Flooring Materials: Making the Right Choice

Flooring Materials: Making the Right Choice


You have many choices available when considering flooring materials along with variations based on color, size, styles and cost. Quality of materials is important too which means you must be sure that the flooring you want is something you can live with for many years and won’t fade or chip away under your feet…literally!

Right Materials

Choosing the right materials should include knowing about its ease of installation, maintenance and resistance to water if your flooring is to be put in a bath or kitchen. Carpeting may look nice in most rooms, but it simply does not belong in any area of the home where water is an issue including a “weeping” basement. Then again, outdoor carpeting can sometimes be used in rooms where water is a problem.

So, what are your choices? There are six, actually, and each one offers multiple variations. If you are planning to do the work yourself, consider renting what tools you’ll need. Power tools include a circular saw, electric drill and heat gun. Hand tools include a claw hammer, chalk line, an assortment of screwdrivers, wood chisels, pry bar, flat bar and putty knife. Flooring tools for ceramic floors include a tile cutter, grout float and tile saw; vinyl flooring requiring a notched trowel, straightedge and J-roller.

Project Planning

If the project is too complex, consider hiring an installer to handle your flooring home improvement project. Or, enlist the help of knowledgeable friends who don’t mind lending you a hand.

Carpeting – Found in most every room in the house including the kitchen and bathroom, carpeting is one of easiest flooring options once it has been installed. Installation can be difficult to handle and the durability depends on what grade carpeting is selected. Maintenance can be a problem if the carpet rips or pulls away from the wall and the cost can rise depending on grading, square footage and style.

Ceramic Tiles – Bathrooms are where ceramic tiling is commonly found although some kitchens use ceramic as back splashes. Ceramic is the most durable flooring option and is resistant to water and easy to maintain. Costs will vary depending on the quality of your materials and the square footage of your project. Keep extra tiles on hand just in case some break after years of use.

Hardwood – White or red oak and other hardwoods make for attractive flooring and are available in widths of 1 1/2″, 2 1/4″ or 3 1/4”. Easy to handle and install, hardwoods are fairly durable, easy to maintain and priced moderately or higher if you choose expensive woods. You can have hardwood professionally refinished four or five times before needing replacement. That means you’ll get a lifetime of use out of quality wood floors as you space your refinishing projects over many years.

Parquet Tiles – Also known as inlaid wood tiles, parquet goes down as easily as ceramic tile and can be used in most any room of the house. Parquet matches hardwood in durability and price and is just as easy to maintain. Installation can be handled by starting in the middle of the room and working in pyramid fashion or by starting against a wall and working your way across the room.

Sheet Vinyl – Know what you’re getting into when choosing sheet vinyl, a popular option for kitchens and baths. Sheet vinyl is durable, a snap to maintain and water resistant. It is also one of the most inexpensive flooring options available to you. Available in 6- and 12-foot widths, sheet vinyl needs to acclimate to your room’s temperature and therefore should be left in that room for 24 hours before installation. Sketch a floor plan before beginning and be prepared to do a lot cutting and gluing.

Vinyl Tiles – Most kitchens have vinyl tile, an easy to install and easy to handle flooring option. Rather durable, vinyl tiles are usually easy to maintain and are cost efficient. Depending on the product chosen, you’ll be given tips on how to maintain your floor which typically means no waxing, no soap based detergents and avoiding using any abrasive cleaners. Spills are best wiped up immediately lest staining occur.

Home Improvement

A new floor can quickly change the appearance of your home adding value and attracting buyers if you’re planning to sell. You’ll want to weigh your project’s cost with its potential returns and lay out a budget before undertaking any major flooring project. Factor in the cost of installation too if you decide to go with a professional.

Check out our floor specification plans for ideas on how to get your home improvement flooring project going.


HGTV: Flooring Trends

The New York Times; YOUR HOME; Options In Replacing Wood Floor; Jay Romano; Nov. 21, 1999



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Categories: Flooring

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".