The Ultimate Guide to Flooring, From Vinyl and Hardwood to Carpeting

With so many different types of flooring to choose from, shopping for a new floor can be overwhelming. Would carpet look better, or vinyl tile last longer? Is hardwood flooring too difficult to clean — and will laminate flooring turn yellow?

Vinyl, hardwood and carpeting flooring

Here’s a look at some of the different types of floors you’ll discover when you’re shopping for new flooring — and why some types of flooring might suit your lifestyle or décor better than others.

Different Types of Floors

The most popular types of floors are carpeting, porcelain or ceramic tile, vinyl flooring, laminate, hardwood flooring, and stone flooring. Here’s an overview of these different types, with some of the advantages (and disadvantages) of each one.

Carpet Flooring

Among the many types of floors used in houses, perhaps none has more variety than carpeting. Carpet flooring can be thick-pile or thin, smooth or textured and sculpted. It can be wall-to-wall, partial covering, or cut into room-sized rugs.

The type of carpeting you choose should depend upon your lifestyle as well as your decorating scheme. For high-traffic areas, choose durable carpeting rather than luxury sculpted styles that can wear out more quickly and require more care.

Thick-pile carpet adds warmth and cushions your feet wonderfully; plus, it’s low-maintenance. Carpet with short fibers will have a smoother, flatter surface and can be elegantly patterned or even sculpted with a 3D effect.

If you’re looking for low-maintenance carpets, consider sisal carpet (made from agave plant fibers), synthetic sisal or nylon carpeting from manufacturers such as Wilton or Armstrong. Also, if you have kids or pets, consider getting super stain-resistant carpeting such as STAINMASTER® or STAINMASTER® PetProtect®. Likewise, if you have allergies, you can choose allergy-friendly carpets made of nylon and polyester, which are specially made so they won’t trap dust and other allergens.

Porcelain/Ceramic Tile Flooring

Did you know that there’s a difference between porcelain and ceramic tile? Porcelain is fired at much higher temperatures so that the material is denser, more durable and longer-lasting. Ceramic, on the other hand, is more affordable, easier to cut (for installation) and typically comes in a wider range of patterns and colors. One great advantage of both types is that they naturally stain- and moisture-resistant, which makes them perfect for kitchens and bathrooms.

Porcelain ceramic tile flooring

When choosing between porcelain or ceramic, first consider where you’re planning to install your flooring. If it’s in an indoor, high-traffic area that’s constantly in use (such as a kitchen), or if you have a large family, you might want to choose porcelain for its added strength and durability. However, if you’re using it for a bathroom or outdoor patio, ceramic should be strong enough for everyday use.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring has all the convenience of laminate, with the added benefit of a cushiony top layer so it’s easier on the feet. Plus, it has the versatility of tile and can replicate the warmth of hardwood or the luxury of natural stone.

In addition, vinyl is one of the least expensive flooring options available. Even the highest quality luxury vinyl tile is cheaper than many types of flooring.

Vinyl sheet flooring is available in a huge range of colors, styles and patterns, and can be cut to just about any shape to create a uniquely customized design. Plus, it’s virtually maintenance-free — just a quick wipe with a damp mop will take care of most cleaning jobs.

Vinyl has another advantage — it’s amazingly durable, long-lasting and moisture-resistant, which makes it ideal for the kitchen and bathroom, as well as for high-traffic areas like the living room or den.

Laminate Flooring

Unlike the laminate floors of the past, today’s laminate flooring doesn’t yellow or crack as easily as it used to. When properly cared for, quality laminate can last for years.

Waterproof laminate flooring options

Made of multiple layers of melamine resin and fiberboard, the laminate is one of the most affordable types of flooring on the market, and it’s also easy to clean and maintain. However, it doesn’t cushion the feet as much as other types of flooring such as vinyl. Like vinyl, however, it’s available in a huge range of patterns and colors and can even replicate exotic hardwood and natural stone.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood is one of the most popular types of flooring on today’s market. Although it has the reputation of being expensive, many types of hardwood flooring are quite affordable; and hardwood is always a good investment because of its beauty and durability. In fact, a hardwood floor can actually increase the value of a home.

