Choosing a Floor
Learn about the best flooring options that are available so that you can find the perfect fit for your home.

Choosing the Right Flooring for Your Home: The Complete Guide

Selecting new flooring can be an overwhelming process with so many options to consider. By evaluating your lifestyle, home style, budget, and the rooms being renovated, you can zero in on the optimal flooring solutions. Understanding the pros and cons of each type is key to finding durable, beautiful floors tailored to your needs.

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When choosing a new floor covering for any room of the house, there are so many options available that it can get overwhelming. By looking at all the choices and considering three factors — style, function, and cost – the job of getting a beautiful new floor is much simpler.

When embarking on a flooring project, some of the most common options include:

Classic and elegant hardwood floors never go out of style. Solid hardwood with planks milled from a single piece of wood offers supreme quality. While beautiful, it requires careful maintenance. Engineered hardwood with layers of plywood or HDF cores topped by a hardwood veneer layer is more budget-friendly.

Laminate flooring utilizes a photographic layer under a clear melamine resin to mimic wood or stone looks. Affordable and DIY-friendly, laminate is durable but prone to moisture damage.

Laminate Flooring

Vinyl flooring comes in both sheets and plank tiles. Modern luxury vinyl plank (LVP) replicating wood or stone is popular thanks to its durability and waterproof properties. Other options like sheet vinyl and linoleum are budget-friendly.

Laminate flooring

Ceramic and porcelain tile offer style and endurance. Glazed ceramic with a protective top coating resists moisture and stains. Porcelain tile is denser and even more impervious to water. Tile requires significant subfloor prep.

Tile flooring installation

Carpet provides softness underfoot and sound absorption. Numerous fiber types like nylon and polyester are available in a range of cut or loop pile textures. Carpet necessitates frequent vacuuming and periodic deep cleaning.

Carpeted Flooring

Key Factors When Selecting Flooring

Choosing new floors for your home requires weighing a variety of factors:

Location

Consider where it will be installed and your lifestyle needs. For high-traffic areas like kitchens and hallways, hard-wearing choices like tile or vinyl are best. Carpet suits bedrooms, while hardwood elevates living spaces.

Moisture Resistance

For baths, basements, and laundry rooms, opt for water-resistant flooring like tile, vinyl or linoleum. Hardwood and laminate are susceptible to moisture damage.

Noise Reduction

Carpet, cork, and rubber floors absorb sound the best. Laminate, hardwood, and tile tend to reverberate noise more. This is important in upstairs rooms or apartments.

Budget

Less expensive options include carpet, vinyl, and laminate, while hardwood and natural stone cost more initially. Remember that lower-quality floors may need replacement sooner.

DIY Installation

Vinyl, laminate, and some carpeting can be installed as DIY-friendly “floating” floors without glue or nails. Hardwood and tile take more skill to install well.

Style

Consider the overall decor you want. Hardwood offers traditional appeal. Colorful patterned vinyl or mosaic tile provides a modern flair. Concrete flooring creates an industrial vibe.


Pros and Cons of the Top Flooring Choices

To select the optimal flooring, compare the pros and cons of each type:

Hardwood Floors

lightbulb-on Highlight: Hardwood is best suited for living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms but is not ideal for kitchens or baths because is it not waterproof.

Average Cost: $7 to $12 per square foot installed

Beautiful and classic look
Increases a home's value
Easy to clean and is available in wide plank sizes
Initially expensive
Scratches and dents easily
Can be damaged by moisture and requires refinishing periodically

Whenever you shop for a home, one feature you will always see advertised (if available) is “beautiful hardwood floors.” The look of brand-new hardwood floors, or even newly refinished hardwood floors, adds an unmistakable quality and value to your home.

Where choices in wood used to be pretty limited, new wood floors — and even “engineered wood” floors — are now becoming more popular. Check out the different wood flooring types available.

Solid hardwood flooring can last for generations with proper care. Refinishing restores its beauty — but hardwood is very susceptible to moisture damage and scratches. Consider the long-term costs for maintenance and repairs with your initial investment.


Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

lightbulb-on Ceramic and porcelain tile are best for kitchens, bathrooms, entryways, laundry rooms and patios because of thier durability and waterproof nature.

Average Cost: $6 to $10 per square foot installed

Extremely durable and water-resistant
Provides great design flexibility with myriad colors, shapes, and textures
Can be cold and hard under bare feet
Dropped items can crack tiles
Professional installation is recommended

Ceramic tile can give you that “designer look.” The tiles that many people use today are large in size and available in more choices and evolving designs that can create an incredible floor.

However, ceramic tile comes in various styles, colors, shapes, and textures to fit any design aesthetic. Smaller mosaic tiles can create a classic look, while large-format tiles are modern and sleek. The durability and water resistance of ceramic make it an ideal choice for kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, and laundry rooms. Advanced digital printing technology has also opened up possibilities for replicating the look of natural stone, wood, and other materials with ceramic and porcelain tiles.

When properly installed and cared for, a tile floor can last 50 years or longer — but ceramic can crack or chip if you drop heavy objects on it. The grout also needs periodic sealing to prevent stains and damage to the tiles.


Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) and Plank (LVP)

lightbulb-on Luxury vinyl tile and plank are best for kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and rental properties due to their durability and cost-effectiveness.

