Choosing a new floor can be exciting yet quite difficult. There are countless floor types, additionally, it's hard to tell them apart. They can be quite pricey and very time-consuming to decide on the best option for your needs.
We're here to help you understand your flooring options. We're here to make floor shopping a pleasure.
So what will we cover in the guide?
We examine the construction, installation method, pros and cons, best use and cost of each flooring option. If you're ready to find your floor, this info will help as researched guidance helping you to select the best flooring experts, in addition to the STEICO Underlayment we offer which may be a good fit for your project.
We included everything you need to know about the most popular types of flooring, solid wood, hardwood, wood laminate, vinyl, LVT, and even niche products like bamboo and cork.
Sit back, relax, we got your back. Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze... It means no worries for the rest of your days... It's our problem-free philosophy
Each section contains information on the particular flooring type, so let's do this!
Vinyl Floor Covering
Elastic Resilient products are the fastest growing segment of the flooring market according to the Global Flooring Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis 2021-2028
Why is this happening? They are durable, relatively inexpensive, and thanks to modern production methods, they are almost indistinguishable from traditional floor coverings.
Some manufacturers refer to their resilient products as hardwood floor replacements or faux wood floors. While elastic products (laminate, vinyl, etc.) can mimic wood, they can also mimic...well, pretty much anything else.
But since it's most often referred to as "vinyl plank floors" or "vinyl tile floors," that's what we'll be talking about from now on.
What is the difference between vinyl plank flooring, vinyl tile flooring, LVP and LVT?
It's essentially the same product. LVP stands for Luxury Vinyl Plank. "Luxury" is designed to differentiate it from older types of vinyl flooring, which we discuss further below.
LVT stands for Luxury Vinyl Tile, and predictably it's exactly the same - but more so in the shape and appearance of the tile than the plank.
Why all the different names? Because every manufacturer wants to differentiate their products and make them sound special.
Vinyl Sheet or Vinyl Tile Flooring Construction
Vinyl plank floors are mostly made of PVC (plastic). But this isn't your grandma's PVC floor. This is a space age finish that is probably the best value for money of any type of floor on this list.
Like laminate, vinyl planks are made up of multiple layers. From the bottom, these are:
Base Layer/Core: Made of vinyl, the core can range from rigid to flexible, depending on the product.
Design Layer: Also made from vinyl, the design layer mimics the look (and texture) of everything from wood to metal to stone.
Wear Layer: A clear layer that prevents (you guessed it) abrasion.
Many top brands of vinyl planks offer some form of underlayment beneath the base layer, but just as important is the product. Sometimes they are designed to make the tile underfoot softer, sometimes the floor harder, and so on. There are a lifetime of options and variations. .
Shop for STEICO Undrerlayment here.
You can find luxurious flexible and rigid core vinyl floors on the market. Also known as "EVP floors", hard core LVP is by far the more comfortable and durable option.
If you choose a hard core (which we would recommend), the best flooring for you is a WPC floor (with a wood-polymer composite core for comfort) or an SPC floor (with stone). - Polymer composite for increased durability). Plain old rigid core vinyl isn't much of an improvement over flexible vinyl.
Vinyl Sheet / Vinyl Tile Floor Installation
The possibilities are endless, amigos, internet friends and possible future clients. You'll find bonded vinyl plank floors, snap-on vinyl plank floors that can be installed as floating units, and even loose vinyl plank floors that rely on friction and weight to hold them in place. Some types even have a peel-and-stick backing!
Advantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring / Vinyl Tile Flooring
Everyone loves the LVP/LVT trend, and here's why- it's inexpensive, has a cozy feel good underfoot, extremely durable, it can mimic the texture of almost any material, and it's completely waterproof. This is very important for building codes, maintenance and will save you the cost of replacing
Put it in your basement. Throw it in this mud house. Use it to tile your bathroom. Damn, make a damn deck out of it. The world is your vinyl wanderlust. Pack your bags we are going to Latin America
Disadvantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring / Vinyl Tile Flooring
It's plastic, so it's not a particularly eco-friendly floor covering. All plastic products can contain VOCs that are harmful to your health - which means you should look specifically for low VOC vinyl floors, and if you buy the less expensive options, it might not have the look and result you imagined and would have liked.
Additionally, if you're going for the more flexible and thin LVT/LVP option, you'll want to make sure you're laying on a good, smooth and rigid subfloor - otherwise imperfections will appear and you may hear a hollow, echoing sound or feel the "floating" effect when walking on it.
