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How To Choose Flooring For Your New Home

January 9th, 2014 - 11:05 AM

Choosing Flooring for Your Home

So you found your dream house, but the floors need a little TLC to make it perfect. There are so many flooring choices out there, how do you know where to start when shopping for flooring? There are definite pros and cons for each type of flooring based on your lifestyle and desires. It’s important to incorporate both your family’s needs and your personal style into your decision-making. Let’s cover some of the basics to consider when choosing flooring, and then compare options to find the best flooring for your new home. Experts will tell you that you don’t have to use the same type of flooring throughout your entire home. Mix it up!

Things to Consider When Choosing Flooring

Your lifestyle will help you determine which type of flooring will be best in your home. Rarely does one type of flooring belong in your entire home. You may want to choose a few different types of flooring to match your needs in different areas of your home.

First, ask yourself some questions to evaluate your needs.

  • Who will use the room? Children, pets, elderly family members, and those with allergies have different flooring needs.
  • What type of aesthetic do you want to create? Flooring can make a room warm and inviting or sleek and modern.
  • How long do you expect it to last? The “life” of flooring depends on product suitability, durability, quality, proper installation, and maintenance.

We spoke with the flooring experts at Mats, Inc. to learn what you should consider when choosing flooring.  When choosing flooring, consider these things:

Moisture. If the area will be exposed to moisture, like a bathroom or damp basement, then you’ll want to avoid certain floorings, like carpeting and wood. Carpet and the padding underneath can hold onto moisture, becoming a harbor for mold in moist environments. Wood and laminate can warp over time if exposed to water, like in a bathroom, but they should be fine in a kitchen with a proper polyurethane finish. In a moist basement-type environment, the hardwood can contract and expand in the humidity. In those types of areas, vinyl, linoleum, concrete, and tile are best.

Durability. In high traffic areas like kitchens and entry ways, you’ll want to choose flooring that stands the test of time. Wood, laminate, tile, and durable carpet (such as low pile) are great flooring options– but choose the room you place them in wisely. For example, in the kitchen you’ll want flooring that’s easy to clean like a vinyl, laminate, or tile. While wood floors are quite durable over time, they can dent and scratch easily without a proper polyurethane finish, so dropped utensils could cause damage. Beyond durability, you’ll also want to consider the costs associated with each type of flooring.

Budget. Flooring costs are determined based on the size of your space. All flooring is given a price per square foot. To determine your square footage, just measure your room and multiply the width of the room by the length. Experts also recommend adding a 10% waste factor to ensure you have enough flooring to fit odd shaped spaces. Once you know your square footage needs, you can determine how much you can spend per square foot based on your budget. Commercial carpet can be as cheap as $.75/square foot, and some more expensive tiles can be upwards of $50/square foot! Ask the experts at your local flooring store about options in your budget.

Maintenance and cleaning. You’ll want to consider the amount of maintenance you’re willing to do and the amount of mess you’ll make. In a child’s playroom, for instance, you may want something that’s easy to clean like vinyl flooring. Also, certain types of flooring require more regular maintenance than others; certain tiles, stones, and hardwoods may need to be treated with sealant, light-colored carpet may require stain guard, and vinyl and linoleum may require waxing.

DIY Installation. If you’re considering tongue-in-groove flooring, like plank hardwood or laminate, then you should be able to install it yourself easily. Other types of flooring may be a little more difficult. Carpet, vinyl, and tile will require more time, effort, and expertise . So if you want to save some money by doing the installation yourself,  choose an easy-to-install flooring option.

Once you  narrow down your options, you can  explore the differences between similar types of flooring and pick the right choice for your home.

Hardwood vs. Laminate?

Both hardwood and laminate can withstand traffic, are resilient to everyday wear, and are easy to clean. However, laminate is much cheaper than hardwood and is available in more colors and finishes.


laminate flooring.jpg

Tile: Ceramic vs. Porcelain

Tile is great for most living spaces. In warmer climates, tile can promote a cooler temperature in the house. The two most popular types of tile are ceramic and porcelain. There are two main differences between ceramic and porcelain tile: water absorption rate and certification. Porcelain tile has a lower water absorption rate, so in areas where spills and moisture may be a problem, porcelain may be better. Porcelain tile companies may carry a certification from the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency proving it is legitimate porcelain tile. If you are installing the tile yourself, ceramic tiles are easier to cut, making them easier to self-install. Ceramic tile is cheaper, while porcelain is a more dense and durable. No matter what tile you choose, it’s very important to properly prepare the subfloor to prevent tile cracking, and seal the group to resist staining.

Vinyl vs. Linoleum

These two may be sometimes used synonymously, but they are different. Both are easy to clean and available in many colors and designs. Linoleum requires a little more care and is sensitive to cleaners with a high pH. Linoleum is made from natural components (linseed oil, tree resin, wood, cork, pigments) while vinyl is made of vinyl, fiberglass and dyes. Linoleum can appear yellow after manufacturing. Flooring experts refer to the yellowing as the “bloom”, and it does fade over time.

An environmentally friendly alternative to vinyl sheet flooring is botanol.  It is produced from raw materials and offers the same value, durability, and comfort as vinyl sheeting. 

Concrete vs. Tile

Both flooring types are easy to clean, resist fading, and look great. The biggest difference between these two options is price. Stained concrete is typically cheaper. There is a danger of minor cracking with concrete, but many experts think the cracks add character. Ceramic tiles can break, which can lead to frustrating replacements.

Other Flooring Options to Consider

There are almost unlimited flooring options. I mean, people are even using pennies to cover their floors! Other flooring options to consider are cork, leather tiles, carpet tiles, granite, marble, glass tiles, and bamboo. And don’t forget if you can’t afford to replace your flooring, you can always choose an area rug!

There is certainly no shortage of things to think about when trying to make the right flooring choice for each room in your home.  Just remember it is important to balance your family’s practical requirements with your personal style. What type of flooring sounds right for you? We’d love to hear about your renovations.