Average Cost: $18 to $30 per yard installed

Affordable and easy DIY installation
Replicates the appearance of real wood or stone
Waterproof and scratch-resistant
Not as valuable as real wood
Heavy foot traffic can dent floors over time
Requires underlayment for softness

Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) mimics the look of real wood or stone while being waterproof and dent-resistant. Vinyl planks hold up well in kitchens, baths, and basements where moisture is a concern. Sheet vinyl is seamless for an uninterrupted look. Vinyl comes in a wide range of patterns, textures, and colors, with advanced printing creating realistic variations.

Previously thought of as just an inexpensive choice in flooring, the new generation of vinyl floors is not only very durable but can add a real designer’s touch to your home. Easy DIY installation options also make vinyl a budget-friendly choice.


Carpet

lightbulb-on Carpet is best for bedrooms, family rooms, and playrooms because of its softness and low price point.

Average Cost: $18 to $30 per yard installed

Soft and warm underfoot
Budget-friendly and available in endless colors/textures
Easily conceals subfloor flaws
Accumulates allergens and stains easily
Requires frequent vacuuming and periodic deep cleaning
Not recommended for baths or basements

Carpet provides comfort underfoot and helps absorb sound. It comes in a spectrum of color options from either natural or synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, and olefin. Quality padding will extend the life of the carpet, but this material shows foot traffic faster than hard-surface flooring. It also requires regular steam cleaning to look its best and prevent embedded dirt. Moisture can damage carpets, limiting their use in basements and bathrooms.

There are a wide variety of carpet styles available. In recent years, “Berber” has been very popular due to its durability and affordability. Now there is a resurgence in the popularity of various shag carpets, deep piles, and combinations of both.


Laminate Floors

lightbulb-on Best for active households, such as those with kids, pets, or lots of foot traffic.

Average Cost: $6 to $12 per square foot installed

Scratch and moisture-resistant
DIY-friendly installation
Near-endless color and style options
Lacks the longevity of natural wood
Doesn't offer the rich natural appeal of wood
Shorter life span than other options

Laminate flooring is made of synthetic materials to mimic wood, tile, and stone designs while being scratch and moisture-resistant. This makes laminate a good option for active households. The floating installation method used for this flooring type is DIY-friendly, but it lacks the richness and longevity of real wood.

Many have heard laminate floors referred to as “Pergo.” However, Pergo is just one of many companies — such as Armstrong, Wilson Art, and Formica — that make this virtually indestructible type of flooring. The range of laminate styles and colors is near endless — and affordable pricing makes laminate quite popular. Still, it needs replacement after 25 to 30 years versus solid wood's 100+ year life span.


Key Flooring Considerations by Room

For each room in your home, there are ideal flooring solutions based on their needs:

Durable and moisture-resistant choices like ceramic tile, porcelain tile, vinyl plank, linoleum, or engineered hardwood work best in the kitchen.

Flooring in kitchen

Waterproof tile, vinyl, linoleum, and rubber floors are ideal for humid bathroom spaces.

Bathroom Flooring

Plush or frieze carpeting helps provide a quiet, cozy bedroom environment.

bedroom flooring

Hardwood elevates living spaces and complements home furnishings stylishly. Carpet also creates a comfortable living room feel.

Living room flooring

Concrete flooring, tile, vinyl, and linoleum all resist moisture well. Uneven concrete can be leveled before flooring installation.

Laundry room flooring

Hard-wearing flooring like tile, vinyl, or low-pile carpeting can withstand heavy foot traffic from high-traffic areas.

hallway flooring

Learn More About Flooring

Read more about flooring through our other in-depth articles. Use the dropdown sections below to find our top flooring comparisons, pros and cons guides, product reviews, and more.


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The Bottom Line

Choosing flooring suited to your lifestyle needs and design aesthetic results in a home you'll love for years. Comparing options in terms of durability, maintenance, moisture resistance, and cost allows you to make an optimal flooring decision. Prioritizing quality materials and proper installation ensures long-lasting floors throughout your home.


Frequently Asked Questions About Flooring Selection

What flooring is best for dogs and kids?

For homes with dogs, look for scratch-resistant floors in spaces they access. Good options include tile, vinyl, and treated hardwoods. Limit access to carpeted rooms, which show wear and stains. Place runners over high-traffic areas.


How much does flooring installation cost?

Professional installation averages $3 to $6 per square foot, depending on the complexity. DIY installation saves on labor but has a learning curve. Some handy homeowners can install floating vinyl plank or laminate — but leave intricate tile or hardwood jobs to the pros.


What's the easiest floor to install DIY?

Floating click-lock vinyl and laminate flooring are the most DIY-friendly. Peel-and-stick tile is another easy DIY option.


Which flooring increases home value most?

Quality hardwood flooring in good condition provides the biggest resale value boost. Ceramic tile and high-end carpeting also add value.


Can I install new floors over existing floors?

Removing old floors is advised for best results. However, you can sometimes install floating vinyl and laminate over existing floors. The subfloor must be flat and clean with no loose tiles or grout. Check if the floor manufacturer allows this.


How long does new flooring last?

It depends on the material. Properly maintained hardwood can last over 100 years. Laminate and vinyl last 25 to 30 years. Carpet lasts 8 to 15 years before needing replacement. Tile can last 50+ years with proper subfloor prep and installation.


Should I install underlayment?

Underlayment helps smooth out minor subfloor imperfections. It’s required for floating floors and helps reduce noise. Use moisture barrier underlayment for wood, laminate, or vinyl floors. Pick one with good compression to cushion floors.


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