Recently, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)