There’s no denying that choosing flooring for your new home is a chaotic and overwhelming task. It feels like there are infinite options on the market, making it very tempting to base our decisions on looks alone, and call it a day. In doing so, however, we could be making an incredibly costly, time-consuming, and problematic mistake—one well worth avoiding for all of us. So, let’s talk about the criteria worth focusing on to best guide you through choosing flooring for your new home.
WHAT TO KNOW
It’s infinitely useful to be educated about all of your primary possible options. This listing generally consists of hardwood, laminate, bamboo, cork, linoleum, tile, vinyl, and now concrete, as well. If you find yourself interested in a more exotic, less well-known flooring option, the same rules apply; the key is to learn about the properties of the flooring in question and compare those traits to your needs on a room-by-room basis.
For example, the best basement flooring often requires moisture and humidity resistance, whereas a family room or bedroom may not. Moisture is one of the main factors to consider before arriving at your final decision, along with durability and aesthetics. If you’ve decided you want the same flooring throughout your new home, or even for a set of rooms (like each of the bedrooms and bathrooms throughout), these factors may automatically eliminate a number of options, making your final decision far less stressful.
BRING OUT THE LUMBER
Swinging back into popularity in the early 2000s, and still coveted by many, is the age-old hardwood flooring. Hardwood floor planks can be made from a number of different tree sources, resulting in different shades—from light blondes all the way to ultra dark, almost chocolatey colors. On the positive side, hardwood can withstand quite a bit of traffic, provides a cozy and earthy feel, and now can even be purchased in planks that you can self-install if you feel so inclined. Conversely, it can be on the pricier side of the available options.
Hot tip: Self-installation of any flooring is a massive cost-saver, but it can be very difficult depending on your goals and material of choice. Carpet and designer tiles tend to be the toughest to lay as an amateur, while a hardwood or faux-wood, tongue-and-groove option will likely be the simplest. Still, if you’re not super handy or up for a challenge, professional installation is worth avoiding injury to self or damage to the product you’ve invested in.
Next up is laminate flooring—popular not for its aesthetic value, but for its cost-effectiveness. Laminate is also one of the easier options when it comes to maintenance; it’s created from pressed, wood-derived material which mimics the look of true hardwood flooring. An alternative to both of these wood options is bamboo, which is a strong substance that avoids warping under the pressure of humidity. If you’re eco-conscious, it’s worth noting that bamboo is also far easier on the environment, taking a maximum of around five years to fully produce, while hardwood sources often take well over one-hundred years.
A final option for a more woodsy, earthy look is cork flooring. Cork has some unique and interesting properties in that it is naturally non-slip, softer underfoot than similar options, and provides a level of sound-dampening, which can be vastly useful. Consider cork to lessen the sound of footfalls around a nursery, in a playroom, or above another living space.
THE FAMILIAR AND BEYOND
I doubt there’s a soul among us who hasn’t been exposed to the trifecta of flooring options known as linoleum, vinyl, and tile (with linoleum probably taking the cake). Many of our schools, cafeterias, restaurants, and especially hospitals employ the use of linoleum flooring, and surprisingly not just for the efficiency of value. Although linoleum is quite affordable in the grand scheme of things, it’s also pretty remarkable. It’s made from natural materials which are actually capable of fighting bacteria, fending off scratches, never producing static, and remaining waterproof. What’s more is that it’s super easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors.
Vinyl and tile are a bit different. Vinyl is similar to linoleum in that it cleans easily and is on the lower side of the price per square foot spectrum. A key benefit to this type of flooring is that it’s great for moisture-rich areas, such as a basement or bathroom, and it cleans with notable ease. Tile, on the other hand, comes in an immense variety of sizes, styles, colors, textures, and price points, making it one of the most customizable options. It is also typically the hardest to self-install.
Beyond these historically common flooring options, there is also a fairly new player in town in the residential flooring game: concrete. It may sound harsh, stark, and cold at first, but concrete has come a long way in the game, now offering incredible finishes which modify the look of your floor to mimic a variety of high-end stones, such as marble. It can also be stained just about any color you’d like and sealed in a number of ways, as well.
Added bonuses include the fact that concrete requires arguably the least maintenance of all your options, and it’s temperature-moderating, meaning it will keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It’s no wonder this flooring option has been gaining massive at-home traction as of late.
COMING IN FOR A LANDING
Of course, we can’t end without a larger nod towards carpeting, as well. Although this style of flooring has largely been overruled by other, more allergy- and debris-friendly options, it still has a slew of great uses. Carpeting is soft under foot, comes in a variety of heights, thicknesses, colors, and designs, and can add a comfort that other materials cannot. Stepping out of bed onto a still-warm floor on a brisk morning makes things a bit more bearable some days, so don’t count carpet out if you don’t have to!
While there are some sub-decisions to be made in any flooring category, the properties of each substance on the market can quickly narrow your search, ease your mind, and help you make a good decision, rather than a frustrated or rushed one. The occupants of the room, as well as its purpose, design, and location will likely all help in your quest to select the best flooring for your new home.