Metros design and décor illustrate a commitment to
and the environment. The Hotel Metro lobby features bamboo
harvested from sustainable forests.
you ask interior designer Nancy Miller of Form & Function to
recommend a floor thats reasonably priced, extremely durable,
stain resistant, aesthetically pleasing and made from a renewable
resource, the answer will likely be bamboo. Most of the
hardwood floors you see in homes today have many similar
qualities, however what sets bamboo apart from the rest is the
ability of the bamboo plant to regenerate itself in three to five
Designer Miller likes it because
its aesthetically beautiful and interesting and because its
environmentally a wonderful product.
She continued, technically
bamboo is a grass and the more its cut, the faster it
reproduces itself. Its relatively new in this country but were
starting to see some of it in residences now. It hasnt caught
fire yet but its picking up steam.
Miller recently supervised the
installation of a bamboo floor in the master bedroom at a
residence in Grafton. The bamboo she used is a laminate, a three
layer product that has more stability than a single layer. It has
a lot of visual texture or in Millers words, a strong
striated look with the bamboo nodules easily seen.
It comes in a basic 3 1/2 inch
width and in two, three or six foot lengths depending on the look
one wants. Miller added shorter lengths look busier but add
more texture. Colorwise its also the lightest natural floor
material availableeven maple is a shade darker in tone. For a
more formal look, a smoking process at the factory colors the
grass all the way through and gives it a rich brown patina. This
bamboo has then been carbonized. The dense quality of the
grass prevents it from taking a stain well however, a natural
finish sets off the beauty of the product and makes it an ideal
choice for commercial and residential use.
Take a look in the lobby of
Milwaukees downtown Hotel Metro to see a good example of bamboo
floor. Since the floor in the lobby has been carbonized, the
striated markings are clearly visible in the rich wood-like grass
Metros atrium with bistro tables and chairs is
French-inspired, incorporating sea grass flooring to accent
the wall mural of the Cote dAzure.
Another floor product made from a
grass, albeit not as durable or stain resistant as bamboo is
sisal, a fiber extracted from the leaves of the Mexican agave
plant. According to Robert Kashou, president of George Kashou
Company Inc., sisal became popular in the last decade after
Architectural Digest started showing it in homes and commercial
offices on the east coast. He said, its hot right now
especially with a good looking rug on top of it.
The agave plants, native to the
Yucatan of Mexico, require no fertilizers or pesticides, have a
seven-year growth cycle and grow easily and abundantly in southern
Mexico. The fibers are white and can be spun into yarns of varying
thickness that contain some irregularities due to variations in
the plant. Kashou warned, sisal is not a good choice for an
area that receives heavy foot traffic or a place where liquid
spills might occur.
The opposite of sisal when it comes
to durability and stain resistance is a hardwood floor thats
been treated with Wear Max, a ceramic finish. A product of
space-age technology, this finish was used on the nose of the
space shuttle to protect it during re-entry. A Wear Max floor
typically has an 1/8 inch layer of hardwood laminated to a 3/8
inch pine layer. Homeowners can choose from a wide variety of
hardwoods from traditional oaks and maples to more elegant walnut
and cherry. Its possible to apply the finish in the home,
however, its much more effective if its factory installed.
Once the ceramic finish is in
place, Kashou said, you can grind a quarter against the
floor and youll wear down the quarter before you mark the
floor. He also explained, although its a laminate, the
hardwood layer is not much less in thickness than in a traditional
Since natural is hot or anything
thats perceived to look natural is in according to Jim
Swernoff, president of Lakeside Tile and Stone, homeowners are
asking for stone floors especially in kitchens and bathrooms.
Choices include limestone, granite, marble, ceramic, porcelain and
for its marble-like appearance, the floor and wall tile
chosen by Joy Anderson for Peter OMalleys Mequon
master bathroom is 14 x 14 laurel green polished
porcelain and the accent tile is 5 x 11 tumbled
stone. Designed and constructed by Cream City
Construction, Lakeside Tile and Stone did the
easiest floor to install and maintain, as well as the least
expensive, is ceramic. Made of clay with a manmade glaze, it has a
regular thickness with the pattern or color on top instead of all
the way through. If its patterned to be a limestone look-alike,
unless you look very carefully or put it right next to limestone,
it looks almost identical to the real thing. At Lakeshore Tile
and Stone Swernoff said, we only carry ceramic lines that
look like stone. Some of these floors have fossil-like imprints
that are almost indistinguishable from actual limestone fossils.
A second floor product made of clay
is porcelain. Like clay, it has a hard finish and because its
frost-proof, is often used around pools and in indoor-outdoor
rooms. Swernoff explained, while a ceramic product has a
surface finish, a porcelain floor has the finish all the way
through the tile.
Natural stone floors divide into
two general categories according to composition. Siliceous stone
is made up of silica or quartz-like particles, is very durable and
easy to clean. Granite and slate fall into this category. The
minerals in granite show as tiny flecks uniformly distributed in
the stone. While granite is used more for counter tops, slate is a
popular choice for floors. It comes in many colors, typically dark
green, gray, black, dark red or multi-colored and because it comes
out of mountains and canyons, it shows infinite choices in
patterns. Swernoff said, its easy to maintain but may need
some maintenance or sealing over time.
the master bedroom of the Mike and Peg Groth residence in
Cedarburg, Mike and his brother Mark created and installed
this mosaic inlay with a limestone field. Using 12 x 12
tiles of Turkish limestone and white and black polished
marble, they broke the tiles with a hammer into irregular
shapes of varying size. Each tile was then randomly set by
hand into a bed of mortar. A 3 strip of black marble
was then placed around the perimeter of the mosaic inlay
as a border.
stone is made primarily of calcium carbonate. Most of the marble
we see, a calcareous stone with the familiar veins and easily seen
concentrations of minerals, comes from Italy. Its used more in
dining rooms and hallways because it tends not to wear as well as
other natural stone floors.
A second very popular calcareous
stone used in todays homes is limestone. It gives a rougher
look preferred by homeowners who want to maximize the natural
look. Its usually light gray, tan or buff colored with sea
fossils frequently visible on the surface. It shows the
irregularity of a natural product especially when cut to a
thickness that looks almost like cobblestone.
To add complexity to the choices,
these stone products can be polished, honed or flamed. Polishing
adds a glossy surface that reflects light and accentuates the
color and pattern while a honed finish is a smooth finish with
minimal light reflection. A flamed finish roughens the texture.
Each of these natural products,
wood, bamboo, grass, porcelain, ceramic or stone is an investment
that gives a home many years of durable service while adding
elegance and beauty. Theres a floor to fill every homeowners
need and taste. The possibilities are limitless, whether natural