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The 6 Best Home Flooring Ideas and Options

By Casey Slide

FlooringRecently, my husband and I were faced with the task of replacing the flooring throughout our home. We had carpet that was 15 years old; it was stained and warn out. After doing a lot of looking around, we opted for laminate wood floors for the kitchen, dining room, living room, foyer, and hallway. Well, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. While the laminate was a great price and looked stylish throughout our home, it is not very practical in all of our rooms. I wish we had really thought more about what was the best type of flooring for each room as opposed to what looked the best.

Are you thinking about replacing flooring in your home? Consider the costs, benefits, and the downsides of each type of flooring before you commit. Here is a list of the most popular types of flooring, their pros and cons, and the rooms for which they are best suited.

1. Hardwoods

Costs: Depending on the type of hardwoods you go with, it could cost you anywhere from $3 to $12 per square foot. Engineered wood will cost you a little less. On top of the cost of materials, you will need to pay to get it installed which will likely run you in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Pros: Hardwoods look very nice and have a great resale value. They are easy to clean and maintain and usually only require vacuuming.

Cons: The cost is the largest drawback. Like tile, hardwoods are also loud to walk on. Real hardwoods also need refinishing occasionally in high-traffic areas. Standing water can also ruin hardwoods.

Best Rooms: The best place to put hardwoods is in a living room. It looks good and is stylish. It is not a high-traffic area such as a foyer so the would can remain protected. You can also use a rug to muffle the noise a bit.

2. Tile

Costs: There are many different types of tile. It can range in price from $1 to $20 a square foot. Professional installation can run into the hundreds of dollars depending on the size of the area.

Pros: Glazed ceramic tile is very durable and resistant to scratches. It is water resistant. Tile comes in a variety of sizes and materials, such as marble, porcelain, travertine, slate, and granite. Additionally, tile is fairly easy to clean, and stains are not much of a concern.

Cons: Tile can be very loud to walk on and echos. It can also be cold, and heating systems for tile are very expensive. Tile can crack and can be difficult to repair. The grout gets stained and needs to be cleaned.

Best Rooms: Since tile is water resistant, it is perfect for a bathroom or a kitchen. It may also work well in a dining area where food and drinks tend to be spilled frequently.

3. Laminate

Costs: Again, this ranges in price, but I have seen it anywhere from $0.50 to $3 a square foot. You will also have to pay for installation.

Pros: My favorite thing about laminate is that it does not easily scratch. And if it does, a little vegetable oil rubbed on the scratch will get it right out. It also can look like real wood or tile, and it can even be difficult to tell if it is real or not. Like hardwoods, laminate is easy to clean. You can even make your own cheap and natural house cleaners. It is also great for pets because they can’t scratch or stain it.

Cons: Standing water will ruin laminate flooring. I learned this the hard way after having a refrigerator leak, and I ended up having to replace all the flooring in my kitchen. If the laminate does get ruined, unlike read hardwoods, laminate can not be refinished.

Best Rooms: Laminate is great for high traffic areas such as a foyer or any room with a lot of activity because of its durability. I highly recommend not putting it in a kitchen, bathroom, or a laundry room since laminate should not get wet.

4. Carpet

Costs: The cost of carpet varies greatly depending on the quality. However, standard carpeting and padding is between $2 and $5 per square foot. There are usually decent installation deals at Lowe’s and Home Depot for around $50.

Pros: Carpet not only feels soft, but it also gives a soft look to a room. It is quiet to walk on and prevents echoing throughout a home. Carpet is quick and simple to install and can go over uneven subfloors.

Cons: Although advancements in fiber technology have enabled carpet to be more stain-resistant, it still gets stained. Even when vacuumed frequently, it still may contain hidden dirt. When my husband and I tore up our old carpet, it had mounds of dirt underneath it. Carpet also needs to be steam-cleaned occasionally to keep it fresh. Additionally, carpet is not good for people with allergies.

Best Rooms: The best location for carpet is low traffic rooms, such as bedrooms, to minimize the dirt that gets trapped in it. It also gives bedrooms a more cozy look and feel.

5. Vinyl

Costs: Vinyl can cost less than $1 per square foot on the low end but can cost up to $5 per square foot on the high end. Installation is a couple hundred dollars.

Pros: Like carpet, vinyl is quiet and easy on your feet. It is inexpensive compared to some of the other flooring types.

Cons: Although vinyl has come a long way and can be made to look like wood or tile, it still does not look as good as the real thing. Vinyl dents and tears easily, and I have found that it can be a challenge to clean.

Best Rooms: Vinyl is great for a laundry room as it can shield a lot of the sound from your laundry machines. It could also work well in bathrooms and the kitchen because of the warmth it adds.

6. Cork

Costs: Again, there is a range of prices: $2 to $8 per square foot.

Pros: Cork is a good insulator. It is warm, soft, and absorbs sounds. Cork is a natural material, so it is environmentally friendly. Also, since it’s antimicrobial and resistant to mold, it’s safe for the family.

Cons: Since cork is a natural material, it will fade in direct sunlight. It also has been known to turn yellow with time. Because of the moldable nature of cork, it may get damaged underneath furniture pressure points. It will also swell when it is in standing water.

Best Rooms: Cork would work great in bedrooms because of it softness and warmth.

(Photo Credit: neoliminal)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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  • Lulu

    I have been seeing a lot of homes on HGTV now with concrete floors. I am guessing it would have similar pros and cons to tiles but might be easier to ‘install’ as it is one level of pouring.

    When looking at carpet I would go with the type of low cut carpet they use in hotels and businesses instead of the type normally used in apartments.

    • Casey Slide

      Concrete floors? Interesting! I bet that would be cold on your feet.

      • Daxlis

        And hard to remove should you want a change.

