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.
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.
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:
- Laminate flooring: $300 - $4,000
- Vinyl flooring: $1,000 - $4,500
- Radiant floor heating: $1,000 - $10,000
- Wood flooring: $1,500 - $10,000
- Bamboo flooring: $3,500 - $9,000
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.
The time it takes to install hardwood and concrete floors varies based on the condition of your current floors, the size of your floors and other factors. Use the following information to gauge how long your flooring installation might take.
Time it takes to install a hardwood floor: Several days to 2+ weeks
Hardwood floor installation can take anywhere from a few days to more than two weeks, depending on demolition, wood type, the condition of your subfloor, total square footage of the project and installation method. Demolition is necessary if you have existing flooring you want to replace with hardwood floors. New-construction homes do not require this step, as the subfloor is primed and ready for floor installation.
During demolition, the flooring crew may find that your subfloor has damaged wood, uneven surfaces or other problems that must be addressed before the new wood can be laid down. Subfloor repair can take a few hours to several days, depending on what’s hiding underneath your floor. The wood for your new floor generally arrives a few days before any work begins.
The actual wood installation may take several days or more, depending on the size of your home and what type of custom cutting and designs are desired. If your flooring is not prefinished, the unfinished wood must then be sanded and stained in the home to treat and protect your new investment. Typically, staining takes a full day to dry, and multiple coats are applied.
For a more accurate timeframe of how long it will take to install hardwood floors in your home, reach out to one of the best flooring companies near you.
Time it takes to install a concrete floor: 2 days to 1 week
Installing concrete floors can take anywhere from two days to a week, depending on what you need done. Some of the factors that can impact how long it will take to install concrete floors are:
- The size of the space
- The stain or finish
- The condition of your existing floor
- Whether you want intricate, simple or no designs
- The overall complexity of the project
To get an accurate estimate of how long installing concrete floors will take for your home, speak to a concrete contractor near you.
The best hardwood floors are made from durable, hard species like oak, maple and cherry. Solid hardwood is typically the better choice over engineered wood because you can sand out the scratches multiple times. However, engineered hardwood is better equipped for humid households.
Consider buying prefinished hardwood flooring, which can be more durable and simplify the installation process. Plus, prefinished wood often comes with a warranty from the factory.
Bamboo is another popular option, though be aware that some might not be as eco-friendly as others due to its production process. Some of the popular hardwood floor brands are Bruce, Carlisle and Lumber Liquidators.
To ensure you choose the best type of wood flooring for your home, hire one of the top hardwood floor installation professionals near you.
Yes, but engineered wood flooring has the same susceptibility to scratching as hardwood flooring. Engineering wood floors have a layer of real wood on top. For this reason, engineered hardwood reacts the same way that regular hardwood does to scratching. If you don’t mind a few character marks on your floor like small scratches and dents, this is not a problem. However, engineered wood can be sanded down and resealed if the damage gets too great.
Find a hardwood floor professional in your area who can tell you more about the pros and cons of engineered wood floors.
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.