Top 15 Flooring Materials, Plus Costs and Pros and Cons in 2017 – DIY Home Improvement Ideas

With so many flooring options to cater to your personal style and preferences, you will have no problem choosing a floor type that is durable, affordable and attractive. Investing in any of the choices below will increase the value of your home and your level of enjoyment, guaranteed! 😉

Let’s first examine the options and the decisions you should consider when choosing the type of material for your flooring. Flooring materials come in many different styles, colors, durability and costs. Knowing what your budget is will pave the way for you to decide on what you can afford. Don’t worry if you have a low budget, you are in luck. Today’s manufacturers have come up with some creative and durable products for consumers.

If you are remodeling or building a home from scratch, the choices are endless. There is an enormous assortment of colors and textures for wood grains, tiles, glass, linoleum, concrete and more. Whether the project is a DIY or done by a licensed contractor, the project will be fun and creative.

Consider Laminate and Pergo for Style and Durability

via Pergo

If you are looking for a very affordable option, consider the unique qualities that laminate flooring has to offer. Besides being a low cost option to the higher-priced genuine hardwood, certain types of laminate can make your home quieter with the ability to reduce noise, be durable in the kitchen for liquid spills, and stand up to super high traffic areas in your kitchen.

Laminates can be created to look like stone tile, distressed wood and can be designed in many shapes to your liking. Laminate tiling can even duplicate the look of travertine floors. The designs are endless. Caring for laminate is easy. Laminate is pieced together with a tung and groove system with no nails or glue. It’s an easy and fast install. This type of flooring cannot be stained and finished. And while the cost is cheaper than hardwood, if this is going into a home that will eventually be resold, the resale value may be lowered as opposed to placing higher priced wood flooring choices.

A disadvantage to this flooring is that it cannot be repaired. The actual damaged piece will have to be replaced.  It is quite durable and a cost effective option for those on a budget. It can also be a cost cutting option for sections of your home where don’t warrant the cost of hardwood throughout the home. For example, you may want to use real hardwoods in the living room and choose laminates in the playroom or kitchen area. Laminate flooring is an excellent choice for rentals because replacing damaged areas are not expensive.

Costs: The cost per sq. ft. can be $1.30 to $4.00 for the material and $1.50 per sq. for labor costs.

Tips for Laminate Flooring

  • Place furniture protectors on the legs to protect from dents in the floors. Never refinish or sand.

Vinyl Flooring – Not Your Grandmothers Flooring Anymore

via DIY Network

Versatile and economical, vinyl flooring has been revised and has made a comeback. Matt finishes offer good durability and many designer-friendly designs, consider vinyl flooring. Inlaid vinyl floors go through a process that places tiny vinyl granules on the backing, placing closer to the wear surface, creating a more durable floor.

Vinyl is used throughout the entire thickness of the flooring. Scrapes and chips are less noticeable as the color is from top to bottom. Vinyl is sold in rolls and tiles. Rolls are the most common. Vinyl is a fairly easy DIY flooring project.

Three types of vinyl are sheet vinyl, modified loose lay, felt-backed, and vinyl-backed. It is common and better to use a felt- backed sheet as this type has an added layer of felt for strength and comfort.  Adhesives are used for this process. Vinyl-backed, the least common, it is glued only at the edges. Modified loose-lay flooring, which includes a fiberglass backing for increased strength and is typically installed using double-sided tape.

Consider luxury vinyl tile, it’s a high-end vinyl flooring option. It can be an affordable alternative to costly flooring materials such as natural stone and wood. Installation is less costly. It can be purchased in a roll or tiles. Installation costs can vary as with any flooring project. If buying tile, you may want to consider purchasing a roll out underlayment, which gives you a grid pattern to lay out the tile with. Adhesives and cutting materials will be needed.

Costs for a decent quality purchase are about $2.00 to $5.00 per sq. ft. Installation costs usually average about $2.00 per sq. ft.

Real Hardwood Floors – They Will Last a Lifetime

Sturdy and impressionable. Natural wood has its own natural variations. The floors need to be nailed down; therefore making this project better suited for a professional as using saws, drills and hammers are needed for the install of hardwood. If you are going to perform a DIY hardwood floor installation, consider renting the tools instead of buying them. The floors can be stained to your taste. Solid wood can be purchased unfinished or finished, and can be stained anyway you like it over its lifetime.

