One of the hardest decisions a homeowner faces is choosing the type of flooring for the house. If you thought that choosing the wall colors was the toughest you ever made, wait until you have to make a flooring decision.
This is also a more important decision, because flooring determines a lot of things, including the home's ability to keep warm or cool, reflect light, give a sense of space, how comfortable it feels to walk on, and how much work will be involved to maintain it. The flooring is also an essential aspect of home decor. It has to complement the rest of the house such as the walls, the windows, or the paint color.
There are a variety of flooring options today, as compared to a decade or two ago. Even when it comes to simple wood flooring, there is a wide range of choices available.
You can buy flooring from a store or online, at a wide range of prices. Some are easier to install, while others are more convenient to maintain and should last longer.
Things to Consider Before Picking Home Flooring
Is the flooring for a high moisture area?
High moisture areas in a house mainly include the basement and the bathroom, but if you live in a humid region, any room can have high moisture content at any given time of the year. If this sounds like your house, you need flooring that can withstand a humid environment.
The best flooring options include concrete, ceramic or porcelain tile, or vinyl tile, because they don't absorb moisture or water. If moisture is not an issue, you can consider a greater variety of flooring.
Do you need extra durable flooring?
If you have pets or children or otherwise need extra durable flooring, you need something that has superior wear resistance.
Certain types of flooring may appear to be wear resistant but are actually not. For instance, solid hardwood can easily scratch, but the good thing is that the scratches can be sanded out. If durability is a chief factor in your choice, try flooring such as ceramic or porcelain tile, laminate flooring, plank vinyl flooring, or carpeting.
What is your budget per square foot?
As you may already know, flooring price is measured per square foot of the space. To keep costs from escalating (you are not Chicago or the State of California and you don’t have Apple Computer money, cost matters to you!), you need to consider your budget per square foot. You are not Alan Harper from Two in a Half Men, you are responsible!
If your budget is less than $2.00, then your best options are bargain laminate flooring, which isn't anything extraordinary, but it does have a wooden appearance. Other options are sheet and tile resilient flooring, and also ceramic and porcelain tiles. However, keep in mind that tiles require a labor-intensive installation.
For a budget between $2.00 and $5.00, you can find plenty more options, such as domestic solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring, but not exotic woods. Some good-looking laminate flooring and high quality luxury vinyl tile can also be found in this range.
When you have a budget of $5.00 or above, it opens up a lot more options for you. You can find some of the hardest, most durable, and exotic wood and engineered wood options in this price range, such as kempas (no, this is not something you can eat!), ipe, mahogany, and Brazilian cherry. Luxury vinyl and laminate flooring are also priced above $5.00 per square foot.
Do you prefer low maintenance flooring?
If you need flooring that requires very little maintenance, you should choose something other than wood. No matter what kind of wood it is – solid hardwood or engineered – it requires maintenance. Vinyl flooring requires the least work, while laminate flooring comes a close second. Don't use a wet mop on laminate flooring. Use a damp mop or a wet vacuum.
Different Types of Flooring
Now that you know what options are available to you, let's learn more about each type of flooring.
Hardwood - Wood flooring remains an eternal favorite. It's durable and warm, feels natural and looks gorgeous. Oak is the most popular hardwood of all time, but exotic options like cherry and imported Brazilian cherry or Tasmanian oak are also sought after. There are a variety of hardwood floors, such as plank, parquet, as well as prefinished boards for DIY installation.
Laminate - This is a popular choice because of the ease of installation and maintenance. Laminate flooring is also much less expensive than hardwood. Laminate floors are made of different wood-based materials that are layered (laminated) together, and then a wood grain photographic imprint is used to top it off. Another type of laminate flooring is engineered wood. This type of flooring is made by attaching a real hardwood veneer to plywood layers. Engineered wood is more expensive than laminate because the top layer is real wood, and it also requires the same care as hardwood floors.
Linoleum - This is the perfect choice for ecofriendly home owners, because linoleum is made from all natural materials, such as linseed oil, rosins, and wood flour. It is also available in a variety of different styles, tiles, and colors, and has no adverse health effects during installation.
Tile - Porcelain is a popular choice for homeowners these days and terra cotta and other natural stones like slate, marble, and granite are on lots of peoples’ bucket lists. Porcelain is cost-effective, combining beauty, hardness, and low maintenance. Tiles come in different designs and colors for you to unleash your creativity.
One popular trend in porcelain flooring is tiles that look like hardwood. The beauty of this type of porcelain flooring is that it combines the ease and convenience of tile flooring with the luxury and elegance of hardwood. A lot of people love wood flooring but cannot afford it or don't seem to be able to maintain it.
Everyone is more attracted by the beauty of hardwood but no one wants to bear with all the high maintenance. Even laminate flooring or engineered wood require a lot of care and maintenance. That's why tiles that appear to be wood are so popular. You can get any type of wood design that you want, from oak to cherry to mahogany.
They are so natural and gorgeous that many will mistake them for actual hardwood flooring. But they are just like any other tiled flooring, which is easy to maintain.
In that case, you can also choose different designs for decorating your house. One room could have flooring that looks like a giant chess board, while your kids’ room could have a scene from Frozen or Transformers playing out on the floor. All of these can be achieved with 3D porcelain tiles.
Vinyl - The cardinal rule while choosing vinyl flooring is that the thicker it is, the more durable it will be. Vinyl offers excellent value, and is ideal for spaces with high moisture content. Vinyl is also easy to clean and feels softer and more natural than tile.
Carpet - Wall to wall carpeting is a type of flooring that's common in cold regions. Carpet flooring has a number of advantages, one of them being the feel of softness. You can walk barefoot on carpet flooring and even curl up in front of the fire without needing a rug on the floor (the same cannot be done with a wood or tiled floor). Carpet flooring essentially involves a layer of pile attached to a backing. They come in different colors and patterns so you can match them to your home decor. They also help in keeping a room warm by trapping heat. Carpet flooring is also low maintenance. You don’t need to mop it at all. Simply vacuum it once a week and you’re good to go. If there are tough stains, you can call any carpet cleaning company for stain removal services. Carpet flooring is ideal for homes that have children or pets. Carpets can’t be scratched, and falling down on carpet is not as harmful as it is on a hard floor.
Cork - The hardness of the flooring is often an issue with many homeowners. If you want flooring that yields when pressed down upon, try cork floors. Cork acts like a comfortable cushion beneath your feet and it’s also a natural thermal insulator, so rooms with cork flooring are naturally warm.
Cork flooring is also aesthetically pleasing and versatile, available in planks and tiles in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes. Besides, cork does not absorb water so there’s little to no chance of mildew growth. This makes cork ideal for areas with high moisture.
Flooring is perhaps the most important part of the house, second only to the roof. With all these options available, choosing the right flooring shouldn’t be too hard. However, it is always better to actually see and feel the quality of the material in person to be able to know how it will turn out in your house.