Overview of Flooring Options
One of the least expensive flooring materials, carpet comes in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and textures. Installing carpet can cut down on noise, especially when used on upper levels. Carpet can be installed over other types of flooring, so it’s a good option if you need to hide imperfections, such as wood floors that are in need of refinishing. However, carpet isn’t as easily cleaned as other types of flooring, and requires regular vacuuming and shampooing. Carpet can harbor bacteria and dust mites, and wall-to-wall carpeting may not be the best choice for those with allergies. With a bit of care, carpet isn’t exceedingly difficult to install.
There’s definitely something appealing about the look of a gleaming hardwood floor. Properly sealed wood floors can be cleaned with a wet mop, so it’s easy to keep them free of dust and bacteria. Hardwood flooring is water-resistant and relatively durable, although, depending on the wood used, could be susceptible to gouges. Real wood flooring is also one of the more expensive flooring options. Wood flooring can be installed without a professional, but the installation is on the difficult side in comparison with other types of flooring.
Laminate flooring consists of a printed paper layer beneath a thick clear plastic coating, and comes in a wide variety of options, including prints that look very close to real wood floors. Because laminate is resistant to dents, it’s ideal for high-traffic areas. Laminate flooring is also a fraction of the cost of wood floors. Installing laminate flooring falls into the medium range of difficulty, but with careful attention to training materials or videos, it can be done without hiring a professional.
Linoleum & Vinyl
Linoleum and vinyl are similar in appearance but have very different characteristics. Linoleum is made of natural materials and is biodegradable, while vinyl is made of synthetic materials, and is thinner than linoleum. Both come in an endless number of colors and patterns, and both are on the lower end of the cost spectrum. Vinyl is slightly easier to maintain, but is more likely to tear – with proper maintenance, linoleum floors will likely last longer. Either vinyl or linoleum flooring is a good choice for high-traffic areas due to their durability and ease of cleanup. Vinyl and linoleum come in very easy to install squares, or in sheets that require careful measuring, but are definitely still do-able for the average person.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles can be both beautiful and functional. If you decide to install tile flooring, you’ll have your choice of many decorative options. Tile floors withstand moisture well and are easy to clean. However, they are cold on feet and, when wet, can be very slippery. Tiles can also be subject to chipping. The cost of tile flooring can widely vary depending on the tile chosen. While the installation isn’t overly difficult, is very physically demanding.
If you’re seeking an eco-friendly flooring material, consider bamboo. Bamboo floors looks similar to wood floors, but Bamboo is a much more sustainable material (due to the time frame needed to grow bamboo versus trees). Bamboo floors are strong, durable, and moisture-resistant. They are not, however, inexpensive.
Cork floors, made from the bark of a cork tree, are another green flooring option that’s increasing in popularity. If you choose cork flooring, you won’t have as many options in terms of color, but you will get a flooring material that’s a good sound insulator, shock absorbent, and resilient to pressure and impact. However, cork floors aren’t as durable as many other types of flooring. Cork comes in tiles that are relatively simple to install over other flooring materials.
The above make up the most common types of floors, but for the adventurous, there are other options available. These include floors made of leather, aluminum, and “reclaimed” flooring materials which are created from recycled porcelain, cork, and more.
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