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Choosing the Best Flooring for Your Home


There are the different types of flooring available for kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and living room spaces. You can choose from hardwood, stone, tile, vinyl, carpet and more.

Factors to consider when deciding what types of flooring to install in your home include the function of the rooms, your household needs, and your budget.

Naturally, the more durable, beautiful, and resilient the type of floor material, the more expensive it becomes. However, there are some less costly alternatives available that can meet your needs. It's all about being wise in your choices. Mixing and matching different types of flooring across your home can make for a streamlined look – without a big spend - all while you meet every room's needs in terms of style, resistance to humidity, the weight of furniture and foot traffic. Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of the most common flooring types.

1. HARDWOOD FLOORING

Hardwood flooring comes from a solid piece of milled wood and contains solid wood all throughout. Popular hardwood varieties include maple, oak, walnut, or cherry. Its versatility and quality make it a desirable flooring option for many home buyers.

However, it’s one of the more expensive flooring materials on the market and needs regular maintenance, such as using a special hardwood floor cleaner once a month and applying a fresh coat of finish every three to five years, to keep them looking great.

Advantages:

• Increases home value

• Can be refinished multiple times

• Many options available

• Strong and durable

Disadvantages:

• Expensive

• Can incur scrapes, scratches, and dents in high-traffic areas

• Susceptible to moisture damage

• May not be suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements

Hardwood flooring is versatile in its look and can complement all types of interiors. It's long-lasting and will withstand up to five refinishes to remove surface scratches. Many real estate experts think that hardwood flooring can increase the resale value of your home as it's such a sought-after feature for many purchasers.

Leslie Saul of Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc. agrees that engineered or natural plank wooden floors can be used everywhere in the home when properly finished. “It adds natural warmth to a space, is available in many species and many widths and lengths.” Saul also notes how wooden types of flooring can be laid in many patterns to add more style impact to a room. You can also paint or stain wood flooring to upgrade the look over time. Cleaning is easy too.

However, the cost and the upkeep that comes with hardwood flooring can put it at a disadvantage as you will usually need a professional's help to get a good finish. You should note that wood flooring can warp when exposed to moisture for a long time, which may not make them the best fit for bathrooms or laundry rooms.

In addition, installing certain hardwood floors in areas which will have prolonged exposure to UV rays is not recommended as some timber flooring is more prone to UV bleaching than others. However, installing area rugs, blinds and other window coverings can help to minimize the color changing from exposure to sunlight. Checking whether the type of wood flooring is scratch-resistant is very important as well. For example, a lacquered timber is more durable, but if it gets scratched, a large area of flooring will need to be sanded and re-lacquered. Refinishing a more localized area is easier done with an oiled floor.

2. ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING

Engineered wood flooring offers the look of real wood at a more affordable price than solid wood. This type of floor features a thin layer of hardwood bonded over a high-quality plywood substrate. Prices vary according to the thickness of the decorative wood veneer and quality of the core. It is as durable as solid hardwood flooring and can last as long with proper care.

Engineered wood flooring is a good choice for do it yourselfers to install, which will save money on installation costs.

Advantages:

• DIY-friendly

• Has real hardwood top layer

• Greater resistance to moisture and water than real wood

• Less likely to warp

• Multiple installation methods

Disadvantages:

• Can’t be refinished more than once

• Not fade-resistant

• Wide variation in quality

• Can sound hollow underfoot.

• Can emit Volatile Organic Compounds

The stability of engineered flooring makes it a perfect choice over underfloor heating if the guidelines are followed, plus it is easier to lay than solid wood flooring. Because of how they are made, engineered wood planks are usually more dimensionally stable and less likely to expand or contract with temperature changes or fluctuations in humidity. Unlike hardwood, it won't take to refinishing so well because of the thinner top layer. When you select engineered floors be sure to select the hardest level and the most scratch resistant one. Treat it with a high-quality coating as you would with hardwood to preserve its quality.

3. LAMINATE FLOORING

Laminate is an affordable flooring option for homeowners who prefer an alternative to carpet but want to avoid the cost of hardwood or engineered flooring.

The floors consist of layers of high density fiberboard base topped by wood or tile texture beneath a tough water-resistant plastic protective layer. This flooring is very DIY-friendly, and laminate offers a multitude of texture and color options. The average cost for installed laminate flooring is much less than hardwood or engineered floors.

