What Your Made Of: Advantages of Common Floor Covering Materials

When you are looking to choose a floor covering for you home, there are several options to choose. What fits your needs best? Hardwood, laminate, ceramic, carpet, vinyl, concrete, linoleum, cork, bamboo or palm covering? The array of floor covering can be stunning. Here are a few of the qualities, considerations, advantages and disadvantages of each that may make that decision a little easier to make.

1.) Ceramic Tile Floors

Ceramic tiles are a hard floor covering that offers a wide variety of color, shape and texture for your design project. A good selection of ceramic tile floor, available at Raleigh Tile, could be the focal point, or the perfect accent to your dream room or rooms. While it can stand out and jump out to visitors as the loudest feature of the room, it can also blend and tie together the overall design. Diagonal patterns can widen a narrow room and provide similar “tricks of the eye” to visually morph the spaces of your home. Varying colors and textures can be utilized to add character and uniqueness to your home project.

Ceramic tiles are durable and handle high-moisture and high-traffic situations well while offering some of the lowest degree of maintenance of any floor covering material. Ceramic will resist fire, scratch and even water damage in situations where other materials will yield to outside forces. Though it is at times more expensive than other floor coverings, it’s versatility and durability make it hard to match.

2. Carpeting

Carpeting is a natural and comfortable look that is easy to live, walk and lie upon. While it can be a little high maintenance and require more extensive attention when it comes time to clean, it’s a tough contender in the comfort category. While textures do vary somewhat, most carpet is largely similar in feel. Where carpet can shine is in it’s ability to offer vibrant and interesting colors and patterns.

In addition to its natural “feel” comfort, it will also absorb sound.Carpet’s major downfall is typically in it’s higher maintenance values and in the fact that is not always as durable as other materials. This can be overcome with attention to high-quality materials that compensates for the needs of a given room design.

3. Wood Flooring

Wood flooring has been and is a very popular option for luxurious flooring. The natural look of wood, compared with some modern materials, can be used to achieve a more rustic and comfortable look. While it is often viewed as traditional, it can also be utilized in modern designs due to a variety of wood source, texture, color and other options. Its relatively simple method of installation makes it an easy-to-install method of adding character and warmth to any room in the home, or as a full-on renovation toward a more natural-looking home.

The size, shape and coloring of the wood is highly variable and offers the customer many more choices than most would assume. Coupled with careful design and use of accouterments such as area rugs and complementary furniture, wood flooring is often used to create an incredibly classy environment.

4. Laminated Flooring

Laminated flooring offers many of the advantages of wood flooring, with some cost and durability advantages. While offering a similar look to hardwood, laminated flooring gives the customer an added sense of security in high-traffic areas. Laminated flooring can provide some of the same look as wood, but with less hassle and maintenance. While it will not be as durable, replacement costs are typically much lower for laminated floors.

Laminated floors are typically stain and fade resistant and some high-quality laminates are available to the home designer. One of the most attractive features of this flooring option is that it is incredibly easy to clean.

5. Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is an option for creating a ceramic look for people who do not necessarily want the feel of ceramic flooring. Colors and shape are highly variable and offer a lot of options for the consumer who investigates their options. The material is highly versatile and incredibly flexible to be used in a variety of home design scenarios. Vinyl can offer the look of all types of flooring, from stone to ceramic, without the cost and disadvantages of some of those materials.

While the material is highly versatile, it is not recommended for areas that will be exposed to high levels of moisture, particularly if the flooring will include many seams. It’s multitude of colors and patterns are also relatively easy to install.

6. Concrete Flooring

Concrete, typically thought of as an outdoor material, also provides a number of options for indoor design. It can be dyed and styled to give the appearance of numerous floor covering materials. It also gives the customer a lot of options for later changing their materials as many materials can be installed over the concrete floor.

Cement floors are popular for their anti-allergenic qualities as well as its ability to stand up against areas that will attract a heavy traffic of snow and sand. While the material does not do well in absorbing sounds, it is very easy to maintain in most situations.

7. Stone Flooring

Stone flooring offers a timeless and incredibly durable design option often found in only some of the most carefully designed projects. It is a beautiful and unique option in home design though it can be more difficult to maintain. While offering a wonderful look, over time the material can absorb dirt and other staining contaminants. It is also difficult to repair any problems that may arise over years of wear.

