Types of Flooring Introduction
Choosing the correct types of flooring for your home can be a daunting task. With the many styles and hundreds of colours to choose from, figuring out which type of flooring works best for you is no simple undertaking.
On top of that, there are different types of flooring more suited for children and pets. These floors are scratch resistant and easier to clean than others. Furthermore, flooring can be selected on a room to room basis and by budget.
This guide on the different types of floorings will explain the pros and cons of each material, the costs associated with supply and installation and which rooms its best suited for. Below is a quick summary on the different flooring types in North America.
1. The Most Common Types of Flooring.
- Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood
- Luxury Vinyl Plank
2. The Pros, Cons, and Costs of Each Type of Flooring.
- Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood
- Luxury Vinyl Plank
3. Choosing The Right Flooring For Your Lifestyle.
- Families with Kids
- With Pets
- People with Allergies
4. Best Flooring For Your Rooms.
- Living Room
5. What Works Best For You.
Remember: The material used for flooring can be affected by costs, ease of installation and the style you prefer. Some flooring is better for noise insulation while others are better for longevity and resale purposes. Moisture can greatly damage laminate but with LVP it is unaffected by it. You should always look at all the pros and cons of each type of flooring before making your selection.
Quick Definition: What is a subfloor? A subfloor is a substrate in which the flooring material is laid upon. It can be foam for carpet or plywood for hardwood. Flooring installed in the basement is usually installed on the concrete. The concrete in this scenario serves as the subfloor.
1. The Most Common Types of Flooring.
Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood.
Engineered wood flooring is very similar to wood flooring. The main difference is that solid wood floors are made from a single piece of wood while engineered wood is not. Engineered hardwood is comprised of plywood with a thin natural strip of wood finish on top. Because of this composition, engineered flooring can’t be refinished as many times as natural wood.
However, because plywood composition, it is made to be more resilient against moisture. It is subject to less shrinkage and will not warp with time. Natural wood can be sanded and refinished many times which is a positive but comes with a greater expense than engineered flooring. Engineered flooring is easier to install, is more environmentally friendly, and looks almost identical to wood. In the end of the day it’s near impossible to tell the difference.
The 2 Types of Hardwood.
Hardwood is made from dense wood species. These species include maple, birch, oak and walnut. Hardwood is also very resilient to scratches and stains. Thats why these floors are perfect in places with high traffic and homes with kids and pets. Hardwood is best installed in front entries, kitchens and mudrooms.
Softwoods on the other hand are made from soft wood species. These include cedar, fir, pine and spruce. Softwood is easily scratched and dented but will feel very soft compared to hardwood. Its only best to install this type of wood in bedrooms and areas of light traffic. If you have kids or pets, stay away from this type of wood.
Hardwood Shapes and Widths.
There are 4 basic shapes and patterns of hardwood. Planks, strips, parquets, and tile.
Planks are pieces of hardwood that are usually greater than 3 inches. It is the most common style installed.
Strips are narrow lengths of wood flooring that are predominantly installed in older homes. They are 2.5 inches and less in width.
Parquet floors are wood strips butted together to make geometric shapes.
Tile hardwood looks very similar to tile flooring and is rarely used.
Should you have a subfloor before installing hardwood?
The simple answer is yes. The most common subfloors are plywood, concrete and existing flooring. When it comes to installation, the most important factor to consider is to have a very smooth subfloor beneath. This will prevent warping and increase the longevity of the product.
Is hardwood nailed down or glued?
Hardwood can be nailed down and glued to the subfloor. It can be fastened with nails or staples or alternatively glued with an adhesive. The nail down method is the most common type of installation with a pneumatic nailer. An interlock floating system is rarely used.
Is wood flooring expensive?
Natural wood flooring is probably the most expensive type of floor. This is because it requires the most amount of labor to create and manufature. However wood flooring will hold its value for many years in a home.
Luxury Vinyl Plank
LVP flooring, or luxury vinyl plank is the most common type of flooring. The reason is that it is extremely durable, cost effective, and has the greatest selection of styles. LVP flooring is comprised of 4 layers. The bottom layer is the backing, the next is the core, and the next two are the photographic layer followed by the wear layer. The photographic layer is the design that mimics the wood or tile and the wear layer offers the protection. There are different thicknesses on the wear layer and core. The thickest will substantially increase the price of the product compared to the thinnest but offer the greatest durability.
Many people often confuse laminate and LVP. The biggest difference is that the core of LVP is made from plastic while laminate is wood. Because of this, laminate is very susceptible to warping and should not be installed in areas with moisture. Lastly LVP is more durable and should be installed in homes with kids and pets relative to laminate.
