There are many types of home flooring materials, including exotic options like cork, bamboo, and limestone.
If you're looking for something a bit more utilitarian, however, or something that will have resale value down the line, you'll need to stick to common types.
Consider this your guide to popular types of home flooring.
Solid Wood Flooring
Solid hardwood floors are both fashionable and functional. Not only are they made with gorgeous timber like oak, maple, mahogany, and pine, but they can also be sanded and finished to make them completely smooth to the touch. Typically seen in living room designs, hardwood can also look great in kitchens, dens, offices, and even bedrooms. And, they'll be easy to clean to boot – genuine hardwood floors are very resistant to stains.
The downside of solid wood flooring is that it has a tendency to expand and shrink when it takes in moisture from the air. If you've ever seen "bloated" wood in a humid climate, it was probably hardwood.
Additionally, while durable (and thus, long-lasting), the purchase and installation of this type of flooring can be quite costly. You'll need to seriously decide if hardwood floors are right for you.
Engineered Wood Flooring
If you're stuck on the appeal of hardwood, but also stuck on a budget, consider the engineered version instead. It puts a thin layer of real timber over a much thicker layer of plywood or composite wood, so you'll enjoy the appearance of true cherry wood with something a little less expensive underneath.
The biggest benefit of engineered wood flooring is that it's cheaper and easier to install than real hardwood. It's also designed to avoid the issues with moisture experienced with conventional hardwood. Free from the fear of warping or swelling, this type of flooring is a low-maintenance option, offering you a workable compromise on the real thing.
A drawback of engineered wood flooring is that it usually can't be refinished more than once. The veneers will be too thin to hold up under such a procedure, so they'll need to be replaced when the time comes.
If you're looking for a good "all-over" floor, laminate might be the right choice for you. It's typically made with vinyl or fibreboards that have been coated with a clear protective layer of plastic, and depending on the type of sub-layer, it can assume the look of many other kinds of floors.
Laminate is a popular choice for home flooring because of its versatility. It can be installed anywhere in your house without fear of water damage ruining its appearance, so whether you're having an attic bedroom built or developing a basement home theatre, laminate is a potential choice there. It's also very stain-resistant and easy to clean, so it can be a family-friendly kitchen feature.
The downside of laminate is that it can look cheap after a few years when it's been worn down by foot traffic. It also won't be mistaken for real hardwood even if it mimics the appearance of something like pine or cherry; it's too polished to have the grains and imperfections of actual timber. If you're trying to fool your guests into thinking you have hardwood, you might consider engineered wood floors instead of laminate ones.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Many people are surprised to learn that vinyl plank flooring is not the same as laminate flooring. While both are low-maintenance, low-cost, and durable in nature, there are a few key differences that may affect your final decision. Similar to laminate, luxury vinyl flooring has the ability to mimic natural products, but of both stone and wood.
While laminate uses a "click-and-lock" installation system, luxury vinyl flooring instead is glued down making it even more water resistant. This makes it a top choice for areas where spills are common, such as the kitchen. Another difference would be the actual materials used, with laminate made primarily with wood, and luxury vinyl will feel thicker and plastic. The deciding factor, then, will likely come down to a personal preference.
Most common in kitchens and bathrooms, tile flooring can be created with everything from ceramic to sandstone. It's tough enough to withstand years of foot traffic, and even if something does crack or chip, it's a simple job to remove the flawed tile and replace it with another just like it.
Tile flooring also has the advantage of being very customizable. You might think of it as a boring, uniform kind of floor, but the truth is that tile is available in all kinds of cuts, colours, sizes, shapes, and patterns. You can get really creative with your tile installation if you have a little imagination and a willingness to experiment. One word: mosaics!
Cleaning your tiles can be a pain, though, especially if grime gets inside the cracks. The glazed surface will be easy to wipe off, but the cracks will be where the dirt tends to gather. This is something to consider if you hate getting down on your hands and knees to scrub. You'll also need to be careful with breakable objects around hard tile surfaces; if you have toddlers roaming your house with clumsy hands, tile might be something that you reserve for the bathroom only.
These are just some of the most common flooring types in contemporary homes. Whether you're looking for something glamorously, stylish or functionally efficient, use these facts and tips to figure out which flooring materials are right for you.