Stain-resistant low-pile broadloom carpeting is great for kids' rooms and family rooms. It's warm, cushions the inevitable bumps, and helps muffle noise. Hard-surface flooring (wood, ceramic tile, vinyl tile, etc.) is a sensible alternative that's easy to keep clean and offers a great surface for racing mini cars and rolling out modeling clay. You may want to combine both in one room to create two separate zones for different activities. A more common alternative is to warm up a wood or tile floor with an area rug or two, but be sure to use nonskid pads beneath rugs -- even large ones. Avoid scratchy, hard-to-clean sisal in favor of nylon, olefin, wool, or cotton. You'll want to have rugs and carpeting cleaned annually for health's sake, but to hide soil and stains between cleanings, choose midtone shades rather than very light or very dark ones, or pick multicolor patterned designs. Self-stick carpet squares are easy to install and very practical; buy enough initially so you can replace any squares that become damaged.
Wood is the most versatile choice for whole-house use, but vinyl, cork, or even rubber tiles also take some of the "hard" out of hard-surface flooring. Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles are beautiful but are also very hard, and tumbles are a part of life for kids. If you use one of these, you'll want to be sure to add a generously sized area rug to play areas and around the bed.
Painting and Refinishing Wood Floors
Like most other surfaces, wood floors must first be properly cleaned and repaired for a successful finish. The easiest way to do this is to hire a professional refinisher. If you decide to take on the project yourself, it is essential that you rent an industrial floor sander.
To begin, remove everything from the room, and open windows to keep air circulating. Using a rough grade of sandpaper on the industrial floor sander, begin sanding the floor in a diagonal direction. Work back and forth, covering as much of the room as possible. When the entire floor has been covered, switch to a finer grade of sandpaper and work up and down the boards, following the wood grain. Finish around the edges of the room with a belt sander, again following the grain if possible. Vacuum the room, and wipe down the floors and walls with a clean, damp rag to remove dust.
There are several ways to finish a wood floor. The most common way is to stain the wood. This works well if the floor is not damaged, allowing the wood grain to shine through. Working from one side of the room to the other, apply wood stain in the desired color to the floor with a cloth. Follow manufacturer's instructions, keeping amount of stain even as you work across the room.
For a light finish, consider bleaching the boards. Follow manufacturer's instructions for best results. Using a commercial 2-part bleach (available at home supply stores), apply the first part of the bleach to the entire floor. This usually darkens the wood slightly. Apply the second part of the bleach. To neutralize the bleach, wash it off after 2 coats. Lightly sand floor with industrial floor sander to even out raised grains of wood.
For damaged floors or to add color to a room, paint the floors just as you would a wall. Choose oilbase paints for a hard film; this type of paint also covers damaged surfaces well. Latex paint has a resilient finish and allows the surface to breathe. It works well in damp climates.
The final step in refinishing or painting a wood floor is to seal the finish. Nonyellowing polyurethane is probably the easiest sealer to work with, and it is available in both oilbase and waterbase finishes. Following manufacturer's instructions, apply the first coat, and let dry completely. Follow with 2 more coats for a hard, durable finish. If needed, sand between coats, wiping away dust with a clean, damp cloth.
There are many factors that go into choosing window treatments for a child's room. Learn about them in the next section.
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