Most of the problems with stone can be overcome with careful planning, installation and sealing of the stone. Working with a professional provider, stone flooring or other covering can be effectively utilized in many home design projects.

Comparisons of various floor coverings from the World Floor Covering Association (Prices Highly Variable):

Pros Cons Care Cost
Carpet Soft, quiet, warm underfootEasiest and most cost-effective floor covering to replace and upgrade

Brings in color and texture

Stain-resistant fibers available

Can StainLow-quality carpets may quickly show wear Clean spills immediately.
Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Vacuum low-traffic areas at least once or twice a week.

Vacuum high-traffic areas more often.

Use a deep-cleaning hot water extraction cleaning system every 12-18 months.

$3-$10 per square foot, installed
Stone Extremely durableTimeless and classic design

Beautiful, natural aesthetic

Higher cost than many flooring materialsSome varieties, such as marble and limestone, readily absorb stains and dirt

Difficult to repair

Dark, glossy surfaces show footprints and can be slippery

All stones should be sealed

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Regularly dust-mop the floor with a clean, nontreated mop or broom. Or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Wipe up spills immediately.

Damp-mop floors using cleaners recommended by the manufacturer.

Avoid cleaners that are abrasive or contain vinegar, lemon juice, or harsh chemicals.

$8-$50 per square foot, installed
Ceramic or Porcelain tile DurableWater and stain resistant

Wide choice of colors, textures, and shapes

Porcelain color through tile body-scratches or damage less likely to show

Grout lines can be hard to cleanLow-quality tiles may chip

Fragile items dropped on the surface probably will break

Glossy tiles can be slippery when wet
Difficult to repair

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Regularly sweep tile or use a vacuum without a beater bar.

Regularly damp-mop the floor with a cleaner recommended by the tile and grout manufacturers. For more shine, rinse with clear water and wipe dry.

$3-$20 per square foot, installed
Laminate Durable, affordable
Easy to clean and maintainResists stains
Wide range of colors and designs

Resembles natural materials

Excellent choice for do-it-yourself applications

Can be scratchedCannot be refinished

Be cautious when purchasing off brands; the top layer may peel or separate from the core

For installations in high-moisture rooms, select laminates designed for this use

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.

Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Don’t refinish or sand

$3-$10 per square foot, installed
Wood Wear-resistantLong-lasting

Provides a warm look

Can be refinished

Vulnerable to moistureSofter woods, such as pine, may dent easily

May darken with age
Some finishes wear unevenly and are difficult to repair

Can shrink and expand, creating gaps or warping

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.

Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Remove scuffs and heel marks by lightly rubbing the spots with a soft, clean cloth sprayed with hardwood floor cleaner recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

$6-$20 per square foot, installed
Engineered Wood Shrinks and expands less than solid woodQuicker installation time

Some can be installed below grade

Comes prefinished so the stain and protective finishes will be more consistent and harder

Typically can be refinished only once or twiceOff brands may have voids in core, which weakens wood surface

Ends may split on off brands

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.

Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Remove scuffs and heel marks by lightly rubbing the spots with a soft, clean cloth sprayed with hardwood floor cleaner recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

Never wax or use oil soap.

$4-$18 per square foot, installed
Bamboo More quickly renewable resource than woodStrong

Clean, contemporary sensibility

May darken or fade when exposed to sunlightShould not be left wet Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.

Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

$4-$8 per square foot, installed
Vinyl DurableWater-resistant in sheet form

Easy to clean

Comfortable

Less expensive than most flooring choices

Difficult to repairLess expensive grades may discolor

In tile form, moisture can get into seams between tiles

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Clean up spills immediately. Damp-mop when needed using clean, warm water. Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

$1-$7 per square foot, installed
Linoleum Made of natural raw materialsMore durable than vinyl

Color extends through entire material

Can be hand-cut for intricate patterns and installation artistry

Should be resealed annuallyCannot be left wet
May scuff if not well polished
Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Clean up spills immediately. Damp-mop when needed using clean, warm water. Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer. Polish periodically to bring back shine and protection against stains.

$6-$9 per square foot, installed
Cork Soft and warm, naturalResists mildew

Sleek, contemporary look

Stain and water resistant

Easy to clean

Polyurethane finishes typically last up to seven years before refinishing is required

UV-cured acrylic finishes are not as long-lastingWax finishes need reapplication every 6-12 months Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.

Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.

Clean up spills immediately. Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer. To restore luster, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for refinishing.

$4-$9 per square foot, installed

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