Flooring is part of the blank canvas that gives your home its primary aesthetic. Get it right, and your entire home can be transformed into something you can be proud of.
But there are more options on the market than ever before — and each one delivers its own unique combination of benefits. To help you make the right decision, we’ve put together a flooring buying guide. Use this comprehensive purchasing checklist to ensure you choose the right flooring types for the right rooms.
Useful Resources for Buying Flooring
- How to Mix Floors for Maximum Design Effect?
- National Wood Flooring Association Grading System
- Carpet Buying Guide
- Hard Flooring Buyer’s Guide
- Flooring Options
- A Guide to Laminate Flooring
- Carpet Flooring Guide
- An Introduction to Tile Flooring
- An Introduction to Vinyl Flooring
Carpet is soft, warm, and comforting — but it’s not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for every room. Ideally, it’s best suited to rooms in which you relax. But each different type of carpet delivers its own benefits and disadvantages. To make the best choice, you need to know everything there is to know about the options.
Know the Various Types of Carpet
Wool – Wool carpet is soft to the touch, durable, and versatile. Moreover, it’s incredibly easy to maintain. While they’re more expensive at the time of purchase, they usually deliver many years of faithful service. If you look after your wool carpet, it could be the most cost-effective variety available to you.
Polypropylene – This is a man-made fiber that is relatively cheap. But be careful, as you get what you pay for. Although polypropylene carpets are resistant to staining, they don’t feel great against bare skin. This may be a good option if you have children in the home.
Natural Fiber Carpets – A range of new materials are now being used to manufacture carpets. Materials such as seagrass, sisal, and coir deliver a natural aesthetic and a durable, anti-allergen option.
Blended Carpets – These are perhaps the most popular carpets on sale today. They are made with a variety of man-made and synthetic materials, so they often deliver a wide range of benefits.
Polyester – Polyester carpets are soft and easy to clean. They’re also fairly resistant to staining. However, they wear and flatten easily, meaning they’re not always ideal for high-traffic areas.
Polyamide – Polyamide carpets are predominantly made from nylon. They are very hard-wearing, and they can withstand a huge amount of punishment. This type of carpet is popular in commercial buildings, but it’s a little hard and unforgiving for most homes.
Buy the Type of Carpet That Best Suits Your Needs
Twist Pile – Twist pile carpets are made with twisted fibers, which adds to their strength and durability. They’re suited to high-traffic areas but can lack in terms of comfort.
Velvet Pile – Velvet pile consists of very fine strands which create a luxuriously soft finish. Carpets made with this pile are particularly suited to bedrooms and areas of living rooms in which you sit on the floor.
Loop Pile – Loop pile carpets deliver a thick and rich texture, but they’re usually significantly cheaper than velvet carpets. Fibers are looped to create added thickness, but they are prone to snagging.
Axminster – Axminster carpets deliver the perfect combination of quality, durability, and softness. While relatively expensive, they retain their color, shape, showroom quality for many years.
Saxony – Popular in Europe, Saxony carpets have extra-long fibers for added depth and luxury. Unfortunately, this type of carpet can flatten relatively quickly when fitted in high-traffic areas.
Shag Pile – Shag pile carpets offer the ultimate in luxury. However, they’re notoriously difficult to keep clean. And once a stain takes hold, it can prove almost impossible to remove.
Tiles deliver a clean, stylish aesthetic. While installation can be complex and time-consuming, the results last for many years. Cleaning and maintenance are usually very easy, particularly if you choose ceramic tiles.
Express Flooring stocks tile flooring from some of the most renowned manufacturers in America, including Shaw, Mohawk, and Armstrong. A flooring expert can visit you in your home to discuss the benefits of each manufacturer.
What Are the Different Types of Tile Flooring?
Porcelain Tiles – Hardwearing, stylish, and easy to maintain, porcelain tiles are ideally suited to kitchens and modern living spaces. Made with clay and sand, they’re particularly resistant to chips and scratches. When a glaze is applied, porcelain is made even tougher.
Ceramic Tiles – Similar to porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles are not quite as hardwearing. However, many people prefer how they look and feel. They’re made with a slightly less dense clay than that used to create porcelain tiles.
Stone Tiles – Real stone tiles look fantastic, but they require sealing. Not only that, they’re very expensive. If you want an industrial or rustic look in a kitchen, stone tiles are perfect.
Marble Tiles – While very expensive, marble tiles deliver an unmistakable aesthetic of their own. Opulent and low-maintenance, they look fantastic in any type of space. However, they’re prone to damage from acids and certain commercial cleaners. And they chip more easily than other types of tile flooring.
Slate Tiles – Slate tiles are durable, easy to clean, and natural. They are perfect for delivering a rustic, rugged look, and they are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Unlike granite and marble slate isn’t porous, so it doesn’t always need a sealant.
Burnished Terracotta Tiles – Made by hand, these terracotta tiles are made the old-fashioned way in a kiln. This type of tile is good at retaining heat — perfect if your bathroom or kitchen tends to get cold quickly.
Limestone Tiles – Relatively cheap, limestone tiles deliver a rustic look that’s great in classically designed kitchens and bathrooms. However, it needs re-sealing regularly, is it’s a porous substance on its own.
Laminate is a low-cost alternative to hardwood flooring. While it looks almost identical to wood, it’s actually made from a range of composite materials. This ensures longevity, style, and easy fitting without the considerable price-tag of hardwood floors.
