Choosing the Right Flooring for Your Home

Homeowners often choose flooring based on the assumption that it’ll look good with their decor, or because they’ve always admired the way tile or hardwood flooring looks in the home of a friend or family member. While it’s true that tile can give your home a bright and stylish look, and hardwood offers a rich, distinguished feel, they may not be the right fit for your house due to a number of factors that people often overlook. There’s more to it than making a selection because it’s the best-looking product. You need to consider things like durability, installation and cost to avoid investing in something that’s not well-suited to your lifestyle or home environment.

All about location

Always consider the room you’ll be flooring and the kind of traffic it gets every day. For example, if you’re planning on laying down tile in a living space that’s played on by kids and pets, you could end up replacing lots of cracked tiles. A rec room or common area needs flooring that offers excellent wear resistance. Homeowners often make the mistaken assumption that hardwood will stand up well to wear and tear, only to find that they’re constantly sanding or buffing out scratches. Laminate, plank vinyl or carpeting may be the best option in a high-traffic area. The national average cost of installing carpeting ranges from $980 - $1,680.


Your budget (assessed per square foot) is another key factor. If you’re looking at a budget of $2 per square foot or less, you’re probably limited to some form of laminate, or sheet or tile flooring. The $2 to $5 per-square-foot-range gives you a somewhat wider range to choose from, including attractive hardwoods, as well as some nice vinyl tiles. If you’re able to spend in the higher ranges, you can look into some of the nicer hardwoods, such as Brazilian cherry or even mahogany, though bear in mind that upkeep may be a major factor (if you’ll wince every time someone walks on your new Brazilian cherry floor, consider a tile or laminate instead).


As with any home improvement project, it’s important to consider whether it’s something you’re able and willing to do yourself. Talk to a flooring expert at your local hardware store to get a good idea of what’s doable and what’s likely to give you a headache. Plank vinyl and laminate are often the easiest to deal with, while laying a tile floor usually requires some experience and a lot of patience. A floating floor installation, which means you’re attaching one board to another rather than to your subflooring, is usually easier to handle if you lack experience. Wall-to-wall carpeting can be a tough one for DIYers to get right, as is solid strip or nail-down hardwood flooring. If you’re planning on hiring a professional, bear in mind that the national average cost is $2,879.


Remember, whatever you select will require some kind of maintenance and cleaning. If you’re comfortable with polishing and sanding, some form of solid hardwood will probably work well (you can always minimize the need for maintenance by putting down throw rugs or runners). Otherwise, you should seriously consider a more resilient material, such as laminate or vinyl, or ceramic tile. One of the best investments you can make from a maintenance standpoint is the Swiffer Wet Jet, which keeps hardwood floors looking polished and clean.

Making the right choice

Choosing the right flooring is about more than finding the material that looks best in the showroom. It’s important to factor in cost, utility, installation, and maintenance as well as appearance. Making the right choice can add significant value to your home and enhance your interior for years to come.

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