A new floor can drastically change the look and feel of your home. Replacing that drab carpet with a brand-new hardwood floor can breathe new life into any space. Whether you’re looking to upgrade the look of your home, preparing it to sell, or moving into a new house that needs a refresh, this guide will help you compare flooring types to decide the best material for your needs.

Breaking Down 7 Popular Types of Flooring

Layered Samples of Carpet in Different Colors

1. Carpet: Soft and Warm

Price Range for Materials and Installation: $3-12 per square foot

Carpet is the best flooring material for comfort, warmth and sound reduction. While it’s more difficult to keep clean than other flooring options, the coziness it brings to a space is usually worth it. However, you may want to avoid putting it in high traffic areas. There are various types of carpet to fit your needs and budget, and you can install carpet yourself to save money.

Pros and Cons by Type of Carpet

ProsCons
Berber Carpet – Less expensive
– Durable
– Loop construction snags easily
– Not very soft
Frieze Carpet– Durable
– Hides Dirt
– More expensive
– Stains easily
Plush Carpet– Durable
– Good aesthetic
– Shows indentation
– Chance of permanent pile direction change
Patterned Carpet– Hides stains
– Can match your décor
– You’ll need to buy more material to match pattern between sections
– High traffic areas will fade more quickly

Rooms Best Suited for Carpet:

  • Living and family rooms
  • Bedrooms
Why is Pile Direction Change in Your Carpet Bad?

The pile direction of your carpet changes how the light reflects off it. Simply put, if you look at it from different angles, the color of your carpet looks slightly different. So, if the pile direction changes in a small area, your carpet will appear to have a stain or watermark, no matter how clean it is.

Samples of Hardwood Flooring Planks

2. Hardwood: Durable and Classy

Price Range for Materials and Installation:$6-25 per square foot

Hardwood is one of the most common types of flooring, providing an easy-to-clean surface that brings a bit of natural beauty to your home. Durability is the main benefit of hardwood flooring, which makes it usable for just about any room in your house. If you already have hardwood floors that need a little sprucing up, you may not have to replace them, but could simply refinish the wood to get a new look.

Pros and Cons by Type of Hardwood Flooring

ProsCons
Solid Hardwood– Lasts longer
– Easy to repair
– More expensive
– Prone to dents
Engineered Hardwood– Easy to repair
– Durable
– Prone to scratches
– Requires more maintenance
Reclaimed Hardwood– Environmentally-friendly
– Extra durable
– May have nails or foreign objects embedded
– More expensive

Rooms Best Suited for Hardwood Flooring

  • Entryway or foyer
  • Living and family rooms
  • Kitchen
  • Dining room
  • Bathroom
  • Bedroom
  • Laundry room and mudroom

Laminate Flooring Samples in Various Colors

3. Laminate: Versatile and Low-Maintenance

Price Range for Materials and Installation: $3-8 per square foot

Laminate flooring is a thin, printed material glued onto fiberboard. It can be made to look like any wood flooring and can give you the same look as wood floors for less of an investment. However, it won’t stand up to water quite as well as tile or vinyl.

Pros and Cons by Type of Laminate Flooring

ProsCons
Imitation Wood Laminate– More water-resistant than wood
– Easy to install
– Cannot be repaired like wood
Imitation Tile Laminate– Less expensive to install – More difficult to repair than tile
Imitation Stone Laminate– Less expensive to install
– Doesn’t need to be sealed like stone
– Needs to be replaced when worn down

Rooms Best Suited for Laminate Flooring

  • Entryway or foyer
  • Living and family rooms
  • Dining room
  • Basement

Lined Up Samples of Tile Flooring

4. Tile: Waterproof and Stain-Resistant

Price Range for Materials and Installation: $7-20 per square foot

Being waterproof, tile is one of the better types of flooring for your kitchen, dining area or bathroom. It can be cold to the touch, but it’s durable and holds up well. Ceramic tile tends to be less expensive than porcelain with similar benefits, so it’s likely that either would work where you need it.

Pros and Cons by Type of Tile Flooring

ProsCons
Ceramic Tile– Durable
– Easy to clean
– Can fade in sunlight
– Gets cold in the winter
Porcelain Tile– Durable
– Low-maintenance
– More expensive
– Heavy and brittle

Rooms Best Suited for Tile Flooring

  • Entryway or foyer
  • Kitchen
  • Dining room
  • Bathroom
  • Laundry room or mudroom

Rolls of Vinyl Flooring Samples

5. Vinyl: Affordable Flooring Alternative

Price Range for Materials and Installation: $3-7 per square foot

Vinyl flooring is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns including those that mimic wood, ceramic and stone. The main benefit of vinyl flooring is its cost, being more affordable than other flooring options. With recent manufacturing advancements, vinyl flooring can be used virtually anywhere in the house based on which product you choose. The three vinyl flooring types are tile, plank and sheet. Vinyl tile can be a good alternative to ceramic or porcelain tiles, where planks can be used in place of hardwood. Sheet vinyl has many of the same advantages but can be installed in one piece over larger areas.

Pros and Cons by Type of Vinyl Flooring

ProsCons
Sheet Vinyl – Easy to install over large areas– Less durable than other flooring types
Vinyl Plank– Water-resistant or fully waterproof – Can shift or change shape slightly
Vinyl Tile– Warmer than ceramic or porcelain – Can be dented by heavy impact

Man Installing Cork Flooring

6. Cork: Green Alternative to Wood

Price Range for Materials and Installation: $4-14 per square foot

Cork flooring uses bark from a cork tree, which is ground up and pressed with resin. It’s considered to be a greener alternative to hardwood because the tree doesn’t need to be cut down, and the bark is harvested in a way that doesn’t harm the tree. Cork floors can be resurfaced in the same way as wood, making them comparable to wood flooring in many respects. It is more vulnerable to water, however.

Pros and Cons by Type of Cork Flooring

ProsCons
Cork Tile Flooring– Hypoallergenic
– Damaged tiles can be replaced easily
– Often has to be glued to the subfloor
– Easy to damage
– Vulnerable to high humidity
Cork Plank Flooring– Hypoallergenic
– Interlocking boards are easier to install
– Easy to damage
– Vulnerable to high humidity

Rooms Best Suited for Cork Flooring

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Bedroom

Patch of Bamboo Flooring

7. Bamboo: Sustainable Flooring

Price Range for Materials and Installation: $5-15 per square foot

Bamboo is a relatively new flooring material, praised for its eco-friendly properties. Bamboo grows quickly, and the plants can be replaced in far less time than trees. It looks very much like hardwood, bringing the same natural beauty to your home. However, bamboo is not fully waterproof, so it may not be suitable for rooms that get water on the floor, like the bathroom or entryway.

Pros and Cons by Type of Bamboo Flooring

ProsCons
Vertical-Grain Bamboo– Uniform look is less likely to show dents – Not as strong
Flat-Grain Bamboo– Offset layers make it stronger – Will show dents
Strand-Woven Bamboo– Better for special finishes or surface treatments – Most expensive bamboo option

Rooms Best Suited for Bamboo Flooring

  • Living and family rooms
  • Kitchen
  • Dining room
  • Bedroom
  • Laundry room

Decide on the Best Flooring Material to Meet Your Own Home’s Needs

With all the flooring types available, it can be hard to pick out the best one for your home. But if you know what features you’re looking for and have a budget range in mind, it’s not as challenging as you might think.

Plus, you can save on flooring projects by removing your old floors yourself. While you’re working, don’t forget to check to see if your subfloor needs to be replaced too.