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Trends in hard floors are as varied as the consumers who buy them.

“A very popular flooring is vinyl plank and tile,” said Carrie Abbring, owner of Value Flooring in Valparaiso. “The vinyl looks like real wood, yet is water resistant. It is a significant upgrade from laminate, which tended to have issues with water after a time.”

The vinyl flooring typically comes in a 16-by-24-inch rectangle tile and can be glued down. In many cases, it can be installed over existing floor, reducing replacement costs. The tiles are available in several sizes, styles, and colors. It also can be installed using a click float method, which is great for do-it-yourself types. But Abbring suggests that homeowners check with a professional before making installation decisions.

The plank looks more like a traditional wood floor. Both installation methods are available, as well as the same colors and style.

“Both tile and plank can be installed without an underlay,” Abbring said. “That’s another money saver for homeowners, who can concentrate their resources on the finished look.”

Denise Slevnik, a designer with Granite Masters in Schererville, said one of the hottest trends at the store is porcelain flooring that combines wood look with exceptional durability.

“The porcelain comes in rectangles of sizes 12x24 and 17x36,” she said. “The shape helps make the area look larger due to the design. The larger format also means less grout, which means less maintenance for the homeowner.”

Slevnik said that the porcelain is an excellent choice for kitchens and baths, where water is always present.

“Some flooring is not made to stand up in areas that can get spills and splashes,” she said. “The porcelain tile is very durable and rugged. It’s a great choice for rooms that get a lot of usage.”

Porcelain is solid, and not porous like some other materials. Water will not seep in and cause buckling or warping.

The fact that the porcelain can look like hard wood is a bonus. Other styles and colors are available to match any décor.

“A lot of it comes down to personal preferences of the homeowner,” Slevnik said. “We talk to our customers and help them choose products that are best suited for their family and/or lifestyle. The variety available today allows for many new options.”

Abbring agreed that understanding a customer’s needs is paramount.

“Even though a product is popular doesn’t mean it’s the best for your situation,” she said. “That’s why there is a big benefit to talking to professionals before starting a new project.”