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The Pros and Cons of Different Flooring Types

Your walls, furniture, and accessories may get all of the attention, but floors create the canvas around which you design any room.

That’s why choosing the right type of flooring is a pivotal decision as you decorate your home.

image - The Pros and Cons of Different Flooring Types
The Pros and Cons of Different Flooring Types

With so much different flooring out there, though, it can be a tough choice for you to make. To simplify things, here’s our list of the pros and cons of some of the most popular flooring materials.

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Vinyl: Pros

Vinyl is a low-cost material that you can easily install yourself. Sometimes, you just have to peel off the back to reveal an adhesive, then push it into place.

Once you have vinyl floors, you can keep them clean with regular sweeping and mopping. If they get stained, you can scrub them a bit with soap and water, which should do the trick.

Finally, vinyl floors come in a multitude of designs and colors, so you will undoubtedly find something to fit your aesthetic, as well.

Vinyl: Cons

The biggest issue with vinyl floors is that they aren’t very durable. You can’t repair it once it’s damaged, either — unless, of course, you remove the entire floor and put down a new one.

There’s some evidence that vinyl can reduce indoor air quality, too. Some varieties can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air during installation. However, you can find non-toxic vinyl options.

Ceramic Tile: Pros

You can find ceramic tiles in just about any color. Plus, they come in a slew of eye-catching designs, if you want to make a flooring statement.

Ceramic tile is durable and much more scratch-resistant than, say, vinyl. And, if you do happen to drop something and crack a tile, you can easily remove it and replace it without having to take up the entire floor.

Because they’re so durable, ceramic tiles are easy to clean — and great for houses with pets and kids. It’s also a cost-effective choice, as most options will cost less than $20 per square foot.

Most ceramic tiles won’t need regular re-sealing, unlike other similar materials, such as marble. So, after you’ve purchased and installed your tiles, you won’t have to pay any more money to maintain them.

Ceramic Tile: Cons

You might want to skip out on ceramic tile if you live in a cold climate. The material becomes cold, too, and it’s unpleasant to stand on with bare feet.

Plus, it can be slippery, even when it’s not wet. So, if you have elderly family members or young children in your house, you may want to choose a more forgiving flooring material.

Hardwood: Pros

Installing hardwood floors isn’t just a design choice — it’s an investment in your property. If you plan to sell in the future, you can rest assured that you’ll see a return on your purchase. Hardwood is a timelessly desirable feature, after all.

Hardwood flooring comes in a slew of colors, sizes, and finishes. You can choose a different pattern, too, to make it even more of a focal point.

On top of that, hardwood floors create instant insulation for your home, thus making them warmer on your feet than ceramic tile. Professional installers will make sure they’re in tightly to create this barrier — a flooring installation estimate will let you know how much this service costs.

Hardwood: Cons

Speaking of installation costs, choosing hardwood is not going to be cheap. Even if you see it as an investment in your property, it’s still going to cost a pretty penny to get hardwoods, from the install to the materials.

Plus, you’ll need to have your hardwoods re-sealed every few years. This process will keep them looking their best, but, again, it’s another expense to consider.

Finally, hardwoods scratch easily. They can warp if exposed to too much moisture. So, choose something other than this material in your bathroom.

Bamboo: Pros

Many people tout bamboo as an ideal replacement for hardwood. Indeed, it’s a more eco-friendly option, as bamboo grows much quicker than the matured trees required to make wooden planks.

Bamboo costs about the same as hardwood — it typically costs less than $10 per square foot to have excellent quality bamboo installed.

You can easily maintain your bamboo as you would your hardwood floors. Sweep and vacuum them every so often to keep them clean. They’re harder than hardwood, so they resist water damage a bit more effectively.

Bamboo: Cons

You can stain hardwoods to create just about any flooring color. The same can’t be said for bamboo.

Most bamboo flooring options will come in a lighter wood shade. Some brands perform a carbonizing process to darken their planks. But you still won’t get the same range of colors as you do with wood floors.

Plus, each plank of bamboo will appear to have the same grain pattern. If you like the variations in wood flooring, then bamboo might be too uniform for you.

Laminate: Pros

Both bamboo and hardwood may be out of your price range. You can get a similar look with laminate planks.

This material comes in a rainbow of colors, and the planks are much more cost-effective than hardwood. You can easily install them yourself, too.

Sweeping and mopping will keep your laminate floors in good shape — no other maintenance required.

Laminate: Cons

Although the upfront cost of laminate is less than hardwood, they do need replacing more frequently. So, you could end up spending more in the long run if you install laminate, then replace it with more laminate, and so on.

Laminate isn’t quite water-resistant, although it’s tougher than hardwood in this department. Still, you shouldn’t put it in the bathroom.

Finally, some laminates can release formaldehyde into the air. If you want to maintain your indoor air quality, choose a more natural material — or a non-toxic laminate.

Of All the Different Flooring, One’s For You

Now that you’ve weighed up these flooring pros and cons, you may have realized which material is right for you. Or, perhaps you want to go in a new direction with different flooring, not on this list.

Either way, you have a better idea of which material will suit you, your lifestyle, and your family. It may be time to call in the home flooring pros and get started on a design project that will transform your space.

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