Choosing the right flooring for your space can seem like a daunting task. It’s a wall-to-wall feature that can set the tone and complete the look of your décor. In addition to the look, it’s also essential that you make the correct choice for its location and use. There’s a lot to consider when selecting flooring: durability, cost and maintenance to name a few. To help you in this process, we’ll start by taking a look at the flooring options available and some of their benefits. Then you can consider what best meets your needs and style.
For most, carpet is outdated; homeowners are opting more and more for hard finished flooring. Carpet gets a bad rap with claims that it is difficult to keep clean and doesn’t hold up to regular foot traffic. However, carpet can still provide a cozy and comfy feel to bedrooms and living rooms. It can be a great solution to add warmth to cold basements or uneven spaces that aren’t suitable for other types of flooring. Carpet comes in a variety of styles and materials that all contribute to its durability and look.
Probably the polar opposite to carpet, concrete is a flooring option growing in popularity. While you may be picturing the cold grey finish of a garage floor, concrete is actually incredibly versatile. Sealers, stains, and stamps give homeowners limitless options for the finished look of concrete. A concrete floor can be made to resemble stone, brick pavers, tile, marble and more. It may seem unconventional, but concrete has seen a rise in popularity in home design, not just in flooring but in all kinds of finishes around the house from walls to countertops.
Hardwood is a timeless classic and has seen many changes over the years. Hardwood gives a warm, natural feel to any space and comes in a variety of styles and finishes. Oak is the most common choice, but many options are available and come in many designs from plank to parquet.
Laminate flooring has been a popular choice for flooring since it hit the North American market in the mid 1990s. Laminate gives the appearance of wood flooring but is considerably cheaper and easier to install. Laminate flooring can resemble many different woods and finishes. This look is created by a photographic print of wood grain on the top of each composite laminate board. Engineered hardwood is the flooring that bridges hardwood and laminate flooring. It is created similarly to laminate but rather than the photographic image on top, there is a real wood plank attached. Engineered hardwood is typically more expensive than laminate and more susceptible to damage but is similarly easy to install.
The words “vinyl flooring” may conjure up images of rolled and cut sheets of flooring, stamped and colored to mimic tiles, now long outdated and unappealing. While this type of roll-out or peel-and-stick vinyl is still available, vinyl flooring is making a comeback in the form of vinyl plank. Installed like laminate, vinyl plank is created to have a similar look to laminate with the appearance of wood finish pictured on top. It is considered to be more durable and is an excellent option for areas with high traffic or high moisture that aren’t suitable for laminate or wood.
Tile remains a popular choice for kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms and entranceways. Porcelain is the most commonly used but terra cotta and stone such as granite, slate and marble are also used. Porcelain is the most cost-effective and can be made to look like many natural stone finishes while being easier to maintain and more durable than natural stone.
While these are the most common flooring choices, there are certainly others available that offer their own benefits. Bamboo, cork and linoleum are all popular for their sustainable, natural production and offer alternatives for the look and feel of your flooring.
Where is this flooring going to be installed? Obviously, you don’t want to lay carpet in your kitchen but other high moisture areas like your basement might not be suitable for carpet either. Tile might seem like the obvious choice for your kitchen, but if you spend a lot of time standing at the stove, tile can be hard on your feet. You might be more comfortable with a softer floor like bamboo or vinyl plank. Tile might be perfect in the bathroom if you have kids who leave puddles on the floor. Your flooring needs to be able to stand up to the uses of you and your family.
If you’re looking for low maintenance, concrete is far and away the easiest to maintain. Vinyl flooring and tile come in a close second, but if you choose a natural stone tile it will require resealing over the years. Laminate is also easy to maintain but does require specific cleaning so as to not damage the composite planks. Engineered hardwood or natural hardwood can be refinished when they’ve seen too much wear and tear, but that may be more maintenance than you’re looking for. Carpet, of course, needs regular cleaning to keep up its fresh look.
Carpet will vary greatly in price depending on the style chosen, and some options can compete with the low cost of laminate or other floorings. However, if you’re hoping to save some money and DIY your installation, carpet can be very difficult to get right without a professional. If you’re working on a budget, there are many laminate options available, and can be easily DIYed. With laminate and most other flooring, you will find an array of costs and options, but natural wood and stone tiles will probably be one of the more expensive choices.