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Types Of Flooring: Which Is Best For Your Home?

Rachel Burris9-Minute Read
May 12, 2020

Whether you’re fully renovating your home or simply updating your space, you want to ensure that the work you put in makes your house feel like a home. You may not realize it, but the type of flooring you choose for your rooms will have a huge impact on how cozy your home feels. So, to transform your house into a personal haven, learn about the different types of flooring at your disposal and the best options for each of the rooms in your home.

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Different Types Of Flooring

If you want to add character to a master bedroom or a finished basement, flooring is a good place to start. But flooring is just as much about function as it is about style. Each type of flooring serves a slightly different purpose. So, when you’re trying to determine the best flooring material for a room, you must weigh the pros and cons of each material against the room’s function.

Although there countless different flooring materials available, the most popular ones tend to fall in the following categories:

 

  • Hardwood
  • Laminate
  • Vinyl
  • Tile
  • Carpet

 

To get a better sense of which options are the most appropriate for the rooms in your home, you must understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type, as well as the more specialized options.

Types Of Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors are arguably the most popular among homeowners because there are a number of advantages to hardwood flooring that homeowners find attractive. But not all hardwood flooring is treated equally. There are important differences between solid wood and engineered wood. Before you decide to install hardwood flooring in your home, you must figure out which of these options is preferable, given your circumstances.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid wood flooring consists of planks, strips or tiles of wood that come from a single piece of timber. This flooring option can be installed finished or unfinished, but either way, the solid wood pieces are nailed down to a wooden subfloor. From an aesthetic point of view, each species of wood – e.g., oak, cherry, maple and birch – provides distinct visual characteristics that complement different interior styles.

Solid wood flooring is beautiful, durable and can add value to your home since it tends to be the most sought-after. However, there are some disadvantages to this flooring option, including its high installation costs and need for maintenance. Although it’s durable, solid wood is also susceptible to water damage, dents and scratches. Therefore, it must be sanded and refinished routinely.

 

Engineered Wood Flooring 

Unlike solid wood, which is cut from a single piece of real wood, engineered wood is created with layers of hardwood mixed with plywood. To install this type of wood flooring, you can either nail it down, glue it to a cushioned pad or use interlocking planks to create a floating floor.

Because of its layered construction, engineered wood is a less-expensive form of hardwood that doesn’t warp or bow when exposed to moisture. Although engineered wood is more resistant to water and physical damage, its thin top layer of hardwood cannot be sanded or refinished as frequently as true hardwood.

Types Of Laminate Flooring

If you want to get that same hardwood look but don’t want to spend as much money, laminate flooring is cheaper and easier to maintain. Think of laminate flooring as fiberboard that has a printed image of wood on top of it. Although it has the appearance of hardwood, it’s resistant to dents and scratches that can harm real wood flooring. However, unlike wood, laminate cannot be repaired or refinished. If it becomes warped or damaged, laminate flooring must be entirely replaced.

While laminate flooring that looks like wood tends to be the most common, there are many different types, each of which imitates a different kind of natural flooring material, such as stone or tile. Beyond physical appearance, laminate flooring can also be classified by its installation type. There are four basic ways that laminate flooring can be installed:

 1. Glued installation: Planks are glued together by their joints. This option is time-consuming and more costly but leads to the strongest floors.

 2. Glue-less installation: Planks are interlocked through grooves and joints. This option tends to be the most popular due to its ease.

 3. Peel-and-stick installation: Planks are pre-glued, requiring the installer to simply peel and stick them next to each other. This option tends to be the fastest and easiest.

 4. Attached underlayment installation: The underlayment included in the planks enables them to be affixed to each other without glue. This option tends to minimize the noise the floors make when walked on.

 

Types Of Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is another inexpensive, durable and water-resistant option. Vinyl can mimic the look of wood or stone, as well as other flooring materials, but it’s made to have a softer texture. So, it not only looks good but feels comfortable to walk on. However, some homeowners shy away from this type of flooring material due to its synthetic appearance and the fact that the plastic it’s made out of is not eco-friendly.

Like laminate, vinyl flooring comes in a few different types, which each require a different kind of installation:

 

1. Peel-and-stick installation: Planks can come with adhesive backs that enable you to peel off the covering and stick each of them to the subfloor. They can also come as full sheets that can be unrolled, cut according to the space and stuck directly to the subfloor.

 2. Glue installation: Glue can be applied to the back of each plank and pressed against the subfloor.

 3. Floating installation: Like engineered wood, vinyl flooring can be installed by interlocking the planks and snapping them in place.

4. Loose lay Installation: Vinyl planks also come with a type of backing that creates enough friction that no adhesive or interlocking mechanism is needed to keep them in place.

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Types Of Floor Tiles

Tile is another popular choice for flooring given that it’s long-lasting, low-maintenance and comes in an endless variety of designs. Although it’s very versatile and can be relatively inexpensive, floor tiles can be difficult to install and replace when damaged. However, the fact that it’s water- and stain-resistant makes floor tiling an ideal choice for bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor spaces, like enclosed porches. There are a few specific types of tile that are worth mentioning in more detail.

Glazed Ceramic Tile 

Glazed ceramic tile is coated in a glossy material prior to being heated, so these tiles possess a stunning glass-like finish. Glazed ceramic tiles come in almost any color and texture, making them easy to pair with any style. An added bonus of this type of flooring is that it’s generally maintenance-free and feels softer underfoot than most tiles.

