A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Flooring

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Choosing flooring is far more complicated than just finding the best-looking product. Several other factors—moisture, durability, costs, and more—greatly influence a decision. Follow these five steps to reach the flooring decision that is right for you and your home.

Will Your Floor Be Installed in a High-Moisture Area?

Your Answer Choose This Flooring
Yes You need flooring that is suited for a high- or medium-moisture environment, such as concrete, ceramic or porcelain tile, or vinyl tile.
No Moisture is not a limiting factor. At this point, all types of flooring still may be used. Proceed to the next step.

Do You Need a Pet-Friendly Floor?

Your Answer Choose This Flooring
Yes You will need a floor with superior wear resistance. Some flooring that appears to be wear-resistant often is not. For example, site-finished solid hardwood can easily scratch. Its saving grace is that scratches can be sanded out. Instead, try durable flooring like ceramic or porcelain tile, laminate flooring, plank vinyl flooring, or even carpeting.
No While everyone wants a durable floor, durability is not a chief factor in your decision. Proceed to the next step.

What Is Your Square Footage Budget? 

Your Answer Choose This Flooring
$2.00 or less You will find bargain laminate flooring hovering around this price. Though it will not be gorgeous, it has a general wood-like appearance. Sheet and tile resilient flooring can also be found in this price range. Lots of gorgeous ceramic and porcelain tile can be found in this range, but remember that tile is truly a labor-intensive installation.
$2.00-$5.00 This is the sweet spot price range for many types of flooring. You can snag some domestic solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring, but don't expect much rare or imported woods. The more attractive laminates fall in this range, as well as higher quality luxury vinyl tile.
$5.00 or more Increasing your price range means you can explore some of the harder, more rare or imported hardwoods and engineered wood options, such as kempas, ipe, Brazilian cherry, mahogany. The highest quality of premium laminate and luxury vinyl flooring products will be found here.

Whatever your choice in this section, proceed to the next step.

Do You Want to Install Your Flooring by Yourself?

Your Answer Choose This Flooring
Yes
By installing your flooring yourself, you can often cut your entire flooring cost in half. Laminate flooring and plank vinyl flooring tend to be the easiest floor coverings for homeowners to self-install and they're readily available. Both are floating floors, which means that each board connects to an adjacent board (not to the subfloor). Ceramic or porcelain tile installation is not as self-evident as laminate or vinyl installation. Hone your learning curve on an out-of-the-way room, like a basement bathroom.
No
Wall-to-wall carpet is tough for DIYers to lay down perfectly flat. Nail-down solid hardwood and engineered wood floors are best installed by pros. As mentioned, ceramic or porcelain tile can be self-installed, but it's more a matter of whether you want it installed well.
Many flooring retailers do not offer in-house installation, though they may maintain a list of favored local installers. Various outlets, such as Angie's List, can be a reliable source of floor installers.

Do You Need Low-Maintenance Flooring?

Your Answer Choose This Flooring
Absolutely. It Is My Primary Concern
Any form of resilient (vinyl) flooring is best, such as tile, sheet, or plank. Laminate flooring is a close second, only because it needs special cleaning methods. Because wet mops can ruin it, use an extremely damp mop or a system like a Swiffer Wet Jet.
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It Would Be Nice, But It's Not the Most Important Thing With solid hardwood, you trade beauty for maintenance. No matter what the manufacturers say, it takes work to keep solid or engineered wood looking good, but it's worth it. Keep high-traffic areas covered with throw rugs and runners to cut down on maintenance.