Advantages:

• Inexpensive compared to wood

• Easy to clean and maintain

• Scratch-resistant

• DIY-friendly

• Many styles and colors available

Disadvantages:

• Susceptible to moisture damage

• Chips easily

• Does not look and feel like wood

• Has a hollow sound underfoot (can be reduced with proper installation

The big advantages of this type of flooring are its price, anti-scratching properties and ease of installation. Laminate is a great choice for a busy household in all areas that are not exposed to water, so avoid using it in a bathroom. Some low-quality laminator floor is easy to chip, and some make your feet cold. If laid badly, it may also be noisy and clunky. You should avoid cheap faux wood and low-quality laminate flooring. It seems to cost less, but in the long run it is more costly. Generally, laminate flooring is easy to install and maintain, and it is durable and less costly than wood and engineered flooring. Now because of new technology some laminate flooring looks like a real wood floor and is water resistant. Laminate flooring is particularly suitable for basement locations.

4. REAL STONE FLOORING

Natural stone, such as granite, marble, travertine, and sandstone, are popular flooring choices for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Like ceramic and porcelain, natural stone is extremely durable and waterproof.

The stone’s finish determines the amount of care needed to maintain the floor. However, stone offers natural beauty and quality that is unparalleled by most types of flooring.

Advantages:

• Exquisite and elegant

• Long-lasting

• Waterproof

Disadvantages:

• Expensive

• Hard to install

• Lot of prep work is needed before installation

• Cold and slippery

• Difficult to maintain

Real stone flooring offers a stylish and practical long-term flooring solution. especially in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and patios. Stone flooring brings the style, character and warmth to a kitchen, bathroom, or hallway. A stone floor can also look very elegant in a living room. As long as stone flooring is laid correctly, it should last forever and is often perceived to add value to a property. Make sure that it is installed on a sturdy and sound sub-floor as any movement could cause cracks.

As natural stone is a porous material, it must be adequately sealed when it’s first laid and re-sealed at least every six months thereafter. It is the porosity that allows the stone to take on the ambient temperature of a room, so it never feels as cold or hard underfoot as ceramic tiles. Additionally, stone flooring won't harbor dust mites or pet hair, so it is a great option for allergy sufferers.

The disadvantage of stone flooring is the cost. Cracking or chipping may result from improper installation. In the long run, stone flooring is a solid investment. If there are little children around, install some area rugs to protect little knees.

5. TILE

Tile flooring is a popular choice for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, hallways, and more. The most common tile materials are ceramic and porcelain. Tile is water-resistant, durable and comes in a variety of styles and colors.

The installation cost varies depending on the material; for instance, glazed ceramic is less expensive than porcelain tile.

Advantages:

• Waterproof

• Durable

• Long-lasting

Disadvantages:

• Expensive

• Hard to install

• Lot of prep work is needed before installation

• Cold and slipper

Our love of tile is never-ending and it's one of the most durable, stylish and contemporary types of floorings for kitchens, bathrooms and hallways.

There are many different patterns, finishes and colors available. The right style, shape, size, and installation pattern can enhance a small space and add warmth and character to your home. There are many types of tiles with different quality, texture, pattern, and color. If you have hard time figuring out the design, please feel free to consult an interior designer. Tile can add the punch to a design that is hard to get in other ways. It is super easy to clean, can withstand standing water without buckling like wood, and wears well. In high traffic areas, like a mudroom, be sure to use tiles that will hold up to the grit that can destroy the finish.

The tile market is big, and it can get expensive. You may save money by shopping around for last season's designs which could add a welcomed eclectic feature to your home at a lower cost.

In addition, you need to consider the function of the room in which you’re laying the tiles and pay attention of the surface finish. Some highly polished finishes can be very slippery when wet, while matt finishes attract dirt more easily. Be sure to choose the right type of the tile surface. In colder climates, it may be a good idea to add, under floor heating when installing tile to keep the floors warm and toasty.

6. RESIN OR CONCRETE FLOORING

In our old view, concrete flooring was reserve for the garage and patio. However, nowadays new technology makes concrete flooring more attractive. Newly designed concrete flooring can be a great addition to kitchens, bathroom, patios, utility areas, even living rooms. The use of resin, a strong material, makes the concrete available in almost any color, with some designs incorporating stone or glitter. Concrete floors can be made to appear like quartz or marble. You can also design any patten that you like. Because of these improvements, concrete floors have gained a lot of favor in commercial buildings.

