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Flooring Buyer's Guide (page 7 of 9)

Given the wide array of flooring options available, you're bound to find one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Learn about 10 popular flooring types to find your match.

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Photo courtesy of Mohawk.

Carpeting is one of the most versatile of all flooring options, featuring more colors and textures than any other type of flooring. When judging carpet quality, a simple rule of thumb is to ask about the density of the fibers used to make the carpet — the more fibers per square inch, the more durable the carpet.

Most carpeting is made by pulling the fibers through a woven backing; then additional layers of backing are glued on to provide strength and thickness. A carpet pad adds cushioning and helps prolong the life of the carpet. Indoor/outdoor carpeting withstands weather and usually is installed without a pad.

Some carpets use a rating system that indicates the product’s ability to withstand wear and tear. Found on the carpet label, the system is graduated from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. A rating of 3 to 4 is considered normal.

Carpeting costs $2 to $12 per square foot. Add 50 cents to $2 per square foot for padding and installation, depending on the complexity of the job.

Wool carpeting is the standard of quality. It's naturally durable and resistant to moisture and stains, and it’s considered to have the best feel against hands and bare feet. With the exception of wool, most carpets are made of synthetic fibers. Various types include the following:

  • Nylon is exceptionally strong and resistant to wear. Make sure the carpet you buy is treated to reduce static electricity.

  • Acrylic has physical properties that approximate wool. It resists wear, crushing and mildew, and it’s inhospitable for insects.

  • Polyester produces bright colors and is highly resistant to moisture, but stains can be difficult to remove.

  • Polypropylene olefin is used for indoor/outdoor carpeting. It's extremely resistant to stains, moisture and mildew.

If you’re looking for a little touch of luxury, stone floor tile provides quality, at a premium price. You’ll pay from $2 to $100 per square foot for natural stone tiles made of granite, marble, limestone, slate and travertine. Installation adds $5 to $10 per square foot.

The ability of stone to resist moisture and staining depends on its hardness. Softer stones such as sandstone and limestone must be finished every few years with a stone sealer. Harder stones, such as granite and marble, should be sealed every four to five years.

Honed and polished stone tile can be slippery when wet, so choose stone that has a textured, skid-resistant surface for kitchens and master bath applications.