Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
When it comes to deciding on the types of flooring for you home, most people only think about carpet or wood. And there’s nothing wrong with either one of those. But there are so many different options out there that you might not have considered.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the common flooring choices for residential use. And yes, I have included wood and carpet. But when you see all the options, those two might end up last on your home decor list.
10. Wall-to-wall carpet
I wanted to get this one in here right off the bat because its such a popular choice. And there are good reasons for that. Carpeting is relatively easy to install in homes of all sizes. The huge variety of colors and textures mean there’s something to go with every design style.
If you opt for wall-to-wall carpet, look for materials that will stand up to traffic and will resist stains. Natural materials like wool and jute are less likely to off-gas than synthetic rugs, but they may be less tolerant of spills and stains. Avoid carpeting in areas around water like bathrooms, cabanas and kitchens.
9. Solid hardwood
Solid wood flooring has been a favorite choice for centuries. It’s attractive, durable and for decades, soft and hardwood trees were abundant in most areas of the country.
Today, wood continues to be a leading choice in flooring. For areas which will get a lot of traffic, especially with shoes on, a pine or other softwood is probably not the best option. Instead, look for a long-lasting hardwood like oak, and your floor will look beautiful for decades to come. Pine does work well in bedrooms.
For kitchens and bathrooms, make sure wood floors are well sealed to avoid water damage and discoloration, or use a water-friendly wood like teak mats for areas around the bath or shower .
8. Laminate flooring
The synthetic flooring has grown in popularity in recent years largely because of its lower cost, high durability and ease of installation. Laminate floors are made of multiple layers with a photographic image of wood or stone under the top, transparent layers. The result is an attractive, forgiving floor that provides the look of natural materials without the higher price tag.
Laminates are good throughout a home, and perform better than many flooring materials in kitchens and baths. The floating installation also make them a good choice if you plan to install a radiant floor heating system in your home at the same time.
Until recently, concrete flooring was limited to commercial installations like warehouses and manufacturing facilities. But now the incredible durability and modern, minimalistic look of concrete is popping up in homes and offices across the country.
The newer smooth finishes, including high polishes that never need waxing, and the use of staining to create more color choices has turned what was purely utilitarian into something stylish.
The one drawback can be temperature. In colder climates, concrete floors are chilly for bare feet — but area rugs are a simple and colorful decorative solution that also provides extra cushioning wherever you need it.
6. Engineered wood
Engineered wood flooring is a good choice for those who want the look and feel of real wood flooring, but in a lower cost, easier to install version. This flooring is created using multiple layers of plywood topped with a sealed veneer of real wood. The result is a floor that looks like solid wood but with a much higher resistance to warping and cupping in damp climates.
5. Ceramic tile
There is no other flooring I know of that allows you to be as creative and original in your flooring design as ceramic tile. You can go with a solid color and still you have choices in tile size, finish (glazed or unglazed) and layout (straight or diagonal? Uniform or boarded?)
If you go beyond monochrome, the choices are almost endless with solid, patterned and even handpainted tiles to choose from. Tile is extremely durable if installed correctly, and can outlast most other kinds of flooring. Do make sure your tile is installed over the correct kind of backing… a flexible floor underneath can mean cracked tiles in short order.
If you’re concerned about green living, a bamboo floor might be a good choice for you. It’s similar to hardwood in its look and durability. And best of all, bamboo is an easily renewable resource that produces a beautiful, tough flooring material.
Bamboo flooring designed for the home market is remarkably easy to install, and in most cases is lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than other processed floor coverings.
Cork is one of the more recently popularized types of flooring for you home. The environmental factors have played a huge part in that — cork can be harvested from trees without chopping them down or killing them. And it grows back for future harvests.
And then there is the flooring itself. Cork is incredibly comfortable to walk on because of its naturally flexible structure. The look is unlike anything else on the market, too. But maintenance and durability can be a issue for some homeowners. It does require regular sealing, and can permanently dent from heavy furniture. There is also a risk of nicking out a chunk… a hard to repair issue.
Vinyl flooring has gotten a bad rap thanks to the cheap and ugly versions every landlord on the planet seems to love. But that’s not the whole story.
Quality vinyl flooring is a durable, attractive and easy to install option for any room in the house. It’s easy to sweep clean, making allergen removal easy. And it’s available in patterns that mimic tile, wood, stone, mosaic or brick.
A sealed vinyl floor requires very little maintenance beyond regular sweeping and mopping with a general purpose cleaner. That’s a boon for busy families with small children who thrive on spilling whatever is in their cup or bowl!
Marble has been a flooring option almost as long as there have been installed flooring. Marble floors thousands of years old have been uncovered by archaeologists across the globe.
But there is a price to pay for that beauty. True marble floors can be very expensive. Even marble tiles which are less pricey can easily push a flooring job to double or more the cost of any other floor material. And marble is a high maintenance choice. It needs to be cleaned with special, gentle cleansers and sealed regularly. It can easily crack, and can become stained if liquid is left on the surface.
Despite these drawbacks, marble remains a leading choice for formal homes and public building floors.
Before the wall color or the furniture is selected, make sure you know exactly what you want on your floors.