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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do I choose which type of flooring to install in my home?

If you’re ready to install new floors in your home -- or replace old flooring -- you’re probably wondering where to start. After all, there are many options to choose from: hardwood, vinyl, tile, laminate, linoleum and the list goes on. If you’re stuck on which type of flooring you should choose, start with learning the pros and cons of several popular options.

Engineered vs. Solid Wood Flooring:

Typically, engineered wood flooring is better than hardwood when it comes to humidity -- it’s less likely to expand. It’s also easier to install engineered wood, and it can be more moisture-resistant when compared to solid wood. Solid wood, on the other hand, can be more durable. Plus, you can refinish and sand it multiple times. If you have engineered wood, you’ll only be able to sand it maybe once or twice.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Wood Flooring:

Solid hardwood flooring is an authentic product — full-thickness, high-grade wood with all of its textures and imperfections. Wood floors add considerably more value to your home, with a 70% to 80% return on investment, according to Realtor.com. Unlike laminate floors, they can be repaired by sanding and refinishing. 

Laminate wood flooring is much more affordable than hardwood, as it is made from composite wood, an image of hardwood’s texture and a clear protective layer. It's resistant to both sunlight and moisture. While it’s harder to repair, hardwood laminate better resists scratches. 

Laminate vs. Vinyl Plank Flooring:

Laminate and vinyl floors are both synthetic products that imitate high-quality flooring materials like wood, stone and tile. Vinyl floors are made entirely from PVC plastic and may come as planks, tiles or sheets. They are inexpensive and waterproof. Vinyl plank flooring is a great choice for moist areas like bathrooms, kitchens and entryways, while laminate flooring is a good choice for living rooms, bedrooms and other non-wet areas. Vinyl flooring is also a bit easier to clean and maintain.

Laminate consists of a fiberboard core, a printed image layer and a clear protective film on top. Laminate floors are susceptible to damage if there is excess moisture. However, laminate flooring is superior to vinyl flooring in terms of its aesthetic quality, so you’ll have an easier time making your floor look like real stone, wood or ceramic. Laminate flooring is also more environmentally friendly than vinyl. 

If you need more help choosing flooring for your home, reach out to the top flooring companies near you.

What's the best flooring for basements, kitchens and bathrooms?

When installing flooring in your home, keep in mind that some materials are better suited for certain rooms while others are not. Use this guide to help you make the best decision for your home.

Best Flooring for Basements

Basement flooring should be highly resistant to moisture, as many basements are below grade. Choosing the best flooring for basement spaces depends on what they’ll be used for. For example: 

  • An epoxy basement floor is a durable finish for concrete.
  • Vinyl basement flooring is generally waterproof or water-resistant. 
  • Laminate floors can be an affordable option, but they’re often not 100% waterproof.
  • Ceramic tile floors are also water-resistant. 

If your basement isn’t moist, carpet tiles are also an option — just make sure to use a moisture barrier.

Best Flooring for Kitchens

Kitchen flooring does more work than almost any floor in the house, so you’ll want to choose a durable floor. The following are among the best flooring types for kitchens:

  • Porcelain tiles can be fashionable, moisture-resistant, and cost less than stone or wood to install.
  • Vinyl flooring can withstand dents, is generally inexpensive and it’s easy to install.
  • Linoleum flooring can be durable, easy to maintain and affordable. 
  • Wood flooring could be damaged by dropped pots and pans, furniture and pets. However, hardwood and engineered wood floors in kitchen spaces are still popular among homeowners.

Best Flooring for Bathrooms

Bathroom flooring must withstand high moisture levels while also being comfortable on bare feet. Here are some of the best flooring options for bathrooms: 

  • Porcelain tiles are generally comfortable, waterproof, stylish and less costly than stone or wood. 
  • Vinyl flooring is waterproof, cost-effective and can imitate wood convincingly.
  • Natural stone can be expensive, but it’s typically hard and durable.

Reach out to a flooring installation and repair professional near you to see which type you should install in your home.

How do I choose the best flooring company or contractor?

Start by reading reviews of flooring companies and contractors in your area. Customer reviews tend to offer useful feedback. But, be wary of reviews that lack details or specific feedback. Next, look at photos of past projects and observe the quality of craftsmanship, including the quality of wood, consistency of the finish, and gaps or cracks. Compare prices and get multiple quotes for the same job if possible. Finally, ask your contractor or the company if they have the proper licenses and certifications.

For more tips on how to choose the best flooring installation service, visit Thumbtack’s Smart Hiring Guide.

What is the best flooring for dogs?

Waterproof or scratch-resistant flooring is typically the best flooring for dogs. This includes: 

  • Vinyl: Vinyl may not add much to the value of your home, but it is resistant to scratching, stains, dents and accidents. Plus, it’s an affordable option.
  • Tile: Tile is generally water-resistant and scratch-proof, and more affordable than hardwood or stone.
  • Laminate: Laminate is not truly waterproof, but it is tough and often more scratch-resistant than other wood floorings. 