How is LVP installed?
Luxury vinyl plank is most commonly installed by floating it over the subfloor. Like laminate, the flooring system is interlocked and unattached to subfloor below. LVP can also be glued down directly as well.
Tile is a manufactured piece of hard wearing material found naturally in the world. It is most commonly made from ceramic stones, porcelain, and travertine materials. Other common materials include marble and clay. Tile is most predominantly installed in areas of high moisture content and rooms that have high traffic.
The most common places tile is installed in a home is:
- Your kitchen
- The bathrooms
- In front entries and mudrooms
The reason why tile is used in areas of high moisture content is because it isn’t porous. Tile flooring is not subject to warping, can be very durable, and holds its value with time. Lastly, tile can be made to be slip resistant and can be installed outside. Many people are starting to install tile on porches and on decks with a slip resistant coating.
How tile is installed
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile – Whats the Difference
Ceramic tile is crafted from clay. It is then hardened using heat and shaped into patterns. The patterns are cut into specific sizes of tile before sold to the consumer. Porcelain on the other hand, is a type of ceramic tile but is manufactured more intensely to increase its durability. It is stronger than standard ceramic tile and is more resistant to cracking. Ceramic is more affordable and easier to cut. Porcelain tile is a better choice.
This type of flooring is the second cheapest other than carpet. It is similar to luxury vinyl plank but does not offer the same protection against moisture. It is a lower end product that is usually installed by house flippers to save on costs while providing a beautiful looking floor for the potential buyer.
Laminate flooring consists of the same backing layer, core, photographic and wear layer like LVP. Since laminates core is made from wood, it warps and damages easily.
Does Laminate Require an Underlay?
Yes! Since Laminate flooring is made from wood material it can swell and shrink similar to hardwood flooring. The subfloor will keep the laminate flat and hold it in place when expansion and contraction takes place. The subfloor will prevent warping and provide a smooth surface to install the material. The most common underlays are foam, cork (for sound resistance), cement board and plywood.
How is Laminate Installed?
The most common type of installation method for laminate is called floating. This means the laminate is interlocked together above the subfloor below. It isn’t attached by any means and therefore is considered to float. The second most common way that laminate is installed is a glue down method. This is seldom done.
Carpet flooring is made from individual carpet fibres that are bound together to make the rug. This type of flooring is used in bedrooms and living rooms. It is the cheapest to supply and install but wears easily. It offers a warm and comfortable feeling in the home and is very soft on the feet.This flooring comes in wool, polyester, and nylon materials. Carpet is installed indoors and will last up to 15 years before being replaced.
It is important to remember that quality of carpet is measured on the number of fibres per square inch. The more there are, the softer and more durable the carpet will be. Furthermore, It will be more expensive than carpet with less fibres.
Lastly, other than fibre count, carpet can be categorized into varying twists of the fibres. This is called the berber. The two main types of twists are looped (for high traffic areas like hallways) and multiple twisted (low traffic areas like bedrooms). Carpets come in 6, 12, 13.5 and 15 foot rolls.
How is Carpet Installed?
There are two ways carpet is installed. One is the tackless method and the other is the glue down installation. Tackless installation is the most common where a tacking strip in placed on the perimeter of the room with pins sticking out. The carpet laid out and stretched over the pins to be held in place. This method can be installed with baseboards on by using a tucking tool. The other glue down method occurs when you place a carpet adhesive over the subfloor and roll it onto place. This is becoming less common every day as the tackless method is the simplest and cheapest to do.
The underlay for a carpet is a soft padding material. It is placed underneath the install to minimize noise, add softness and increase the comfort of the floor. It can vary based on density and include a memory foam layer to keep the shape consistent. Lastly, the density rating affects the softness and the longevity of the carpet. For example, the lower the rating, the softer the carpet feels but comes with a decreased longevity. The denser the padding is the longer it lasts.
2. The Pros, Cons, and Costs of Each Type of Flooring.
Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood
The Cost of Hardwood
- Uninstalled hardwood ranges from $4 to $18 dollars per square foot dependent on the woos.
