Homeowners have a variety of floor-covering options - ceramic tile, wall-to-wall carpets, throw rugs, sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles, and hardwood (strip, plank, parquet).,

Do-it-yourselfers often select vinyl tile, since it's the easiest floor for them to install. It also gives them an opportunity to use a floor as a canvas. By using different colored tiles, one can create a design and color scheme.Armstrong World Industries Inc. has come out recently with Components, a new line of 9-by-8-inch solid-colored vinyl tiles in 14 colors.

James C. Filling, Armstrong senior manager, said "Components was developed in response to our research that showed a strong desire for a solid-colored vinyl floor that would be both stylish and versatile."

Some of the design ideas Armstrong suggests include:

- Accent tiles that can be applied individually or in blocks to add bold splashes of color on a neutral floor.

- Architectural detail that can be created around the perimeter of the floor with a Components border in single or multiple colors.

- Custom inlay designs that can be placed in such a way that they produce a ruglike motif in an entry of under a dining table.

Although flat colors are in, so are patterns. Filling pointed out that there is a definite trend toward changing floor treatments frequently. "It's an easy way to add design drama in the home," he said. Combining patterned vinyl with solid color vinyl accents (such as borders) opens up a variety of

There is also a trend to mix materials. And solid-colored vinyl tiles and hardwood flooring are being combined to produce a striking, distinctive look.

And vinyl is no longer limited to kitchens and baths. It has made its way into hallways, workrooms, garden rooms and children's playrooms.

Armstrong and Laura Ashley worked together to create a recent showhouse in Lancaster, Pa. A geometric vinyl floor pattern was used. And a solid color vinyl tile along the room's perimeter was added for interest. Beaultiful rugs provided added a soft touch underfoot.

"We truly have entered a new age of vinyl," noted Thomas Hills Cook, associate creative director of Armstrong. Designers are awakening to the possibilities that this material affords. With today's range of beautifully designed materials, flooring can now be one of the first considerations in a room's design scheme.

Although vinyl tiles are versatile, stylish and easy to install, there can be problems. After a time, squares tend to separate, leaving spaces of varied widths between them.

During a telephone conversation, one vinyl floor salesman said that vinyl tile tends to shrink. And, over time, spaces will occur.

One remedy would be to painstakingly fill in all these cracks with caulking. This caulking is available in a number of colors and can be purchased at Dal-Tile Corporation.

Brian Sommer of Shag-rag-la in Sandy said he felt that the tiles shift instead of shrink. He pointed out that although vinyl tiles work fine on top of concrete, they shift on suspended floors. He always recommends using sheet vinyl rather than tile squares on sususpended floors.

When planning to use sheet vinyl, the do-it-yourselfer should think twice before attempting the project himself. It would be much wiser to let a professional do the job. Sommer said that installation cost is not prohibitive - only around $3.50 per square yard.

Before making quick decisions, do some checking around. Taking time to do homework will help you get that floor of your dreams - rather than ending up with a nightmare.