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Over the past three years, more people than ever have been flocking to Steamboat from other parts of the country to live the mountain lifestyle. But before you start making interior design choices in that new mountain home, there are a few things you should know about the Colorado climate and the Steamboat lifestyle. “Our dry climate impacts some flooring products, especially hardwood, which expands, and contracts based on changes in humidity,” says Chris Edwards, Owner, Affordable Flooring Warehouse in Steamboat. “Our climate fluctuates quite a bit from dry to moist, especially when tracking in snow. We also have wild changes in temperature throughout the year from cold winters to warm summers, and that can be really harsh on some wood products.”

Another thing to consider when exploring flooring options is the mountain lifestyle, Edwards says. “Our lifestyle is really active up here, and many people have kids and dogs, not to mention ski boots tracking snow into the house. We’re especially hard on floors in the mountains compared to other areas of the country.”

We caught up with Chris to talk about the best materials for your mountain home and also to chat up some trends.

Vinyl, reinvented.

There was a time when vinyl was thought of as a cheap, flimsy material when it came to flooring. No more. “Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is especially popular right now and is the preeminent choice for most people looking to replace their floors,” Edwards says. Vinyl is 100 percent waterproof, scratch resistant, and easier, faster and less expensive to install than hardwood. It’s also come a long way in terms of aesthetics. “Twenty years ago, vinyl looked cheap and felt cheap and flimsy underfoot, but it’s come a long way in the last 5-10 years in terms of products that look great, feel great, and provide the same quality people would expect from a wood product,” Edwards says. High-end LVT has the imaging of wood grain added to the veneer to give it texture and make it look almost indistinguishable from real hardwood. “It’s not just flat and glossy but has some grip because of the texture so it feels nice and firm.” Edwards says they install a ton of LVT in higher-end homes and that it’s especially suitable for radiant floor heat because you don’t have to worry about vinyl expanding. “It feels great, it’s less headache. You just install it and forget it. And you don’t have to yell at your guests to take their shoes off. For our climate, it’s a great option.”

Hardwoods are still the goods.

“Wood is still popular, especially for new builds and in high-end homes,” Edwards says. Wide planks between 7-9 inches in muted colors are especially popular for a more modern seamless look. Still, Edwards recommends engineered hardwood over solid for the Colorado climate. “Solid hardwood tends to expand and contract a lot, and we have seen a lot of issues, so we tell our buyers to beware. If you’re going to put in wood, we highly recommend engineered wood versus solid.” In terms of species, oaks are en vogue. “That’s the primary species of flooring we do, and maples are also popular.”

Once upon a tile.

While tile can be a durable material for flooring, Edwards says it is still used sparingly, mostly for bathrooms and showers. “Tile trends shift really quickly,” Edwards says. Modernism reigns in many new builds with more seamless, large format tiles in materials like concrete though bathrooms are one part of the house that run the gamut in terms of personal taste and style. One overarching trend is metal edging around tiles. “Schluter System products have been really popular and come in different colors and heights. They also make other supplies for tile installations like waterproofing layers, and vendors all over town have been using it. It’s a big shift for the industry. If you go into a bathroom that’s been renovated recently, chances are you’ll see that metal edging around tiles. It’s a really popular trend.”

Yes, carpet.

One thing you probably won’t find in Colorado homes are deep-pile carpet, but people still love carpet in bedroom areas, Edward says. “Linear and bidirectional patterns in lower cut piles have been very popular. Solid plush carpets are out. People want lower cut pile with tighter patterns because they’re easier to clean.” For the ultimate luxurious feel, people are putting carpet over radiant heat and along with the trend toward modern is lots of neutral colors. “Every now and then, people go crazy, but that’s few and far between.” //afwflooring.com