Make sure you get a choice underlayment like STEICO Wood Fiber range, a great option and quickly becoming the go to underlayment for vinyl flooring as it offers an all-in-one underlay and in this case has a self-leveling feature for small imperfections the sub flooring has and high compression strength that keeps flooring locks stable and secure, adding walking comfort, protecting planks from unclicking and damages.
Best Uses for Vinyl Plank Flooring / Vinyl Tile Flooring
LVT/LVP is waterproof - you can put these anywhere. However, if you think of it only as a "utility floor", you are dead wrong.
High-quality laminates do a great job of looking and feeling like hardwood, tile, and stone, many of which are gorgeous. Put it in the living room or bedroom!
Vinyl plank/vinyl tile floor cost
Vinyl plank floors and vinyl tile floors are definitely budget-friendly options. Before installation, they typically cost between $1 and $5 per square foot.
Keep in mind that LVP is easier to install than hardwood - the byproduct of easy to install means it costs less to install. Combined with the seriously easy to handle and install wood fiber underlayment from STEICO co you, will have more time to look busy. The underlayment can be installed using only a box cutter and a ruler. Genuine effortless installation.
While these terms are often used interchangeably, vinyl and linoleum are actually two different materials. Vinyl is 100% synthetic. Linoleum, on the other hand, is a mixture of fillers and binders, such as cork flour, turpentine, and coagulated linseed oil. It went out of fashion decades ago, but has recently made a comeback since it's more environmentally friendly than PVC, which is made from vinyl.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Construction
Vinyl sheet flooring is exactly what it sounds like: a single layer of vinyl laid out in a sheet. It’s an extremely flexible material and comes in countless varieties of patterns and textures. Some products have backings, some don’t—it depends on the manufacturer.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Installation
Vinyl sheet flooring usually comes in 6- or 12-foot rolls, which are then cut to size. Depending on the product you choose, it can be glued down or peeled-and-stuck.
Advantages of Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Because it’s plastic and installed as a single layer, vinyl sheets are a totally waterproof type of flooring. They come in literally thousands of patterns and textures, so there’s basically something for everyone. Plus, they’re ridiculously durable—there’s a reason so many houses still have them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Disadvantages of Vinyl Sheet Flooring
As a PVC product, vinyl sheeting isn’t super eco-friendly—and if you don’t install it properly, you’re going to get some pretty monumental warping.
Best Uses for Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms are the most common places to put sheet vinyl floors, but it makes a great flooring for basements as well.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Cost
Vinyl sheet is comparable to low-cost vinyl plank and vinyl tile. That said, you really need to have a good installer put it in. If water gets underneath the sheet, it’ll bubble like crazy.
There are two categories of wood flooring, solid wood and parquet. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and each has different pricing.
Best of all, no one is better or worse than the other - they are just used for different purposes!
Natural Hardwood Floors
Why are solid hardwood floors so desirable? - they're elegant, timeless, warm and durable. Plus, if you get it right, it can take (literally) centuries before you have to replace them.
Solid wood floor construction
Solid wood floors are produced from wood, usually in the form of strips 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide or boards 4 to 8 inches wide. Slats and planks are typically ¾ inch thick and can be pre-treated or finished according to preference or according to your retailer and constructors advice.
Prefab parquet floors are the norm these days - but if you want to have it done on site there are no issues there.
Installation of hardwood floors
Wood being a natural resource product, solid wood floors generally need to be glued, nailed, or stapled down to the subfloor, occasionally it is installed floating. In case you needed a reminder, this is the rough surface underneath your finished floor. Mostly, it is made of plywood or concrete.
Since it has to be secured with glue or nails, you will almost certainly want to hire a professional to install it (this is not the time and place to cut costs, hire an expert).
Whatever you do, be sure to leave the floor planks in the intended space for at least a few days before installation to acclimate; natural wood grain expands and contracts with humidity and temperature.
The advantages of Parquet
It's stunning and feels great underfoot.
There are a lot of other benefits to hardwood floors. First, it's very durable. Since solid wood floors are composed of planks, they can be sanded and repainted again and again for decades.
Solid wood is versatile; there are dozens of hardwood species (tree species) to choose from, each with its own unique look, color, and texture. The same applies to degrees. Even the way the plank is cut can reveal different elements of its beauty. Here's a quick guide to some of the most popular hardwood floor options
Different grades and types of Wood Flooring
- Bamboo: With its completely unique look, bamboo floors are both environmentally friendly and one of the most durable wood floors around.
