Flooring Comparison

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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Overall Rating: 4.5 stars - 90 reviews

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Date: April 5, 2014
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Very helpful
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Date: April 5, 2014
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Just what I needed.
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Date: March 28, 2014
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exactly what I wanted to know--thank you!
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Date: March 27, 2014
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Concise and informative.Thank you. It would be even more helpful in estimating project costs if you could "zero-in" a bit more on some of the cost estimates ,
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Date: March 27, 2014
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Concise and informative. It would be even more helpful in estimating project costs if you could "zero-in" a bit more on some of the cost estimates ,
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Date: March 19, 2014
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
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Building on a budget but want quality. Article very helpful for letting us know our options. Thank you!
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Date: March 7, 2014
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Good starting off point for remodeling projects.
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Date: March 1, 2014
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Very concise. Useful jumping off spot for further research.
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Date: February 27, 2014
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NICE WORK, VERY HELPFUL
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Date: February 26, 2014
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
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Very helpful.

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