Solid wood floors that feature solid wood all the way through work best in bedrooms and living rooms or anywhere moisture will not occur.

Avoid solid hardwoods in bathroom and kitchens.

Narrow strips, narrow planks or wider planks are the way it is sold. Solid hardwood can be laid on existing floor boards, but you should choose solid wood flooring that is 18mm thick at the minimum, if you’re laying it over the existing floorboards, so you get a more even installation.

Make sure to open your boxes and lay out the hardwood so the air gets to the wood for a few days before installation. This way it acclimates them to the air. It will make the installation a better one.

Tips for Real Hardwood Floors

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring

Engineered wood flooring is available in almost any wood species. Engineered wood flooring is made up of several pieces of wood called wood piles and placed together with a heat process under pressure. It is made up of hardwood or plywood, and the veneer is hardwood.

Engineered wood is a good choice for those seeking a wood that is best resistant to moisture. For example, if you live in an area where the humidity is extremely high and it rains a lot, this is a considerable choice for your flooring. The top hardwood veneer layer is glued and pressed on the top surface of the core.

Floors with a 3-millimeter top may be sanded two times, but anything lower than that such as 2- millimeter can only handle a light sanding and that sanding should be used with a buffer. Engineered wood floors can be nailed down or placed using glue, and even affixed this way to the concrete. A floating method can be used where each plank is glued together allowing the entire floor to float over the sub-floor. It lets the wood expand and planks tend not to expand as much.

The average price per square foot is $3.00 to $19.00. Installation costs usually run about $2.00 to $6.00 per sq. ft. The cost can be higher when ripping up the previous flooring and removing debris is necessary.

Tips for Engineered Wood

  • Never wax or use soap. Only use specified good quality hardwood floor cleaners and polishers.
  • Engineered wood stands up to humidity better than 100 percent hardwood as it contracts when the weather changes.

Bamboo Flooring – a Great Eco-Friendly Choice

via DC Renovation and Remodeling

Bamboo originally comes from China and South Asian counties. It is a highly processed wood for its use in flooring. The original color of it is beech wood. To get it to a darker color it goes through a carbonizing process that steams the wood under highly controlled pressure and heat. Unfortunately, this process affects the hardness of the wood. Because of this process, it resembles red oak or pine.

Subfloors should be dry and level before installation. Make sure to air the wood for a couple of days. Bamboo does scratch easily, so high heels are to be avoided or you will be constantly buffing it out.

Check with your manufacturer of the wood you buy to make sure they use processes that avoid formaldehyde. You do have to take care of these floors to keep them looking beautiful. Do not use products with waxing agents as the color of the floor will dull. Wipe up spills sooner than later to avoid water stains. Use specific wood flooring cleaning products are best for polishing and cleaning.

Bamboo wood flooring comes in vertical, stranded and horizontal. The colors and grains of the wood choices are plenty. A nice advantage to Bamboo is that it offers a lot of variation in the grain. Traditional bamboo strands are very smooth, letting more scratches show through. Consider engineered bamboo that is made under heat and pressure, it becomes more durable and resistant to scratching, as well as three times harder than its original state.

Engineered bamboo is also a more affordable option offering that eco-friendly advantage. It provides the consumer an excellent choice for apartments and commercial locations.

Traditional bamboo strands are very smooth, letting more scratches show through. Bamboo flooring can fade in sunlight if you have a lot of light coming in the area.

Cost: Most bamboo is sold pre-finished at about $3.99 per sq. ft. Unfinished can average $2.00 to $3.00 per sq. ft. Installation costs usually run $2.00 to $8.00 per sq. ft. depending if the boards are being treated on or offsite.

Solid Oak Flooring – A Beautiful Traditional Look

via UK Flooring Direct

Solid oak floors have a strong grain pattern that lends their look to people searching for a more rustic or traditional look for your home. Colors are endless to white oak, red oak and espresso browns. It is a great option if you have an older home and want to keep the charm of the home. It is generally recommended for larger rooms as the tones and grains are very rich.  5/16-inch planks can give a more modern look and a 3/4-inch plank lends itself to a more traditional look. You can always mix both plank sizes for a unique look for your personal flooring tastes.

Solid oak can be a great DIY flooring installation by a floating floor procedure which negates any expansion of the hardwood when the weather gets very humid, damp and drafty. For a DIY project, all that is needed is a mallet and underlayment to connect the groove joints and butt against a baseboard.