- Oak: Oak is the most popular type of wood flooring in the United States, known for its warmth, character, and variety. Red oak, white oak, domestic, imported - the choice is yours.
- Maple: Maple is another popular native hardwood. It is lighter and harder to stain than oak, but it is a harder wood with a natural appearance.
- Cork: Technically, cork floors are actually laminate floors made from tree bark - but like other solid wood, it's pressed into planks and laid.
- Walnut: Rich and dark walnut are known for their chocolate-colored granules and luxurious appearance.
- Hickory: Hickory is a great choice when you really want to show off the intricate details of your floor, which is versatile, complex and tough.
This is just a small sampling of the myriad types of solid wood planks you can get not even touching on the finishing yet. If you need help finding the best wood flooring for you, use this flooring store near me to find a local flooring retailer near you.
Disadvantages of Parquet Flooring
While it looks and feels great, solid wood is a natural material - which means it is susceptible to temperature, humidity and moisture. Water can swell it. It can be stained, deformed and rubbed off relatively easily (depending on type and finish of course).
With proper care, your wood floors can last a lifetime; without them, you'll be looking for a new floor sooner than you think. All in all, solid wood floors require more maintenance than other types of floors, and you need to be careful where you install them.
Hardwood floors are a great choice for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways and more - anywhere you want a beautiful look and feel.
When to Avoid Installing Hardwood Floors
As a general rule, you should avoid installing hardwood floors anywhere that will be exposed to:
- Water, moisture or humidity (eg kitchen or bathroom).
- Damp rises (like a basement or other underground room - or any room with a concrete subfloor).
- Severe temperature changes (e.g. on 3-season rooms or underfloor heating).
- Strenuous activity (such as in the children's room or where the dog plays).
Hardwood Flooring Cost
According to Fox Business, hardwood floors costs on average $6 to $12 per square foot. The main factor being cost of labor and materials included. Exotic or luxury wood, however, can cost as much as $15 per square foot.
Prefab Parquet or Engineered Hardwood
Engineered hardwood floors are a great option when you want the look and texture of solid wood—with more versatility and less maintenance.
Building parquet floors with wood
What is hardwood made of? Well, it basically consists of two layers: a thin layer of solid wood (called veneer) on top, and a thicker core of high-density fiberboard or plywood below.
Engineered lumber can be supplied in strips or planks up to 12 inches wide, usually ⅜ to ½ inches thick.
Wood material can be laid in different ways. You can glue or nail it to the subfloor, or install it as a floating floor with planks that snap together. The latter is a great DIY project if you have the time and skills, but a professional installer can often get the job done faster (and more efficiently). But hey, your phone. We don't judge.
The advantages of parquet floors
Prefab parquet has many advantages, especially compared to solid wood. It has the look, feel and versatility of solid wood - because the top is solid wood.
While it's not waterproof, hardwood floors are more resistant to warping, which means it can go where hardwood cannot. Are you looking for a wide plank floor made of wood? You may need technical products as wider solid planks tend to warp.
Worth knowing: You can even rework wood material! Well, mostly.
Read on for more information. Oh, and since it's mostly made from wood by-products, it's also more environmentally friendly than solid wood.
Disadvantages of parquet floors
If you're looking for hardwood floors that will last a lifetime, engineered wood may not be the best choice. While solid wood can be refinished an infinite number of times, even the best parquet floors can only be refinished once or twice (and sometimes not at all), depending on the thickness of the veneer.
However: it's worth noting that pretreated hardwood (compared to virgin hardwood finished on site) requires little post-processing. Instead, it reappeared. Why? Factory finishes are UV cured and contain protective elements you can't replicate at home, such as aluminum oxide.
So what's the difference?
During post-processing, the wood is sanded. Resurfacing uses only mild abrasives to create the new Finish Stick coating. Translation: If you choose prefabricated products, you don't have to worry about buying a thick veneered parquet floor (that is, a floor that can be post-treated).
This means you don't have to worry about the cost of refinishing your parquet floor either!
However, parquet floors are prone to the same types of surface scratches and dents as solid wood floors. On the surface, these are the same floor coverings! Again, your best choice will depend on many factors.
The best application for parquet floors?