There are two types of hardwood flooring — solid hardwood and engineered wood. Solid hardwood flooring is made of genuine wood — typically oak, cherry, maple, mahogany or other exotic wood — that has been milled, cut into planks, planed and sanded, and then given tongue-and-groove edges for a better fit. Afterward, the wood tiles are given a finish and sealant to protect them against scuffs, stains, and moisture.

Engineered wood is made by gluing several wood piles on top of each other and placing a hardwood veneer on top.

Professional engineered hardwood flooring

Engineered wood flooring is designed to be more stable and durable because the wood planks are less likely to expand or contract due to humidity. Plus, unlike solid wood planks, engineered wood can safely be installed on top of a concrete subfloor, or over an in-floor radiant heating system.

Wood flooring and stone flooring are both unsurpassed in beauty, luxury, and elegance. Thanks to new processing technologies, today’s wood floors are surprisingly easy to clean, and a hardwood floor can actually last a lifetime if properly maintained.

Natural Stone Flooring

One of the most elegant of all flooring options, natural stone flooring is made of real stone slabs that are cut and processed into flooring tiles. Because it’s a natural product that has to be quarried (and often processed by hand), the stone is one of the most expensive flooring materials — but also one of the most beautiful.

Although some softer types of stone flooring (such as marble) can chip or scratch, it’s generally an extremely durable, long-lasting type of flooring, and doesn’t require a great deal of maintenance. However, because it’s porous, the stone can stain easily, so spills should be wiped up immediately.

Beautiful natural stone flooring

Hot tip: Stone is always cool to the touch, which makes it a great option for warmer climates or outdoor areas. Likewise, unlike hardwoods and some other types of flooring, stone flooring can be installed over an in-floor radiant heating system for added warmth.

Wood-like Tile

Wood-like tile is typically made from vinyl, laminate, porcelain or ceramic. Thanks to innovative manufacturing technologies and digital printing methods, these materials can be given a realistic wood-like (or natural stone) surface that perfectly replicates the real thing — but the advantage is that you’ll have all the easy-care qualities and durability of these more-affordable materials.

Importance of Quality Flooring

With so many types of floors to choose from, and at so many different price points, homeowners can easily lose sight of the most important thing: quality. Whatever the material, quality flooring that’s made to the highest industry specifications is going to be more durable and long-lasting than flooring made of lower-quality materials.

In addition, major brand-name flooring manufacturers can usually provide a wider range of colors and patterns than lesser-known companies. Plus, good flooring will resist damage better, and keep its color and finish longer without fading. While quality costs more, homeowners agree that it’s well worth paying more for quality construction and materials.

How to Maintain Different Types of Floors

When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, what works for one floor decidedly won’t work for another. Here’s a look at how to clean and maintain different flooring materials for optimum beauty and longevity.


For minor issues, such as a bit of pet hair, you can simply use a broom and dustpan to sweep up the area. Otherwise, plan on vacuuming your carpet around twice a week — or more often if you have pets or high traffic.

To deep-clean carpets, be sure to use a commercial carpet cleaner that’s formulated for the type of carpet you have. To clean up spot stains, here’s a list of in-home products you can mix and then spray on your carpet:

  • Pet stains: One cup white vinegar/one cup warm water
  • Ketchup/acids: One tablespoon ammonia/one cup warm water
  • Dirt/Mud: Liquid dish soap/water (let the mud dry first)
  • Fruit juice/blood: One or two capfuls hydrogen peroxide/ rinse with water
  • Oil: Rubbing alcohol


Porcelain and ceramic tile are among the easiest flooring materials to clean — just a quick swipe with a damp cloth will do wonders. Tile is famously stain-resistant, but for tough residue (like soap scum) you can use commercial cleaners that are specially made for tile.


To clean vinyl, all you need to do is go over it with a dust mop or vacuum cleaner (using a soft floor brush nozzle) every few days, then damp mop once a week or so. Rather than use soap or a commercial cleaner, some homeowners prefer to use a cup of water mixed with a cup of white vinegar, as this cuts through dirt and deodorizes without leaving soap residue.

