Floor, Wall, or Ceiling Registers?

Air Register Illustration
© theblackrhino / Adobe Stock

The location of your heating and cooling system’s air registers might seem like a minor detail, but it has a noticeable impact on your comfort. Floor, wall, and ceiling registers each have their own strengths and weaknesses that make them suited for different situations.

The ideal register placement for each room depends on a variety of factors, including energy efficiency, ease and cost of installation, appearance and, of course, comfort.

Floor Registers: Ideal for Efficient Heating

Hand Opening a Floor Register
© tab62 / Adobe Stock

If you live in a climate where you need heating more often than cooling, floor registers are usually the most logical choice. Warm air naturally rises. When your warm air comes from the floor, it heats the room as it rises toward the ceiling. Place your registers on the ceiling, however, and much of your warm air will pool in the upper part of the room where it won’t do you much good.

Floor registers are typically placed under windows to let the warm air they deliver mix with the cool air coming from the windows. Near an interior wall is another common location. Depending on the location of your air handler, if you want floor registers, you might also need to build a duct chase under the floor, which will increase the cost and complexity of installation.

In very small rooms, floor registers can make it difficult to put in the kind of furniture you want in the arrangement you want, especially if the register is near a corner. Covering the register with furniture not only limits the amount of air delivered, but can also contribute to a pressure imbalance inside your heating and cooling system that stresses the components.

Another minor downside of floor registers is their tendency to collect dust and debris. They’re also more vulnerable to becoming blocked by a dropped toy or other object, something to consider if you have small children at home.

Ceiling Registers: a Good Choice for Cooling

Installing a Ceiling Register
© Tati Ulianova / Adobe Stock

In a warm climate where you need cooling most of the year, ceiling registers are generally preferable. As warm air rises, cool air falls, so the cool air from your ceiling registers will pass through your whole living space instead of pooling near the floor.

Over a window, with the register directed to blow air toward the window, is a popular location for ceiling registers. Less often, a ceiling register is placed near an interior wall so that it blows toward the wall opposite the door or toward the room’s biggest window. This placement requires less ducting than a register over the window, making it a little cheaper to install.

A four-way register near the middle of the room is another possibility. If the exact center of the ceiling is already occupied by a light, the register can be moved a little toward an exterior wall.

Having your registers in the ceiling frees up floor space and gives you more options for arranging your furniture. Ceiling air registers are also less prone to debris buildup than floor registers. Even so, you’ll need to climb up and clean your ceiling air registers once a year to keep them efficient and maintain your indoor air quality.

Wall Registers: Helpful for Air Circulation

HVAC Wall Register
© IcemanJ / Adobe Stock

Wall registers are positioned either low on the interior walls in cold climates or high on the interior walls in hot climates. Unlike ceiling registers, high wall registers don’t blow air directly down on you. Instead, the air they deliver flows across the upper part of the room and mixes with the room air. As this air moves, it draws room air up toward it, which improves air circulation even more.

As with ceiling registers, wall registers give you more free floor space. On the other hand, they’re more visible and can look out of place among your wall art or other decor.

These registers are tricky to install and connecting the ducts to them is a challenge even for a professional. When you’re upgrading an existing heating and cooling system, wall registers might not be an option unless you’re also doing extensive remodeling. In most existing homes, you’ll have to choose between either floor or ceiling registers.

Other Factors to Consider

For optimal temperatures and airflow, you’ll need not only the right locations for your air registers, but also the right type of registers. For example, two-way and three-way registers are used in different situations.

Heating and cooling professionals follow the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA’s) Manual T to choose the right registers, grilles, diffusers, and related equipment for each situation.

Even if you decide to install your registers yourself, consider investing in a consultation with a professional. A little guidance can help you keep your rooms much more comfortable with less energy.

Posted on Categories HVAC

Common Signs of a Bad Interior Paint Job

Various Paint Brushes and Color Swatches
© bukhta79 / Adobe Stock

When you hire a professional to paint a room in your home, you expect beautiful, long-lasting results, but that’s not always what you’ll get. Less skilled and less honest painters can leave you with walls that are smudged or streaky, or that start fading or cracking quickly.

