6 Classic Flooring Types and the Differences Between Them

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One of the major decisions facing a person who is moving into a new home or renovating an old one is what type of flooring to install in the rooms. There are many types, and all of them have benefits and drawbacks, and all of them can be beautiful thanks to modern technology. Here are six types of flooring and the differences between them:

1- Hardwood

Hardwood flooring is prized for its beauty, long-life and ease of care. Hardwoods are usually made from deciduous trees such as maple or oak. They are not necessarily harder than softwoods such as pine, but they are denser and wear better. Hardwoods come in beautiful grains and can be stained or left in their natural color. It is important that they be sealed to protect them against staining, and unlike resilient flooring they can’t be cleaned with a soaking wet mop. Even sealed wood floors can warp if water seeps into the spaces between the wood and the baseboard. They also need to be kept out of direct sunlight, which fades some types of wood and darkens others.

2- Stone

Stone can be natural or engineered. With engineered stone, stone dust is mixed with resin and pigment and made into slabs or tiles. The fact that it is engineered means that if a tile is broken or cracked it can be replaced with a tile that matches it exactly. This isn’t true of natural stone tile, but homeowners choose it because its imperfections add to its beauty.

Natural stone includes materials such as marble, granite, slate and limestone. All of them need to be sealed, like wooden floors, to protect them. Like wooden floors, they should not be walked on with cleated shoes or high heels. Engineered stone doesn’t need to be sealed the way natural stone does, but it should still be covered with area rugs and mats.

Stone floors tend to be heavy, and the homeowner should make sure that a room’s subfloor is strong enough to support them. This isn’t the case with wood, resilient flooring or most ceramic tile.

3- Ceramic Tile

There are all kinds of ceramic tile appropriate for a floor, and a tile floor doesn’t need to be restricted to the bathroom. However, the homeowner should be careful to choose floor tile (as opposed to wall tile) for the bathroom floors.

Ceramic tiles are made of clay that is kiln fired at high temperatures. The highest temperatures produce porcelain, which is very hard, waterproof and vitreous. Because porcelain is so smooth, porcelain tile should be textured to prevent slips. Ceramic and porcelain tiles don’t need to be sealed, but tile fired at lower temperatures such as terra-cotta do. Terra-cotta tile is porous.

Tiles come in nearly countless patterns, colors and textures and can be ordered to match even the most idiosyncratic color scheme.

4- Concrete

Concrete has come a long way from the plain, gray, utilitarian material seen on sidewalks. Now it can be made to resemble more expensive materials such as wood and stone. Concrete floors are often poured onsite and can even be self-leveling. However, concrete is porous like some stone and needs to be sealed, especially since it picks up stains very easily. The concrete fabricator can seal the concrete when it’s installed then add extra protection with wax. Like stone, concrete is heavy, and the subfloor needs to be strong enough to support it.

5- Resilient

This stalwart flooring includes linoleum and vinyl. They resist water and stains and are often easy to install even by a layperson. Resilient flooring feels wonderful beneath bare feet. The tiles can be mixed and matched and come in many patterns and colors, including those that resemble pricier materials. Resilient flooring is softer than the other flooring materials and is more prone to dents and dings.

6- Carpet

Carpets come in an array of fabrics that are both natural, such as wool or manmade, such as polyester and nylon. It’s warm, comfortable, insulating and absorbs noises. Carpet comes in many colors and styles to fit just about any room. Unlike linoleum and sealed hardwood and stone, carpet readily absorbs water, which makes it subject to mold and mildew. Carpet is not as easy to clean as any of the other types of flooring.