  • http://beyonditall.net Carla

    I hate, hate, hate carpet. Maybe its because I didn’t grow up with carpet in the house (only hardwoods), and I’m horrible at keeping it clean, my allergies are worse when I’m around carpet and something about cloth flooring that I cant pop in the washer grosses me out. I love being able to wipe my floors clean.

    Though I’m a renter, I’ve always made sure that the house or apartment I live in has hardwoods throughout. Its interesting that my current apartment and last house had hardwoods in the kitchen and it was never a problem. In terms of how loud it is to work on – don’t wear shoes in the house.

    The cost for true hardwoods is pretty high, I agree. I’ve always lived in older houses and buildings so one advantage is the hardwoods (assuming they are in good to fair condition) are already there.

    • Casey Slide

      Carpet is probably my least favorite option as well. It would be great if there was a way to put carpet in the washer…maybe use a bunch of rugs.

  • http://bestlaminateflooring.org/ Tom Yates

    Thank you so much for your information. I plan to replace my living room flooring and i think to get the hardwood. I think hardwood is good even yes it gives the loud sound. I think it gives the natural feeling to your house…

    • Casey Slide

      You’re welcome, Tom! I am so glad I could help. Good luck with the new flooring!

  • not given

    Can you use a steam cleaner on laminate?

    Did they quit making linoleum? I thought I saw them use linoleum on one of the Bob Vila type shows. I have linoleum in my house that is 60 years old. They used 4′ wide linoleum and put a seam in front of the kitchen sink. I’d like to replace it with a wider sheet of linoleum. I don’t like vinyl, it tears too easily.

    • Casey Slide

      I would not use a steam cleaner on laminate because it is not advised by the manufacturers. It is recommended that you use a damp (not wet) cloth or mop. I personally would not want to take the risk of the laminate getting too wet and warping.

      It is my understanding that linoleum has largely been replaced by vinyl, but it is still available. I would just google “linoleum” and see where you can purchase it.

  • Kevin Johnson

    There is no mention of engineered flooring which is very tough and durable. Engineered is a great alternative to solid wood flooring, it’s easier to lay, less expensive, and more stable. It’s also a better alternative to solid wood if you are going to install under floor heating.

    • Casey Slide

      Thanks for the info on engineered flooring! I have some friends who have that and have had a lot of luck with it. I didn’t realize that about the under floor heating…that’s good to know. Thanks!

  • BakerHughes

    My wife and I are perplexed over the right flooring with so many options. We have a “Florida Room” with all the palm tree like plants, and assorted items that give you a warm feeling..However, our 2 dogs, one in particular has ruined the carpet by using it as his private out-house and we cannot have carpet.
    Any ideas as to what would look tropical but just in case there is a doggy accident the odor doesn’t linger?
    Please help..Thanks

    • Casey Slide

      I like laminate for dogs because it doesn’t scratch. You can get laminate that looks like “Florida floor”, like Florida hardwoods. I’d go to a flooring store and check out their options. Good luck!

  • anQur

    Hmm nice writing… it helped me for my house flooring… :)

    • Casey Slide

      Awesome! What did you go with?

  • M. Beck

    ” I wish we had really thought more about what was the best type of flooring for each room as opposed to what looked the best.”

    You probably mean as opposed to what was cheap. Nothing can compare to the “look” of real wood.

  • Maryy Beth004

    Hi! I need to put new flooring in my bedroom, and I’m kind of stuck. I currently have carpet down, but I want wood- it’s so gorgeous. However, a few things pose a problem: I have an oak door, double closet door and framing with a white dresser and computer desk. The wood I’m interested in for flooring is the light blonde bamboo as well as most dark brown woods. Should I get wood? Should I get something else? I’m unsure of what to do…

    • Casey Slide

      To be honest, I’d have to see the colors together to have a better sense of how everything goes together. Plus, I am not an expert in interior design. I suggest getting some friends together and showing them your ideas. See what they think. Good luck!

  • http://www.pacificfloorcovering.com/ flooring Honolulu

    These are great facts about the various flooring options that homeowners can choose. These are indeed helpful to those who are currently deciding on what type of flooring to use. Thanks for sharing an informative article.

  • http://www.pacificfloorcovering.com/ flooring Honolulu

    Indeed, there are already several flooring options available in the market which actually makes the process of choosing the right material more difficult for several homeowners. This post you have shared is very informative and will definitely give more ideas to individuals about these flooring materials. Thank you for posting.

  • Lovemoreira

    I currently have stained concrete floors through out the downstairs. Thinking marble dining living hall. Slate in kitchen. Guest bath and master bath not sure yet. I just know I am so ready for a change! As for the master bedroom I’m thinking of putting carpet. Mostly because I cannot stand any dust/dirt on my feet or climbing in my sheets not realizing they are still dirty. I’ve tried rugs but only to find they slide around on the floor and are a pain. Stained concrete shows scratches and needs to be resealed every year. I seen a reply stating… pouring concrete and hard to change. In my home the stained concrete is the foundation. We removed the carpet and used the concrete. Changing is as simple as having whatever you like installed with nothing to remove. It took my feet a while to get used to the concrete I remember my feet hurt like crazy when standing for long periods at a time. The floor is not as cold as some would think. I’m fine with it and am known for always being cold. Hope this helps a little..

  • Cham45389

    What do you think of different color flooring for different rooms. I am talking about laminate flooring. About three years ago i replaced the carpet in my living room, and now i am about to replace carpet in familyroom with laminate, but want to go with different color. the rooms join each other. Wall and doorway separate the two

  • Vinyl Floor Petaluma

    What does vinyl floor feel like? What does a cork floor feel like? Do they both stay warm in the winter?

  • Ray

    What is the best way to clean Vinyl Plank floors?

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