- Installed wood flooring can range anywhere from $6 to over $22 per square foot
The Positives and Negatives of Wood Flooring
- Can last for 20 to 50 plus years in a home
- Hardwood offers the best return on investment of any flooring
- It comes in many styles, shapes, and designs
- There are multiple woods to choose from
- Natural wood flooring is completely organic
- It can be used in any area of the home
- Engineered hardwood is very moisture resistant and extremely durable
- Natural Wood floor can warp with time
- Wood flooring compared to engineered can be damaged by moisture and pets
- Wood and tile flooring are the most expensive materials of floor
- If the wood chosen is soft, it can be damaged by kids and pets quickly
- Engineered wood flooring can be seldom refinished
- Humidity has the greatest affect on wood flooring
Note: Make sure you have a consistent humidity and temperature in the home if using hardwood. If not, it will expand and shrink and warp the finished product. Don’t install this flooring without a humidifier.
Luxury Vinyl Plank
The Costs of LVP
- LVP Uninstalled can cost slightly over $1 a square foot to $8 a square foot
- Installing LVP can range from $2.50 to $13 per square foot with material
The Positives and Negatives of Luxury Vinyl Plank
- It comes in a wide selection of thicknesses
- It can look to match almost any hardwood
- LVP is very waterproof
- This material is durable and scratch resistant
- Its a great selection of flooring for homes with pets
- Luxury vinyl plank can last over 20 years
- Its easy to install yourself
- LVP is one of the most used flooring materials
- It can’t be refinished
- LVP doesn’t have the same resale value as wood
- It can emit volatile organic compounds over long periods of time
The Costs of Tile
- Tile being uninstalled can range from $1 to over $18 per square foot for marble for example
- If it is installed, the prices can range from $5 to $30 per square foot
Positives and Negatives of Tile Flooring
- It can last up to 50 years
- Tile comes in different sizes, shapes, and materials used to make it
- Its the best material installed in bathrooms and entryways
- It can be used on walls and decorative areas other than only floors
- It has the widest range in costs
- Tile can be very cold to walk on. It is very hard and can be slippery when wet
- Porcelain and ceramic tile are very brittle and crack easily when installing
Recommendation: Tile in bathrooms can be very cold. Consider installing electric heat below to increase the satisfaction with the flooring.
The Costs of Laminate
- Uninstalled Laminate can cost anywhere from $1 to $6 per square foot
- If laminate is Installed, the price can range from $2 to $10 per square foot with labor included(don’t forget to get multiple quotes).
The Positives and Negatives of Laminate
- Laminate is almost as affordable as carpet
- It is very easy to install yourself
- Its easy to clean and great for people with allergies
- Laminate flooring can come in a wide selection of designs
- The greatest negative with Laminate is that it is susceptible to water damage
- Laminate flooring swells when wet relative to all other types of flooring
- It is not durable and shouldn’t be used in homes with pets
The Costs of Carpet.
- Uninstalled carpet costs from $1 to $4 a square foot
- Installed carpet can cost anywhere from $3 to $7 a square foot
Pros and Cons of Carpet.
- It is very soft
- Carpet offers a warm feeling in the home
- It works great when installed on concrete in the basement
- It offers a cushion for kids
- Has the shortest life
- Is the toughest to clean
- The worst flooring for trapping allergens
3. Choosing The Right Flooring For Your Lifestyle.
Families with Kids.
The best flooring for kids is luxury vinyl plank. LVP is extremely water resistant, easy to clean and very durable. It’s near impossible to wreck and looks great with time. However, LVP can be cold if installed directly onto concrete and is a hard surface to land on. Parents should take this into consideration before installing this type of flooring.
Next to vinyl plank, engineered hardwood and carpet are the next alternatives for families with children. Carpet is very warm when installed in bedrooms and offers a cushion when falls happen. Its tough to clean but is the cheapest flooring out there.
Engineered hardwood is similar to LVP except that it is more expensive. This flooring is extremely water resistant, easy to clean but comes with a higher price tag than LVP.
People with Pets.
The worst flooring you could get while having pets is carpet followed by laminate. Carpet traps hair and stains when accidents happen on the flooring. Laminate will swell if the pet pees on the floor and scratches easily with their nails.
LVP and tile flooring are the top two choices for families with pets. Tile can be more expensive, but by selecting a porcelain or ceramic tile (hard surfaces) which are reasonably priced, won’t scratch and hold up with time.
Individuals with Allergies.
The best flooring for people with allergies and asthmatic conditions is LVP, laminate, and tile flooring. All three types of floorings are very easy to clean and won’t trap allergens and dirt. LVP and laminates wear layer makes the surface easy to sweep and vacuum while LVP you can mop. Tile is just as easy to clean and is the most water resistant flooring.
Carpet is the worst choice of flooring asthmatic and allergic conditions.
Types of Flooring that offer Sustainable Benefits.