Decide Between Two Types of Laminate
There are two main types of laminate. The first is made from a combination of materials, including wood-based materials and plastics. A photographic layer is applied to the top of the laminate to create the look of wood or tile. And the manufacturing process is completed with the addition of a protective upper layer.
The second type of laminate on the market today is called engineered wood. The under-layer is pretty much the same as it is in standard laminate.
However, rather than using a photographic print to create the look of wood, a thin layer of the real thing is added to the top. If you’re determined to deliver the authentic look and feel of real wood at the lowest possible price, this is a great option.
There are pros and cons of both types of laminate. Engineered wood may look and feel great, but it scratches and dents like any wood. And while it can be sanded and re-sealed, this is only possible two or three times during its lifetime. Laminate wood doesn’t look quite as authentic, but it’s water-resistant and mostly scratch-resistant. The latest laminates are also heat-resistant.
Choose Between the Many Styles of Laminate
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to almost any type of hard floor, the laminate is a great choice. There are several wood-effect options to choose from, including oak, walnut, hickory, and chestnut. But laminate is also available in tile-effect and slate-effect. As the manufacturing process is pretty much the same for all types of standard laminate, your only serious choice pertains to the look you’re trying to create.
Choose Between Surface Finishes
At a reasonable distance, embossed laminate looks like real wood.
But if you’re looking for something more authentic, registered embossed laminate flooring could be the way to go. The embossing is applied to coincide with the patterns it covers. If there’s a knot or a particular grain in the laminate design, the embossing above will match it.
Perhaps the most authentic laminate floors are hand-scraped. This creates a realistic, rustic look and feel. After all, wood in its most natural form looks and feels worn and imperfect.
Brands such as Bruce and Mannington are creating stunning laminate flooring with all of these features and benefits. But if you’re not sure what’s best for your home, ask for a free, no-obligation quote from Express Flooring.
Vinyl flooring is often the cheapest flooring option available in stores. But this doesn’t mean it’s without style and aesthetic charm. In fact, quality vinyl flooring can deliver the same list of aesthetic benefits as hardwood, laminate, and tile combined. This is because the latest manufacturing methods create vinyl that looks exactly like the surface it’s trying to represent.
Choose Between Three Types of Vinyl Flooring
There are three main categories of vinyl flooring available in stores today. Sheet vinyl flooring is the most popular, as it’s economical, easy to lay, and versatile. Sold in large rolls, it’s cut and laid in a similar way to carpet. This is perfect if you have an awkwardly-shaped kitchen or bathroom.
For relatively small rooms, self-adhesive vinyl tile flooring is a suitable option. Available in a wide range of colors and designs, vinyl tiles are laid individually. However, they’re not suited to heated floors, as the adhesive is prone to melting or softening.
Vinyl planks are the third option, but they’re not quite as popular as the others. They’re sold in strips similar in size and shape to laminate planks. If you’re looking for a cheaper way to lay a classic laminate floor, this could be it. While some planks are installed with adhesive, others are clicked into place.
Things to Remember When Buying Vinyl Flooring
Not all vinyl flooring is the same. Just like any floor covering, you’ll get quality and substandard products. Thin and frail vinyl flooring might save you money today, but you’ll probably need to replace it relatively quickly. Look for a thick laminate of at least 1.5 millimeters. For a soft, warm floor, choose vinyl that’s between three and five millimeters.
Hardwood flooring looks and feels great. Usually sold in planks, it delivers a natural warmth that is simply unsurpassed. But it’s not without its potential problems. In Arizona, we have a real issue with termites, so be very careful if you’re considering wood floors.
Consider the Hardness of the Wood
There are hardwoods used in the production of flooring. They all offer their own combination of look, feel, color, and texture. Take the time to explore all the options, as hardwood flooring isn’t cheap. Some woods are harder than others. You can gauge this by checking the Janka rating. One of the softer hardwoods has a Janka rating of 1320, for example. Brazilian cherry (a much harder wood) has a rating of 2820.
Consider How the Wood Responds to Humidity
All wood contracts and expands as temperature and humidity levels change. If you live in a particularly humid climate, it’s important to look for a feature of hardwood flooring known as dimensional stability. Teak, cherry, and mahogany offer very good levels of stability. Oak, on the other hand, isn’t quite as stable in changing environmental conditions. The greater the level of dimensional stability, the less likely movement and warping is.
Look for Signs of Quality in Hardwood
The “grade” of hardwood refers to its overall quality. This grade is determined by natural characteristics, marks, variations, and imperfections. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, a “clear” rating is a sign of quality and uniformity. It’s a product made from heartwood — the strongest, richest wood within the tree trunk.
Prefinished or Unfinished Wood Flooring?
Most hardwood flooring is prefinished these days. Substances such as aluminum oxide, polyurethane, and ceramics are used to finish wood and protect it from moisture and damage. Buying your hardwood flooring prefinished should save you some time and money. However, once it’s down, changing the finish is very difficult — if not impossible.
If you want to keep your options open until your flooring has been laid, you might want to consider unfinished hardwood flooring. This means you can make a final decision on the finish when the flooring is in place. You can also ensure a uniform, level finish throughout the room.
Don’t take risks when it comes to buying the perfect flooring for your home. Contact the experts.