Diane Darby of Absolute Flooring in Yorktown Heights holding the two vinyl tiles selected by The Home Guru and Mrs. Guru for their checkerboard kitchen floor where a “softer, warmer” surface was required for an older floor.

When it was time to replace the surface of our kitchen floor and we had to decide which material to choose, we found that it was as though there had been an explosion of options since the last time we had visited a flooring store more than 15 years ago. The new varieties of materials, both natural and especially manmade, were dizzying.

But from the outset we knew that we wouldn’t be able to use a hard material like stone or ceramic because our kitchen was in an historic home and, with too much “give,” needed the forgiveness of a soft manmade material. The floor had been further challenged twice from leaks, one from the refrigerator and the other from a burst pipe that had somehow frozen under the sink because some animal, of what species, I’m not sure, had eaten away the insulation from the pipes in the crawl space.

We visited Absolute Flooring in Yorktown Heights where store manager Diane Darby helped us narrow down our choices over a period of some weeks, showing infinite patience as we veered wildly from one possibility to another among the endless choices in its expansive showroom. “Yes, you’d be looking at either a vinyl or a linoleum,” she told us. “Linoleum?” I asked naively and in surprise, as though I had heard a naughty word from the past. “Isn’t that the stuff that has all the asbestos that we always have to worry about when we see old flooring tiles that have to be removed from homes?”

“Asbestos was removed from linoleum a long time ago,” Darby assured us. “Now it’s a 100 percent natural product, totally green, made of flax and linseed oil, so there’s no off-gassing. All the colors are plant pigments and go all the way through the product.” So, what’s the difference between linoleum and vinyl, I inquired, knowing that I was totally uninformed.

“While linoleum is all natural and what you see is the product itself, vinyl is a plastic that utilizes a photo process to achieve the look of the material you want. There’s a base layer, and above that, an image layer or what we call a ‘view,’ and, above that is the ‘wear’ layer or clear plastic that covers and protects the image. It’s amazing how realistic the photo images can be of either wood, stone or marble. The difference, however, is that with vinyl or linoleum, the material is softer and warmer than the natural material.

“Also, there is a far greater variety in terms of quality and price,” Darby continued, “the more ‘wear’ layers you have, the more longevity and the better quality you’ll have and, along with that, the higher the price.”

After much consideration, my wife and I had decided we wanted a white and black checkerboard effect and that dictated that we go with vinyl rather than linoleum because we could get a whiter white in that product.

There are other reasons and situations for choosing “fake” over “real” in flooring. For instance, if you want the look of wood flooring in your kitchen or bath, Darby tells us emphatically that “water and wood don’t mix, and a ‘view’ vinyl is definitely more durable for such locations.” And here’s something that was a revelation to me: there are now ceramics in both wood and stone patterns that can be used for flooring in wet areas as well as for outside porches and decks.

Another instance where vinyl flooring, rather than hardwood flooring, is more durable is in high traffic areas such as entranceways.

Price is another factor where man-made product is more favorable. Oak flooring would cost about $6.00 to $7.00 per square foot while a vinyl product would cost between $4.00 and $5.00 per square foot and about the same price to install.

As for me personally, I find myself walking around more in my bare feet inside the house, much like I did as a child living in the South, simply because I find the flooring so comfortable, so warm and soft.

If it’s time to replace flooring in your home and you’re looking for expert advice, you can’t go wrong by talking to Diane Darby at Absolute Flooring, located at 1735 Front Street, Yorktown Heights. Telephone: 914-245-0225. Web: www.absoluteflooring.com.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com), His real estate site is: www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com and his blog is: www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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