Roger Diez | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011
One of the hardest decisions in any home renovation or remodeling project is choosing flooring. There are so many options that it can be confusing. Depending on the room you are remodeling, your budget, and your lifestyle, you have the option of vinyl, carpet, hardwood, laminate, tile, bamboo, stone, or cork just to name the major floor materials. Within each of these material types there are myriad subsets with differences in price, ease of installation, durability, and brands.
There are many reputable manufacturers of flooring. Some provide a wide range of materials while others specialize in one or two types. You should always purchase flooring from a manufacturer who provides a strong warranty and a history of making a quality product. There are literally hundreds of flooring manufacturers, and here are just a few of the most well-known:
- Vinyl: Armstrong, Congoleum, Johnsonville, Mannington and Stainmaster
- Carpet: Aladdin, Beauleiu, Karastan, Mohawk, Milliken, Shaw and Stainmaster
- Hardwood: Anderson Hardwood, Bruce Hardwood Floors, Bellawood and Mannington
- Laminate: Armstrong, Bruce, DuPont, Mohawk, Pergo and Shaw
- Tile: Dal-Tile, Eco Ceramica, Emser, Huntington, Marazzi, Mohawk, Tesoro and US Ceramic Tile
- Stone: Adex USA, Belmondo, Dal-Tile, Emser, Innovative Surfaces, Natural Selections and Shaw Hard Surfaces
- Cork: APC Cork, Envirochoice, Natural Choice, QU-cork, Terra Verde and Wicanders
- Bamboo: Hawa, Bamtex, Dansk, Johnson, Mannington, Shaw and Terragren
Flooring pros and cons
A brief overview of the pros and cons of the various flooring materials may help in your decision:
- Vinyl: modern vinyl comes in an endless array of patterns, texture, and colors that can mimic other more expensive materials. Vinyl is durable, easy to maintain and economical. However, it is subject to wear and fading from sunlight
- Carpet: made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials in different styles, piles and colors. Carpet has excellent sound-deadening qualities, is comfortable to walk on, and compensates for uneven subfloors. It is subject to wear and should be vacuumed and cleaned regularly to minimize retention of allergens and pet dander
- Hardwood: made in a variety of woods, grains, and stains, wood lends an elegant touch to a room. It is durable with proper care and can be refinished over and over. Hardwood floors are more expensive than other materials, and are susceptible to scratches, dents, and moisture.
- Laminate: can mimic the look of wood or stone at lower cost and better durability. Laminate is easy to install, and is resistant to fading, scratches, and dents. It is susceptible to moisture damage and therefore not the best choice for kitchens and bathrooms
- Tile: one of the oldest flooring materials, tile is beautiful, durable and elegant. Used primarily in kitchens, bathrooms and entryways, the most common forms of tile are ceramic and porcelain. Tile is relatively expensive and can be subject to chipping under hard use
- Stone: perhaps the most elegant flooring material as well as the most expensive. Granite, marble or travertine stone floors must be professionally installed. Properly sealed, stone floors are very easy to maintain but may be slippery.
- Cork: inexpensive, environmentally-friendly, recyclable material that is easy to install. However, it is subject to wear and moisture
- Bamboo: another renewable flooring material, bamboo is durable, stylish and a good alternative to hardwood or laminate. Bamboo is softer than most hardwoods and is more susceptible to denting and scratching. It also deteriorates with age and cannot be refinished.
The bottom line is that only you can determine the best flooring material and flooring brand to suit your particular needs. The research will take some time, but will be worth the effort.