A bad interior paint job isn’t just bad news for your wall. It’s a sign the contracting company might have cut corners elsewhere, so you’ll want to check over the rest of their work.

If you’re having your walls painted or you’ve just had them done, the ability to spot the signs of a bad paint job will help you decide when to make a complaint. If you’ve moved into a home with painted walls, knowing the signs helps you plan for re-painting.

Signs Your Interior Paint Job is Going Wrong

Painter Sitting on Ladder
© Africa Studio / Adobe Stock

While most professional painters take great care in their work, some skip steps in order to maximize their profits at the expense of quality results. When you know how a paint job should progress, you’ll notice when your painter seems to be skimping on effort, so you can bring up your concerns immediately.

No Wall Preparation Was Done

For a paint job to turn out well, the wall must be clean and largely free from damage. Before applying paint, a professional painter prepares the wall by repairing minor flaws such as small dents and cracks, removing old paint when necessary or sanding old high-gloss paint so the new paint will stick. After this, the painter should thoroughly clean and rinse the wall, then allow it to dry.

Your painter should also come prepared with more than just some buckets of paint and a brush. They’ll need caulk, various types of brushes and rollers, edging tools, a sturdy ladder, and other professional supplies. If you see them using masking tape instead of painter’s tape, which is wider and typically blue or green, you know the job is unlikely to go well.

No Room Preparation Was Done

Your painter will probably ask you to move your furniture away from the walls, but you shouldn’t have to do much more than that. The painter should supply drop cloths to cover furniture, as well as remove light fixtures and cover windows, floors, and outlet covers.

In a room that’s already been painted, streaks of wall paint on the outlet covers and window frames are tell-tale signs of a bad interior paint job.

Signs a Bad Finished Interior Paint Job

Aftermath of a Messy Paint Job
© Rawpixel.com / Adobe Stock

Even if you weren’t there to see how the painter did their work, you can still tell when they didn’t do the job well.

The Paint is Wrong for the Wall

A garish color in the bedroom or a hard-to-wash matte paint in the bathroom might be just a bad choice on the part of the homeowner, but it also suggests the painter skipped the color consultation.

A truly professional painter takes time to help their clients chose the best colors and finishes for each room. For example, they’ll often recommend washable semi-glosses for high-traffic or messy areas, such as the entryway, laundry room, and bathroom, but suggest matte paints for the living room and dining room, where more color vibrancy and a smooth finish is important.

When the painter doesn’t provide this guidance, the homeowner is left to make their best guess on what paint to use, and they might not choose well.

Stains or Other Flaws are Visible Through the Paint

These are signs the painter either didn’t apply primer, applied too little or applied the wrong kind. Primer corrects minor surface flaws on the wall, so the paint goes on smoothly, dries with an even finish and vibrant color, and lasts years longer than it would otherwise. If the wall is water-stained, one or two coats of a sealer-primer is usually needed to prevent the discoloration from bleeding through the new paint. Less scrupulous painters might skip this step to reduce their costs and increase their profits.

A New Paint Job Looks Faded or Discolored, or Damages Easily

These problems suggest the painter used only one coat of paint where they should have used two or more. While some paints provide good coverage on light walls with just one coat, they’re the exception. For most, you’ll need two or even three coats. One coat alone will lack vibrancy, let the old paint under it show through, and fail to cover minor irregularities on the wall’s surface. If gently sponging off dirt on the wall causes the paint to come off, it’s a good bet the painter applied only one coat.

The Paint is Blotchy, Streaky, or Blistered

Flaws like these tell you the paint might have been applied to a dirty or wet wall. Over time, walls pick up dust and grime that can interfere with paint adhesion, so even a relatively clean wall should be washed before it’s painted. After cleaning, the wall should be allowed to dry thoroughly. If the painter skips these steps, the paint won’t adhere evenly, causing blotches and streaks. Escaping moisture can cause the paint to blister. Peeling paint is another problem that happens when a wet wall is painted.

The Paint is Smudged, Cracking, or Wrinkling

If you spot these problems, chances are a second coat of paint was applied before the first coat was dry. This is particularly true when paint cracks in a scaly, snake-skin pattern, known as alligatoring. In very old oil-based paint, though, alligatoring is the normal result of aging.