Cost: The average price per sq. ft. runs about $3.00 to $5.00. Installation costs run on average $3.00 per square foot, which includes, labor, installation, and finishing.

Travertine Tile Flooring – A Natural Tile Choice

Travertine is a natural stone, and depending on what region / quarry it is mined from the tiles will have different looks because of the diverse geographical areas of different countries Turkey, Iran, China, Peru and Mexico is where this tile is imported from. Shades of travertine tile vary from beige, browns, mocha, silver, mahogany tones, and golden to red tones. Travertine tiles are cheaper than marble and stone. The tiles are durable and easy to replace. They can add value and beauty to your home.

There are some disadvantages to travertine. It is very porous, if you spill wine on it, it may stain. It is a lot of work to get the stains out and any acidic liquid should never go near travertine for cleaning. You should purchase specific cleaning products for cleaning travertine tile.

It is environmentally friendly, meaning it can be used in any climate condition all over the world. Consider using these tiles in the bathroom, kitchen and outdoor areas where water is around.

Travertine tiles will stand up to almost anything, as it is a heavier tile. Different natural strands of colors in this tile can make it quite unique; therefore it is considered one of the most beautiful choices to beautify your floors. The tile is commonly used on walls too. If you are flooring your bathroom using it on the walls will increase your home’s value and beauty, not to mention stunning looks.

Costs per sq. ft. can start at $5.00. Costs for installation are approximately $2.50 to $5.00 per square foot for basic travertine tile.

Glass Tiles – The Beauty of Mosaic Designs

Glass tile floors are sturdy and durable. Make sure that they are manufactured “slip resistant”. They are beautiful when used in bathrooms and pool areas. They can be cut into many different shapes and sizes and incorporating embellished designs will improve the beauty of your area, making it impressive and noteworthy. Install smaller stones with a rougher surface around pools and bathrooms. Consider the size to use to be a 1inch tile. More grout is exposed, making it more slip resistant, while looking absolutely beautiful. Glass tile is a bit expensive to install.

Cost: It can average about $9.00 per sq. ft. if it is set in the mesh mosaic. If it is not mosaic, installation costs for glass tile are about $7.00 per sq. ft.

Pebble Stone Flooring – Creative Bold and Fun

This type of flooring is where you can get very creative. The look can all be the same color or it can have many different colors within the square foot. It’s an excellent more affordable choice for bathrooms, pool areas and in more trending homes, the stairwell. It can also be used for walkways outside or indoor walkways that are suspended and have waterways around them. Pebble stone tiles are a nice contrast to the décor and beauty of your home. The contrasting colors work well with surrounding floors and can bring out the beauty of the other colors in your room such as walls and cabinets.

Costs for purchasing the tile ranges from $4.00 to $9.00 per sq. ft. If the tile is set on 12” x 12” mesh, the cost per sq. ft. is about $7.00.

Sandstone Tile – Another Eco-Friendly Choice

The stone can be polished to your liking and because it is a natural stone, it is hard as a rock. While it is hard it is susceptible to scratches from shoes and general wear and tear. The tile has a soft but strong look when it is beautifully polished.  The tiles are also eco-friendly and biodegradable. They do chip, and if they do, they can easily be replaced. Tiles will discolor over time and they are a bit porous and are not recommended in wet areas such as bathrooms and pool areas outside.

The stone is cold to the touch in cold weather, but radiant heating systems are available with installation. Electric floor heating will cost about $8.00 per sq. ft. Hydronic systems using water cost on average $6.00 per sq. ft. With the proper care, sandstone tile can last for decades and is another good option for an expensive rich flooring look that is solid.

Costs per sq. ft. range from $5.00 to $18.00 dependent on the type you are choosing. General installation costs are about $7.00 per sq. ft. Like any tile that first row should be measured dead straight with complete accuracy as that is what you will be working with going forward.

Cork Flooring for Complete Sustainability and Durability

via Floor Coverings International

Cork flooring is 100 percent sustainable. It insulates, comes with sound proofing qualities, and it’s resistant to humidity, mold and mildew. Trees are not cut down for this flooring. The bark of trees is harvested from the corco tree. The cork is ground up and produced for flooring.

Cork will expand with changes in heat and humidity so it is important to take the tiles out of the box and let them air out for a couple of days. This is called acclimatizing. Cork is good for resisting humidity. It is an excellent choice if you live near the water or a humid climate like the south- east.

