What Type of Flooring Should I Get?

You’ve got choices to make; we’ve got the advice you need.

By: John Riha

Choosing flooring is a big decision — that’s a big surface area you’re trying to cover and what you choose will have a major impact on the look, feel and use of each room in your house.

To get you going, here’s an at-a-glance quick guide to the many types of flooring.

Laminate Flooring

Pros: Sturdy laminate construction resists warping; tough plastic wear layer shrugs off scuffs and scratches; can mimic almost any other type of flooring (wood, ceramic tile); can be installed over some existing floorings; installation is DIY-friendly.

Cons: Super-hard surface feels artificial; can be slippery when wet; can’t be refinished.

Best for: living areas; kitchens; playrooms

Cost: $1 to $7 per square foot.

Hardwood Flooring

Pros: It’s beautiful, warm, long-lasting flooring goes with any décor. Solid wood flooring can be refinished multiple times.

Cons: Hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture — it’s not for bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements. It requires constant maintenance to retain its looks.

Best for: main living areas; hallways; kitchens

Cost: $3 to $8 per square foot; exotics run as high as $14 per square foot.

Vinyl Flooring

Pros: Tough vinyl flooring is impervious to water and its resilient construction feels good underfoot. It’s relatively inexpensive. Vinyl plank flooring can mimic real wood and tile.

Cons: Vinyl can’t quite shake that synthetic look. Vinyl flooring manufacturing is not ecofriendly.

Best for: kitchens; bathrooms; basements; hobby rooms

Cost: $1 to $5 per square foot

Bamboo Flooring

Pros: Although not really a wood flooring (bamboo is a grass), bamboo flooring has similar warmth and beauty. It’s a hard flooring but look for the best quality to ensure durability. As a grass, bamboo is a renewable resource and has some green credibility.

Cons: The cheaper varieties are prone to dents and scratches. It’s imported from Asia, so it’s green credibility takes a hit when you consider the energy required to ship it.

Best for: main living areas, kitchens, family rooms

Cost: $3 to $8 per square foot

Ceramic Tile Flooring

Pros: Ceramic tile flooring comes in an enormous array of colors and styles — it’s a designer’s favorite medium. Glazed ceramic tile flooring is durable, impervious to moisture and resists stains and scratches.

Cons: The hardness of ceramic tile underfoot isn’t to everyone’s liking. Grout lines require constant maintenance.

Best for: kitchens, bathrooms, sunrooms

Cost: $1 to $20 per square foot

Cork Flooring

Pros: It’s a renewable resource that’s harvested from trees, so cork is an ecofriendly flooring. It has a warm, vibrant look and is naturally resilient, so it feels good underfoot. It comes as tiles or planks for DIY installation.

Cons: Sharp objects can tear it and high heels may dent it, and it needs to be refinished with sealers on a regular basis. It’s susceptible to moisture, so keep it out of bathrooms and laundry rooms.

Best for: living areas, kitchens, bedrooms, playrooms

Cost: $2 to $6 per square foot

Linoleum Flooring

Pros: Linoleum flooring is made with biodegradable materials including cork powder and linseed oil. It produces no harmful VOCs and is an ecofriendly choice. It’s a tough flooring that resists stains and wear, and it comes in many vibrant colors.

Cons: It can be dented by high heels and furniture legs, and it can turn yellowish if repeatedly exposed to sunlight. It’s susceptible to excessive moisture, so it’s not recommended for laundry rooms and bathrooms.

Best for: playrooms, family rooms, kitchens

Cost: $2 to $5 per square foot

Rubber Flooring

Pros: Rubber flooring comes in many styles and colors. It’s made in sheets and DIY-friendly tiles that fit together with interlocking edges. It blocks sound, is moisture-proof and it’s comfortable underfoot.

Cons: It’s not a high-end look, and some people are sensitive to the smell of rubber

Best for: bathrooms, kitchens, playrooms, basements, garages

Cost: $2 to $12 per square foot

Engineered Wood Flooring

Pros: The laminate construction of engineered wood flooring provides good stability. The top veneer is real wood and so has all of wood’s natural warmth and beauty. It can be installed in basements, and the click-together type is DIY-friendly. Varieties include parquet flooring tiles.

Cons: The real wood surface of engineered wood flooring may scratch and dent, and it can’t be refinished more than once.

Best for: living areas, hallways, kitchens

Cost: $2 to $7 per square foot

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