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How to Choose the Best Flooring for Your Home

Updated on March 15, 2010

Choosing the right floor covering for your home can be a tough job.  Should you choose carpet?  Tile?  Vinyl? Laminate or hardwood?  Should you instead look to add area rugs and runners to enhance your existing area?  Whether you are remodeling your home or building an existing home, choosing the right flooring covering will impact how you and others view your home after it is done.  And the choices you make when you are considering floor covering options will be affected by several things, most namely the budget that you allot for your project.

The good news is that no matter what you choose, the are many sub choices within whatever flooring you decide on.  For instance, while adding carpet to your home may sound like a straight forward option, you will still need to decide on the color and if you want to go with wall-to-wall carpeting or simply add an area rug to the room.  Also, in regards to carpeting you will need to know what kind of foot traffic the area will get.  In the case of a high traffic area, you will need more durable carpet.  For bedrooms, you may want a softer, more plush carpet.  Carpeting is one of the cheaper options when it comes to covering the floors and given the fact that it is probably the most popular, you will have more choices in terms of color and softness.

If you have more of a budget, you may decide on hardwood flooring.  Hardwood floors can be expensive, starting at $8 per square foot with labor and the costs can escalate pretty quickly if you have a large home, making the remodeling job cost in the thousands of dollars.  Just like carpeting, hardwood flooring comes in a variety of choices that range from pre-engineered wood to solid hardwood to laminate that looks and feels like wood flooring.  In addition to this, choosing the right wood for your floors will be variant on what you are hoping for and what kind of traffic you expect.  There are many hard wood floors that simply aren't a good option if you have kids or pets since they are more susceptible to scratching and denting.  Just like carpeting, hardwood flooring comes in many different options, ranging from the deep rich look of brazilian cherry to a more natural look of bamboo or oak.  There is even blue hardwood available!

If cost is a concern for you and you don't mind having the "look" of wood without it actually being wood, laminate may be the choice for you.  Laminate can be as little as $1 per square foot without labor and is typically harder and more scratch resistant than natural wood.  And because most laminate flooring is made to float above the existing floor (floating floor), laying it is much easier.  In fact, there are many types of laminate hardwood flooring that snaps together using a tongue and groove planks for a very quick installation.

The one downside to adding laminate flooring versus hardwood flooring is that hardwood actually add equity value to the home while laminate doesn't.

A popular floor covering in Europe and coastal areas is tile.  Although there are many types of tile, the most popular are ceramic and stone.  Like hardwood, tile will add value to the home and is equally if not more expensive.  Because of the nature of ceramic and stone, the type of flooring is very durable and isn't as susceptible to moisture and humidity as hardwood or carpet.  There are all sorts of tile pattern options as well as a bevy of colors to choose that will match almost anyone's idea for decorating.

If you are considering tile but don't have the budget, you do have an option with vinyl flooring.  Like laminate flooring, vinyl will give your home the look of tile without the big budget it takes to floor a room with tile.  The downside is that vinyl feels kind of cheap to most homeowners and won't mimic the "feel" of tile under your feet.  Vinyl flooring is perhaps the easiest to clean out of all the floor covering options listed here.

Floor covering options if you don't own your own home or rent an apartment

In some cases, you may be renting your home or apartment.  In this case, you probably won't want to do anything drastic like adding flooring to the home since you don't own it.  For renters, though the flooring options are limited, the good news is that there are options.  For instance, you can purchase an area rug to cover the existing floor.  The upside to this is you can take it with you should you decide to move.  In addition to this, adding runners and smaller area rugs can make the space yours without having to rip up existing carpet or tile.

No matter what you choose, there are plenty of floor covering options to choose from....if you own your own home and are on a budget, you can choose carpet, laminate or vinyl flooring.  For those who have a bigger budget to work with, you can lay hardwood or tile and increase the value of your home.  Finally, if you are renting, adding area rugs and runners will give you a new look for your floor covering that you can take with you when you decide to move.


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