The New Generation of Do-It-Yourself Flooring: Beautiful, easy-to-install solutions for design from the ground up

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It used to be that installing a new floor was a professionals-only gig requiring complicated equipment, odorous adhesives, and a massive amount of muscle. Happily, times and technologies have changed, and in the process, manufacturers have gotten smart about making products that any consumer can install for a low-hassle, high-impact room design. Consider these DIY-friendly materials for your own flooring makeover.
The beauty of hardwood in a snap
Hardwood has always

It used to be that installing a new floor was a professionals-only gig requiring complicated equipment, odorous adhesives, and a massive amount of muscle. Happily, times and technologies have changed, and in the process, manufacturers have gotten smart about making products that any consumer can install for a low-hassle, high-impact room design. Consider these DIY-friendly materials for your own flooring makeover.

The beauty of hardwood in a snap

Hardwood has always been a favorite flooring choice for its natural beauty, durability, and positive impact on a home's value, but its messy installation and complicated finishing requirements have often kept it beyond the reach of the typical do-it-yourselfer. With today's pre-finished, snap-together hardwood products, however, favorite finish styles meet installation ease.

One great innovation in this category is Bruce Turlington Lock&Fold hardwood flooring. Its patented NextGen technology takes the usual work out of installation by replacing the need for glue, nails and staples with tongue-and-groove panels that simply fit together, fold down and lock into place. A variety of domestic wood species, colors and widths are available in the Lock&Fold collection, all pre-finished with a tough Dura-Luster Plus urethane finish containing aluminum oxide to repel spots, spills and stains. Providing more design flexibility than standard hardwood, its cross-ply engineered construction allows it to be installed in any level of the home, including the basement.

Lovely laminates

Providing the look of wood, stone or ceramic at a lower cost, laminate flooring is one of the most popular DIY products around. This high-tech material is constructed by taking a photograph of the natural material it mimics, laminating that image to fiberboard, and sealing the elements with an incredibly durable protective coating. The result is a tough but beautiful floor that resists scratches and stands up to spills. The installation process is also attractive: a glueless locking system allows it to float above the subfloor, and its thin profile makes for smooth and safe transitions between rooms. Want another reason to love laminate? Most contemporary offerings are made of recycled natural and synthetic materials, showing a little love to Mother Earth as well as your home's interior.

Designing with vinyl tile

Luxury vinyl tile continues to stick around as one of the most versatile flooring options, and a creative new line from Armstrong steps up the style quotient for those looking to design a unique, colorful floor plan. The MODe flooring collection - short for "My Own Design expressions"- includes 80 styles, ranging from natural stone and marble looks to retro-styled linoleum and high-energy solids. Most of the products across the seven MODe collections can be mixed and matched to a designer's delight, and an easy up/easy down adhesive option allows homeowners to update their floors according to their changing tastes. However long the commitment, MODe's nylon-infused wear layer with the tough technology of aluminum oxide resists scratches and improves gloss retention, maintaining the floor's brand-new look.

Green trends underfoot

Consumer awareness of green building is driving the development of a range of smart flooring solutions, and retailers are responding with products combining sustainable materials and consumer-friendly technologies. The folks at Lumber Liquidators have been hip to this green scene from their very beginnings and hold suppliers to strict standards, requiring that all wood products come from managed forests. In addition to the wide array of domestic and exotic wood products they offer to the DIY set, they're seeing a growing demand for such renewables as cork and bamboo. These pre-finished materials are beautiful ways to bring a little green into your home, and Lumber Liquidators has expanded the popular bamboo spectrum to include in-demand designer shades of gold, red and black.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of 'The Money Pit,' a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program's Web site.

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