Advantages:

· Customize design potential

· Noise-absorbing

· Waterproof

· Easy to clean

· Can be lower cost depending on design

· Can install any other flooring on top

Disadvantages:

· Not easy for DIY to install

· Need professional expertise for best results

· Some special designs can be expensive

Concrete can be mixed with resin to customize your floor style, or the flooring can be all resin based. Poured resin or concrete flooring offer a smooth, seamless, noise-absorbing, hypoallergenic, and waterproof surface that is hardwearing and easy to clean. They can provide a super modern finish to all types of spaces, and they also age very well. Concrete or resin floors also go great with underfloor heating. You can choose from a matt to a glossy finish for a bit of glamour – it's totally up to you.

The overall cost will depend on the design. However, this floor needs to be installed by professional experts with experience. The concrete is usually cheaper, but the design and labor may cost more. This type of flooring can be used on most sub-floors and takes between two to five days to install. If you're concerned about surface scratches, a sealant can be applied every now and then for added protection. For example, terrazzo is a durable composite made of natural stone chips and resin. The effects look just like a marble floor.

7. VINYL FLOORS

Vinyl flooring is extremely water-resistant and won’t sustain damage even if water sits on the surface for an extended amount of time. Composed of plastic, it’s available in plank, tile and sheet form. Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) are two forms that have gained popularity recently because of their durability and variety of styles available.

Advantages:

• Good for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements

• Durable

• Water and fade resistant

• DIY-friendly

• Many design choices available

• Easy to maintain

Disadvantages:

• LVP and LVT is more expensive than laminate

· Lower return on investment than wood

Vinyl flooring is made up of a combination of polyvinyl chloride and plasticizers, with added color pigments. Vinyl is a very useful flooring for a kitchen or bathroom as it is non-porous but has an element of resilience which makes it comfortable to walk on. This makes a quick fix to a room if you're on a tight budget and in a hurry. Because of new design improvements in this type of flooring and its amiable cost vinyl flooring is starting to gain in popularity.

Vinyl is a versatile material, and can be used to replicate timber, tiles, glass and stone. Prices vary from the inexpensive to almost the same cost as some solid wood flooring. It can be used for areas with heavy foot traffic and is comfortable to walk on and warmer on bare feet than tile. Vinyl flooring is less expensive and durable. A good quality vinyl floor can last up to 20 years.

Although you can find brilliant wood imitations, vinyl sadly will never be as resilient as real wood flooring, nor can it be repaired easily. Many are often concerned with the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which vinyl floors can emit, so this isn't the option for you if you like to live more organically, especially since is not easily recyclable.

The more inexpensive options can give off a fake look and there may be limited choices on designs and patterns. It can be more prone to scratching and gouging than harder types of flooring. There is no way to refinish vinyl floors, so they must be replaced in their entirety when worn out or damaged.

8. LUXURY VINYL TILES OR PLANK (LVP)

If you want the benefits of vinyl without the worry of it looking cheap or not lasting very long, there's always the luxury vinyl option. “When luxury vinyl flooring options entered the market, it was a game changer. Homeowners got the beauty of hardwoods without the upkeep. LVP is not your grandmother’s vinyl flooring – you know the flooring that yellows over time and feels like plastic? LVP rather than coming in sheets, comes in planks.” Says Leigh Spicher, National Director of Design Studios at Ashton Woods Homes.

Advantages:

· Durable

· Cost effective

· Waterproof

· Bathroom and Kitchen option

Disadvantages:

· Expensive

These interlocking planks are engineered to provide the look and feel of hardwoods in a material that is much more durable. LVP is typically more cost effective than hardwood and can be used throughout the home – including in those wet areas as many LVP brands are waterproof, making it a possibility for bathrooms and kitchens. Recently, luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are also available on the market.

LVP and LVT have the same basic properties as vinyl flooring as outlined above. As with almost all floor types, keeping this type of flooring clean and free from debris helps it last longer.

9. CARPET

Carpet is a favorite flooring option for some homeowners, especially in bedrooms. It comes in a variety of colors, materials, and textures. Carpet technology has improved over the years, and modern carpets have stain-resistant qualities. It’s also the most cost-effective flooring option on the market. Carpet installation varies in price, depending on the type of material and thickness of the carpet padding.

