Walker Custom Homes & Remodeling

Let's talk Flooring Options

There’s no home decorating challenge quite frustrating as old worn-out floors. You can paint the walls, add accessories, and even replace furniture on a budget, but replacing an entire floor is a much bigger – and costlier – job.

These days, there are lots of different flooring options, including several that are very affordable. Vinyl, laminate, and ceramic tile can all cost as little as $1 per square foot. And some other “classics” a little pricier, but worth the investment. In the end, your house floors will depend entirely upon your taste and also the room interiors.

So before you get started on your flooring project, it pays to do a little research on the different kinds of flooring and learn about their costs and benefits because no one type of flooring is ideal for every room. For example, hardwood is consistently popular because of its warm, classic look, but it doesn’t hold up well to moisture or rough treatment. Here’s a look at the pros, cons, and costs of several popular types of flooring, as well as some ideas about where they can work best.

Here are some of our favorite flooring materials, so, you can find a floor that fits both your space and your budget.

1. Hardwood

Solid wood has been one of the most popular types of flooring in the U.S. for decades. It can be made from many kinds of wood, from domestic species such as oak and maple to exotic varieties such as Brazilian cherry or purpleheart.

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. 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.

Wood flooring is best for spaces that don’t get lots of traffic, such as living rooms, halls, and bedrooms.

2. Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring looks just like solid wood, but it’s made differently. 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.

Engineered wood floors can give you the look of solid wood at a lower price. That makes it easier to afford exotic woods such as tigerwood 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.

The disadvantage is that 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.

3. 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. 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.

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 a 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.

Tests at Consumer Reports found porcelain tile to be the most durable type, resistant to scratches, dents, and moisture. It’s also very easy to clean.

The not so good part of tile is that it 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.

4. Laminate

Laminate flooring is constructed much like engineered wood, with a thin veneer over layers of plywood or compressed fiber. However, the top layer is not wood but a photograph under a clear plastic coating. That means laminate can look like wood, stone, tile, or just about any other material.

Laminate can mimic the look of wood or stone for much less money. It’s also easy to clean and requires very little maintenance. It’s a hard material that resists scratching and scuffing better than real wood.

Like tile, laminate can be slippery when wet. Also, if water stands on it for any length of time, it can get in between the layers of the material, causing the planks to warp.

6. Vinyl

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.

Vinyl is a tough material that stands up to both moisture and heavy traffic. I’s comfortable to walk on and warmer on bare feet than tile. It’s also inexpensive and durable; a good-quality vinyl floor can last 20 years.

One of the biggest complaints about vinyl is that it’s not eco-friendly.

7. Carpet

Wall-to-wall carpet is a favorite for bedrooms and living areas. It’s made by pulling soft fibers, such as wool or nylon, through a woven backing, then gluing on more layers of backing to strengthen the material.

Many people like carpet because it feels soft and warm underfoot. It’s also quiet, slip-resistant, and fairly easy to install.

Carpeting is more difficult to clean than hard flooring. Even with regular vacuuming, it can still harbor dirt that only steam cleaning can remove. It’s also vulnerable to staining. The soft fibers of a carpet can harbor allergens such as pollen and pet dander, making it a bad choice if anyone in your home suffers from allergies.

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