Flooring Project Guide: Types of Flooring and Which to Choose
Selecting a flooring material for your home can be difficult and overwhelming, especially with so many floor materials, colors, and textures on the market. Understanding that each floor has different advantages & disadvantages depending on each rooms functionality, use, and location in a home.
Many floor finishes can only be used in certain parts of the home and are not recommended to be installed in basements, bathrooms without taking special precautions due to the high moisture in these locations. Below we discuss each floor covering, the most common spaces of installation and what we recommend!
Tile is a widely used material across the country and if installed correctly, has the ability to last a very long time. Tile is very resilient, durable, and wear-resistant, making this material perfect for high traffic or wet areas of a home such as front door entrances, mudrooms, bathrooms, and even basements. Tile is commonly a manmade ceramic, but could also be natural stone such as slate or even marble.
Typical benefits to tile are that there are many different shapes, sizes, and colors to choose from, and some can be cost-effective for the material. Tile may look great but has some maintenance downsides, which is why many homeowners do not desire it in their homes. Some homeowners enjoy the look of the clean lines, and modern appeal, some would desire something that has a warmer and comforting feel.
Many homeowners see tile as an inexpensive flooring option which is true, with a common ceramic tile to be around $2-$ four a square foot. Due to the complex multi-step method of installation, tile installation is very expensive, turning most homeowners to other solutions.
Tile is known for being cold on homeowners feet, especially in the winter months. To have tile installed in a large amount of a home can make it feel colder and not as warm or welcoming. Many homeowners install large area rungs to help warm up space but also their feet. Standing on the cold, hard tile all day can be cumbersome on joints and knees.
Tile is predominantly installed in bathrooms and smaller spaces where activity & traffic is not as frequent; this offers a great durable solution without the drawbacks of installing this into a larger space. In order to combat the cold feel of a tile floor, many homeowners, especially in northern states are forced to install heated tile floors to help provide additional heat into a home and also warm up cold tile under your feet.
Maintenance & Durability
Tile is very durable against dropped cookware, chairs, scratches, shoe traffic but the weakest part about tile is grout in between the tiles. The benefit of tile is if a portion is damaged or stained, most cases the damaged tile and grout can be removed and replaced. Tiles are typically a non-porous, durable factory finish, where grout is a cement-based, porous surface that has the tendency to stain and crack over time if not maintained and cared for.
To prevent the tile from staining, most manufacturers recommend thoroughly cleaning the entire surface and re-installing a tile/grout sealer to the surface. This can be a cumbersome process, many do not want to take on, but could hire a contractor to do this and typically have an entire home resealed in a single day.
Sealing tile and grout is not a hard project to complete, but the frequency is the cumbersome part. With the majority of floor tile required to be sealed every 3-6 months depends on the frequency of traffic.
Different Types of Tile
This is a man-made tile that is extremely durable and can be printed with various patterns, designs, and colors to fit many clients project needs. Ceramic is fairly durable, but if the tile is not installed correctly, it can lead to the tiles cracking & splitting, especially in high traffic areas.
This damage is also caused if too thin of a tile is selected; most ceramic tile manufacturers will only make one thickness and not offer a thicker tile for other areas of the home. Ceramic tile is typically found at the lowest price great for any room in your home.
The Real Tile is the next level in floor tile, made from real stone, manufactured & polished into thin, ready to install tiles. With this stone being natural, limited color variations are offered and can be cumbersome to find a tile that matches your project. Once a tile is selected for your project, be sure to look at each tile thoroughly as even a package of tile may have one that is off-color.
This can be especially important in a large room where if one tile is lighter than others, it will stand out and look odd. Similar to ceramic tile, real tile can crack as well but it less likely as the tiles are commonly slightly thicker. If a large traffic area is receiving tile, typically a thicker tile would be best as it will be able to withstand more abuse than a thinner tile.
A large disadvantage of real tile is the maintenance that comes along with it being a natural stone. Other materials are manmade and are must more resistant to staining, scratches, etc.
Similar to ceramic tile is manmade, the difference with vinyl is that the material is waterproof, extremely durable, crack-resistant, and maintenance-free. With all of these benefits drives a higher price point compared to ceramic or real stone tile. With vinyl tile being manmade and made 100% of vinyl, this means the floors are relatively warmer compared to cold, hard stone.
Vinyl is waterproof and resistant against moisture, mold, etc., making it extremely popular in bathrooms, mudrooms, and other high moisture areas. Vinyl tile, also requires the least amount of maintenance with no regular sealing or patching as the vinyl material is naturally water and stain-resistant.
Tile does offer the most variance between all floorings to offer the most complex decision. Mainly because tile has so many different types, etc. finding a specific tile that fits your budget and project can be difficult but well worth it once properly installed!
Carpet has been around for a long time, being the most comfortable of floor materials is typically installed in living rooms, bedrooms, basements and other quiet, calming warm areas on a home. Carpet is the opposite of tile and offers unmatched comfort and warmth into a home.
Carpet tile has many different textures, styles, colors, and is very quick to install. The carpet consists of two parts, the underlayment, and the carpet material. The most important part of a carpets feel under your feet is the underlayment. Underpayments vary from thin foam, recycled shoes, to a dense, layered moisture-proof foam.
Some carpet backing even has an R-Value! This insulation is the main reason why carpet is the warmest of all flooring materials. Different styles of carpet can be found throughout various stores and suppliers with different styles in mind.