As mentioned earlier, parquet is less prone to warping than parquet. This means that humidity, temperature and humidity hardly affect it much.
Put it anywhere you can't put solid wood (as long as it doesn't get super wet). Basement, cellar? Check. go a head. On a concrete subfloor? why not. Too warm? go ahead. It is definitely the more durable option when it comes to choosing a wood floor type.
Cost of Parquet
The cost of laying parquet floors is roughly equivalent to the cost of laying solid wood floors, when it comes to local wood types.
However, if you decide to go with exotic wood floors and don't want to spend a fortune, parquet may be a good option since it uses less expensive solid wood, it won't make you run as fast
Tile is one of the oldest types of flooring there is—and one of the most interesting, too.
You might think you know all there is to know about tile, but believe us—there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on in the world of tile flooring. Seriously! Stop laughing.
Tile Flooring Construction
There are quite a few types of tile for flooring—the most common being stone, ceramic, porcelain, and cement (ok, and linoleum, but that’s not particularly common in homes anymore). Here’s what you need to know:
Stone Tile Flooring: Types of stone flooring tile include marble, granite, and sandstone (among literally dozens of others). Each type of stone has different properties, applications, and uses.
Ceramic Tile Flooring: Made of baked clay, ceramic tile is extremely popular for its beauty and natural feel. Saltillo is a gorgeous example of ceramic tile.
Porcelain Tile Flooring:
Though it’s a type of ceramic, porcelain is made from a more refined clay and baked at a higher temperature than common ceramic. This makes it less water-absorbent and, in some cases, more crack-resistant. But of course, it also makes it more expensive.
Cement Tile Flooring:
Cement tiles are quite popular in Europe, and for good reason. They’re gorgeous! Cement tiles cure at room temperature, making them a bit more porous (so you have to seal them), but they come in amazing patterns and can even be refinished.
On top of the differences in material, both porcelain and ceramic tiles can come either glazed or unglazed.
Unglazed Tiles are generally a bit rougher, but they’re the same color all the way through. That means they’re more rustic, slip-resistant, and if they crack or chip, it’s less noticeable.
Glazed Tiles have an extra layer (of glaze, duh) and they’re probably what you think of when you picture beautifully-patterned tile floors. Because they’re glazed, chips and cracks are a little more apparent—but they don’t stain or absorb water nearly as easily.
Wood Look Ceramic Tile
Wood-look tile is one of the most popular flooring products on the market today. Why? It does an incredible job of mimicking wood grain (seriously, it’s really hard to tell them apart) while offering the same durability and benefits as porcelain or ceramic tile. That means you can put it in laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens… anywhere you wouldn’t put a wood product. Best of all worlds, basically.
Tile Flooring Installation
You can lay and grout tile flooring yourself, but it’s a time-consuming process and not the easiest thing in the world to do. Our advice: find a flooring store in your area and have someone who knows what they’re doing take care of it.
Advantages of Tile Flooring
It depends on the material, of course, but tile floors are absolutely timeless. From porcelain tile patterns to granite-tiled bathrooms, you really can’t go wrong in the looks department. Tile is always a great option anywhere you need a waterproof floor, and it’s a solid choice if you have an underfloor heating system. It’s easy to clean, and ceramic floors require very little day-to-day maintenance
Disadvantages of Tile Flooring
Tile is brittle, so it can crack or chip (porcelain especially). Some types of stone floors, like marble, are very absorbent and prone to staining. Most of all, though, tile needs to be taken care of. You need to re-grout it every few years, and stone floors need to be resealed or they’ll start to crack.
Best Uses for Tile Flooring
Like we said, tile can go anywhere. Our advice? Avoid putting porcelain tile floors in high-traffic areas, since they’re more prone to chipping. Use unglazed tiles in your bathroom to avoid slipping. But really, there is no bad use of tile flooring. And if you want a less-slippery tile, make sure to look up its Coefficient of Friction (CoF) rating!
Tile Flooring Cost
Tile flooring costs can vary wildly depending on the material you choose. Inexpensive tiles can cost as little as $0.50 per square foot; luxury tiles can cost over $80 for the same. Installation prices are also dependent on who you buy your flooring from and the intricacy of the pattern you’re going for.
Carpet or Soft Surfaces
“Soft surface” is basically a catch-all term for carpet and cc. And these days, with the number of advances in the carpet industry… well, there’s a lot to learn about. From low-VOC carpets to stain-proof berber rugs, there are tons of products to choose from.
