Flooring is the general term for a permanent covering of a floor, or for the work of installing such a floor covering. Floor covering is a term to generically describe any finish material applied over a floor structure to provide a walking surface. Both terms are used interchangeably but floor covering refers more to loose-laid materials. Materials almost always classified as flooring include carpet, laminate, tile, and vinyl. Hard flooring (not to be confused with "hardwood") is a family of flooring materials that includes concrete or cement, ceramic tile, glass tiles, and natural stone products.
Laminate is a floor covering that appears similar to hardwood but is made with a plywood or medium-density fiberboard ("MDF") core with a plastic laminate top layer. HDF laminate consists of high-density fiberboard topped by one or more layers of decorative paper and a transparent protective layer. The laminate may be more durable than hardwood, but cannot be refinished like hardwood. Laminate flooring is available in many different patterns which can resemble different woods or even ceramic tile. It usually locks or traps together. Underlayment is required for laminate flooring to provide moisture and noise control.
Unlike tiles which are made of minerals, resilient flooring is made of materials that have some elasticity, giving the flooring a degree of flexibility called resilience. The flooring is available in large sheets or pre-cut tiles, and either comes with pre-applied adhesive for peel-and-stick installation or requires adhesive to be troweled onto the substrate. Resilient flooring includes many different manufactured products including linoleum, sheet vinyl, vinyl composition tile (VCT), cork (sheet or tile), and rubber. Performance surfaces used for dance or athletics are usually made of wood or resilient flooring. The two basic categories of vinyl floor tiles are solid vinyl and vinyl composition, and the three basic categories of vinyl sheet flooring are homogeneous, inlaid, and layered composite. These types of vinyl flooring differ in manufacturing process and content, ranging in vinyl (polyvinyl chloride) content from 11% to 55%.
Methods of floor cleaning
The treatment needed for different types of floors is very different. Slipping is a common safety hazard for cleaning methods that involve water or other liquids, especially if the floor is left wet. Sawdust is used on some floors to absorb any liquids that fall rather than trying to prevent them being spilled. The sawdust is swept up and replaced each day. This was common in the past in pubs and is still used in some butchers and fishmongers. It used to be common to use tea leaves to collect dirt from carpets and remove odors. Nowadays it is still quite common to use diatomaceous earth, or in fact, any cat litter type material, to remove infestations from floors.
Padding can be placed underneath the carpet to add comfort and provide some noise insulation. The level of comfort is determined by the type of material used, which can include memory foam and rubber regrind.