You expect your flooring to last for a long time. Floor installation is an expensive, time-consuming project, and you don't want to have to replace it every few years. Or you might need especially durable flooring because you have children or dogs. Pick a type of flooring that is durable for your home and for your own particular needs.
Bamboo is a type of grass. While this grass is incredibly difficult to remove from your yard, it becomes surprisingly effective and attractive when turned into flooring. The secret to bamboo flooring's sky-high Janka durability ratings lies in three factors: stalk placement, added materials, and quality of bamboo.
- Stalks/construction: Most off-the-shelf bamboo flooring is made by laying the bamboo grass stalks cross-direction. Strand bamboo flooring is often called woven strand bamboo flooring for a good reason: strands of the bamboo stalks are pulled apart and more tightly integrated with the adhesives.
- Adhesives: The element that truly makes a bamboo floor hard is the adhesive. Bamboo flooring is stuck together by adhesives. More adhesives mean a tougher bamboo floor.
- Bamboo type: Unfortunately, this factor is difficult, if not impossible, to determine when shopping for bamboo floors. Better-quality bamboo that is harvested at the right time will be more durable than bamboo that is rushed to harvest or harvested too late.
Look at Janka scale durability ratings for traditional vs. strand-woven bamboo floors:
- Traditional construction bamboo: 900–1300. This is in the domestic red oak (wood) range.
- Strand-woven bamboo: 2000–3200. This peaks the Janka scale, with some bamboo floors rating as hard as Brazilian cherry and teak.
The Janka scale for the hardness of wood effectively maxes when you get to around 3600. Some companies, though, do advertise an extremely high Janka hardness rating of around 5000 for their flooring.
While resilient flooring might be a term invented by flooring companies to market their products, the term describes this type of flooring well. Also known as vinyl flooring, this classic product is 100-percent moisture-resistant and laboratory-engineered to last for a very long time.
Sheet vinyl is your best bet if pure resilience is your priority. In small rooms, you can skate by with just one seam or, if the room is small enough, no seams at all. Because seams are one factor that contributes to flooring deterioration, the reduction of seams becomes an important point. Plank resilient and tile resilient run a close second because of the seams.
Ceramic and Porcelain
Durable in some ways—but categorically not in other ways—tile wins out over other types of flooring because of its appearance.
Tile is durable against scratches and spills; tile lives for those kinds of emergencies. But drop a jar of pickles and it will undoubtedly crack.
Balanced with tile's sheer good looks and the creative blank slate that it offers, most homeowners are happy to take the chance with the occasional dropped item that could crack the tile.
Expert wood installation helps. An improper sub-floor or voids remaining below tiles contribute to cracking. Poorly grouted tile, too, will introduce moisture below the tiles, swelling sub-floor systems and creating movement that cracks the tile.
Laminate is becoming more durable as manufacturers improve laminate's wear layer and base. That top layer—the transparent wear layer—can be amazingly resistant to scratches from dog claws and chairs being pushed in and out.
AC, or Abrasion Class, ratings tell you how durable a laminate floor will be. Ranging from AC1 (moderate) to AC5 (heavy), these numbers, usually found in the specs section of a product description, let you know how well the laminate will hold up against traffic.
Despite laminate's abrasion resistance, the moment the dishwasher leaks, a large portion of your kitchen floor just might suffer. For high-moisture environments, it is possible to buy waterproof laminate flooring. However, because waterproof laminate dispenses with all wood content, it obliterates the line between laminate flooring and resilient flooring.
If durability is your priority and you are debating whether to purchase vinyl or laminate, go with vinyl.
Hardwood's saving grace is that it can be restored to perfect condition. Hardwood, even the hardest, will scratch. Are the scratches and gouges part of solid hardwood flooring's natural beauty? It all depends on the eye of the beholder. Should the floor become scratches, it can be deeply sanded with the most powerful sander of all, a drum sander. After a pass or two with a drum sander, most solid hardwood floors can be brought back to their original appearance.
Engineered wood flooring lasts as long as its thin veneer top lasts. Engineered wood's thin veneer will scratch just as much as solid hardwood, yet it cannot be sanded as frequently.
To help engineered wood last longer, use plenty of throw rugs, area rugs, and runners. Reconsider using this flooring if you have large clawed pets. Or take precautions to protect your flooring in the key areas where the pets spend most of their time.
Concrete floors are a trendy staple of restaurants and clubs, and the reason is durability. Concrete is the most durable floor you can have in your home.
Concrete floors are typically stained to order and can look quite lovely. Comfort can be lacking, though. Unless radiant heating is installed, concrete is cold. Unless mats and area rugs are introduced, concrete will always be hard underfoot. Unless those soft floor coverings encompass a significant portion of the room, the sound will reverberate.
While concrete may not work for all areas of your house, it can be a worthy addition to certain spaces that can benefit from moisture-shedding, durable flooring such as this.
Natural stone is a durable flooring that has lasted for thousands of years in the mountains. This alone should be a vote of confidence for natural stone's ability to weather anything that comes its way.
Travertine and other natural floors vie with concrete for durability, though some stones such as marble can wear down faster than you might expect.