Flooring options today are numerous with colours, styles and textures to suit every taste and budget. But which option is best for your home? And how do you know which materials will stand up to the wear and tear of your busy family? If you’re planning a flooring renovation, read our tips for selecting the flooring that will meet the needs of your home and family.
Consider Your Needs
When deciding on new flooring, you’ll need to take some important factors into consideration. Beginning with a budget is always the best way to ensure you stay on track. Here are some other things you will want to consider before you begin shopping for your new flooring:
- If the room you are flooring will serve as an entry area for your home, you will need to look for options that can handle moisture and wear.
- Rooms that are susceptible to moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements and even entryways, will need a floor that will not warp or buckle.
- What is the colour scheme of the home and how will the flooring affect it?
- How will the flooring complement the room? A more formal area like a dining room or living room will likely need a different style of flooring than a laundry room or bathroom.
- Darker flooring can make a space feel warm, but will inevitably show dust and debris. Lighter flooring can make rooms feel larger but can show stains and wear. Remember that neutral tones work well if décor is changed down the road.
- Consider the maintenance schedule of the flooring – what is involved in cleaning and general upkeep? Can the floor be refinished some day?
- Are there allergy sufferers in the home? Could your choice of flooring affect the health of a family member?
- Is noise a problem in the home? Could a different type of flooring help with this?
- Do family members wear shoes in the home? Are foods permitted in rooms other than the kitchen and/or designated eating areas?
- Work within your budget. Some flooring options are more cost effective than others while achieving a similar look. Also, some jobs require additional work like repairing a faulty subfloor or replacing existing trim and thresholds.
Types of Flooring
Below you will find a summary of popular flooring options, pros and cons for each, along with the approximate cost of installation. The type of flooring you choose will depend on your needs, budget, personal style and aesthetic.
Solid Wood Flooring
You can expect solid wood flooring to set you back $5 to $10 per square foot. Coming in a wide variety of shades and stains, solid wood flooring has a natural warmth and if you like to change things up in your home, it can be sanded and refinished numerous times. It is relatively easy to install for those with experience and adds a very high quality look to the home. Hard wood flooring is a larger investment up front, but adds value to a home in a way that some other types of flooring cannot. Solid wood is easy to clean and care for, and real estate agents will agree that it is a definite selling feature for a home. On the flipside, solid wood may expand and contract if there are varying humidity levels in the home. If you have children or pets, keep in mind that it can dent and scratch easily. Wood flooring is not recommended for areas subjected to dampness and moisture, including: basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens.
Engineered Wood Flooring
This type of flooring costs approximately $4 to $9 per square foot. It consists of several layers – the outermost is a hardwood veneer, a thin slice of wood (less than 1/8″) and inner layers made of plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood. The core layers make the product more stable than regular hardwood, while the outer veneer surface adds beauty and authenticity. This type of flooring is designed to reduce the moisture problems associated with conventional hardwood. Its layers block moisture and provide added stability to the floor. Engineered flooring will not swell or warp, making it very low maintenance. Conversely, engineered wood flooring is costly. It also doesn’t wear as well as hardwood or laminate and can usually only be refinished once before the veneer thins. Home owners should also do their research when it comes to the type of engineered flooring they choose, as there have been reports of off-gassing and formaldehyde in certain brands.
Laminate flooring will cost about $3 to $7 per square foot and uses high resolution images to create an authentic look. Laminate comes in a variety of styles, colours and textures and is known to be the easiest and quickest flooring material to install. Laminate forms a floating floor with no stapling, gluing or nailing. Rather, it consists of interlocking planks that snap together. Laminate is a perfect choice for high traffic areas of the home as it is resistant to scratches and dents and is very easy to clean. Laminate can also be a great choice for families who suffer from allergies as the planks create a tight seal that pollen, dust and animal hair cannot penetrate. A drawback to laminate flooring is that it can be susceptible to moisture damage and should only be installed in moisture-prone areas if the proper precautions are taken. Laminate flooring cannot be refinished like wood, and when there is significant wear and tear, it must be replaced. Look for products with higher warranties because they mean better quality and longer life for your floor.
This type of flooring will set you back $2 to $6 per square foot. It is extremely good at resisting wear, dents and scratches. Vinyl flooring is very easy to install and comes in tiles, planks or sheets. Typically lasting 10 to 20 years, it is considered one of the most cost-efficient flooring options on the market today. While vinyl is durable, it does not stand up well to heavy loads and can be damaged by sharp objects. When it does get damaged, it is unfortunately hard to patch. A vinyl tile or plank can be removed and a new one installed, but a sheet vinyl floor needs to be replaced. Also to consider: while premium brands can mimic the look of stone, tile, and even oak, even the best products still look like vinyl up close. Also, colors can fade with exposure to too much direct sunlight and floors can be damaged by extreme temperatures. For that reason, vinyl is not recommended for outdoor or indoor/outdoor uses.
Linoleum flooring will cost you about $4 to $8 per square foot and is made of linseed oil and wood products. It is natural and non-toxic and comes in glue-down sheets and snap-together tiles. Linoleum is a very durable and is ideal for high traffic areas of the home. It actually compresses and bounces back when walked on, giving it a slight cushioning effect. When properly cared for, linoleum floors can last an upwards of 40 years. If poorly maintained, however, the product can show its age, turning dingy looking and yellowing.
Ceramic Tile Flooring
Ceramic tiling is a classic and very reliable type of flooring material. It will cost roughly $8 to $15 per square foot; $5 to $8 for products that can float. Tile is a durable option that is well suited to areas that receive heavy traffic as well as areas that can harbor moisture. It resists stains, scratches, dents and resists wear. Tile is ideal in kitchens and bathrooms and does not harbor germs. Cons for this type of flooring, however, include: cracking tiles, stained grout, expense and difficult installation. Due to their unique colouring and pattern design, ceramic tile can also differ from lot to lot.
Carpeting will never go out of fashion because it really creates a comforting atmosphere in a room. Homeowners should budget for $3 to $4 per square foot for material, and $1 to $2 per square foot for installation of new carpet. Carpets are known for their ability to provide warmth and cushioning, which can be especially helpful for families with small children. Carpeted rooms are also quieter. Patterned carpets can make a design statement in a room and make it appear more formal. Unfortunately, a drawback to carpet is its tendency to stain and show wear in heavy traffic areas. Some reports have blamed carpeting for contributing to asthma and allergy problems in the home, while other reports are suggesting that carpets actually help keep those allergens out of the air until they can be vacuumed and disposed of properly. Homeowners can usually expect to get 10-15 years from carpets before they need replacing.
Do Your Homework
Working with professionals to get advice and support with your decision is a wise idea. Even if you are planning to install the floor yourself, some guidance in the process could save you time and money. Ask questions and take your time in making a decision. Here are some key things you may want to ask before making a final decision:
- Are there hidden costs associated with a particular flooring choice, such as installation and maintenance?
- Could the climate you live in affect the quality and appearance of the flooring as time goes by?
- What do you need to know about long-term upkeep? Be sure to ask about the future of your flooring choice to save yourself money both now and down the road.
- Is the floor you’ve chosen easily removable if you decide to change it down the road? If you’re planning on selling your home in the future, or if you like to make changes in décor, this is something you will want to know.