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The Right Type of Flooring for Every Room in Your Home

25Mar2019

The Right Type of Flooring for Every Room in Your Home

With the help of Consumer Reports, here is a guide that will help you choose the best flooring options for your kitchen, bathrooms, dining room, and the rest of your house!

 

Wood wins the prize as America’s favorite hard-surface flooring type, outselling vinyl, porcelain tile, and every other ­option. But wood can be a loser in the kitchen, where a dropped can of peas can literally leave a lasting impression. Or in the laundry room, where a splash of bleach can blemish its finish.

Each room in your home—from steamy bathrooms to high-traffic family rooms—comes with its own challenges, so a flooring material that’s perfect for one space could be a problem in another.

Fortunately, homeowners no longer have to choose between form and function: Advances in printing technology have allowed manufacturers to create vinyl flooring that’s a dead ringer for reclaimed barnwood and porcelain tile that easily passes for Calacatta marble. And unlike the faux flooring of the past, today’s products eliminate pattern repetition and incor­po­rate texture for a double dose of realism.

We’ve analyzed key areas in a typical home and chosen the top two flooring materials to meet the challenges in each. Follow our suggestions and you’ll have floors that will continue looking great for the long haul and hold their own against countless assaults from foot traffic, sunlight, moisture, and even bleach.

 

Kitchen & Mudroom

The Challenge
Grit-covered shoes grind in dirt, raincoats drip, chairs drag back and forth, and heavy cans crash from the countertop to the floor. Simply put, the kitchen requires the hardest-working flooring in your home.

Though wood remains a widely used aesthetic choice, it won’t stand up well to that assault: Our tests show that, in general, wood floors are far more prone to denting than other materials, and with very few exceptions, foot traffic is tough on the finish.

Top Choice: Porcelain Tile
A natural fit for high-traffic areas of the home, porcelain tile outperformed every other flooring material we tested for resistance to scratching and denting. Plus, porcelain tile comes in a range of styles to fit any décor. You can get small-format hex tiles for a traditional early-20th-century house, for example, or 4-foot faux reclaimed-ash planks that, when laid tightly ­together with a matching grout, will convincingly create the look of wood. Tile is also low-maintenance, never ­requiring more than a vacuuming and mopping, and it’ll last a lifetime. 

Runner-Up: Vinyl
Sheet vinyl floors became popular with homeowners in the 1950s (sometimes with layer ­upon layer put down as tastes changed) for several good reasons. First, it’s an affordable way to cover an expan­sive space. 

Today’s vinyl is also more durable than it was in the past, but it’s still the material most prone to scratching in our tests. Keep fresh felt bumpers on the feet of kitchen stools, and buy an extra bundle of planks now to ensure that you have a perfect match down the road. If any planks get damaged, you can remove them and ­install replacements as needed.

 

Bathroom & Laundry Room

The Challenge
These floors don’t face the stress of foot traffic or the constant sunlight that can fade solid and engi­neered wood. Rather, the flooring threats in these rooms come in liquid form. Bathers splash, showers drip, and toilets overflow. Urine can stain and even etch into some natural stone flooring, particularly marble, and bleach can affect the finish of some flooring (particularly wood and laminate, in our tests).

Top Choice: Porcelain Tile
Even purists who refuse anything, but real wood should seriously consider porcelain tile for their bathrooms and laundry room. After all, tile is a traditional choice in these rooms because it holds up well in wet places.

To avoid slippery-when-wet floors, choose a more textured product rather than one with a highly polished surface. And for a bathroom floor that’s warm and welcoming in the morning, you can install an electric heating element under the tiles connected to a timer control.  

Runner-Up: Vinyl
Once again, for a less expensive (though less durable) alternative to porcelain tile, turn to vinyl, which will cost roughly 30 percent less than tile, based on the materials we tested.

All of the vinyl tiles and planks we tested received an Excellent rating in our test for ­resistance to moisture. Luxury vinyl tiles, which tend to imitate stone, and luxury vinyl planks, which mimic wood, will deliver the most realistic looks. They can even be laid in the pattern of your choice, just like the real thing.

 

Dining, Living & Family Rooms

The Challenge
Though it’s true that furniture feet, pet claws, stiletto heels, and kids’ toys with wheels can damage a wood floor, any other material can feel substandard in these cozy common areas. 

Top Choice: Solid Wood
By this we mean prefinished wood flooring. There are plenty of reasons to opt for prefinished planks. You won’t have dust from sanding or fumes from finishing to contend with during installation; depending on how it’s installed, you might be able to walk on the floors right away; and prefinished flooring also tends to be less expensive. Perhaps most important, the factory-­applied finishes are significantly tougher-wearing than what your contractor would be likely to apply once the floor is installed.

Runner-Up: Engineered Wood
Though it mimics the look of solid wood, engineered wood flooring has just a thin veneer of finished wood, such as oak or maple, attached to a plywood like substrate. Engineered wood provides several significant advantages. And with an engineered product, you can affordably get an exotic wood species, such as Brazilian walnut or tigerwood, both of which tend to be more scratch- and dent-resistant than oak or maple.

Engineered wood floors are also less susceptible to seasonal shrinking and swelling because the layers in the plywood backing are arranged with their grain in alternating directions. Some can even be installed directly over a concrete subfloor, which isn’t always possible with solid wood. In fact, engineered flooring is often low-profile enough to install over an existing floor—representing a huge potential savings. Still, this choice lacks the longevity of solid wood, particularly for the (very) long haul. In certain household environments, a wood floor might need refinishing every decade or two. Most engineered products can be refinished only one to three times (depending on the thickness of 

 

Enclosed Porch or Sunroom

The Challenge
Depending on how exposed your porch is, this floor might contend with intense sunlight, rain blowing in through screens, a concrete subfloor (which limits your options because you can’t nail planks ­directly to it), recreational-equipment storage, and even freeze-thaw cycles if it’s installed in a three-season room.

Top Choice: Porcelain Tile
This durable material will stand up to most of the abuse it gets in these rooms. In addition to faux wood and stone, porcelain tiles can be ­designed to look like handmade ­ceramic tiles, a welcoming choice for these casual hangouts. If your porch isn’t fully heated and protected from the elements, make sure to choose a tile that’s rated for outdoor use in your climate.

Runner-Up: Engineered Wood
If you’d rather pass on cold-to-the-touch tile—and your porch is weatherproofed and heated—engineered wood offers a warm, this-room-is-not-an-afterthought look. Engineered wood flooring can also usually be installed over a concrete subfloor. But for a porch that’s ­exposed to weather, you’d do better with a tropical hardwood, composite, cedar, or pressure-treated pine.

 

For the best recommendations what will fit your needs for your home, come on into Distinctive Carpet and Tile today for a free no-cost consultation.  

  • 25 Mar, 2019
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