How long a painter should wait between coats depends on both the paint used and the room’s humidity level. While it’s safe to recoat latex paint after four to six hours, an oil-based paint will need to dry for a full 24 hours. If the room is damp or even if it’s raining out, the drying time will be longer. Wrinkled paint is usually the result of applying oil-based paint when it’s colder than 50 degrees in the room.

The Paint is Chalking

Chalking happens when the paint begins to break down. You’ll notice the paint develops a white, powdery film, the color fades, and you can wipe the pigment off with a light brush of a finger. Long-term sun exposure can cause this, but when it happens soon after painting, it typically means the paint was thinned too much, or the wall wasn’t cleaned properly before painting. Painting over a high-gloss paint without sanding it first can also cause the new paint to chalk.

Whether you’re assessing your painter’s recent work or deciding whether to repaint the walls in your new home, being able to tell a good paint job from a bad one will help you make smart choices. A bad interior paint job detracts from the beauty of your room and can exacerbate moisture problems, so if you find yours is less than ideal, consult an experienced and reliable professional painter for guidance.

Posted on Categories Interior

Ceiling Condensation and How to Fix It

Close Up of Condensation
© nokdue27 / Adobe Stock

If you don’t get it under control, even a small amount of ceiling condensation can quickly leave you with an ugly, blotchy, moldy mess overhead.

The fact that there’s moisture on your ceiling at all is a strong indication your house has problems that are running up your energy bills, ruining your air quality, and stealing your comfort. By taking steps to get rid of that moisture, you can save your ceiling and keep your home more comfortable for less.

Upgrade Your Attic

Man Installing Insulation in Attic
© artursfoto / Adobe Stock

The most common cause of ceiling condensation is an attic with too little insulation and ventilation. In an attic like this, wintertime ceiling condensation can form when cold air from the attic hits your warm ceiling. In summer, when the air conditioning is on, the reverse happens.

Improving your attic’s air sealing and insulation prevents attic air from reaching your ceiling, and it’s a fairly easy job to do yourself. Start by checking your attic’s insulation level. If you can see the attic’s floor joints, you need more insulation.

In most parts of the country, an R38 layer of insulation, or about 10 to 14 inches of fiberglass batts, is enough. In a region with cold winters, you might need up to an R60 layer or around 20 inches of fiberglass batts.

Before you install more insulation, seal any air leaks that could let attic air flow to your ceiling. Apply rigid foam insulation to the top of the attic hatch and install weatherstripping on the edges of the hatch. Fill joist spaces with rolled-up insulation batts. If you have a furnace flue, fit aluminum flashing around it and seal the flashing with heat-resistant caulk. Dropped soffits and kneewalls should also be sealed.

Recessed lighting tends to leak air, but it’s tricky to seal. If possible, have your old recessed lights replaced with insulated can models.

Take care of your attic HVAC air ducts, too. Warm air escaping from a duct into a cold attic can create condensation and encourage mold growth. Applying mastic gum to the duct joints and adding an R6 layer of insulation around your sheet metal ducts goes a long way toward protecting your attic and ceiling.

Next, take a look at your attic ventilation. It should allow air to flow both in and out. If your attic has only soffit vents, only ridge vents or a gable vent on just one side, then the space isn’t getting enough airflow. Although many attics do well with a ridge-and-soffit ventilation system, this system isn’t ideal for every home. Designing effective attic ventilation is something of an art, so it’s best left to a professional.

Get a Handle on Your Indoor Humidity

A Digital Hygrometer and Thermometer
© yo camon / Adobe Stock

The attic isn’t always to blame for ceiling condensation. Sometimes, your daily activities add more humidity to the air than your home can handle, leading to a buildup of moisture. If you notice condensation on your windows and walls, find peeling wallpaper or bubbled paint, or see mold spots around the house, your home’s humidity is too high.

To find out how serious your humidity issue is, hang a hygrometer on your wall. An indoor humidity of between 45 to 55 percent is ideal, but anything higher will cause problems.

Start reducing your indoor humidity by always using lids on pots when you cook, making your showers shorter and cooler, hanging laundry outdoors to dry, and running your exhaust fan for 10 to 15 minutes after cooking or showering. Make sure your clothes dryer vents to the outdoors and not into your laundry room or crawl space. Containing all your houseplants to one room and keeping less firewood indoors can help, too.

