Residential Flooring Options: Pros and Cons of Each, with Pics

Updated on April 6, 2016

Residential flooring options

If you’re building a new home or remodeling an existing one, or just some home repairs or home improvement, you’ll be faced with numerous decisions. One area of mind-boggling decisions you’ll have to deal with pertains to floors and residential flooring options. So many elements go into this decision that you practically need to take a college course just to be well informed. The choices are practically endless: hardwood floors, unfinished hardwood floors, engineered hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, tile flooring, carpet, slate floors, and painted flooring. Dizzy yet? Wait! There’s more. Each type of residential flooring option has numerous sub-types. How in the world will you ever choose?

My husband is a general contractor, and I think I’ve had every flooring known to man. “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Well, I’m not really from the government, but I am here to help!

Below is a brief guideline for different types of residential flooring and flooring options, along with their pros and cons:

Hardwood flooring: This can be purchased prefinished or unfinished. You’ll find a wide variety of woods and shades in home improvement centers and online. Unless you’re pretty handy, you’ll need to research local flooring contractors to find a reputable hardwood floor installer. Hardwood flooring is beautiful and natural, and it’s also durable. It’s not as soft as carpet, of course, but it is more forgiving than tile. It’s usually fairly expensive, but you can save a lot of money by comparison shopping – especially online. Search for discontinued styles, but make sure they have enough in stock to complete your project.

Tile flooring: Tile flooring is extremely durable and easy to clean. Tile is often the top choice for bathroom floors or for a kitchen renovation. It includes cheap tile and very expensive tile. You can find ceramic tiles on sale at major home improvement centers like Lowe’s and Home Depot for great prices – sometimes as low as $1 a tile. Cheap, huh? Yes, but the cost lies in the labor. Unless you know what you’re doing and really take your time, you can create a mess with improperly laying tile floors. I recommend a flooring contractor – unless you’re willing to attend a clinic that teaches proper installation. One downside to tile flooring is that it’s very unforgiving. It’s hard on the joints, little bottoms, and dropped dishes and glasses. It’s also cold in the winter.

Laminate flooring: Laminate flooring has had a huge surge in popularity in the past few years. These floors can be beautiful and durable, and they’re often a good candidate for do-it-yourself remodeling projects. They’re available in many colors, patterns, and styles, including the look of stone, wood, and tile. They’re easy to clean and make great choices for kitchen renovations and bathroom renovations. The problem is that all laminates are not created equal, and some of the best are almost as expensive as real hardwood flooring. Be sure to compare prices and pay special attention to warranties.

Engineered hardwood floor: This is an all wood floor, but only the veneer – the top layer – is the beautiful, expensive wood. The bottom layers are usually plywood. These floors are much cheaper than hardwood floors, but they provide the same look. And in fact, the engineered hardwood flooring is often more durable than a hardwood floor and holds up better to moisture. Like hardwood floors, the engineered hardwood floors are easy to clean, but they provide little warmth. The flooring comes in finished planks, in a wide variety of colors and woods. You can find some amazing discounts by shopping online.

Painted flooring: If you’re looking for that cozy “cottage look,” you might want to consider a painted or “whitewashed” floor. This is a good do-it-yourself project if you have a power saw, a measuring tape, and any experience at all. Buy unfinished tongue-and-groove planks in a cheap flooring like pine. Once the floor is down, you can paint flooring to look whitewashed by using a latex paint that has been thinned with water. Of course, you can also paint the floor a color, and using a tough paint will make the floor more durable. You can also get creative and stencil the painted floor to match bedroom décor. This type of flooring works best in a bedroom where it won’t be exposed to water, and where it won’t get so much floor traffic. This cheap flooring is attractive, easy to clean, and softer than a hardwood floor. A coat of polyurethane will add a protective layer to your painted floor.

Painted floors are very trendy now, and some artists are using their talents to create intricately designed painted floors. One such company is Gracewood Design. See an example of their work below. It's amazing! It's like having a work of art underneath your feet.

Carpet: Carpet is available in a gazillion colors, textures, and patterns. It ranges in price from cheap do-it-yourself squares to opulent thick piles of luxury. For traditional carpet, you’ll need a professional installer. Carpet is warm and soft, and it absorbs sounds. On the downside, it’s rather difficult to clean and can house allergens, dirt, and fleas. It can also hold a lot of moisture and mold, so it’s not a good choice for bathroom and kitchen renovations.

Irregular slate flooring: This is a beautiful type of flooring that looks great in rustic cabins. The natural slate comes in shades of grays and browns. It’s tough and extremely durable, but it’s somewhat difficult to lay. It’s also very cold and unforgiving. If you don’t hire a flooring contractor with stone floor experience, you’ll end up with a very uneven floor that’s difficult to navigate. From my experience, a slate floor is a medium-priced option. Insist that the floor be sealed with a protective coating like polyurethane, which helps protect the grout from stains.

Different types of flooring

Hardwood floor.
Hardwood floor.
Tile floor.
Tile floor.
Laminate floor.
Laminate floor.
Engineered hardwood floor.
Engineered hardwood floor.
Painted flooring by Gracewood Design.
Painted flooring by Gracewood Design.
Carpeting is soft and warm.
Carpeting is soft and warm.
A rustic slate floor.
A rustic slate floor.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        CLee 

        20 months ago

        I was hoping to read more about marmoleum

      • Green Dog VT profile image

        Green Dog VT 

        6 years ago from chester,vt

        Nice hub with great pics thanks

      • profile image

        LuAnn Rutherford 

        6 years ago

        I would like more information on Slate flooring.

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