Flooring Options and Costs – Forbes Advisor

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The floor is the largest surface area in the home, and choosing the best type of floor for your space depends on your budget, lifestyle, and personal taste. Each type has its unique benefits, and determining which flooring is best depends on each room’s needs and location.

Popular floor coverings include wood, engineered flooring, vinyl, tile and carpet. Learn about the most common types of flooring, the best material attributes and best use of each, and overall flooring costs.

REMARK: The early half of 2021 saw an unprecedented labor shortage as a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with this, the demand for construction materials and jobs has skyrocketed. As a result, material prices may be higher than shown in this article and delivery times may be longer than usual for labor and materials.

Hardwood floor

Hardwood flooring comes from a solid piece of machined wood and has solid wood throughout. Popular hardwood varieties include maple, oak, walnut, or cherry. Its versatility and quality make it a desirable flooring option for many home buyers.

However, it is one of the most expensive floor coverings on the market and it does require regular maintenance, such as using a specialist hardwood floor cleaner once a month and applying a new coat of finish every three to five years, to keep them looking good. The average cost of an installed hardwood floor is $5 to $10 per square foot.

Benefits

  • Increases the value of the house
  • Can be repainted several times
  • Many options available
  • Strong and durable

The inconvenients

  • Expensive
  • Can lead to scuffs, scratches and dents in high traffic areas
  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Not suitable for bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements

Engineered wood floors

Engineered wood floors offer the look of real wood at a more affordable price than solid wood. The floor features a thin layer of hardwood glued to a high quality plywood substrate. It is as durable as a solid hardwood floor and can last just as long if properly cared for.

Engineered wood floors are a good choice for DIYers to install, saving you money on installation costs. The average cost of installed engineered wood flooring is $4 to $9 per square foot.

Benefits

  • Suitable for DIY
  • Has a real hardwood top layer
  • Better humidity and water resistance than real wood
  • Less likely to warp
  • Multiple Installation Methods

The inconvenients

  • Cannot be repainted more than once
  • Not fade resistant
  • Great variation in quality
  • Can sound hollow underfoot
  • Emits VOCs

Laminate flooring

Laminate is an affordable flooring option for homeowners who prefer an alternative to carpeting but want to avoid the cost of hardwood or tile.

The floors are made of a wooden base of particleboard topped with a wooden or tiled picture under a transparent plastic protective layer. This flooring is very easy to DIY and the laminate offers a multitude of texture and color options. The average cost of having laminate flooring installed is $3 to $7 per square foot.

Benefits

  • Inexpensive compared to wood
  • Easy to clean
  • scratch resistant
  • Suitable for DIY
  • Several styles and colors available

The inconvenients

  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Flakes easily
  • Doesn’t look or feel like wood
  • Has a hollow sound underfoot

Vinyl floor

Vinyl flooring is extremely water resistant and will not suffer damage even if water remains on the surface for a long time. Composed of plastic, it is available in plank, tile and sheet form.

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) are two forms that have recently gained popularity due to their durability and the variety of styles available. The average installation cost varies by shape; the middle range is $1.50 (vinyl sheet) to $6 or more (LVP and LVT) per square foot.

Benefits

  • Good for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements
  • Sustainable
  • Water and fade resistant
  • Suitable for DIY
  • Many design choices available
  • Easy to maintain

The inconvenients

  • LVP and LVT are more expensive than laminate
  • Lower ROI than wood

Tile

Tile is a popular choice for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens. The most common tiling materials are ceramic or porcelain. Tiles are water resistant, durable and available in a variety of styles and colors.

Installation cost varies by material; for example, glazed ceramic is less expensive than porcelain tiles. The average cost varies from $2.50 per square foot for ceramic tiles and $3 to $10 for porcelain stoneware.

Benefits

  • Waterproof
  • Sustainable
  • Sustainable

The inconvenients

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to install
  • Lots of prep work is required before installation
  • Cold and slippery

stone floor

Natural stone, such as granite, marble, travertine, and sandstone, is a popular flooring choice for indoor and outdoor spaces. Like ceramics and porcelain, stone is extremely durable and waterproof.

The finish of the stone determines the amount of care needed to maintain the floor. However, stone offers a natural beauty and quality unmatched by most types of flooring. Average costs vary from $5 to $10 per square foot.

Benefits

  • Bold and elegant
  • Sustainable
  • Waterproof

The inconvenients

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to install
  • Lots of prep work is required before installation
  • Cold and slippery
  • Difficult to maintain

Linoleum flooring

Linoleum is a durable, eco-friendly flooring option made from linseed oil and cork. Linoleum flooring is affordable and easy to install. Flooring comes in sheet form and in a variety of colors and styles. It is durable (made with elastic materials) and can last for decades if cared for properly.

Linoleum is growing in popularity as flooring manufacturers come up with more modern colors and styles. The average cost of installing linoleum flooring ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot.

Benefits

  • Cheap
  • nature friendly
  • Suitable for DIY
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns
  • Requires little maintenance

The inconvenients

  • Does not increase the value of the house
  • Easily dented or cut
  • May darken or yellow when exposed to sunlight
  • Not suitable for areas prone to moisture

Carpet

Carpet is the preferred flooring option for homeowners, especially in bedrooms. It comes in a variety of colors, materials, and textures. Carpet technology has improved over the years and modern carpets have stain resistant qualities. It is also the most economical flooring option on the market.

Carpet installation varies in price, depending on the type of material and the thickness of the carpet padding. The average cost of carpet installation ranges from $2.50 to $10 per square foot.

Benefits

  • Soft and warm underfoot
  • Visually warms up the space
  • Multiple colors, materials and designs available
  • Ideal for soundproofing
  • Stain resistant varieties exist

The inconvenients

  • Difficult to clean
  • May stain
  • Shows wear pattern
  • Not suitable for allergy sufferers

Alternative materials

Flooring is not limited to the materials mentioned above. There are many non-traditional materials used for flooring. Here are some alternative materials to consider:

Cork: A natural material made from cork oak bark that has excellent fire resistance and sound blocking ability
Rubber: A natural material with good resilience and a non-slip surface
Bamboo: An eco-friendly choice that is a real wood alternative to hardwood floors
terrazzo: A durable composite made of natural stone chips and resin

Conclusion

Choosing the best flooring for your home is not as simple as choosing the best looking one or the one that is on sale. Several factors such as humidity, durability, ease of maintenance and budget greatly influence the decision. A new floor can be an investment, so your floor choice should balance your needs with your style. Be sure to discuss your ideas thoroughly with your chosen flooring contractor to ensure the project is completed to your standards. We recommend checking out the best flooring installation companies to make sure your job is done right.

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