Guide to Choosing Flooring

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Having problem figuring out which flooring is right for you? Hardwood, laminate, tile, vinyl or eco-friendly choices like cork or bamboo? Here are the most famous types to help you choose.

Picking new flooring can be a confusing task. There are lots of materials to choose from, and each type has many options to go along with it. Also, depending on the room, there are a variety of considerations to think about. 

This guide explains the eight most popular types of flooring materials, and their pros and cons.

Hardwood

Hardwood is the flooring of choice for many homeowners because of its durability, warm and natural feel. Of all the hardwoods, oak remains the most famous choice, but other woods like cherry and imported exotic woods such as Brazilian cherry or Tasmanian oak are worth considering. Hardwood floors come in a variety of styles such as plank, parquet and prefinished boards that you can install yourself.

Laminate

Laminate flooring is one of the most popular flooring choices around. It's easier to install than solid-wood hardwood floors and is less expensive. Laminate floors get their name because they're composed of different wood-based materials that are layered, or laminated, together then topped with a wood grain photographic imprint on the face of it each board.

A variation on right laminate floors is engineered wood floors. Engineered wood consists of a real hardwood veneer attached to many plywood layers. This is a little more expensive than laminate because the top layer is real wood rather than a photographic imprint. This top layer of wood gives engineered wood floors a more convincing sound, feel and look than laminate.

Bamboo

Unlike hardwood floors, the material used to create bamboo floors is not a tree, but a lightweight woody grass. The plant has the tensile strength of steel, which can make a highly durable floor that resists swelling and contraction with changes in humidity. Bamboo flooring is pre-finished and engineered with tongue-and-groove joints, just like standard solid wood flooring. Bamboo is grown in controlled forests and takes only three to five years to reach maturity.

Cork

Like bamboo, cork is a green flooring alternative. Another bonus of cork is that the wood's honeycomb-like cellular structure gives the flooring a cushiony feel underfoot. This distinctive structural characteristic also causes cork floors to absorb vibrations and sound. Cork flooring is available in pre-finished tiles. The tiles have a natural, non-slip surface that makes cork ideal for wet areas like kitchens or bathrooms.

Linoleum

Linoleum's current popularity is primarily due to its appeal as a green flooring choice. Linoleum is considered eco-friendly because it's made from natural materials and does not deplete forests. It's made primarily of linseed oil, rosins and wood flour. Because linoleum is composed of natural materials, it creates no adverse health issues during production, installation, use or disposal. The bactericidal properties of natural linoleum stop microorganisms from multiplying, so you often see natural linoleum floors in many hospitals.

In addition to the health benefits, linoleum flooring is antistatic, reducing the potential for electric shock. It is also easy to clean, comfortable underfoot and is available in tiles in a wide range of vibrant colors, which can be combined to create distinctive patterns.

Tile

Porcelain is a popular choice as is terracotta and natural stone, such as marble, granite, travertine or slate. When selecting flooring on a budget, porcelain is the most cost-effective. It combines the beauty and hardness of stone, but costs considerably less and is much easier to maintain than marble, which is porous and must periodically be resealed. It is available in a wide range of hues, textures, and finishes. You can unleash your creativity and combine tiles of various sizes, colors, and textures to create a one-of-a-kind floor.

Vinyl

One of the most value-conscious flooring options today is vinyl. It's an especially popular choice for rooms that are prone to moisture problems, such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Vinyl is also easy to clean and softer underfoot than tile. Vinyl is available as sheets and self-stick tiles. It is sold in a variety of widths and thicknesses. One rule to remember when selecting vinyl is the thicker it is, the more traffic it can bear.

Concrete

Concrete is one of the hottest flooring options today. With the full range of sealers and specialty stains currently on the market, dull and gray concrete can be stamped and stained to resemble polished marble, tumbled stone, brick pavers or anything you wish. There's no limit to the design possibilities, that's the real beauty of concrete floors. Do you want long-lasting durability? Concrete holds up like no other flooring. Do you want low maintenance? Concrete is as little as it goes. It's also the perfect flooring for radiant heat.


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