Backdrafting exhaust fumes from gas or other fuel-burning appliances can also contribute to moisture problems, not to mention potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Leaky HVAC air ducts, large exhaust fans or range hood fans, and a blocked or oversized flue are all possible causes of backdrafting.

Let Your Home Breathe

Woman Opening Home Window
© gpointstudio / Adobe Stock

If you’re already doing what you can to put less moisture into the air, it’s time to look into improving your home’s ventilation. Lack of airflow indoors can cause moisture to build up until it eventually starts clinging to the walls and ceiling.

To improve your airflow, you have several options for whole-house ventilation systems. Central exhaust systems, which draw air out of your home, are favored in dry, cold-winter climates where there’s less risk of the house drawing in humid outdoor air. In warm, humid climates, a supply system is preferable because it gives you a chance to dehumidify the air coming in. A balanced system, which brings in fresh air and draws out stale air, is well suited to any climate, but installation can get pricey.

Regardless of type, a whole-house ventilation system requires professional design and installation because if it’s not working properly, it can make your humidity and condensation problems even worse.

For a ceiling condensation problem in just one part of the house, such as the basement or bathroom, consider bringing in a portable dehumidifier. If you live in a humid climate and nothing you do seems to reign in your indoor humidity, your home might be a good candidate for a whole-house dehumidifier.

If you’ve spotted ceiling condensation recently, first make sure your daily habits aren’t raising your indoor humidity levels. Then check the condition of your attic to see if lack of insulation and ventilation could be causing your problem. Finally, look into improving the ventilation in your living space.

The home improvements you can make to get rid of ceiling condensation all have benefits for your home’s energy efficiency and your comfort, so they’re well worth the investment.

Posted on Categories Interior

Choosing Between a Roof Overlay vs. Tearoff

Roofer Attaching Shingles
© jenslphotography / Adobe Stock

By replacing your worn-out roof, you’ll be giving your home better protection from the elements and improving its aesthetics. If your shingle roof is showing signs of wear, there’s more than one way to revitalize it. Having a full tearoff will give you all the advantages of a brand new roof. If you’re on a budget and your old roof is still in good shape, though, a roof overlay might make more sense for you.

Tearoffs: Reliable and Long-Lasting

Roofer Putting New Asphalt Shingles on Roof
© brizmaker / Adobe Stock

As the name implies, this roof replacement method involves completely tearing off your existing roofing, then putting on a new roof.

Advantages

All-new material – With a roof tearoff, every part of your roofing will be replaced with new material. If your decking or underlayment were deteriorating, that problem will be solved. Your roofer can also find and repair any developing leaks, which protects your whole home from mold and rot.

The option to upgrade – Construction companies don’t always use the highest quality materials, so if you bought an old house, a roof replacement is a good opportunity to upgrade. Before work starts, your roofer can help you choose the ideal materials for your roof. You might want to switch from OSB (oriented strand board) to CDX plywood decking or use a synthetic roof underlayment instead of felt, depending on which is best for your roof’s structure and your climate conditions.

Greater durability – As you might expect, a roof made of all-new materials will last longer than a roof with parts that have been exposed to the elements for a decade or more. During a tearoff, your roofer will have the chance to thoroughly examine all parts of your roof and make repairs to stop any developing problems before they cause serious damage.

Longer lifespan – A new, properly installed shingle roof can last 20 to 30 years, meaning it could potentially outlast an overlay by a decade or more.

Increased property value – A brand new roof can add more than $10,000 to your home’s resale value and also acts as a strong selling point. This makes a tearoff a smart choice if you’re planning to sell within the next few years. Any increase in the appraised value of your home depends on the condition of your existing roof. You’ll see a greater increase by replacing a deteriorating, leaky roof than by replacing a roof with only cosmetic damage.

Disadvantages

Higher costs – On average, a tearoff roofing job costs around 25 percent more than an overlay. It takes a lot more labor to completely remove all the existing roofing material and then replace all the layers removed. The old roofing also has to be disposed of properly, which adds to the cost.

