Comparison of Pros/Cons and Costs of 10 types of Flooring

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

Flooring Comparison 

By The World Floor Covering Association

Before you shop, compare the pros, cons, care, and cost of 10 popular types of flooring.
  Pros Cons Care Cost

Carpet

Soft, quiet, warm underfoot
Easiest and most cost-effective floor covering to replace and upgrade
Brings in color and texture
Stain-resistant fibers available

Can Stain
Low-quality carpets may quickly show wear

Clean spills immediately.
Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Vacuum low-traffic areas at least once or twice a week.
Vacuum high-traffic areas more often.
Use a deep-cleaning hot water extraction cleaning system every 12-18 months.

$2-$15 per square foot, installed

Stone

Extremely durable
Timeless and classic design
Beautiful, natural aesthetic

Higher cost than many flooring materials
Some varieties, such as marble and limestone, readily absorb stains and dirt
Difficult to repair
Dark, glossy surfaces show footprints and can be slippery
All stones should be sealed

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Regularly dust-mop the floor with a clean, nontreated mop or broom. Or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Wipe up spills immediately.
Damp-mop floors using cleaners recommended by the manufacturer.
Avoid cleaners that are abrasive or contain vinegar, lemon juice, or harsh chemicals.

$8-$50 per square foot, installed

Ceramic or Porcelain tile

Durable
Water and stain resistant
Wide choice of colors, textures, and shapes
Porcelain color through tile body-scratches or damage less likely to show

Grout lines can be hard to clean
Low-quality tiles may chip
Fragile items dropped on the surface probably will break
Glossy tiles can be slippery when wet
Difficult to repair


Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Regularly sweep tile or use a vacuum without a beater bar.
Regularly damp-mop the floor with a cleaner recommended by the tile and grout manufacturers. For more shine, rinse with clear water and wipe dry.

$4-$12 per square foot, installed 

Laminate

Durable, affordable
Easy to clean and maintain
Resists stains
Wide range of colors and designs
Resembles natural materials
Excellent choice for do-it-yourself applications

Can be scratched
Cannot be refinished
Be cautious when purchasing off brands; the top layer may peel or separate from the core
For installations in high-moisture rooms, select laminates designed for this use

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.
Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Don’t refinish or sand

$3-$7 per square foot, installed

Wood

Wear-resistant
Long-lasting
Provides a warm look
Can be refinished

Vulnerable to moisture
Softer woods, such as pine, may dent easily
May darken with age
Some finishes wear unevenly and are difficult to repair
Can shrink and expand, creating gaps or warping

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.
Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Remove scuffs and heel marks by lightly rubbing the spots with a soft, clean cloth sprayed with hardwood floor cleaner recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

$6-$15 per square foot, installed

Engineered Wood

Shrinks and expands less than solid wood
Quicker installation time
Some can be installed below grade
Comes prefinished so the stain and protective finishes will be more consistent and harder

Typically can be refinished only once or twice
Off brands may have voids in core, which weakens wood surface
Ends may split on off brands

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.
Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Remove scuffs and heel marks by lightly rubbing the spots with a soft, clean cloth sprayed with hardwood floor cleaner recommended by the flooring manufacturer.
Never wax or use oil soap.

$4-$18 per square foot, installed

Bamboo

More quickly renewable resource than wood
Strong
Clean, contemporary sensibility

May darken or fade when exposed to sunlight
Should not be left wet

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.
Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

$4-$8 per square foot, installed

Vinyl

Durable
Water-resistant in sheet form
Easy to clean
Comfortable
Less expensive than most flooring choices

Difficult to repair
Less expensive grades may discolor
In tile form, moisture can get into seams between tiles

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Clean up spills immediately. Damp-mop when needed using clean, warm water. Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

$1-$7 per square foot, installed

Linoleum

Made of natural raw materials
More durable than vinyl
Color extends through entire material
Can be hand-cut for intricate patterns and installation artistry

Should be resealed annually
Cannot be left wet
May scuff if not well polished

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Clean up spills immediately. Damp-mop when needed using clean, warm water. Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer. Polish periodically to bring back shine and protection against stains.

$2-$9 per square foot, installed

Cork

Soft and warm, natural
Resists mildew
Sleek, contemporary look
Stain and water resistant
Easy to clean
Polyurethane finishes typically last up to seven years before refinishing is required

UV-cured acrylic finishes are not as long-lasting
Wax finishes need reapplication every 6-12 months

Place walk-off mats at entries to catch dirt; frequently shake mats.
Place protective pads on the bottoms of chair and table legs.
Regularly sweep or dust-mop the floor, or use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar.
Clean up spills immediately. Use only cleaners recommended by the flooring manufacturer. To restore luster, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for refinishing.

$4-$9 per square foot, installed  

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