Planks and tiles click together or you can get it in strips. If you have an older imperfect floor as the surface you can use a click process. It floats the floor over the imperfections. The variety of design options is endless. For bathrooms and laundry rooms, you should use the glue down process. Additional coats of sealer are recommended in this area. Cork floors can be cut straight or in a beveled edge.

Cost averages between $3.00 to $8.00 per square foot. The install costs are about $1.00 per sq. ft. Installation costs are relatively lower than other types of hardwood because materials and tools are not as expensive.

Ceramic Tile Offers a Luxurious Modern Clean Look at an Easy Price Point

With new homes and remodeling homes today, homeowners and landlords are re-creating attractive modern sleek looks with ceramic tile. You can get very creative with tile by placing opposing border colors and textures as well as center designs in a specific area. Ceramic tile can be used anywhere. Consider using tile in the living room for a beachfront property, or a grand entrance way in your home, in a bathroom, dining room and kitchen Ceramic tile is easy to care for. It is very common for buyers that pet allergies and other allergies to use ceramic floors as an extremely affordable option to improve the beauty and modernization of their home. This type of tile lasts longer than carpet and wood flooring.

Ceramic tiles are not recommended if you live in a frost zone. The tiles get very cold in the winter and are quite cold to the touch of bare feet. It is not recommended for outdoor placement in a winter zone. The tiles will absorb water and can crack and can even pop out. Porcelain tile is a better option if you must have tile in an outside area. It will not absorb water and crack like ceramic tile flooring.

Cost: The ceramic tile has a clay bottom tile and the color does not run through all of it.  Ceramic tile total installation costs are about $4.60 per sq. ft.

Porcelain Tile Flooring – an Excellent Choice for The Outdoors

If you are using porcelain tile for or near the front entrance of your home or walkway, make sure that it passes the slip resistance qualifications. The manufacture should be ABA certified. The tiles are heavier than ceramic and should be installed over hard surfaces. They are great for the outdoors.  They make a beautiful back splash in the kitchen and a decorating tip is to use a complimentary color to make your floor stand out even more. Through-body porcelain has the same color all the way through the tile. If the tile chips, you will see the same color and it will be less noticeable than a ceramic chipped tile. Porcelain tile flooring accepts less water, so it does not stain badly, and makes a perfect backyard tile. Dropping glass and dishes that are dropped on this tile will not damage the tile.

All in all porcelain tiles are the premium choice. This tile is not perfectly flat like real stone, so make sure your installer knows how to float the tile. You cannot do zero grout lines. Rectified tiles are recommended because they are pre-cut tiles. Installation costs of non-rectified tiles are usually higher as more time is involved in the process. But consider rectified tiles for the wood look porcelain tile as you will get smaller grout lines, therefore duplicating the look of real wood.

Costs for installation can run higher than wood floors because there is a lot of time spent cutting with a saw. Grout is material that is expensive and that must be factored into the cost of installation. If sub-flooring is needed the foundation for tile, installation costs will escalate If the concrete is uneven that the tile is being laid on, it will have to be leveled using machinery which adds another added cost of the installation. Large equipment may enter your home for cutting and sawing. If you are doing intricate designs with tile and cutouts, the costs will add up as the labor will be more intensive. Large equipment may enter your home for cutting and sawing.

The average purchase price for ceramic and porcelain tile depending on the tile chosen can range from $0.15 to $15.00 per square foot. Average labor cost for a tile installation usually starts at about $4.00 per square foot. Then there is the prep work that can add an additional $1.00 to $5.00 per square foot.

Tips for Tile Floors

  • Always buy more tile than needed as if they crack, they can be easily replaced.
  • Like any tile the first row should be measured dead straight with complete accuracy as that is what you will be working with going forward.
  • Take into account the grain direction of the tiles and what you want to achieve, usually making a room look wider.
  • Clean as you go with tile so you don’t get the materials or glue stuck on the tile.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners
  • Real stone tiles will be expensive. Make sure you are having a sealant applies every two years.

What’s Trending in Carpet?

Long gone are the days of shag carpet throughout the house. Carpet made today is not only fashionable and trendy but super durable for extremely high traffic areas. Durable carpeting can be used for staircases and hallways. Carpet comes in all types of textures and loops. Every design and color imaginable is made today for commercial and residential use. Carpet really is comfortable. Even with hardwood flooring in your bedroom, you will result to a lush throw carpet near your bedside. Throw carpets are very popular and trendy gracing hardwood floors in various areas of your home. In fact, many throw rugs placed on hardwood floors can actually enhance the color and tone of hardwood floors.