Overlays: Budget-friendly and Convenient

Close up View of Asphalt Roof Shingles
© cherokee4 / Adobe Stock

With this quicker, cheaper alternative, new shingles are installed on top of the existing shingles. This is only possible if the roof hasn’t been overlaid previously.

Advantages

Lower costs – Because there’s so much less labor involved in simply installing new shingles over old ones, an overlay will cost you less than a tearout. Your roofer won’t need to rent a dumpster and deal with debris disposal regulations, so you’ll save on costs there, too. If you’re planning on completely replacing your roof within the next five to 10 years, an overlay is a practical way to enjoy the look of a new roof in the meantime. Just be aware that the extra layer of shingles will add to the cost of your next roof replacement.

Shorter work timeline – An overlay can be finished days sooner than a tearoff. That’s less time you’ll need to spend out of the house, saving you money and stress.

Less risk – Compared to a complete roof replacement, there’s a lot less that can go wrong during an overlay job. There’s no risk of a sudden storm interfering with the dry-in process, no falling debris that could damage your porch or your car, and no big dumpsters that could wreck your landscaping.

Disadvantages

Lower quality – For an overlay to be as reliable as a tearoff, your existing roof would have to be in near-optimal condition. The problem is that without removing the shingles, your roofer can’t properly examine the roof to find out what condition it’s in. An experienced roofer might still be able to spot signs of hidden damage or make a good guess based on your roof’s age, but you’re relying on luck at that point.

Shorter lifespan – As you might expect, new shingles laid over damaged shingles and rotting decking won’t last as long as they could. To make matters worse, a roof with two layers of shingles holds in more heat, which speeds up deterioration. On average, an overlay lasts around 16 years. That said, for most shingles, the warranty is valid for the same length of time whether the shingles were used in an overlay or a tearoff.

Additional weight – The weight of another full layer of shingles places additional stress on the roof decking and your home’s structure. If your home is older or just somewhat structurally unsound, an overlay might not be a viable option.

Less visual appeal – Chances are your old shingles have suffered a fair amount of wear that’s left some of them torn, curling, or uneven. Those damaged shingles provide a substandard base for new shingles, so your new roof could turn out noticeably flawed no matter how skilled your roofer. Imperfect results are even more likely it your roof was made with something other than common three-tab shingles. If you’re unhappy with the overlay, you could end up paying for a tearout to have the whole thing redone before you planned.

Trickier maintenance – Another layer of shingles adds another layer of complexity to your roof. This makes it harder to track down the origin of any problems that develop. If a leak forms, the water will move through both layers of shingles, changing direction in a way that hides the source.

Before you can decide whether an overlay or a tearoff is the better choice, you’ll need to have an experienced roofer assess your roof. In most cases, unless you’re sure your existing roof is in good condition, a tearoff is the better option. The lower cost might make an overlay sound tempting, but if it leaves damage lingering under the new shingles, it puts your whole house at risk for moisture problems.

Posted on Categories Roofing

Baseboard Heating for Residential Homes

Baseboard Heating in Master Bedroom
Photo Credit: NPJINC

If you’ve ever lived in a mild climate, chances are you’ve seen rooms with baseboard heaters. These long, narrow heaters run along the bottom of the wall and can be controlled individually. Although not quite as popular as they once were, baseboard heaters still have their place even in colder climates.

How Baseboard Heating Works

Baseboard heaters come in two main forms:

Electric convention – This type of heater contains a heating element within a metal cable. It uses electricity to heat the heating element, which warms the air around it. The warm air then rises as colder room air falls into the heater due to the natural process of convection.

Hydronic (water) or oil – Hydronic baseboard heaters are either connected to a boiler by hot water pipes used to circulate water through them or self-contained units that heat water by themselves using electricity. Less commonly, you’ll find heaters that contain oil rather than water. These also require electricity and work in essentially the same way as portable, plug-in oil radiators.

Electric convection, hydronic and oil baseboard heaters all look largely the same from the outside and are installed in the same kinds of locations. They’re placed near the floor and under windows, so they’re closer to the coolest air in the room, which naturally falls.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Baseboard heating is often used to supplement the home’s primary heating system, such as a forced-air furnace or hot-water radiators. These heaters are a practical way to warm up rooms that tend to be colder than the rest of the house as well as for additions, and finished attics or basements.