Advantages:

• Soft and warm on feet

• Visually warms up the space

• Multiple colors, materials and designs available

• Great for soundproofing

• Stain-resistant varieties exist

Disadvantages:

• Hard to clean

• Still subject to stain

• Shows wear pattern

• Not suitable for allergy sufferers

Available in either synthetic fibers, pure wool, or a mix of both, carpets come in a vast array of colors, textures and budgets to suit every bedroom. Carpet is a great option for quiet and barefoot spaces, and it can make small spaces appear bigger. It can be easily and cost effectively replaced. It is affordable if available in nylon, soft underfoot, and warm. Newer commercial type carpet with lower pile height and stain resistant treatment has gained more popularity in bedrooms, playrooms and offices. Almost all carpet is recyclable, but few carpet manufacturers make this easy. Wool carpeting can perform better and is more expensive than synthetic carpets or blends. It has natural lanolin and is stain resistant. It is also more resilient, meaning it crushes less underfoot. Carpet that is a plush cut pile is more likely to crush than looped carpet.

The big disadvantage of carpet is that it attracts dirt, grime, and dust. Other flooring options may be better for people who have pets because carpet absorbs pet odor and accumulates pet hair, and a loose weave can easily be destroyed by tiny claws. Carpeting in high traffic areas can more easily show dirt, stains, wear and tear and color loss. Some wool carpets can be very costly. Some experts suggest that carpeting that is 80 percent wool and 20 percent synthetic provides the best combination of wear, thermal insulation, and comfort. A new underlay can prolong the life of a carpet by up to 40 per cent, so bear this in mind when you’re buying carpet. I recommend that you don’t use carpet in stairways because of the high traffic. If you decide to install carpet on stairs, check to see if the carpet is easy to bend before using it on a stair. A high density (more stitches per inch) carpeting is better for stairs, because a loose weave will crush more quickly and show wear.

10. RUBBER FLOORING

Rubber flooring is natural material with good resilience and a non-slip surface. Because it is highly resilient and inexpensive, rubber flooring is becoming an increasingly popular option for homes and can make a cool practical addition to play spaces, exercise rooms and other areas.

Advantages:

· Inexpensive

· Easy install

· Optimal option for a special areas like play or exercise rooms

Disadvantages:

· Easily attract oils and fats

· Not for kitchen

Rubber flooring is available in stunning bright shades. It makes a fun, welcome addition to play areas, exercise rooms, around pools and spas, laundry areas, workshops, or garden or craft rooms. You should not use rubber flooring in areas likely to attract staining from oils and fats, so keep it out of the kitchen.

While rubber flooring is often made synthetically, natural and sustainable options can be found. It requires a plywood sub-floor but is easy for DIY installation thereafter.

11. CORK

Cork flooring is a natural material made from a cork oak tree’s bark that features excellent fire resistance and sound-blocking ability. Cork gives an unusual finish in homes but works well in lofts or kids’ spaces. Cork was used extensively in the mid-twentieth century modern homes and can be used as part of a modern design.


Advantages:

· Resilient

· Quiet

· Natural look

· Warm underfoot

Disadvantages:

· Easy to scratch

· Slippery

· Not for the wet area

Cork flooring is resilient and quiet under foot, adds amazing visual warmth to a space, and can be used in most dry areas. It requires a lot of maintenance for the natural finish, but less maintenance for cork floors with a topcoat of sealer. Heavy furniture can leave an indentation on cork floors. You rarely see this type of flooring in new homes nowadays.

WHAT IS THE LEAST EXPENSIVE FLOORING?

If your main priority is finding the cheapest types of flooring for your home, look into vinyl. We'd recommend you check the prices of any luxury vinyl options and maybe mixing and matching to help add more style but stay on budget too.

It's always worth looking for outlet or closeout sections at stone or tile manufacturers or stores to see if you can save on a discounted option for a type of floor that will stand the test of time and be worth your investment in the long run. If you're up for a challenge and have or can get the expertise, consider picking up some reclaimed wood to convert into your own hardwood floor. You'll often find planks for 50% cheaper than brand new hardwood flooring; however, hardwood and engineering flooring may provide greater quality and durability to match its higher price. When you choose a new floor, choose wisely.

Note: Most of these ideas are adopted from Debbie Wolfe, Samantha Allen, Andrew Barker, Leslie Saul.

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