There are some disadvantages to carpet. One of them is stains and low-quality types of carpets usually can shows of wear pretty early on in your purchase. Not to mention all the carpet cleaner you have to use because of staining on lighter colors that show fast. Another is wear and tear. Carpet is not as durable as hardwood through the years. Carpet must be cleaned more often, especially if you have pets or allergies to dust.

Carpet installation is easier than flooring in most cases. There is no sawing, and advanced cutting apparatuses for cutting carpet like there is with hardwood  Measuring properly is important when purchasing carpet and flooring installers  say it’s safe to round up to the next foot. You should  allow an extra 10% when purchasing carpet to avoid any mishaps and having an installer come back a second time and charge you to redo anything. You must consider if you are removing any type of flooring when you are doing your install. Maybe you are removing tile or old hardwood to place carpet. When analyzing your budget, take these things into consideration.

Don’t forget labor cost, not just material cost when getting an installers quote. There may be curved edges that need a specific new piece cut in, or cutting the flooring for an edge needed for a wall. Carpet installation costs can vary. Installing carpet on stairwells, removing old carpet, furniture removal, dealing with uneven floors, custom cutting in and around certain areas, subfloor installation, and removal of baseboards, can involve raising the cost. The type of carpet is also a factor in your pricing. Berber carpet is more expensive than nylon and olefin materials. Be armed with this knowledge when choosing an installer so there are no surprised when they show up.

Cost: Actual carpet cost per sq. ft. can range from $1.00 and $12.00. Padding costs average $0.25 to $0.65 per square foot. Adding in furniture removal and waste disposal you are looking at a total of about $5.00 per sq. ft.

Tips for Carpet

  • Order about 10 Percent more, too much is better than too little. Make sure you invest in good padding. The feel of the carpet will be much better and it will protect it from wear and tear, and elements of the floor underneath. Longer pile carpet will hide seams better that short loop filled pile carpet.

Concrete Floors Take on a New Life and They are Eco-Friendly

The new trend in modern homes and offices today is concrete flooring. Gone are the days of dull gray industrial looks with rough surfaces. The new concrete flooring options are sure to increase value for any modern home. The floors are great in hot weather as they remain cool to the touch. For winter, they are cold, but you can install radiant heat so they are warm in winter. You can capture the look of marble with concrete flooring.  They can be stained and glossed to high perfection with dyes added to create more vibrancy.

Paint can be added over the floor to enhance the floor design. If you are salvaging old flooring don’t bother and use concrete. You can stamp concrete with a plank type of wood grain imprint design and it will look fabulous. It is very water resistant if sealed properly and you can get creative with tones and colors. Surfaces include smooth, troweled and polished. The surface can be stamped to create modular cool designs. It can be poured over existing surfaces. It is very allergen friendly as it can utilize zero-VOC sealers for finishing. It is also does not scratch, is pet- friendly, and very easy to clean. Concrete flooring is waterproof and stains proof. Concrete floors will need to be stained more often than other floors and they are not as noise deterrent like carpet or certain types of hardwood and vinyl. They are a wonderful option for unique home living with modern style.

Costs for purchase are approximately $2.00 to $6.00 per square foot. If you go with higher end finishes the cost can get up to $8.00 per sq. ft.

Buying the Materials has never been easier!

There are many options to purchase floorings. You can go to brick and mortar retail stores, visit an online discounter, or work with a designer and contractor who may have better access to wholesale flooring prices.

Hiring Tips and Questions to ask the Flooring Installer

  • Ask for costs if doors needing trimming when installing carpet or tile.
  • Gets estimates for disposals.
  • What materials are you being charged for.
  • Ask for toilet removal estimate for bathroom flooring.
  • Ask if kitchen appliance removal prior to installation included in the installation fee.
  • Is old flooring removal included in the cost of the installation estimate?
  • Ask the installer to give you a written signed quote and ask them to sign it.
  • Ask them for unforeseen surprise costs and what would be covered in your estimate.

Last but not least, get everything in writing from your installer. Make sure to ask if they run into an issue that is not part of the normal plan, will you be charged for the extra time.