Totally Floored By What I Didn’t’ Know About Flooring

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Peter and Mary Fellbusch of Absolute Flooring.
Peter and Mary Fellbusch of Absolute Flooring.

First, I was floored by what I didn’t know about flooring. Then I was floored by what I did.

I was at a broker’s open house munching on the snacks provided, standing in the kitchen on what I thought was slate flooring. But the listing agent told me, no, it was one of the new high-grade vinyl tiles. I stooped down and tapped on the floor and discovered that it was not as hard or as cold a finish as slate would be. And yet, it truly looked like the real thing.

Wow, I thought, obviously I’m not aware of what’s new in flooring, and maybe it’s time for me to catch up. My wife and I were already planning to replace our kitchen floor, and I decided it would probably be with the kind of high quality vinyl product I just discovered.

But when I mentioned my choice to a buddy at work who knew I was using upgraded materials for the rest of my kitchen, he said, “You just can’t put vinyl on your kitchen floor if you’re putting natural stone on your countertop.”

Initially accepting that view as reasonable, we had to decide among slate, marble, travertine, porcelain or ceramic. Our choice was leaning toward either slate, which would look like bluestone, or a black and white marble, with tiles alternating between the two. I visited three different showrooms to compare materials and pricing, with the sales personnel in each place helpful and knowledgeable about their products.

I invited two suppliers to give me a quote and both came to my house to take measurements. My hopes for a natural material were dashed when Peter Fellbusch from Absolute Flooring told me that stone or ceramic wouldn’t be a good choice for our kitchen because the wood floor in our antique home had some “movement;” not being on concrete, it might cause cracking. He strongly advised that we choose a vinyl for its greater flexibility.

We chose Absolute Flooring because they quoted the best price when comparing apples to apples and had shown me a very detailed plan of the installation. Also, from our first of three advance visits to their showroom, we were greatly impressed with Diane Darby, an incredible salesroom representative, not only for her knowledge of the product but for her responsiveness to our questions. Chief among her attributes was her patience as we changed our minds countless times.

Later when I discussed natural versus vinyl materials with Peter’s wife, Mary Fellbusch, the owner of the company, she said, “Some people might think that natural stone is preferable or of higher quality, but today, that might be considered old school.”

That’s all I needed to hear and I was immediately recruited to the new stuff. Furthermore, she said that high-quality vinyl could cost as much as marble or other natural material.

How about wood flooring, I asked? Mary Fellbusch responded that while the trade magazines had been promoting wood floors for some time, the trend has diminished, most likely from the lack of practicality in kitchen upkeep. But every material has its downside: wood flooring can scratch, surrounding grout for ceramic can be tough to keep clean and the less expensive vinyl tile edges can curl.

“Many homeowners are going to green options now, despite their increased cost,” Mary Fellbusch added. “It should go lower in price as more choose it.”

These include, believe it or not, the comeback of linoleum, synonymous with the 1950s, with its base of linseed oil and other green materials that make it environmentally friendly.

“Many people abuse vinyl flooring from its first washing,” she advised. “You should never use commercial detergents, especially not on vinyl, because you’re slowing washing the finish away. It’s best to use the cleaners supplied by the manufacturers, but only half of what they suggest. And, don’t use cleaners every time, but every other time. In between, just use a mop and water.”

Advice noted,  and it will be passed on to our cleaning service.

Also, wood and vinyl are softer materials, used as much for comfort as for looks.

“If you stand for any time in the kitchen with ceramic or stone, it’s like standing on concrete,” Mary said.

As it happens, we picked a floor that is high-grade vinyl, but doesn’t mimic a natural product. Rather it is just plain black and white tiles to be used in a harlequin pattern. But, as I learned, when it comes to flooring, not everything is as simple as black and white.

Visit Absolute Flooring at 1735 Front St. in Yorktown Heights or call 914-245-0225.

Bill Primavera is a residential and commercial Realtor® associated with Coldwell Banker, as well as a marketer and journalist who writes regularly as The Home Guru. For questions about home maintenance or to buy or sell a home, he can be emailed at or called directly at 914-522-2076.

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