Tread on Me: A Guide to Home Flooring Choices

tiles_smSo it’s time to replace your home’s flooring. Whether you are looking for a durable and cheap option or a high-end material to give a room that wow factor, consider the pros and cons of each type — along with your budget.

Carpet

Carpet has changed a lot over the years, and gone are the orange-shag days (unless, of course, you want that retro look). When investing in carpet for your home, you should ask yourself a few questions, such as the purpose of the room, the amount of foot traffic, and the lighting. This will determine the fiber you should choose.

Carpet comes in wool, polyester, nylon, and several other materials. There are newer materials like triexta — a polymer that is easy to clean and soil-resistant. Ask an expert at a carpet retailer about all of the available choices.

Carpet tile is another option and comes in multiple varieties, including shag, saxony, plush, and frieze. Carpet tiles are a great pick if you anticipate the need to clean sections of your rug, commonplace for homeowners with pets and kids. Carpet tiles come in a variety of loops, patterns, and textures.

Carpet prices will vary widely depending on fiber, styles, and green qualities. For more information about buying carpet, visit This Old House’s Wall-to-Wall Carpet Buying Guide. And this Houzz carpet guide goes through the pros and cons of different fiber types.

Ceramic Tiles

Versatile, durable, and cost-effective, ceramic tiles can be used in a variety of environments, from the dining room to the bathroom. Ceramic tiles are easy to maintain and are likely to last 10 to 20 years, depending on the quality of the installation.

Ceramic tiles are available in a variety of styles. You can mix and match tiles to create your own design. Want a wood look but also the ease of tile? You’re in luck, as some ceramic tiles are available in woodgrain and planking styles. Head to this Pinterest album to see photos. Also, check out this “Top Ten Benefits of Ceramic Tile” article on DoItYourself.com.

Cork

Looking for a natural, eco-friendly flooring option? Cork floors are durable and comfortable — plus they absorb sound and are warm. Cork floors come in a variety of grain patterns and colors, and you can even create patterns, much like you can with tiles.

The disadvantages: A cork floor is vulnerable to water damage and can become uneven if wet. They can also be damaged by impact and heavy objects and are vulnerable to sunlight. Cork floors can be on the cheaper end of the spectrum but are usually more expensive than carpet and laminates.

For more, read “The Benefits of Cork Floors” on HGTV. “Is Cork Flooring Right for You?” by Vila Media is another helpful resource.

Hardwood

Hardwood floors are always desirable to home hunters. If cared for properly, a hardwood floor can last for more than 100 years.

Hardwood can come in planks, parquet, or strips and in a range of colors, widths, textures, and patterns. If damaged or aged, hardwood floors can be sanded and repaired. However, hardwood can show dirt and wear-and-tear in high-traffic areas. Wood floors can be expensive, depending on the type of wood and style of planking you choose. Oak, maple, cherry, walnut, ash, mahogany, and bamboo are all popular options.

From distressed wide planks to Brazilian Cherry — check out this HGTV gallery to see a variety of stunning hardwood floors that may get you inspired to rip up that carpet.

Laminate

Laminate floors are cost-effective, durable, resistant to wear and tear, and easy to install, including directly over an existing plywood subfloor (called “floating”). They come as planks or tiles and can really re-create the look of wood. They are stain-resistant and easy to clean. They sound perfect, right?

On the downside, laminate floors can be hard and slippery underfoot and are not completely waterproof. Because they are not real wood, they cannot be sanded and refinished, making them hard to repair. In fact, the top layer is actually made of a plastic coating, and the core is made of a composite material that can be susceptible to water damage. And, if not installed correctly, they can look less than professional. Head to HomeAdvisor to read more about the pros and cons of laminate.

Linoleum

Durable and eco-friendly, linoleum comes in a variety of colors and style. If coated, the material is protected from scratches and fading. Uncoated linoleum should be cleaned and waxed every two years, thought it remains susceptible to yellowing. Linoleum is stiffer than laminate but can get torn or scratched. If not maintained well, linoleum can look dingy but can last up to 40 years if cared for properly. Price-wise, linoleum is comparable to laminate.

DIY Network’s article “The Pros and Cons of Linoleum Flooring” covers more on the strengths and weaknesses of this flooring type.

Stone

Sturdy and with a great feel, stone floor types include marble, granite, slate, limestone, and travertine. Each type has slightly different properties and levels of absorption. Granite is the most waterproof.

Stone tiles are beautiful, elegant, durable, and resistant to wear. However, some stones can scratch or chip quite easily. They are typically easy to clean but not easy to install, so it is best to have a professional do the job.

Depending on the material, some stone floors can be quite expensive but could potentially increase the value of your home. To learn more about the pros and cons of various natural stone materials, visit PRO! Flooring Brokers’ website.

Vinyl

Compared with stone and ceramic, vinyl is affordable. Vinyl flooring was invented in the 1930s and became a popular option in the 1950s. It is water-resistant and low maintenance and is a great choice for rooms that receive heavy foot traffic.

Available as sheet flooring or tile, vinyl comes in a variety of colors and designs; printed vinyl allows for re-creating the look of pebbles, wood or stone. In fact, vinyl flooring can be completely customized to your requests.

Sunlight, heavy loads, and sharp objects can damage vinyl. You can install vinyl yourself, though most homeowners opt for a professional job. To learn more, visit “The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Tile” on HGTV.

We’ve covered the main types of flooring here, but the options are endless and ever-changing. DIY Network offers this guide to selecting the right type of flooring for you. Budget, use, and style will all contribute to your choices, but whatever you go with, we know it will be perfect for your home and tastes.     

(Photo: Flickr/Swirling Yin)

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