Choosing the right flooring can feel like a headache. The wrong materials could lead to unexpected problems. Before making a decision, consider which materials work best in your climate.
Porcelain, Ceramic, and Stone Tile
Tile is suitable in almost any climate, but homes in colder regions might want to install heating underneath. That cool touch is a great in hot climates, including desert, humid, or tropical areas. Most tiles are water resistant and stand up to years of abuse, so you can mop to your heart’s content. While tile can last for many years, movement of the substrate can damage it in areas prone to earthquakes.
Linoleum & Vinyl
People often use the words vinyl and linoleum interchangeably, but they’re different materials. Vinyl is synthetic, but linoleum is a natural product made from ground cork and linseed oil. There are various, high-quality vinyl flooring options to realistically reproduce wood and stone patterns. The color is solid throughout, so it doesn’t show damage as easily. While they’re suitable in any climate, they can feel a bit cold underfoot. Both vinyl and linoleum are available in tiles and sheets. They also clean easily with a damp mop.
Carpet is soft and cushy and adds insulation and comfort in colder climates. Available in rolls and tiles, fuzzy and short fibers, there’s something for practically any living environment where water isn’t present. Basements and other rooms with persistent damp conditions can lead to problems with mold and mildew because the fibers and padding retain moisture. Everyday cleaning requires vacuuming, but stains are harder to deal with. Steam cleaning and spot treatments are necessary.
Newer high quality laminates have come a long way. Realistic wood texture embossed into their coating makes them practically indistinguishable from real hardwood. However, the edges of laminates swell in excessively damp conditions. Once the damage is done, the panel needs to be replaced. Only mop with a barely-damp mop.
Damp or dry conditions can be an issue for hardwood in some situations. Excessively dry conditions can dry out the wood, but high-quality sealers help to resist cracks. Dampness causes wood to swell and buckle the floor. Use a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity and help the floor stay put. Hardwoods feel cool under your feet, good in warm climates. They can be good in colder areas too. Ask a reputable flooring contractor to recommend varieties that work with radiant heat.
Engineered hardwood resists swelling and shrinking and is a good option for all climates.
New flooring is a great home improvement project that makes the whole house feel better. And if you’re thinking of DIY flooring installation, you’ll save about half what it would cost to hire a professional.
Know your subfloor. In most cases it’s either wood or concrete — each has dos and don’ts when it comes to choosing the right flooring. If installation guidelines aren’t included, look for them on the manufacturer’s website. Also search YouTube on the subject to get familiar with the process. Buy the proper tools or rent them from your local rent-it shop. Ask the staff how they should be properly operated.
Some flooring installations are designed for a DIY. Here’s a quick rundown on skill levels needed for various flooring installation projects.
For the easiest install, DIYers should go with the floating floor. Engineered wood flooring is available as a glue-down, nail-down, and floating floor system with snap-together edges.
A laminate floor with a floating system is very DIY-friendly. You’ll need some skill and patience to meander doorways.
A rented flooring nail gun makes nailing down hardwood flooring easier once you get the hang of it. Your biggest challenge is dealing with warped boards to keep rows straight.
Ceramic tile flooring installation requires moderate to high levels of skill. Laying out the design and understanding how to start off a ceramic tile floor installation are keys to success, especially when it comes to notching tile around obstacles.
Tile is a great option for people with pets. Tile is a durable, easy to clean, liquid-proof surface with tons of different design options. But, for animals with bladder-control issues it might be a challenge to keep the grout clean. If you’re dreaming of wood floors, but don’t want to risk it, consider faux-wood tiles.
Luxury vinyl is another great option for pet owners. It’s durable, quiet, long lasting, and resistant to moisture, dents, and scratches. It’s affordable and most vinyl floor tiles and mimic stone or wood patterns beautifully.
Laminate is an extremely strong artificial wood product. It has a sealant layer that resists scratches and scuffs. Laminate is less expensive than concrete, wood, or most tile. The only possible issue with this laminate flooring is that the layer that protects it is very slippery.
If you must have carpet, consider something specifically designed to resist pet stains and odors. A nonwhite neutral color won’t show dirt as quickly. Vacuum often to keep fur from building up.
Pets don’t have to ruin your dreams of having hardwood floors. Make sure dog nails are kept trimmed and messes are wiped up immediately. Go for the hardest wood you can find, such as teak, mesquite, or hard maple. Consider engineered hardwood with the most scratch-resistant finish available. A matte or low-gloss look will hide scratches better. Finish your floor with a scratch-resistant finish. Also consider distressed or reclaimed wood.