When renovating your home or just a single room, updating the flooring can transform the entire space. Before picking out new flooring, there are specific questions you should consider. What's your budget? Where will you be installing your new flooring? Will the room see a lot of foot traffic? What style do you want to achieve? Our editors help you answer these questions by exploring the most popular flooring options below.
Good to know: As a popular choice for any space, from living rooms to bedrooms, hardwood flooring will give your floors a warm, timeless look. Solid hardwood floors can be refinished a few times, but must be nailed to a subfloor and should not be laid in below-ground areas, such as a basement. On the other hand, engineered wood (wood veneer over a layered plywood-like base) is more stable and resistant to climate changes.
Disadvantages: expensive, can be easily damaged, not fade-resistant, professional installation recommended
Good to know: Cork flooring is quickly becoming a popular, eco-friendly alternative to hardwood flooring. It is created by pressing bark with resin and then baking it into sheets. It's not recommended for damp areas. Divots can form over time, so placing protective mats beneath the legs of heavy furniture is recommended.
Disadvantages: more susceptible to water damage and scratches
Good to know: Bamboo is another sustainable type of wood flooring. Because bamboo grows so quickly, it can be harvested often, making it a rapidly renewable source. Like traditional hardwood, it can be found in either solid or engineered planks.
Benefits: durable, low-maintenance, water-resistant, available in many colors and finishes
Disadvantages: difficult to repair, slippery, cold surface, can make noise when walking on it
Good to know: Floor tile is a popular choice for high-traffic areas that are prone to messes or moisture, such as entryways and kitchens. It's also a smart and cooling choice in warm climates where humidity can be an issue. Floor tile comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials, such as ceramic, porcelain, and stone. When it is installed, grout fills the gaps between the tiles. One of the best features of floor tile is that it can be laid in many different patterns, so you can create a design that's one of a kind.
Benefits: durable, affordable, and known for having a variety of styles.
Disadvantages: cannot be refinished if damaged, inexpensive options tend to appear more "fake"
Good to know: Manufactured in a variety of finishes and widths, laminate flooring can give you the look of wood or stone at a lower price. It is generally made of several layers to protect the floor from fading, stains, and warping. Laminate planks are glued or snapped together for easy DIY installation.
Benefits: can be installed anywhere, damage-resistant, easy-to-clean
Disadvantages: dulls easily, water leaks can lead to mildew or lifting, peel and stick options can cause loose tiles
Good to know: A favorite choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms, vinyl flooring can be found in both sheets and in tiles. Vinyl tile is a popular, easy-to-install option for people who want to take on a DIY project. It's also one of the most affordable flooring materials on the market. Color and pattern can be added to the flooring in two ways, inlaid (in which color granules are imbedded in the sheet for a higher-end look) and printed (in which color is printed onto the flooring sheets like a magazine page).
Benefits: easy to install, replace, transport, and clean
Disadvantages: may create an uneven appearance if not installed properly
Good to know: Commonly installed in a bedroom or living room, carpet tiles offer a soft landing for your feet as well as aesthetic appeal. Choose from five popular styles including cut pile, Berber, shag, saxony, and velvet. The most popular choice is a cut pile carpet as it's a more budget-friendly option. Added bonus? If your carpet tile gets damaged, simply replace one carpet tile instead of the entire carpet.
Continue your flooring education by reading our Ultimate Guide to Flooring. Read all about how to choose flooring, flooring installation, and how to care for your flooring.