Quarry Tile

Quarry tile is an unglazed ceramic that has a rougher texture that makes them less slippery. They are a non-porous, water-resistant tile that can be installed both indoors and out. Although they are very durable, quarry tiles come in a limited number of colors, which makes them less versatile than other types.

Terra cotta Tile

Terra cotta tiles are an unglazed, clay-based ceramic that come in red, earthy tones. Although these tiles are the least durable and must be sealed periodically to protect against staining, they make for beautiful kitchen floors and are perfect for rustic home decor.

Porcelain Tile 

Porcelain tile is harder and tougher than other types of tile because they are fired at extremely high temperatures. They can be glazed or unglazed and are ideal for outdoor rooms due to the fact that they’re stain-resistant.

Other Types Of Flooring Materials

Although hardwood, laminate, vinyl and tile flooring tend to be the most common, there are a number of other types of flooring materials that you can choose from. Let’s take a look at these options and why homeowners might be inclined to choose them.

Bamboo Flooring 

Much like hardwood, bamboo flooring is a beautiful and expensive option. However, it differs from hardwood in that it’s a grass material that’s considered eco-friendlier. Be aware that bamboo is not as sturdy as solid wood, so cheaper varieties tend to be more prone to dents and scratches. Therefore, it’s not a suitable choice for your kitchen or mudroom.

Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooring is considered the eco-friendlier version of vinyl since it’s made of cork powder and linseed oil. While linoleum tends to last twice as long as vinyl, it’s harder to install and can be far less water-resistant when improperly installed. Although it’s easy to maintain and repair, it can turn a yellowish color if exposed to too much sunlight over time.

Rubber Flooring 

Rubber flooring is a popular choice for home gyms due to the fact that it’s comfortable underfoot, resistant to moisture and able to block out most sounds. It has a long lifespan and is available in multiple colors.

Cork Flooring 

Cork flooring is another eco-friendly alternative to wood that’s also anti-microbial. Cork is a highly durable flooring material that bounces back when compressed, but it can be damaged when exposed to moisture and fade when exposed to sunlight.

Concrete Flooring

Once reserved for basements and garages, concrete flooring has become a more common choice for the interiors of contemporary, industrial-style homes. It’s a relatively inexpensive, long-lasting material that’s resistant to moisture, dents and scratches. However, the drawbacks of concrete flooring are that it’s difficult to install, and cold and hard underfoot.

Natural Stone Flooring

Natural stone flooring is one of the most expensive flooring choices available; however, its luxurious look and feel are simply unparalleled. Although stone floors need to be sealed and finished every 4 – 5 years to maintain their aesthetic, they are moisture- and stain-resistant.

Carpet Flooring

If you’re looking to make your bedroom feel cozier, carpet flooring is the ideal choice due to its warm, soft quality. The carpet choices available are innumerous, varying by style, texture, color and design. Carpet can also be made in a variety of materials, including wool, acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene. However, carpeting can wear far faster than other flooring materials and is the most susceptible to damage from stains and tears. Furthermore, it should be cleaned frequently to prevent it from collecting and harboring allergens and pet odors.

Choosing The Best Type Of Flooring

Now that you have a basic understanding of the types of flooring available, you can begin to think about how they would function in each of the rooms in your home. When choosing the flooring material for a space, make sure to consider how that area tends to be used by you and your family.

 

Best Types Of Flooring For Kitchens

When choosing the best flooring for your kitchen remodel, you must consider the amount of foot traffic the room receives. For those of you who do a lot of cooking, you’re going to want to choose a flooring material that can withstand frequent spills and leaks.

Although a growing number of homeowners have been installing hardwood flooring in their kitchens because of its aesthetic, this trend is ill-advised for practicality reasons. Instead of going with a material that warps, you want to choose a water- and stain-resistant material that’s easy to clean. Ideal flooring options for the kitchen include ceramic tiles, laminate, concrete, linoleum and vinyl flooring because they’re durable and easy to maintain.

Best Types of Bathroom Flooring

Like kitchens, bathrooms are moist environments. Because it’s highly likely that you’ll be getting water on the floor, you want to make sure that your bathroom flooring is both water- and slip-resistant. So, avoid porous flooring materials and instead choose options like porcelain tile and vinyl, which are also relatively inexpensive. Quarry tile is another fantastic option for the bathroom because its rougher texture makes it harder to slip on when getting out of the shower.

Best Types Of Living Room Or Bedroom Flooring

Since living rooms and bedrooms are all about kicking back and relaxing, comfort should be a prime factor in the type of flooring you choose. However, for the living room, aesthetics should also be a top concern, considering it’s the room used most by guests.

For the living room, you may want to choose solid wood, engineered wood or bamboo flooring due to their beauty and high resale value. While hardwood flooring is also common in bedrooms, you may prefer the softness of carpeting or cork flooring instead.

Conclusion

The flooring you choose for your home can impact not only the look and design of your rooms but also the comfort and enjoyment you experience in them. Before you settle on the flooring for any part of your home, consider both the function of the space and your priorities. Although you may love the classy, polished look of solid wood living room floors, they’re a more expensive option that may not be in your budget. If you want to cut costs, engineered wood, laminate or vinyl flooring can be an attractive substitute. Give yourself the freedom to experiment.

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Rachel Burris

Rachel Burris is a writer covering topics of interest to present and future homeowners, as well as industry insiders. Prior to joining Rocket Companies, she worked as an English teacher for the New York City Department of Education and a licensed real estate agent for Brown Harris Stevens. She holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Bucknell University, a postbaccalaureate certificate in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University.