Let me first apologize for the super cheesy title, but it works right? :)
There are so many options for floors and I want to help you make the best decision for your home and life style. Let me break it down for you!
You cannot beat wood floors, in my opinion (unless they are going in a "wet" area.
Hardwood floors are beautiful and look expensive. Hardwood floors can be refinished, which is great because even though they are HARD wood, they can scratch - fairly easily. Wood is NOT good for wet areas. Because wood is porous, it will soak in the water; the wood will then swell: water will need to sit for a while for this to happen, but this can happen with a dishwasher, fridge or washer leak. When that happens, it is time for new floors. In areas (like Michigan) with a lot of temperature changes, the wood will expand and contract, so gaping will happen. I don't want to scare you from wood floors, I just want you to be aware of the potential problems. With that being said, if you have original wood floors in your home that can be "saved" DO IT! I don't think that there is anything better than a pretty old wood!
Another great option when you want hardwood floors is Engineered Wood. With engineered wood the top layer is real wood. Under the wood is an engineered material which helps (a lot) with the expanding and contracting - so in areas (like Michigan) with a lot of temperature changes it is a great choice. It is still a wood floor, so the scratching and water issues are still there.
Still want the wood look without the Hardwood price? Laminate flooring is a great option - it is harder than wood, so it is difficult to scratch it. It is still not a good idea in areas that will get wet. The laminate will absorbed the water (like wood) and swell, unlike wood, the top layer can start to peel away from the water damage. Laminate is also a great DIY project.
Don't want to worry about water on your floors? Don't worry, I have a few more options for you and you still get the wood look.
Shaw and Bliss came out with a new product, Shaw's is called Floorte and Bliss' is called CoreTec. Floorte and CoreTec are a cross between laminate and vinyl. IT IS WATER PROOF. Hallelujah! :) You get the look of wood and don't need to worry about water! It is also harder than vinyl, so like laminate scratching is difficult. I saw a man really trying to scratch a sample with his key and barely made a mark! Both are a floating floor, so they are installed a lot like laminate.
Speaking of vinyl: Vinyl planks are another great option when you want the look of wood and no worries for water. Vinyl (planks, tile or sheet) are water proof. It is softer than laminate, so like hardwood scratching may be an issue. Unlike hardwood, you cannot refinish it if it scratches. If you have vinyl that has scratches on it, they make different products that will "fill in" the scratch and recolor the white (under the wood look, the vinyl is white). Vinyl Planks come either floating or glue down.
One more wood look option: TILE. There are a ton of tile planks, made to look like wood, out right now. Tile is a great option because when it is installed correctly, it is almost indestructible. Your only downfalls with tile - it is a bit more work to install and cleaning grout - when you keep up on cleaning, the grout isn't as bad.
Tile is a great floor because it is almost indestructible, when installed correctly. When it is not installed correctly, it can crack if something falls on it. It is water proof. Grout can be a bummer to clean, that might be the "biggest" down fall. If you have grout that needs a really good cleaning, call a professional carpet cleaning company, a lot of them also clean grout and it looks brand new again! Tile install is harder than wood, laminate or vinyl. Tile material can also be expensive. Tile can go from extremely modern to rustic, so there will be a tile to fit your style.
Like the look but not the price?
Vinyl is another great option. Unlike tile, Vinyl feels warmer under your feet. Vinyl comes 3 different ways - planks (to look like wood, see above), tiles, and sheet (normally 12' wide). Let's chat about vinyl tiles first - you may hear it referred to as LVT (luxury vinyl tile). LVT can be grouted or not. The grout is different than ceramic tile grout, it is acrylic and therefore much easier to clean. LVT is water proof. It is softer than tile, so scratching may be an issue. Sheet Vinyl, is an inexpensive way to get the look of tile (or wood). They are getting good at faking it. There are a lot of great looking sheet vinyls, it is super easy to clean, but if you drop a knife straight down, it can get cut. You can get different "levels" of sheet vinyl, some have higher wear layers and thicker sheets. Sheet Vinyl is normally glued down, if you do it in a bathroom, you would then use a caulk to cover your edge - the caulk will need to be reapplied from time to time (that will depend on your use). Caulking is fairly easy to do.
Carpet has been something that I really needed to learn about - at one time I managed a rental community (182 condos), so I saw carpet getting replaced, a lot. I also have 2 kids and 2 dogs, do I know replacing carpet is in my future. ;) But the more I learn about it, the more I realize the differences. The 2 most popular fibers are Nylon and Polyester. Let me tell you a bit about both...
NYLON: Nylon will cost more per square foot (or yard). Nylon will hold up longer than polyester. Nylon is stiffer (which is why it lasts longer).
POLYESTER: Polyester is less expensive. Polyester will NOT last as long as Nylon. Polyester is softer, so it feels a bit nicer under your feet. Polyester also cleans up stains a bit better.
*While polyester cleans up stains a bit better, most companies have been adding their own stain guards to their fibers to help with staining in Nylon carpets.*
Carpet is normally not great with water... Yes, I said normally :) Shaw has come out with a new carpet, Life Proof. This carpet will NOT let liquid thru. (apparently there is a youtube video out there, where someone made a pool with this carpet, I have been told about it a couple of times, but still haven't looked for it.) This carpet cost a bit more per square foot than the regular Nylon, but if you have a flood your carpet, pad and sub-floor will be totally fine.
I hope that this helps you with your flooring decisions.
Need help with finding the perfect flooring for your home? Give me a call today!
*Please be aware that the above is my personal opinions and what I have learned about the different floor types over the years working closely with a local flooring company. I understand that many people have very firm feelings and beliefs on floor types, I am not trying to push you one way or another, I am just trying to pass on some knowledge to make your life easier. I also under stand that I did not write about every type of floor/fiber and brand, there is A LOT out there; but, I feel like I covered enough to help you as you start shopping for your new flooring.*
I'm Megan. A wife, a mother of 2 and a home/interior design consultant. I love creating beautiful spaces and beautiful things. Just trying to figure this whole thing out! ;)