Homeowners today have a seemingly endless array of options when it comes to selecting what kind of floor they’d like in their homes. So, how do you know which is right for you? HGTV has the scoop on the top 10 flooring choices and what you need to know about each:
1. Wood. Solid wood is a popular option for many because it can be refinished over and over and lasts a lifetime. However, in order to be installed properly, it needs to be nailed to a sub-floor, and it’s important to check that the wood is harvested responsibly–look for an FSC or SFI certification to be sure.
2. Engineered Wood. The difference between this and solid wood is how it’s constructed: The top layer of engineered wood is a veneer of the real thing, supported by plywood underneath. It’s about the same cost and boasts a similar durability to actual wood, but installation is much easier, especially with certain “clickable” varieties.
3. Laminate. Laminate floors give you the freedom to choose any number of patterns and colors to complement your home’s architecture and decor. Manufacturers use photo technology to create a plastic coating that mimics whatever style you’re after. Another perk: It can be placed directly on top of an existing floor. No tear-outs!
4. Linoleum. An environmentally safe option, linoleum is made with renewable, biodegradable resources. Special coatings resist stains and heavy traffic, but the floor itself is high maintenance, needing refinishing every two years.
5. Ceramic Tile. Tile is another popular choice for flooring because it can be customized easily. There are four main types: glazed, quarry, porcelain (the most resilient) and terracotta. Installation isn’t cheap, especially if you add decorative trim pieces or mosaic inlays.
6. Carpet. The most versatile flooring is carpeting, which features more colors and textures than any other kind. A good quality indicator is the fiber density; wool is the standard, but other common materials include nylon, acrylic, polyester and polypropylene.
7. Stone. Stone floor tiles are also popular, if you’re willing to splurge. Costing anywhere from $2 to $100 per square foot, they add a touch of luxury to any home. Harder stones (think granite and marble) only need to be sealed every five years; softer stones, such as limestone, must be refinished more frequently. A word of caution if you want stone in your bathroom: It’s wise to invest in skid-resistant surfaces, as stones become slippery when wet.
8. Vinyl. Vinyl flooring, whether in sheets or tile squares, requires almost no maintenance. There are many colors and styles to choose from, with very little cost associated with customization. Backed by felt, they have an upper layer designed to resist scratches for 15 years.
9. Bamboo. All the rage with green living enthusiasts, bamboo flooring is an eco-friendly option made from the plant’s fibers held together by glue. It can also stand up to wear and tear, which makes it comparable to stronger flooring, like wood.
10. Cork. Cork is an alternative trend that’s gaining traction in newer homes. It’s comfortable to walk on and comes prefinished, so you don’t have to reseal within a year. Another plus is that it comes from the bark (rather than the core) of a tree, so forests remained unharmed during the harvesting process.