Depending on the carpet you select, many have three different thicknesses. One is very thin and tightly woven. This is best for hallways and other high traffic areas but offers the least amount of comfort under your feet while walking.
The opposite of thinner carpet is a thicker carpet that has very thickly woven fibers and is commonly a bit heavier in weight than traditional thinner style carpet. Thicker carpet is more desired in living rooms and other areas where comfort is desired. When selecting carpet, be careful how thick of carpet you select. Some thicker carpets will show footprints when you walk and be a pain to look at for some homeowners.
Carpet is a very warm floor that comfortable to stand on and relax on for the long amount of time with friends, family, and kids, offering a flooring material that is great for children to play on, relax and warm up an entire space. With the proper pad, and thickness of carpet can offer a comfortable feeling no other flooring material is able to offer.
Maintenance & Durability
When installed correctly, carpet is very durable with installation lasting many years. If a quality brand or manufacturer is purchased, many come with a 5, 10, or even a 15-year warranty from common damages. Making this flooring material with the best warranty of all of our comparisons. To clean, simply use a vacuum, and if a deeper clean is needed, a professional can be hired to clean using special equipment.
Hardwood is a timeless floor covering that is popular all across the country; the material has many different selections depending on the color, style, and desired look. We recommend going to a local lumberyard or flooring store to see different wood options in person. To coincide different kinds of wood, there is also different grades of a floor, typically an A, B or C grade.
This can be simplified into how perfect and uninterrupted the wood grain is. With the highest quality offering no wood knots or imperfections and a lower grade having the color tone variations and character offering knots and other levels of depth.
Important note, many homeowners desire the mid-grade look of a hardwood floor due to the minor imperfections in grain, luckily this typically comes at a lower price point, offering homeowners savings for different styles and grades of material.
Hardwood is a common material choice for all parts of the home except for high moisture-prone areas such as basements and bathrooms, with the most common area of installation is in living rooms and kitchens. In most installations, hardwood is best left to professionals as proper layout, alignment, equipment, and technique are required with most installations spanning multiple weeks for a large area.
Hardwood floor commonly is one of the most expensive of floor covering for a home. Providing a feel that is incomparable to other floor coverings, providing a rich, dense, warm and very durable scratch-resistant covering. Hardwood floors are very durable, but also comfortable to stand on for a long period of time, making them perfect for kitchen and other high traffic gathering spaces.
Maintenance & Durability
The large benefit of true 3/4” hardwood floors is that the finish is very durable, dent and scratch resistant and made to last many years. The benefit to hardwood floor installation is, throughout the life of the flooring, if the floor does show signs of damage in high traffic areas, or dents from a dropped pan, the floor can be refinished and sanded to remove the majority of topical imperfections. This is a great option, especially for a home that is built to last a lifetime and chosen to live in for a long period of time.
Different Types of Hardwood
There are many different types of quality of hardwood as we discussed, but also different types of wood. When selecting a hardwood floor durability is the main thing to pay attention to and what many homeowners will be interested in.
Different floors will offer different durability with Oak being a commonly hard and durable wood and pine being slightly less durable and traditionally softer. There are many different kinds of wood available, depending on your preference between color and durability will help make the selection!
Vinyl and floating floors are common for DIY enthusiasts due to their ease of installation and low price point. Due to the various materials and build, many types of these flooring choices can be great for all parts of the home, even in high moisture areas such as bathrooms and basements. These floors install very quickly and are common for a weekend project or a quick refresh of a room.
Vinyl floors are typically installed as a “peel and stick” were floating, and engineered methods are a “click” style flooring. These floor coverings install very quickly, and many rooms can be completed in either one day or easily in a weekend. Most styles and options can be found on the shelf at a local home store and often able to be delivered to a home free of charge.
Vinyl and floating floor feel great under your feet if installed properly. Many flooring options require extensive subfloor preparation to ensure no low or high spots are present. Many homeowners choose this flooring due to this floorings flexibly and look. This flooring can accommodate countless styles and colors, able to fit any homes decor.
Maintenance & Durability
Vinyl & floating floors are very durable against scratches, dents, etc. Most come with a lifetime warranty against scratches if installed in a residential space, a level of warranty that no other floor finish can offer.
If a piece of this flooring is damaged from a dropped pan in the kitchen, most times, the damaged flooring can simply be cut out and replaced with a new piece, flexibility that other floors do not have.
Different Types of Vinyl/Floating Engineered
Vinyl & Floating engineered floor easily offers the most varied selections with our personal preference being Pergo brand flooring. Pergo offers a thick 1/2” vinyl floor that is extremely durable, offers waterproof options, and has an outstanding warranty (Lifetime for residential homes).
Pergo brand flooring is extremely cost affordable with most floor options being under $3 per square foot and can be installed with the popular do it yourself technique, or hire a professional.
The benefit of installing a Pergo brand floor is that with most flooring after installation, glues, varnish, and stains must cure; leaving the floor not walkable until 24-48 hours or longer depending on the finish.
The benefit of a Pergo floor is that immediately after installation, the floor can be walked on and used. This is extremely beneficial for a Do it Yourself individual taking on a large room, able to span out the installation over multiple days or weekends.
With many different price points and factors to take into account, the flooring options we enjoy the most in a home is tile or hardwood floors, offering the most flexibility between durability, feel, and comfort.
For these flooring options due to the complex layout, multi-step process, and time-consuming process, we recommend a professional and to stay away from towards installing these as a DIY weekend project. Tile and hardwood can last a lifetime on a home and in many cases offer a high-end custom feel that is not achievable with other materials.