Because each heater can be controlled separately, you can supply more heat to a room that tends to be chilly without raising the thermostat for the whole house.

They’re simple and affordable to install because they don’t require ductwork. Depending on the design, though, each heater will need to be hard-wired into the house’s electrical system or connected to the radiator.

While ductless heat pumps offer similar advantages, baseboard heaters have one major additional benefit: they don’t stir up the air. They’re ideal if you have allergies or simply dislike the feeling of blowing air.

With no moving parts to break down, these heaters are highly reliable and can last for 20 years or longer. Maintenance is easy, too. You’ll only need to clean them periodically to remove dust buildup that could interfere with the heater’s performance.

Baseboard heaters are exceptionally quiet. They don’t use a motor or ductwork that can pop and bang as it reacts to temperature changes.

The biggest problem with baseboard heaters is that they’re rarely able to keep a room sufficiently warm. This is why they’re most often used for supplemental heating. To make matters worse, they don’t always produce heat consistently, which can lead to temperature swings. This is more common in units that use a built-in thermostat, so connecting the heater to a wall thermostat can help stabilize your temperatures.

Although modern baseboard heaters are designed to have low surface temperatures, they can still get hot to the touch. You’ll need to keep all flammable items, such as furniture, curtains and kids’ toys, at least 6 inches away from the heaters.

The Right Design for You

If you’re considering baseboard heating for your home, you’ll need to decide between electric convection, hydronic or oil. Each has its pros and cons, along with requirements for installation.

Electric Convection

Electric convection models are the most common and cheapest type of baseboard heaters, and are easy to find in a wide range of sizes and colors. These heaters are highly reliable because, unlike hydronic and oil heaters, they don’t contain liquid that could leak if the heater is damaged.

Unfortunately, these are also the least energy efficient type of a heating method that’s not particularly energy efficient to begin with. Once turned off, the heating element inside quickly cools down, much like the element in an electric range.

With little lingering heat to maintain the temperature while the heater is off, you’ll end up with temperature fluctuations and a room that gets chilly fast. If you’re only looking for a little extra heat in a room you don’t use much, such as a guest room or sewing room, a baseboard heater is a practical option. Relying on these heaters for warmth every day, however, will get expensive fast.

Hydronic and Oil

Hydronic baseboard heaters are less common than their electric convection cousins, and up to four times more expensive. These heaters are often installed to provide supplemental heating in a home with hydronic radiant flooring because the boiler and pipes used to run the heaters are already in place.

If your home doesn’t use a boiler, self-contained baseboard heaters that use electricity to heat water or oil inside the unit are a more practical option.

The major benefit of hydronic and oil baseboard heaters over convection models is their greater energy efficiency and ability to maintain more consistent room temperatures. These heaters retain warmth effectively so when the heater is turned off, it gradually releases stored heat into the room, keeping the room warmer for longer.

On the downside, they take longer to heat up than electric convection heaters, meaning they take longer to warm up a cold room.

When your home needs some extra heat, but you’re not ready to upgrade your primary heating system just yet, baseboard heaters are one of the simplest ways to get the warmth you need. If you plan on using the heaters frequently, hydronic and oil models are the best investment. If you need heat only occasionally and don’t want to pay much for a heater, go with electric convection.

Posted on Categories HVAC

The Pros and Cons of Granite Floor Tiles

Granite Flooring
Photo Credit: Alexandra Lehmann

Few types of stone offer the grandeur and character of granite. With so many color variations and finishes available, this stone fits well in traditional and contemporary homes as well as rustic decor schemes. While it’s certainly not the cheapest flooring material around, it’s exceptionally durable and will reward you with its beauty for as long as you own your home.

Pros: Appearance and Durability

Granite Floor Tile Samples
© nd700 / Adobe Stock

Granite flooring is available in a wide variety of styles, so you can easily find flooring tiles that suite your preferences. As one of the hardest flooring stones out there, granite easily resists wear.

Available in a Range of Styles

Shades of black, grey, brown, pink, blue, and green are all among your choices for granite flooring. Whatever your decor style or color palette preference, you’ll be able to find a suitable shade.

