Every kind of redesigning or home renovation can be a challenge but nothing compares to an old and worn out floor that is screaming for a change and upgrade. You can replace the paint, cabinets and even the designs in your house, but replacing an entire floor is a much bigger and costlier job. On this blog, we will help you list down some of the types of flooring that you need to consider and we’ll let you know the pros and cons of each one.
Solid wood has been one of the most popular types of flooring in the U.S. for decades. Its construction is about as simple as you can get – wooden boards or planks about 0.75 inches thick, which are installed by nailing them to a wooden subfloor. Wood flooring can be sold either finished or unfinished. If you choose unfinished flooring, you will need to sand and finish it after installing it. According to Consumer Reports, prefinished wood flooring typically costs less and involves less work. Also, the factory-installed finishes are usually more durable than anything you could do yourself.
Advantage: People love solid wood flooring because it looks great in any style of home with any decor. It’s also very long-lasting since it can be refinished up to five times to remove surface scratches. Experts say adding hardwood floors can increase the resale value of your home as well. Wood floors are fairly easy to clean; just sweep them regularly and mop up all spills promptly. And installing them yourself is a reasonably easy DIY project, allowing you to save money on the job.
Disadvantage: The biggest downside of hardwood floors is that they don’t stand up well to rough handling. They can warp if they’re exposed to moisture for a long time, making them a bad choice for bathrooms or laundry rooms. They can shrink and swell due to changes in temperature, and they’re vulnerable to scratches and dents.
Best Uses: Wood flooring is best for spaces that don’t get lots of traffic, such as living rooms, halls, and bedrooms. Consumer Reports recommends it as the overall best choice for living rooms, dining rooms, and family rooms. Some people use it in kitchens, but Consumer Reports advises against this, saying that wood flooring can’t handle the onslaught of dragging chairs, dropped cans, or grit-covered shoes
2. Engineered Wood
Engineered wood flooring looks just like solid wood, but it’s made in a different way. It has a thin veneer of natural wood on top, showing the grain, with layers of less expensive plywood underneath. That makes engineered wood both cheaper and sturdier. Some types of engineered wood have even more stability with backing made from recycled wood fiber mixed with stone dust.
Advantages: Engineered wood floors can give you the look of solid wood at a marginally lower price. That makes it easier to afford exotic woods such as tiger wood or Brazilian maple, which are more resistant to scratches and dents. They’re more stable than solid wood and less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, making them a reasonable choice for a basement room, unlike solid wood.
Disadvantages: Like solid wood, engineered wood can scratch and dent easily. It’s less durable than hardwood over the long run because it can only be refinished one to three times. After that, you risk wearing through the veneer to the plywood underneath.
Best uses: Engineered wood can work well in all the same spaces as solid wood. In addition, it’s suitable for basements and enclosed porches. Consumer Reports calls it the second-best choice for a living area, next to solid wood.
Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that can produce flooring with the look and feel of hardwood. It’s become popular recently as an eco-friendly alternative to wood flooring, but experts caution that it isn’t always a greener choice.
Advantages: HGTV describes bamboo flooring as “tough and durable.” Like engineered wood, it’s available in forms that are easy to install. Also, many people consider it a more eco-friendly alternative to wood flooring. According to Slate, bamboo grows much faster than most trees, absorbs carbon from the atmosphere more quickly, and can grow in a variety of climates.
Disadvantages: Although bamboo is a renewable resource, most bamboo planks are made in and shipped from Asia, which adds to their carbon footprint. Also, many bamboo farmers rely heavily on fertilizers and pesticides that harm the environment. And finally, some bamboo flooring manufacturers use glues high in harmful formaldehyde. Slate concludes that you need to do careful research to be sure the bamboo flooring you’re considering is truly greener than hardwood.
Best uses: Bamboo flooring works in all the same places as wood. It’s suitable for living areas, hallways, and bedrooms. However, it may not be sturdy enough to use in a kitchen or mudroom.
4. Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is made from a mixture of clay and shale that’s fired in a kiln like pottery. It’s a hard material that comes in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and patterns. HGTV warns that not all ceramic tiles are tough enough for flooring, so it’s important to make sure the ones you buy are rated for use on floors.
Advantages: Tile comes in many colors and shapes, so it can fit in with any style of home. Thanks to modern printing technology, it’s also possible to create ceramic tile with virtually any pattern. It can mimic the look of natural stone or even wood, though it won’t feel like wood underfoot.
Tile feels cold and hard underfoot, and it makes footsteps sound louder. Glazed ceramic tile can also be slippery unless it’s coated with a special anti-slip finish. Durability varies depending on the type of tile you choose. Terracotta tile requires regular sealing. Glazed tile is easy to clean and maintain, but the lines of grout between the tiles can stain if you don’t seal them regularly. And although tile is a durable material, it’s not that easy to fix if a single tile happens to crack.
Best uses: Consumer Reports says porcelain tile is the best choice for high-traffic areas, such as kitchens and mudrooms, as well as for wet rooms such as baths and laundry rooms. It’s also ideal for an enclosed porch or sunroom.
Vinyl is a type of resilient flooring, a flexible material that feels a bit softer underfoot than rigid wood or tile. It’s made from a layer of PVC (short for polyvinyl chloride) plastic over a layer of felt. Cushioned vinyl has a thin layer of foam as well, making it more comfortable to walk on. Thicker vinyl flooring can have a textured surface to make it look like wood or stone.
Advantages: Vinyl is a tough material that stands up to both moisture and heavy traffic. It’s comfortable to walk on and warmer on bare feet than tile. It’s also inexpensive and durable; according to HGTV, a good-quality vinyl floor can last 20 years. Like tile, vinyl comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. It can convincingly simulate the look of almost any other material. A flooring dealer interviewed by Consumer Reports says customers often assume the luxury vinyl planks on her showroom floor are real wood.
Disadvantages: Vinyl flooring varies in quality. You’ll have less choice of color and pattern with cheaper types, and they often have a fake look. Although vinyl is more durable than it used to be, Consumer Reports still found it more likely to scratch than any other type of flooring. Also, if you install it directly over a subfloor with no under-layer, it can have a hollow, echoey sound when you walk on it.
Best uses: Vinyl is appropriate for kitchens, baths, and other wet rooms. It’s also suitable for rooms that get a lot of traffic, such as mudrooms. Consumer Reports recommends it as the best choice for a basement since it can tolerate moisture and doesn’t feel as cold as tile.
Other types of flooring include ceramic, linoleum, cork, and carpet.