Our floors demand more than any other building material in our homes. We tramp them with muddy boots and piercing heels, drag furniture across them, scrub them with soapy water, and assault them with kids in cleats and clawing pets.
However, we expect them to withstand all these and remain in the best condition for years. The good news is that different flooring materials can meet and exceed real-world expectations.
Below we have 11 different flooring options you can use in your home. Each comes in different variations, styles, and colors. However, we hope you’ll discover a few that will serve your home for years.
1. Hardwood Flooring
When it comes to hardwood flooring, you’ve got two choices: solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. For each type, you will also get unfinished and prefinished flooring types. The type of hardwood flooring you choose will depend on several factors, including wood species, price, ease of installation, the room itself, and the type of subfloor.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood flooring has been a popular choice ever since I can remember. Even today, a house that features solid hardwood flooring sells faster and will fetch a higher price than a home without.
Hardwood flooring offers different designs and finishing options because of the different hardwood tree species, like alder, oak, cherry, maple, or hickory, . You have domestic, imported, common, or rare hardwoods. Also, every board, plank, or strip used is a natural work of art with unique grain patterns, colors, and characteristics.
With solid hardwood, you can either choose unfinished or prefinished varieties. Unfinished solid hardwood flooring is a popular option because it is affordable and attractive, and you can stain it to your liking or leave it with a natural appearance. However, the disadvantage of unfinished hardwood flooring is that it requires sanding, staining, and applying a protective top coat finish.
Prefinished hardwood flooring is costlier than unfinished flooring. However, it does not require sanding and finishing. Once installed, there is no waiting time. You can move your furniture back and start using the floor.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring was introduced in the mid-1980s. It soon became an option for DIYers because of its ease of installation. With engineered hardwood flooring, the construction involves three or more layers of wood bonded together into long planks. The top layer is a piece of hardwood flooring and other layers that enhance the stability and strength of the flooring.
Compared to solid hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring is cheaper, has good resistance to warping, and is easier to install. However, the lifespan is shorter, 20 to 40 years, compared to solid hardwood flooring, 30 to 100 years. Solid hardwood flooring can be refinished more often than engineered hardwood flooring.
When shopping for engineered hardwood flooring, check that the top layer of hardwood is at least 1/8 in. thick. This will allow you to sand and refinish it in the future if necessary.
DIYers love engineered hardwood flooring because of its ease of installation. The planks come with tongue-and-groove joints. When installing engineered hardwood flooring, the planks snap together and float over your flooring underlayment. There is no gluing or nailing, so the planks can be laid neatly and quicker.
2. Tile and Stone Flooring
These are not easy to install; however, tile and stone flooring products create one of the most beautiful and durable floors. For artificial tiles, there are two basic categories, i.e., ceramic and porcelain. Natural stone is exactly that – slabs of stone cut and shaped into floor tiles.
Depending on the style you are trying to create, you can choose ceramic, porcelain, or stone flooring depending on the tile size, pattern, color, and texture. Also, consider the hardness, overall cost, and stain and slip resistance.
Ceramic tile flooring is one of the most versatile flooring materials that should work in any room of your home. They are two types of ceramic tiles, glazed and unglazed.
Glazed ceramic tiles are made from clay and other natural materials. The tiles are shaped, topped with a glaze, and fired in a kiln. This results in a hard, easy-to-clean surface impervious to liquids or staining. Unglazed ceramic tiles such as terra cotta tiles are available. However, these must be treated with a sealer to protect the porous surface.
Ceramic tiles, predominantly glazed ceramic tiles, are popular in areas that are wet at most times. These include kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, and laundry rooms. They are also great to go over radiant heating because ceramic tiles absorb and release heat slowly and evenly for a longer period.
Porcelain Tile Flooring
Porcelain tiles look similar to ceramic tiles. However, porcelain tiles are made with ultra-fine porcelain clays and fired at higher temperatures. This results in a harder, denser, and less porous tile than ceramic tiles. Porcelain tiles are also less likely to crack and have better resistance to moisture and staining.
Like ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are available in glazed and unglazed varieties.
Although porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic tiles, they have better water resistance and can be used indoors, outdoors, and on walls. Porcelain tiles also have an edge in aesthetics with more colors, surface finishes, and patterns. There are even porcelain tiles that resemble natural stone and different wood grains.
Natural Stone Flooring
Granite, marble, limestone, slate, and travertine are some natural stones available for flooring tiles. There are also manufactured stone tiles that mimic natural stone, like laminate flooring. They are cheaper, but for a homeowner that values authenticity, the natural beauty, texture, and color of real stone are hard to beat.
Because it’s expensive, it’s best to install natural stone where it has the greatest impact. The foyer and master bedroom are good candidates for your home.
The installation of stone tiles is very much like installing ceramic tiles. After installation, grout fills the spaces between the stone tiles. To cut stone tiles, a motorized wet saw is used.
If properly installed, natural stone tiles should last for many generations. However, natural stone is not moisture and stain-resistant because it is porous. Use a sealer, such as the DDDD, at least once a year over the entire surface. For bathrooms and heavily used rooms, use at least twice a year. To reduce scratches, regularly sweep and vacuum the stone tiles. Add mats and rugs at the door to collect dirt.
3. Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring was first introduced to North America from Europe in the mid-1990s. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing types of flooring. It is easy to install and comes in different designs that mimic natural wood, stone, and other textures. Laminate is also highly scratch and dent-resistant, durable, and easy to clean and maintain.
Laminate flooring comes in both long planks and square tiles. The tiles and planks have tongue-and-groove joints that easily snap together. This eliminates the need for glue or nails if installed over a proper underlayment.
Laminate flooring is best suited for family rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. Some types can be installed in moisture-ridden areas like kitchens and bathrooms. However, I do not recommend these types. For laminate to last longer, wipe spills and splashes immediately.
4. Vinyl Flooring
Although hardwood, laminate, and ceramic-tile floors are widespread, vinyl remains one of the most popular floorings. This is because it is durable, affordable, quick to install, easy to clean, and suitable for all rooms. Vinyl flooring will work whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, or foyer.
There are three types of vinyl flooring you can install in your home. These are sheets, tiles, and planks.
Over the years, Vinyl sheet flooring has evolved into a DIY-friendly option. They are now one of the easiest types of flooring to install. Vinyl sheet flooring is available in 12-ft wide rolls and can be cut to any length. This leaves fewer seams in a room, which improves durability.
There are different colors and patterns of vinyl sheet flooring. There are ones that resemble hardwood planks, natural stone, glazed ceramic tiles, brick, and slate. You can consider different solid color options like checkerboards and stripes.
The cost of vinyl sheet flooring varies widely. The difference is mostly based on the construction of the vinyl sheet flooring – some are just better made than others. Higher-quality products will be thicker and more durable but will cost more.
Vinyl tiles are still a good choice for DIY installations. They are designed to resemble ceramic or stone tiles. The size is usually 12*-in. By 12-in. tiles that are easy to handle, cut, and install. They can also be used in virtually any room. The advantage of using vinyl tiles as opposed to vinyl sheets is you can easily mix and match the different tile colors and patterns for a custom floor.
There are two types of vinyl flooring based on their installation. These are self-stick and dry back. Self-stick vinyl tiles come with a pressure-sensitive adhesive applied to the back of the tiles. To install them, peel off the backing sheet and press the tile to the subfloor.
For dry-back tiles, you will need a special adhesive to set the tile to the subfloor. Though installing dry-back tiles takes more time and effort, they are more permanent and harder to wear down.
When shopping for vinyl tiles, you’ll find them divided into three main basic groups. These are printed vinyl, solid vinyl, and vinyl composite. Printed vinyl is comprised of layers and has a greater number of colors and patterns. However, solid and composite vinyl tiles are harder, more durable, and have the same color from top to bottom.
Vinyl planks are the newest vinyl flooring and are designed to resemble hardwood floors. With vinyl planks, you’ll get different designs that mimic the different varieties of wood. Most people prefer vinyl planks over hardwood flooring because they are water-resistant, stain-resistant, and easy to maintain.
Vinyl planks measure approximately 3-in. to 5-in. wide and 36-in. to 48-in. long. They are easy to install in smaller areas like hallways and small bedrooms. For larger rooms, they require more work to install. In this case, you can opt for vinyl sheet flooring.
5. Linoleum Flooring
Linoleum is often confused with vinyl flooring. However, these two are very different. Linoleum flooring is made from natural products, including linseed oil, resins, wood products, cork, and natural pigments. The composition of the products will vary with each manufacturer.
One of the advantages of linoleum flooring is its durability and wear resistance. When properly taken care of, linoleum flooring can last over 40 years. It’s also easy to install, available in different styles, water-resistant, and requires little maintenance.
Like vinyl flooring, linoleum comes in three main types – sheet, tile, and plank. All these are available in different patterns, from solid colors to complex designs. There is also commercial grade linoleum flooring good for high-traffic areas.
6. Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo flooring has grown through the years owing to its contemporary look and environmental advantages. Botanically bamboo is grass, not wood, so it grows incredibly fast. However, bamboo is surprisingly harder than some hardwoods like oak and maple. Bamboo can be installed in most home rooms, but you should avoid installing it in high-moisture spaces.
Like hardwood flooring, bamboo can come in either engineered planks or solid bamboo planks. Engineered bamboo is similar to engineered wood planks and is installed using a floating-floor method. Solid bamboo is installed on the subfloor using nails or staples.
7. Cork Flooring
Cork flooring has been around for decades. However, it has recently gained popularity because it is a truly renewable product. Cork is harvested from the cork oak tree every 9-10 years without killing the tree. This makes cork natural, recurring, and easily replenishable flooring material.
Cork is an excellent flooring material because it is soft, warm, comfortable underfoot, and highly resistant to moisture and bugs. It also has superior sound-absorbing properties, which makes it quieter to walk on than tile, wood, laminate, or vinyl.
Cork flooring can be installed in any room of the house. It’s suitable for kitchens, baths, and basements. It has become a favorite in the kitchen because dropped plates and glasses are unlikely to break. They are installed using an adhesive or can be floated over any surface, including plywood, concrete, and other existing floors.
Cork flooring is available in solid tiles and engineered planks in unfinished and prefinished varieties. Cork tiles measure 3/16 in. or 5/16 in. thick and can be 12-in. by 12-in. or 12-in. by 21-in. They are also available in various textures and shades, from vivid colors to wood tones.