring business for over 20 years and, therefore, have been exposed to flooring products for the same time.  We, like you, are concerned about our health and that of our families and so have followed very closely the debate concerning carpeting and its emissions.

A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is important becauswe we spend more time indoors than ever before. Indoor air typically contains pollutants including chemicals called Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s). They originate from a variety of sources such as building materials, cooking, heating systems, furnishings, cleaning, etc.  Fortunately, they are typically found in extremely small quantities; usually parts-per-billion.  The vast majority of VOC’s are not harmful at the extremely low levels commonly found in homes.  Some VOC’s are responsible for many of the the things we find pleasant: the fragrance of a rose, the smell of a juicy steak, perfume, etc.

A few individuals have attributed adverse health effects to exposure to chemicals from new carpet.  The reported symptoms range from mild irritation to the controversial diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), recently renamed by the World Health Organization to Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI).  No evidence based on credible science and medicine has linked health effects to VOC’s from new carpet.

IAQ publicity was stepped up in 1988 when carpet received attention during renovations in the headquarters building of the US Environmental Protection Agency.  A few employees reported symptoms typical of those common in problem building situations such as eye and respiratory irritation, headache, nausea, lethargy and fatigue.  They blamed a specific chemical, 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PC), which is responsible for carpet’s characteristic odor.  Considerable research since 1988 has shown this allegation to be unfounded.

The media ignored the fact that the building had a long history of indoor air quality problems and employee complaints. Subsequent studies by the EPA scientists and independent researchers showed the problems were caused by extremely poor ventilation, heavy infestation of fungi on many surfaces and heavy accumulation of dirt and fungi in the air handling system due to poor maintenance.  Carpet’s only role was that its odor provided a focal point.  This was a classic case of a building with IAQ problems.

Carpet Stain Protection

Have you ever walked across a carpet only to receive a shock when reaching for the doorknob?  The reason for the shock is the buildup of static electricity in the synthetic fibers of the yarn.  It is the same electro-static buildup which works as a dirt magnet in your carpet. And it is this dirt which causes wear and tear.  Treatments such as STAINMASTER™ and Scotchgard™ dissipate static charge eliminating the magnetic attraction of soil. These treatments prevent dirt from clinging to carpet fibers so your carpet becomes cleaner when vacuumed.

With products like Scotchgard™ protection is a topical, water-based solution, and, therefore, wet shampooing can do more harm than good because excess soapy residue often masks the carpet’s protective finish. So always steam clean your carpet.  Scotchgard™ Protector should be reapplied by a professional carpet cleaner after the second or third steam cleaning.

STAINMASTER™ (originally a DuPont™ product) was, at its introduction, a large step forward in carpet stain protection.  DuPont™ developed a method of treating their yarns while they were still hot and the yarn molecules had expanded. After treatment the yarn is cooled and the STAINMASTER™ anti-static molecules are locked into the yarn.  This proved an exceptional upgrade in stain resistance. Unlike Scotchgard™, the tighter bond between the yarn and protection allowed more cleanings without loss of stain-resistance. Under most circumstances a STAINMASTER™ carpet can received three shampooings before stain resistance is lost. Since most carpets will be shampooed about every year and a half, most stain resistance warranties are 5 years.

Scotchgard™ has developed Scotchgard™ Soil & Stain Release which is a further refinement in carpet protection designed specifically for nylon and nylon blend carpets.  In addition to soil protection, it offers additional resistance for specific staining problems and a 5 year warranty for common stains.

Recently, Mohawk created SmartStrand® with DuPont™ Sorona® renewably sourced polymer, the next generation of carpet fiber. Designed to fit the way you live, SmartStrand® with DuPont™ Sorona® combines better stain protection, better durability and better softness, all in one. It’s breakthrough innovation brought to you by Mohawk and DuPont, the trusted names in carpet and fiber for more than a century. Now, instead of worrying about your carpet, you can walk all over it— with a glass of red wine in hand.

When Choosing A Carpet

When choosing a carpet, three things need to be considered:

Traffic: Try to determine your families usage. Is it heavy, moderate, or light? Since carpet does not come with an odometer like a car, it is hard to quantify exactly how much traffic it receives. Young active growing families create more wear than a retire couple. Families with pets will require a more durable carpet than those without.

Stain Resistance: A carpet in a dining room will have different stain resistance requirements than one in a bedroom. Again, a young active family will probably generate more spills than a mature one. You need to consider these questions: Where is your carpet going to be installed? What products are going to be used over it?

Budget: Some carpets represent excellent pricing, but in a high traffic area may not result in the best value for your flooring dollar. When shopping for carpeting it is best to determine the type of traffic your family will generate, what are potential stain problems and what your budget allow. Determine what you can afford to spend, set yourself a budget and then find the best value based on your families requirements. You may also want to find out if the company you choose to buy from offers financing. We do! We are currently offering 0% financing, call us for details.