Almost 30 years ago, my wife and I decided to install carpeting in the central hallway, staircase and second floor landing of our home. We must have been feeling particularly flush at the time because we chose the best quality, deep-pile nylon carpeting we could find. Why nylon instead of wool? Because we were convinced by the carpet retailer that it would last forever and in those days, in our naïve youth, we expected everything, like ourselves, to last forever.
To add to the expected comfort of treading across the thick pile, the owner of the carpet store introduced us to the idea of adding foam padding beneath the carpeting. As a result, every person ever visiting our home for the first time always commented on the extravagant experience of walking across – or I should say – wading through that carpeting.
When I shared this story with Mary Fellbusch, proprietor of Absolute Flooring in Yorktown in researching options for “softer” flooring that’s easier on the joints, she responded, “You really don’t want to be bouncing around or walking ‘into’ your carpeting, especially in high traffic areas. The purpose of padding is to help support you. You shouldn’t be disappearing in it.” I guess I made a wrong decision all those years ago because, indeed, I have been disappearing into that carpeting, rather than walking across it. “Walking ‘into’ carpeting creates friction and actually produces wear on its surface,” Fellbusch explained.
The hardness of surfaces underfoot occurred to me as a topic when I was viewing a YouTube interview of Russ Tamblyn who appeared in the film version of West Side Story who related how difficult it was on his joints to dance on the cement sidewalks of New York City. In a way, I related to that because, as the years passed, I find that my feet, ankles and knees are more aware of harder surfaces when I encounter them, especially if it involves standing for extended periods of time.
Fellbusch advised that many factors are involved with selecting the right flooring for the right area, depending on the traffic it receives. When I asked about choices for a “softer” surface, Fellbusch asked a question in return. By softer, did I mean soft to the touch or to the feel? To the feel, I responded. “I want to know what’s easier on the joints,” I said.
That understood, she gave me a perfect example of advice she would give to an older customer seeking a soft but supportive carpeting choice. “For an older person seeking comfort, I recommend a synthetic hair padding beneath the carpet,” she said. “It’s not ‘bouncy’ but it’s resilient. It’s comfortable but easier to walk on. You’re not going ‘into’ the carpet, but ‘across’ it. In the bedroom, however, something softer can be chosen because it’s not high traffic and customers may want something to sink their toes into.”
I then asked about what can be done to make hardwood floors more resilient. Fellbusch responded that wood flooring already has its own resiliency, but that it can be enhanced with the addition of a rosin or tar paper between it and the surface below to make it a little more comfortable.
Where we spend most of our time standing is in the kitchen and historically that is where many homeowners have chosen to install the hardest material of all, ceramic. But that is changing for a number of reasons. When it was time for us to install a new kitchen floor, it was over a surface that was more than 100 years old and very irregular. We had wanted a checkerboard tile pattern, but were advised that our flooring was too soft to support tile. As it was, Fellbusch suggested a new subfloor installation to even out the surface, topped by a high quality vinyl.
To read the rest of this column, click here. Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (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 to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.