It’s important to clean up spills right away, or they might stain the vinyl.

Here’s how to treat different types of stains on vinyl:

  • Ketchup/acids: Apply baking soda/water paste, rinse with vinegar and water
  • Tough stains (lipstick, paint, etc.): Apply rubbing alcohol and clean with a soft brush (always clean with a soft brush to prevent scratching)
  • Scuffs: Apply WD-40, then rinse with white vinegar and water

Hot tip: To make vinyl shine, use a few drops of baby oil in a vinegar/water solution. Don’t use paste wax; it will create wax build-up.


Laminate can be cleaned in much the same way as vinyl, using the same solutions.


To clean hardwood flooring, first dry mop or vacuum the floor (with a soft floor nozzle) to remove dust. Next, use a commercial cleaner that’s safe for your type of wood floor, and rinse with warm water. You can also use water mixed with a few drops of quality dishwashing liquid.

Wring out the mop well, and keep it damp rather than saturated — make sure it’s not too wet. Mop along the grain of the wood. Next, take a soft cloth (or soft floor buffer) and rub it over the floor in a circular motion until it’s dry and sparkling.

Important note: If your floors have a shellacked or lacquered finish, don’t use water, because it can stain the surface.

Natural Stone

The best way to maintain stone flooring is to dust it with a dry mop several times a week. This will remove dust and dirt — especially dirt residue that gets caught in crevices. Be sure to wipe up spills immediately, because the stone can easily stain.

Unlike wood, the stone has a natural shine and doesn’t need polishing, except for a professional polishing every couple of years or so.

Otherwise, for a good deep-cleaning, all you need to do is give your floor a good wet mopping every two weeks or so, depending on how much traffic you have (and how many people live in your home). Be sure to use a pH-neutral cleaner that’s formulated specifically for stone floors; otherwise, the acids in the cleaner could ruin the finish. After cleaning, give the floor a clear water rinse.

Important note: Some types of marble flooring may contain higher levels of iron, which can oxidize and develop rust stains if the flooring isn’t kept dry. Be sure to thoroughly dry marble flooring after spills, or after wet cleaning.

Wood-like Tile

To clean wood-like tile, first identify what the material is, then use the proper method for that material. For example, if it’s made of vinyl, then use a damp mop with vinyl floor cleaner and water to rinse. Be sure to read the label and make sure the cleaner is right for your flooring material.

Shop at Home with Express Flooring

If you’re ready to invest in new flooring for your home and you live near Phoenix or Tucson, Arizona, be sure to contact Express Flooring for a free in-home estimate and design consultation. When you shop at Express Flooring, you don’t even need to leave your home, because our consultants bring the entire inventory — via catalogs, swatches, and samples — straight to your living room. With a million feet of inventory constantly in stock, we can help you find exactly what you’re looking for — and even provide you with the next-day installation.

Once you make your choice, we’ll give you a flooring sale and installation deal that can’t be beaten — and we’ll even remove and replace your furniture for you.

We only use certified, professional installation experts and our installations come with a lifetime installation warranty. Plus, we offer great financing terms, year-round sales, and discounts for seniors, teachers, public service employees, and government workers.

Why Choose Express Flooring?

  • One million feet of in-stock flooring always in our inventory.
  • In-home shopping convenience; we bring the store to you.
  • Free in-home estimate and design consultation seven days a week (and evenings too).
  • Lowest flooring sale and installation price you can find.
  • Great financing.
  • Discounts for veterans, seniors, teachers and government/public service workers.
  • Next-day installation.
  • Professional installation experts.

Now that you know a little bit more about flooring, the time might be right to invest in a brand new luxury floor for your home. When you’re ready to start shopping, be sure to contact Express Flooring for a free in-home design consultation and estimate. We’ll help you choose what you want, then we’ll invite you to sit back and relax while we take care of all the rest. Thanks to Express Flooring, choosing to floor has never been so easy — or so much fun.

The Ultimate Guide to Flooring, From Vinyl and Hardwood to Carpeting was last modified: April 18th, 2019 by Express Flooring