Remember that solid hardwood is susceptible to damage, including dents, scratching, licking and accidents. But if you want to install wood floors, the best hardwood floors for dogs are typically made out of maple, Brazilian walnut or bamboo.

For more tips on choosing the best flooring for dogs, talk to one of the best flooring installation professionals near you.

How much does it cost to install flooring?

The national average cost to install flooring is $5,500, with prices ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 . Your cost can be much lower or higher depending on the type of flooring you select, the square footage of the project, and other important variables like demolition and repair work needed.

Here are some examples of floor installation costs, depending on the material:

Reach out to the top flooring installation specialists near you to get an accurate, free estimate of how much it will cost to install flooring in your home.

What are the disadvantages of vinyl flooring?

The disadvantages of vinyl flooring are worth considering for homeowners. Vinyl flooring is difficult to repair if it tears or scratches because you cannot refinish it. And while it imitates more expensive products, it is still usually easy to spot vinyl flooring. This means it might not add to the value of a house, as most buyers would prefer to remove vinyl flooring and replace it with something of a higher quality. Low-quality vinyl flooring is also susceptible to fading and discoloration from sunlight.

For more information on the disadvantages -- and advantages -- of vinyl flooring, reach out to a flooring installation company near you.

Is it worth it to hire a professional flooring specialist?

Unless you have plenty of experience installing the type of floor you want, it is worth it to hire a professional flooring specialist. 

The first reason is tools — pros have them, and they know how to use them. Without the proper experience, there is a high risk of injury with nail guns and power saws. A good pro also works quickly, saving you time that you could spend doing other things. 

Finally, a pro gets you past options paralysis by helping you decide the best flooring for different rooms and areas of the home.

To get started on your flooring project, contact the best flooring contractors near you today.

How do you clean hardwood, concrete, vinyl and laminate floors?

After you get new floors installed in your home, make sure you maintain them. Use these tips to keep your floors clean, shiny and polished. 

How to Clean Concrete Floors

Start by sweeping or vacuuming the entire surface to remove loose debris. Mopping will require different substances based on the type of concrete floor. For a polished concrete floor, use a specialized polished concrete cleaner. For a painted concrete floor, use a mild all-purpose cleaner. A sealed concrete floor can be cleaned with dishwashing liquid, while an unsealed floor is best cleaned with trisodium phosphate and stain removers. Use kitty litter or cornstarch for grease stains, and distilled white vinegar for rust stains. 

For more tips on how to clean and maintain your concrete floors, consult with your professional concrete flooring contractor.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Cleaning hardwood floors typically requires a mop, bucket and some type of hardwood floor cleaner. Start by removing furniture and objects. Vacuum up all debris (or use a dust mop), moving with the grain. Spray your cleaner on a small section of the floor, and mop in a figure-eight motion, working backward. Make sure there are no puddles. 

In high-traffic areas, you should mop one or two times per week. Low-traffic areas should be mopped at least once per month. 

To ensure you're cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floors properly, speak with your hardwood flooring installation specialist.

How to Clean Laminate Floors:

Start by vacuuming to remove dust, dirt and other debris. The best mop for laminate floors is a microfiber mop with a sprayer feature. Spray and mop one small area at a time to avoid standing liquid on the floor. Go over the floor with a dry microfiber cloth after mopping to make sure all liquid is gone. 

Although you can use a damp mop, never use a wet mop on laminate floors. Moisture can cause the flooring to bubble, swell and buckle. Instead, use a dedicated laminate floor mop with a laminate floor cleaner spray. The best mop for laminate floors is typically made with microfiber, which picks up dirt and absorbs moisture well.

Consulting with your laminate flooring installer is a good idea if you've never had laminate floors and need more tips on how to clean them properly.

How to Clean Vinyl Floors

Cleaning vinyl plank flooring is easy. Start by sweeping and vacuuming up dirt, dust and debris. Then use a damp — not wet — mop or rag with warm water. While vinyl is waterproof, an excessive amount of water can leak between the seams and affect the glue bond with the floor. When you feel a chemical is needed, make sure to choose cleaning products safe for vinyl planks.

Reach out to your vinyl flooring installer for tips on how to further maintain and care for your vinyl floors.

For more tips, read our guide on how to clean and maintain all types of flooring.

What are the different types of flooring I can install in my home?

Here are four popular types of flooring you can install in your home. 

Solid wood flooring:

Solid wood flooring is made up of 100% wood, and has a very natural look and feel. It can add value to your home and. It can resist wear and tear, and be sanded and refinished multiple times. However, solid wood is susceptible to humidity and water damage. When it’s humid, solid wood could expand and if there’s a flood, it will be hard for the wood to return to its natural shape.

