What is the most durable flooring?

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Hardwood floors have long been the most popular type of flooring in real estate. But they may not be the best choice for high-traffic areas of a home, according to a new Consumer Reports analysis. Hardwoods are prone to scratching and they can show a lot of wear, testers say.

Instead, in high-traffic areas of the home, such as family rooms, kitchens, hallways and mudrooms, wood-look porcelain tiles are the best option, according to Consumer Reports testing. This is a relatively new type of flooring.

“Tile is the highest-rated flooring among the categories we test,” says Enrique de Paz, who leads flooring testing at Consumer Reports. “It does not wear, scratch or stain. Its color won’t fade, it’s waterproof, and it’s surprisingly non-slip, even when wet. Porcelain tiles are the best choice for bathrooms, mudrooms, laundry rooms and probably kitchens.

In kitchens, warns de Paz, tiles can crack if something heavy falls on them.

But the tile options beat hardwood flooring, which showed more wear than other types of flooring tested in the busiest areas of the home, the study notes. Laminate and vinyl products often performed better than hardwood flooring. The report notes that “you can get both durability and beauty from many types of flooring, including engineered wood, laminate, porcelain tile, and vinyl.”

Yet hardwood floors are often a homeowner’s favorite and can add value to a home.

Check out Consumer Reports’ analysis of the different types of flooring.

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