The most sustainable type of flooring would be wood. Specifically, oak floors are considered the most eco friendly solution when choosing a flooring type. In North America, trees used for lumber and flooring must be replanted after harvesting is completed. Forest management and protection programs make sure that every tree taken is filled with a new sapling. Oak however has the smallest carbon footprint and releases the least toxic emissions during manufacturing compared to all other wood floors.
Second to wood is wool made carpet.
4. Best Types of Flooring For Your Rooms.
Different types of flooring have positives and negatives affects when installed in a home. Rooms throughout the home have specific uses with varying amounts of traffic. Your kitchen will be the most used room followed by the living room. Your bedroom will be used the least but is meant to offer a warm and comfy feeling relative to others. Because of these differences, below are the recommendations for flooring types in each room.
The bathroom floor should be waterproof and moisture resistant. There is no room in the house that has more moisture build up than a bathroom. With showers, sinks, spilled water and wet feet, the best recommendation for bathroom flooring is slip resistant tile or LVP.
Both of these floorings are extremely waterproof, durable, and can tied into flooring outside the room.
You would never put carpet or laminate in a bathroom, but can put engineered hardwood if you choose.
Your bedroom is meant for comfort and warmth. Therefore this room is up to your personal preference. Since there is low moisture content and people mainly wear socks, there is almost no possibility of damaging the floors in this room.
Carpets can add warmth and softness while hardwood will bring out beauty of the surround features. Laminate is a great choice of flooring for people on a budget and tile can add a sense of luxury to the room. Kids bedrooms should be installed with carpet or with a wood flooring to offer a greater protection against falls. Wood is softer than all flooring other than carpet and is easily cleaned.
This room in the home receives the most amount of traffic. The kitchen is susceptible to moisture, spills, and falling utensils when cooking. Because of this the kitchen needs to be durable, scratch resistant and resistant to water.
Based on personal experience as custom home builders, the best flooring for the kitchen is tile, engineered hardwood and LVP. All of these flooring choices fit the criteria for being moisture resistant and extremely durable. Tile is the coldest floor to walk on while LVP is the most cost effective of the three. If you have an open concept kitchen tied to other rooms, having engineered hardwood throughout the area will tie the rooms together.
It’s important to remember that if you choose tile, make sure it is slip resistant and the grout colour hides stains. If you choose laminate flooring because of budget, the significant drawback is that it can warp with moisture.
Like bedrooms, the types of flooring selected for your living room flooring is your personal preference.
While kitchens and bathroom flooring need practical flooring, living room floors are a matter of personal preference. Since living rooms have a lower chance of moisture problems and are typically low-traffic areas, you have a wider range of options. However, we think hardwood floors are ideal because they last for decades, match any style aesthetic, are easy to clean, and add value to your home.
If hardwood floors aren’t for you, then laminate, LVT, tile, or carpet tile are good options. You’re only limited by your budget, your personal aesthetics, and your imagination. Don’t forget to layer the room with area rugs to protect from scratches and furniture.
Hallways, Entries and Mudrooms.
These rooms are high traffic areas. The types of flooring selected for these areas must be durable and easy to clean. These places need to be swept, mopped and clean constantly. Thats why it important to select a stain resistant material that is resistant to water.
The best flooring for hallways and entries are tile, LVP and engineered hardwood. They all offer great protection against moisture and stains while are durable at the same time. Tile and LVP is very scratch resistant but hardwood adds value like no other type of floor. If you want to retain resale value in 10 years time, tile or hardwood flooring would be the floor to use.
Most basement subfloors are made from concrete. These floors are cold and hard to walk on. Basments in homes are prone to flooding are an area in the home that experiences the most mold. Lastly, sewage backups are another concern to remember before installing flooring in an old house.
If you have bedrooms and basements in your basement, we recommend installing LVP on the floor. Make sure you add a layer of padding to separate the concrete from the planks. If in-floor heating is installed there is no concern. LVP is cost effect as your basement is your least used room and offers the protection against water and mold. If flooding occurs through cracks in your foundation, it is easily cleaned without being replaced.
5. Types of Flooring – How to Choose The Best Floor.
When choosing between the different types of flooring for your home, it’s important to look at the pros and negatives of each material. Your decision can be determined by personal preferences and body conditions. If you have pets, you want to stay away from carpet and laminate. If you have allergies, tile and LVP are great selections as they are easily cleaned. Lastly, when you decide on the flooring, make sure it fits you budget. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us to help your decision process seam seamless. Enjoy the ultimate guide to flooring material.