A new floor is one of the most exciting and fulfilling home improvement projects to tackle. But before you start laying down your flooring, you have to choose the right one!
The good news is that even flooring technology continues to evolve. If you’re in the market for home flooring, you’ll be pleased to find numerous unique products offering a broad array of benefits. To help you choose the perfect option for your space, we’ll run through our favorite flooring materials available today.
The Best Flooring Materials to Improve Your Space
Carpet is a conspicuous omission from this list of best flooring materials, and that’s no accident. We still love carpeting for its cost-effectiveness and comfort. When you need a new floor in a pinch, laying carpet is easy and affordable, and it feels great underfoot.
Unfortunately, the benefits stop there, and homebuyers are aware of the limitations of carpeting. Even businesses are moving toward hard floor designs to improve the work environment for their employees.
If you want durability, easy maintenance, and an incredible look that will inspire for years or even decades, you’ll want to stick with these hard flooring options.
There is no replacement for hardwood floors, and we mean that in more ways than one.
The warmth, texture, and tone of hardwood offer the most beautiful and high-end aesthetic to boost the appeal of any room. It’s available in an endless spectrum of colors, grains, and widths to match virtually any style, from the most traditional to the ultra-modern. The elegant enhancement to the room is an essential selling point for home buyers, and it’s one of the most worthwhile remodel projects to add home value.
Hardwood flooring is easy to clean, needing only regular sweeping and spot scrubbing for stuck-on spills and grime. By being easier to clean, hardwood is ideal for improving air quality, unlike carpeting that traps allergens.
As much as it’s good for your health, it’s equally good for the environment. Since there are no synthetic materials in real wood, you can feel comfortable about your carbon footprint.
All-natural, bio-degradable flooring materials can be thrown out without causing much damage to the environment. Of course, throwing out hardwood is a rare chore thanks to its longevity.
Remember how we said that there’s no replacement for hardwood floors? With a lifespan of up to 30 years, a well-maintained floor literally won’t need replacing. And with real hardwood, you can refinish it 5-6 times, adding an extra couple of decades of life with each refresh.
The downside to hardwood is that it’s easily affected by the environment, with the potential for humidity and temperature to cause irreparable issues. A poorly finished hardwood floor invites moisture, especially from spills, which can cause absorption and eventual warping.
Over time you may see wood crowning, cupping, or even buckling from changes in temperature and moisture damage. You can avoid many of these issues by opting for a hardwood alternative — engineered wood.
Engineered wood is just as versatile in color, shape, and texture as hardwood. In terms of remaining stable in an environment, however, engineered wood has clear advantages. It’s less likely to expand and contract from temperature changes and humidity, making it a great solution for more rooms, even basements.
Acrylic-Based Engineered Hardwood
An oft-cited downside of engineered wood is that it scratches and dents like hardwood. That doesn’t sound like too much of an issue until you realize that most engineered floors can only be refinished one time.
Hardwood floors have a consistent pattern and tone through a solid block of wood. You can strip that back several times to fix scratches, dents, and discoloration, giving yourself more years with a fresh floor.
Engineered wood consists of different construction layers. If you strip the flooring back too far, you’ll reach the core material, which is much different than the top layer.
When it comes to engineered wood, the best flooring is acrylic-based. You get all the benefits of hardwood and engineered wood, but a three-fold increase in durability.
With acrylic-based engineered wood, your floor will be able to withstand years of abuse even in the most high-traffic areas. Their unique composition and coatings are designed for exceptional abrasion, dent, and scratch resistance.
If you’re environmentally conscious, bamboo is one of the most sustainable natural materials available. However, it’s crucial to research your bamboo brands and how they process their flooring to ensure it’s eco-friendly.
Bamboo is a beautiful material, and if you buy the good stuff, it can be just as durable as hardwood. It’s just as easy to clean as well.
One big advantage over hardwood is that bamboo also handles moisture much better. If you live in a high-humidity area, bamboo might be a worthwhile investment.
Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) goes down like wood flooring and has a similar grain, but the similarities stop there.
LVP is composed of a base layer with a printed pattern, usually a wood grain, on top. Covering the pattern is a wear layer, which can vary in thickness depending on how much wear it needs to manage. It has texture and support similar to wood but at a much cheaper price.
Since it’s mostly a PVC material, LVP is one of the more water-resistant flooring materials, so you don’t have to worry about warping or buckling. And despite the low cost, it’s surprisingly scratch-resistant as well.
The main downside to LVP is that it does fade from the sun. Even worse, it’s easy to dent, so if you have heavy furniture on it, you will see an impression over time.
WPC/SPC Rigid Core Vinyl
If you like the idea of LVP, but need a bump up in water resistance and durability, rigid core vinyl is the way to go. It has the same layers as LVP, but with an added rigid layer beneath the pattern print.
If you get a wood-plastic composite (WPC) vinyl, you’ll get a wood core that is more comfortable underfoot, less dense, and often warmer to walk on. In contrast, stone-plastic composite (SPC) vinyl uses a stone core. SPC is more durable against impact and less prone to change from temperature shifts.
Rigid core vinyl can go in more moisture-heavy areas than LVP and wood. And by getting a more dent-resistant plank, you have few reasons to not consider rigid core vinyl for your next flooring project.
Last but not least, tile is an old standby that is unmatched in impact and water resistance. It’s one of the most durable and beautiful materials you can use.
Tile is not as versatile as some other materials, and installation is not always a DIY task. If you opt for porcelain or higher-end tiles, they also become one of the most expensive options. But with the look of flawless tile, you can see the value every time you walk into the room.
Start Shopping the Best Flooring Options
We stand by our claim that hard flooring materials are the best option available. With simple installation, convenient maintenance, and classic appeal, you’ll enjoy the benefits of hard flooring for years to come.
New products continue to emerge, and it can be hard to know that you’re getting the best value. If you shop options in this list, you’ll see an endless array of prices, features, colors, and styles to suit any room you can imagine.