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New flooring is a great way to update the look of any room in your home. There are several different types available and it’s important to not only pick a type that matches your decor and style, but also to consider the various materials available and the pros and cons of each.
With so many choices it’s no surprise that our customers ask about flooring all the time. So today we decided to provide some helpful information on the different types of flooring and where they can be installed – plus a little of what you can expect regarding durability and style options.
Types of flooring materials:
- Luxury Vinyl or Linoleum
- Porcelain or Ceramic Tile
- Natural Stone Tile
The first step in choosing the perfect type of flooring is determining exactly what you need. Consider the specific room(s) and family situation. For example, carpet or hardwood may not be the best choice for a kitchen or bathroom where water or other materials often spill onto the floor. Young children or pets add to the need for spill-proof or even scratch-resistant flooring.
Price varies widely by type or style of flooring so you should first establish a budget and know what you can afford. Additionally, don’t forget that different flooring types may require other materials for installation such as an underlayment pad, grout, etc. Style is usually the first factor considered and some materials work better than others to create the right aesthetic. Lastly, consider the overall return on investment. Higher cost or quality often means a better long-term investment.
1. Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood continues to be the top choice for its great appearance and long-term ROI. However, hardwood may not be the best choice for every situation. Most commonly, you’ll find floors made from oak, cherry, or walnut, but there are several additional wood options to choose from.
Generally, planks are three-quarters of an inch thick, but width can vary. The standard width is between three and five inches, and most retailers will call this a “medium” or “standard” plank. Choosing a wood type that matches the amount of foot traffic that the room experiences is very important to ensure your floors don’t experience excessive wear and tear.
If you’re installing the same flooring for the whole house, solid hardwood is a good choice and works well in most living areas of the home. While hardwood looks great and can be refinished over time, it is usually a better idea to pick a waterproof flooring like tile or vinyl for kitchens or bathrooms.
Expect to pay between $3 and $8 per square foot for hardwood. Exotic varieties could cost up to $14 per square foot. Installation costs vary depending on your area but average $5 to $12 per square foot.
- Gorgeous in pretty much any room
- Great for resale and ROI
- Extremely durable (often lasts for over 50 years)
- Can match old flooring
- Easy to clean, maintain and repair
- Very susceptible to moisture and could warp from exposure
- Cost of renting installation or refinishing tools is high
- Time-consuming installation
- Must acclimate wood for several days
- Significant hardwood damage can raise repair costs significantly
2. Laminate Flooring
Few products in the home improvement world have made a bigger splash than laminate flooring. It’s marketed as a tough, cost effective, and easy to install flooring material, but it definitely has a few downsides that homeowners are smart to take into account before choosing to install it.
Laminate floors are made of several layers of durable materials. The bottom layer is called the stabilizing layer which is designed to resist moisture. This layer is then topped with synthetic fiberboards for strength. A photographic layer goes above the fiberboards, creating the design. Everything is then topped with a clear finish of melamine resin.
With laminate, the more you spend, the better-quality floors you’ll install. Laminate costs vary between $1-2 per square foot depending on type and finish. The most inexpensive types are maple, red oak and white oak. Hickory is the most expensive. Installation of laminate flooring usually runs between $2-8 per square foot.
- Looks great and imitates hardwood flooring
- Easy to keep clean
- Versatile (can be installed over just about any substrate)
- Durable (top layer doesn’t scratch)
- Easy to install and comes prefinished (doesn’t need to be nailed or glued down)
- Can last 15-25 years with good care
- Biodegradable (made of 99% wood byproducts)
- Susceptible to water damage (standing water causes warping)
- Can stain if juice or coffee spills are left too long
- Can look like wood, but its synthetic nature makes it appear slightly artificial
- Difficult and expensive to repair (cannot be sanded, only replaced)
- Should hire a pro to install properly with the right tools
- Lower quality brands may need to be replaced sooner
3. Luxury Vinyl or Linoleum
Vinyl flooring isn’t anything like the cheap alternative it used to be (i.e. linoleum). Some people still choose to install linoleum, but because of its lack of durability and resale value we usually don’t recommend it. Vinyl is often confused with laminate because it can look very similar and comes in the shape of tiles or planks, but instead of being manufactured with wood byproducts, vinyl is made of several layers of resilient polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and a top layer coated with urethane.
These days, vinyl synthetic flooring for the home is very durable and effectively mimics wood, ceramic and stone. Since it is so versatile and meant for high-traffic, you can put it almost anywhere and is a popular option in kitchen and bathroom applications.
Luxury vinyl comes in two forms:
- Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)– These long planks can mimic the look of traditional hardwood floors. They can float, be glued down, or snap together. LVP can also be smooth or textured to mimic different types of materials.
- Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)– These attractive tiles come in a greater variety of lengths and widths compared to LVP. Therefore, it’s better suited for imitating materials like stone, granite, and concrete. However, they can also be made into wood-like tiles and rectangles. LVT can float, peel-and-stick, be glued down, or snap together for easy installation.
Vinyl flooring is water-and stain-resistant, versatile, and provides good durability for the cost. Thanks to a number of advances over the years, today’s vinyl floors are both very attractive and economical. Expect to pay around $2-7 per square foot and an extra $3-10 per square foot for installation.
- Durable and stands up well to heavy foot traffic
- Easy to clean
- Scratch-resistant surfaces make it great for pets
- Most collections are 100% waterproof (ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms, etc.)
- Less expensive than many other flooring options
- Can be installed over minor subfloor irregularities without the risk of cracking
- Comes in a broad range of colors and patterns, including textured wood grains (can look great anywhere in the home)
- Can be damaged by very sharp objects or extreme temperatures (not for outdoor use)
- Some vinyls can dent with very heavy objects placed on top of them
- Difficult to remove if glued down
- Not biodegradable
4. Porcelain or Ceramic Tile
Porcelain or ceramic tile is durable, non-porous and a beautiful flooring choice. It can also be used on shower or bathroom walls, countertops, backsplashes, or pretty much anywhere you like for an excellent performing, good-looking surface. Porcelain is a type of ceramic tile, though it is made from finer, denser clay and is fired at higher temperatures.
Tile looks great when it’s first put down and will look good for years to come with very little maintenance. It’s an excellent choice for high traffic areas and will out perform many other flooring options in both long-term appearance and durability.
Additionally, some porcelain floor tile is made to look like stone, and while it might hold up just as well, it will cost less. Most tiles will cost around $5-10 per square foot. Tile is cheaper than hardwood and more expensive than carpet, but will most likely add value to the property depending on the installation and how it looks.
- Very easy to maintain and clean
- Stain and water-resistant
- Resists temperatures with high humidity
- Very durable and hard to crack if installed correctly
- Repairs typically aren’t very expensive
- Can last up to 20 years or longer
- Can increase property value
- Heavy (not always the best choice for upper-story installations)
- Cold (could be uncomfortable without radiant heating installed)
- Slippery and hard
- Grout between tiles will need to be sealed and maintained
5. Natural Stone Tile
Natural stone tile is a classic flooring that includes granite, marble, travertine, slate and sandstone. Some materials, like travertine, are more durable than others. Personal preference is a large part of this process but, when considering budgetary concerns, remember that price is determined more by availability and supply than a particular stone’s quality or durability.
For a simple, classic look, larger stone tiles are generally preferred. Mosaic tiles are most popular for wet floors, but they can also act as a nice, contrasting border for your tile. Mosaic tiles are best used with a creative design or even more elaborate murals. The most common place for a mural is the backsplash in your kitchen.
Nearly as important as the stone itself, there are just as many finishes for tiling projects. Honed and polished are among the more popular and will give your natural stone tile a smooth, glossy look. Other finishes also include aged, filled, rubbed, brushed, antiqued, sandblasted, tooled, broached, droved, and sparrow-pecked. Each type of stone can also be put into a tumbling machine to create a softer, more rustic texture.
- Durable (can tolerate heavy foot traffic)
- Creates a natural, elegant look that you can’t get with other materials
- Cleans easily (doesn’t attract allergens or dust)
- Can increase the home’s value
- Offers a one-of-a-kind look
- Varying porosity (some stones need to be treated/sealed regularly to prevent liquid damage)
- Often a higher cost
- Some stones are brittle and can chip or scratch easily
- Natural deviations can create the risk of running out of matching pieces
Despite its decline in popularity, carpet is still going strong in many homes, especially in bedrooms. It’s soft, warm and helps cut down on noise. Not only is it available in a variety of colors; carpet comes with options for fiber or pile so you can zero in on the most appropriate type for your home. New carpet installations don’t usually affect resale value either way, but homes with old carpet will certainly suffer in the market.
Carpet as a material costs as little as $1-2 per square foot or as much as $9-11 per square foot. For an average space, you could pay $150 to $1,500 for the material alone. While we prefer not to install carpet at all, installation by a pro can cost homeowners an average of $1,600. The main determining price factors are the fibers, type of pile and square footage involved.
- Soft and warm
- Insulates and reduces noise
- Materials is usually breathable and can withstand a certain level of moisture
- Repairs are relatively affordable
- Not very durable
- Grips dust, mildew and pet dander (allergens)
- Difficult to clean and traps odors (needs a deep clean every couple of years)
- Shows dirt and stains easily
- Fibers can trap and grow mold if left moist for prolonged periods
- Needs replaced every 5-15 years
Still wondering which type of flooring would work best for your space?
Call or text Zoe’s ProEdge Painting today at 860-834-5500 and let us help you choose the right flooring that will fit your needs and offer just the right balance of comfort and durability.