When you think about the abuse that your floor goes through every day, it’s amazing most floors can last decades. Every day your floors endure spills, scratches, dents, scrapes, and general wear and tear. Bare feet leave oil on the floor, furniture dent, scratches, and pets leave little surprises.
The good thing is there are types of flooring for every room and application. Most are very durable but they all have different strengths and weaknesses and levels of quality. The key is to choose the right flooring for the application.
In no particular order here are the pros and cons of various flooring.
Lino made from linseed oil, and now PVC, have been around for 150 years. It’s water and stain resistant, won’t shrink or expand with heat or humidity, soft enough to stand on or drop dishes on. It can be inexpensive and comes in thousands of colors and patterns. It does require a quality subfloor and prep work to get a perfect finished product. Lino does not absorb sound well, nor is it comfortable to lay on or play on. It can work in every room in the house but is best suited for kitchens and bathrooms.
Carpet has been around for thousands of years, but synthetic fibers in use for the last 50 years have significantly brought down the cost and increased the durability. Quality new carpets are very stain resistant, absorb sound, are comfortable to walk and lay on and can withstand a lot of abuse. Cleaning them takes more work than other floors making them impractical for bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways. Carpet should be installed by a professional but it is much less labor intensive than other flooring and does not require a perfect subfloor.
Wood flooring has many great attributes and with the different styles available now, the possible applications for wood and laminate have greatly increased. 30 years ago, wood was…well… just wood. Its application, color, species, and style choice was limited and expensive. Now there is every choice of wood species and finish under the sun. The advent of engineered and laminate wood flooring has improved durability and simplified installation. Wood floors, however, don’t absorb sound, can be cold to walk on and hard to play or lay on. Moisture will ruin a wood floor so it is not well suited for basements, kitchens, or bathrooms. Their range in durability is based on wood species, construction, and finish. Even the hardest woods will scratch and dent if not treated well but if they are kept clean and furniture feet are padded, hardwood can look great for decades.
Tile has a rich natural look like wood but functions very differently. It is the best suited of all materials for wet applications. Like the other flooring types, the colors and textures are limitless. Most tile is very durable, but some cheaper tile has a painted finish that does not last long. The hard cold feel and expensive application are the main negatives of tile. However, it is so practical in bathrooms and entryways. The square footage in those areas is usually small enough to keep the costs down, making it my first choice.
All of these flooring choices have some common concerns. First is the prep work. If the subfloor is not level or properly prepped for the flooring, then it does not matter how much you spend on the materials, the finished product will be substandard.
Regardless of the quality of the flooring, abuse like sliding furniture across the floor or excessive traffic with dirty feet will quickly ruin the nicest floors.
Spending big bucks on the highest quality flooring will not stop it from going out of style any quicker. In fact, it is usually the latest greatest thing that goes out of style first. I see lots of old, good quality, high-end tile or hardwood that scream 1978!!! Styles come and go, but it seems once a style really catches on, then too many people have it and it goes out of style.
The best you can do is put the right flooring in the right rooms, pick decent quality materials and make sure it installed properly.
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