Use just one color for a traditional look or combine colors in a pattern or random arrangement to liven up your home with something fresh and modern. Even if you stick with a single color, the natural color and pattern variations in granite mean your floor will still be unique from any other. The sparkling quartz that makes up much of this stone gives it even more personality.

You also have several options for finishes including polished for a shiny surface, honed for a matte surface or flamed for muted colors and a time-worn look. For a little more texture with an overall smooth surface, consider a brushed finish. If you prefer a more pronounced texture, antique and brush-hammered finishes will deliver.

Highly Durable

With just a little basic care, a granite floor will last a lifetime. Harder than marble or travertine, granite resists scratches and cracking. It’s an excellent choice for high-traffic areas, even in homes with active kids or large dogs. Because the colors resist fading in sunlight, granite retains its beauty even when used outdoors as patio flooring.

To help your granite floor stand up to wear, moisture, and stains, and to maintain its luster, you might need to apply a sealer periodically. If your floor requires sealing, the ideal schedule depends on the type of floor you have and how much use it gets, although once every four years is the average.

Keep in mind your floor’s color and finish also affect its durability to a certain extent. For example, darker colors show scratches more readily, and honed granite is more prone to staining and etching than polished granite.

Comfortably Cooling

Like other stones, granite conducts heat well. When you stand on it, it draws heat away from your body, which is a major plus in a hot climate. By keeping your feet cool, it makes your whole body feel cooler. A granite floor gives kids a comfortable a place to play and pets a refreshing place to rest.

Cons: Pricey and Difficult to Install

Granite Quarry
A Granite Quarry in Vermont
© vermontalm / Adobe Stock

Due to both the cost of the stone itself and the difficulty of installing it, a granite floor comes with an impressive price tag. Even if the cost is within your budget, there are a few attributes of this stone that might mean it’s still not a good fit for your needs.

High Cost

Granite is one of the most expensive flooring stones on the market. In fact, even marble generally costs less. While you can find cheap granite flooring at home improvement stores, this is usually lower grade stone that lacks the beauty and durability of higher grades.

When you’re pricing granite flooring, consider which grade you want.

  • Commercial grade – The cheapest granite flooring available, this grade offers only simple, plain coloring with noticeable faults. It’s usually cut quite thin, meaning it requires reinforcement. Some of the very cheapest in this grade are composites of granite and resin.
  • Standard grade – This grade has some type of fault and minor irregularities in thickness and cut.
  • Premium grade – Flooring tiles of this grade come with uniform thickness and flawlessly cut edges. This is where you’ll find less common colors in more complex, eye-catching patterns.

For the greatest character and durability, look for premium grade granite and expect to pay at least $10 to $15 per sq. ft., with exotic colors running as high as $40 per sq. ft.

Difficult to Install

Installing a granite floor is not a do-it-yourself job if you want optimal results. Before laying the tiles, your installer must make sure the floor is perfectly level. An uneven floor can cause the tiles to crack. The weight of the stone makes the tiles hard to handle, so it takes skill to lay them correctly. Lower-grade granite takes even more work because the uneven edges of the tiles make it difficult to use spacers. Given how hard granite is, it’s a challenge to cut, which adds to the workload if your installer needs to cut sections to fit irregular spaces.

Not Suitable for Every Home

Granite is a particularly heavy stone, so before you decide to use it, make sure your floor can support its weight. Polished granite is slippery, especially when it’s wet, so it’s not the safest choice in a household with elderly adults or small children. If you plan to use it in the kitchen or bath, you’ll want to put down rugs with rubber backings or non-slip pads to reduce the risk of falls.

In a moderate or cold climate, a granite floor’s cooling effect might not be so comfortable. While granite is safe to use with underfloor radiant heating, it doesn’t conduct heat well enough to be highly efficient, and it’s prone to cracking due to temperature changes.

If you’re looking for flooring that will bring a sense of stately elegance to your home for decades to come, granite is an excellent choice. While it costs more up front than most other flooring options, it will pay you back in beauty, longevity, and increased property value. If you live in a cold climate or you need a low-cost flooring option, however, another type of flooring might meet your needs better.

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