Laminate flooring:

Laminate wood flooring is an artificial product that mimics real wood flooring. Its core consists of fiberboard material, topped by an image print layer and sealed with a clear protective film. Laminate flooring is UV-resistant and less expensive than solid hardwood (approximately $3 to $7 per square foot to install). However, it also has a lower-quality feel, is unable to be sanded and refinished, has a lifespan of around 25 years and will invariably have a repeated print, according to Consumer Reports

A laminate hardwood floor is popular in living areas like dining rooms and kitchens. Their quality has improved dramatically in recent years, making them an attractive alternative to more expensive flooring types. Laminate flooring can also be scratch-prone, easy to clean and maintain, and resistant to moisture. 

Vinyl flooring:

Vinyl flooring is made completely out of PVC plastic and is an excellent option for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens. It is durable, comfortable and inexpensive. Vinyl plank flooring and vinyl floor tiles can also imitate stone, tile and wood. However, it is fairly easy to spot vinyl flooring as synthetic. Install luxury vinyl plank and sheet vinyl flooring in areas where moisture is a concern.

Engineered wood flooring:

Engineered wood flooring often has a plywood-core substrate and a genuine hardwood veneer as its uppermost layer. Engineered wood floors are more impervious to humidity than regular hardwood, meaning that it’s less likely to expand, warp and buckle, according to Consumer Reports. However, it can dent easily. The best engineered hardwood has a thicker veneer, as well as a quality that allows it to be sanded down and refinished to increase its lifespan. It can be as durable as solid hardwood, and it’s often an affordable choice for many homeowners.

If you need help choosing the best flooring for your home, reach out to the top flooring companies near you.

What you need to know about floor installation.

How much does it cost to have someone do your floors?

Flooring installation projects cost an average of $1,000-$1,745. However, it all depends on the scope of your project, the type of flooring you install and labor costs in your area. 

Here’s a look at flooring costs per square foot, depending on the flooring material:

Many people attempt DIY floor installation to save money. However, floor installation is often pretty complex. If you don’t take proper precautions, you may waste time — and materials. Also, keep in mind that it may cost more to have a flooring pro fix your mistakes after a failed DIY flooring installation than it would have cost you to hire them in the first place. 

To find a qualified flooring installation expert with great local reviews, start by searching for flooring installation professionals near you on Thumbtack. Be sure to get price quotes from at least three contractors before you make a decision.

What is the cheapest flooring to have installed?

Vinyl is typically the least expensive flooring option, with prices ranging from $1.50 to $7 per square foot on average. Just remember: if you change your mind a few years down the road, vinyl can be difficult to remove. 

How much does it cost to install 1,000 square feet of laminate floors?

Laminate flooring is durable and installation is usually easy. It's one of the most economical flooring options, costing $3-$7 per square foot on average. Depending on the complexity of the project, you can expect to pay between $3,000-$7,000 for laminate flooring installation in a 1,000-square-foot room. 

Your total cost to complete the project depends on the labor costs in your area and the type of laminate you choose. Get cost estimates from several pros before you decide who to hire.

What is laminated wood flooring?

Laminated wood flooring is designed to mimic the look and feel of real wood. It's made from particleboard wood and has a top layer imprint that looks like wood grain. Generally, homeowners choose to install laminate wood flooring to save money (it’s cheaper than hardwood). It’s also scratch-resistant and low-maintenance. 

Learn more about the pros, cons and cost in our laminate flooring guide

What is the difference between laminate and vinyl flooring?

Laminate and vinyl flooring are similar, but there are some key differences. For example, vinyl is usually more water resistant and durable than laminate, but it’s less like real wood. Laminate flooring is sometimes warmer than vinyl, so it may be more comfortable to walk on during the cold months.

Read our laminate vs. vinyl flooring comparison guide to learn more about these flooring types.

How hard is it to install vinyl plank flooring?

Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) is one of the most DIY-friendly flooring options. It doesn't require bonding to a subfloor and the product snaps together edge-to-edge, creating a "floating floor." 

Because it's so easy to install, it may be less expensive to hire a pro than you think. And, if you let professionals handle your installation, you don't have to worry about solving problems that could ruin your project (like an uneven subfloor).

Read our vinyl flooring installation guide to learn more about vinyl plank flooring.

What is LVT flooring?

LVT flooring stands for "luxury vinyl tiles." LVT may look like real stone or wood. It may have a design printed on it and is often cut into planks or tiles that mimic a specific material. 

What do you call someone who installs floors?

A flooring contractor or flooring installer works with homeowners and businesses to install different types of flooring. This includes carpeting, tile, vinyl, concrete and wood flooring. 

Learn more about flooring:

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