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How to Choose the Right Flooring

Updated March 17, 2022

Holly H.

By Holly H.

Today’s myriad flooring options provide you with many choices for your home. Our guide helps you explore the benefits of laminate flooring, hardwood flooring and more for every part of your home.

Features and Benefits

Improved technology and manufacturing means that flooring options are better than ever, with multiple colors, patterns and textures available in every material.

Solid Hardwood

A living room with a fireplace, geometric wallpaper, throw pillows and light hardwood floors.

  • Can be sanded and refinished, so you won’t have to worry about replacement
  • Considered the best of the best in flooring
  • Adds to a home’s value for a higher resale price
  • Comes in a variety of colors, finishes and species to suit your style
  • Provides different levels of durability to support your home’s activity level
  • Is hypoallergenic and easy to clean, saving you embarrassment over carpet stains
  • May reduce drafts and lower energy bills due to insulation properties
  • Can sometimes be glued directly to concrete
  • Can be stain- and spill-resistant if finished with a urethane aluminum oxide finish

Laminate

A living room corner with a linen chair, striped blanket and oak plank laminate flooring.

  • Scratch-resistant and durable
  • Quick and easy to install with click-together installation
  • Low cost
  • Low maintenance, easy to clean and stain-resistant
  • Installable over most existing floors
  • Resistant to fading from ultraviolet (UV) light

Engineered Hardwood

A family in a white kitchen with open shelving, shiplap and hickory engineered hardwood flooring.

  • Expands and contracts less than solid hardwood, allowing installation on all levels of the house, including the basement
  • Comes in a variety of colors, finishes and species
  • Costs less than solid hardwood
  • Is easier to install than traditional solid hardwood
  • Can be installed over a concrete slab
  • Can be used with radiant heat
  • Can be stain- and scratch-resistant if finished with a urethane aluminum oxide finish

Ceramic, Porcelain and Stone Tile

A modern living room with a fireplace, black framed windows and white porcelain stone-look tile.

  • Can be used in kitchens, bathrooms and basements because it’s waterproof
  • Requires little maintenance
  • Increases a home’s value for a higher resale price
  • Offers consistent color throughout the tile, not just on the surface
  • Is an attractive option for every room with new styles, colors and textures, like wood-look tile
  • Is relatively easy to repair by replacing damaged pieces instead of the entire floor
  • Is easy to install
  • Can be installed outdoors on patios, around pools and in direct sunlight

Luxury Vinyl Plank and Luxury Vinyl Tile

An entryway with white moulding, trellis wallpaper and light maple luxury vinyl plank flooring.

  • Attractive and affordable
  • Available in a variety of colors as well as realistic patterns and textures
  • Quiet and water-resistant
  • Sometimes waterproof, so it’s great for any room, including bathrooms and kitchens
  • Durable, making it an ideal choice for homes with pets or kids
  • Installable over most floors
  • Good for standing for long periods or accidentally dropping dishes because it increases the floor’s shock absorbency
  • Available in peel-and-stick vinyl tile for even easier do-it-yourself installation
  • Easy to clean and stain-resistant
  • Available in sheet vinyl that’s pre-cut or cut to length

Carpet

A little girl in a bedroom with a striped teepee, shelving and plush cream carpet.

  • Is the quietest flooring choice because of its soundproofing qualities
  • May lower energy bills due to insulation properties
  • Is comfortable for bare feet and creates that cozy, right-at-home feeling
  • Cushions falls in homes with toddlers or seniors
  • Creates style flexibility with countless available colors, styles and pile heights
  • Is affordable
  • Covers uneven subfloors and adjusts to uneven walls easily

Before You Buy

  • Carefully consider the location of your new floor. Is it below, on or above grade? Basements are susceptible to ground moisture, so your flooring choice may be different from what you’d choose for a bedroom on the second or third floor.
  • Likewise, kitchen flooring and bathroom flooring are prone to water damage from humid conditions, which should be a factor in your decision-making process.
  • Note whether the area where you’re placing the flooring has (or will have) radiant heat. Some flooring materials aren’t radiant-heat compatible, so consider this during the shopping process.
  • Be sure to observe the space throughout the day. Does it get a lot of direct sun? UV light can fade or darken certain flooring, so look for UV-resistant products. 
  • Take detailed measurements and create a drawing — to scale if possible — including doorways, fireplaces, built-ins or other structures that change the floor’s flow.
  • To calculate your room’s square footage, multiply length by width. If you have an irregularly shaped room, divide the area into smaller squares and rectangles, calculate the square footage of each one, and then add the square footage of each area together for the room’s total square footage.
  • Don’t rely completely on your square-footage calculation. It’s always smart to buy 10% more flooring than what you think you’ll need. This allows for mistakes and bad pieces. Plus, having a little extra flooring on hand is great for future repairs. Keep a few cartons of your product in a place where the temperature and moisture won’t damage the flooring, like under the bed or in the top of a closet. This keeps the product readily acclimated and available should you need it.
  • Whichever flooring options you choose, buy coordinating moulding, transitions and accessories to complete your project. Look for quarter rounds, T-moulding, thresholds, reducers, wall base, four-in-one moulding, underlayment, and care and maintenance accessories.

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