For the last couple of decades, carpet has been the proverbial fanny pack of the flooring world: out of style and largely replaced. But like the fanny pack, it’s been making a huge comeback as of late (thanks, Millennials)—in the form of versatile, self-adhesive carpet tiles.
Carpet Tile Construction
Carpet tiles are square sections of carpet, usually between 16 and 24 inches long. Like most carpet, they can come in an endless variety of textures, materials, and designs. While some carpet tiles need to be glued down, many come with self-adhesive backing.
High-quality carpet tiles, in fact, can often be installed over existing finished surfaces and reused.
Carpet Tile Installation
If you’re going with self-adhesive peel-and-stick carpet tiles (and you should) you can install these so-called “carpet squares” with almost zero effort. In fact, the question how do I install carpet tiles? can basically be summed up as “make sure the surface you’re putting them on is clean; then peel, stick, and you’re good to go”. It’s literally that simple.
Like we said, peel and stick carpet tiles can be installed over existing surfaces and reused. So if you mess up on the first try, it’s really not the end of the world.
Advantages of Carpet Tiles
Modular carpet tiles are reusable, they’re easy to install, they’re inexpensive—what’s not to like? In all seriousness, though, carpet tiles are a great option if you want to get creative with your space. You can carpet an entire room with them, use them for hard-to-cover spots, or even mix and match different styles to create patterns and effects. Versatility: it’s the wave of the future.
Disadvantages of Carpet Tiles
If you’re using tiles to carpet an entire floor, you need to be precise. Otherwise, you might end up having visible seams between the tiles. Additionally, if you don’t line them up properly, you’re going to get wonky, jarring edges.
Best Uses for Carpet Tiles
Seriously, anything. Use them to carpet your office; use them to create an area rug; use them as stair runners; use them to make your patio more comfortable; use them for whatever!
Carpet Tile Cost
Modular peel-and-stick carpet tiles generally cost between $3 and $5 per square foot, and since there’s no installation cost to speak of, they’re definitely one of the more budget-friendly flooring options. Plus, you can buy carpet tiles at Home Depot, on Amazon… anywhere, really.
Broadloom (Wall-to-Wall) Carpet
When you think of conventional carpets, you’re usually thinking of broadloom carpets—ones that are woven on a wide (or broad loom)—that cover a floor wall to wall.
While broadloom carpets are a bit of their own thing (there are endless publications dedicated to educating people all about carpet), here’s a quick rundown.
Broadloom Carpet Construction
Carpets generally come in one of three categories, or piles: cut pile, loop pile, or cut-and-loop pile.
Cut pile stands straight up from the backing, whereas loop doubles back to make—you guessed it—a loop. Pretty self-explanatory. Cut-and-loop pile is a combination of both, and usually used for making patterned carpets.
Materials for carpet fiber include nylon (the most common), wool, polyester… you name it.
Broadloom Carpet Installation
This one’s a doozy. Carpets are not easy to install. You need tons of special materials and it is not a good do-it-yourself flooring option. We could describe the intricate process of properly installing carpet, but we’d rather just let you look it up “easy carpet installation” on YouTube. Spoiler: it’s not easy.
Advantages of Broadloom Carpet
It’s cozy! Come on, it’s carpet. You know the advantages—it’s cozy, it’s soft, it’s warm, it’s slip-proof… the list goes on. When it comes to analyzing types of flooring, this one is pretty self-explanatory.
Disadvantages of Broadloom Carpet
- Have you ever tried cleaning spills out of a carpet?
- Do you have any pets? Kids?
- Do you live in a dusty area? I
- Is your home prone to mildew?
- Do you like keeping your house clean?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you probably know the disadvantages of broadloom carpets already. They’re hard to clean; they’re magnets for dirt, mites, and dust; they’re home to allergens and bacteria, they can mildew, etc.
Obviously, it depends on the type of carpet you buy (some new materials are mildew-resistant, for instance)—but on the whole, they’re not the easiest. There’s a reason so many people are debating carpet vs. laminate these days—and landing firmly on the laminate side.
Best Uses for Broadloom Carpet
Put carpet anywhere you want a soft, warm floor! Bedrooms, hallways, even living rooms—just not bathrooms. Please.
Broadloom Carpet Cost
Carpeting runs a huge price range depending on material and construction. The materials themselves can vary from $4–$20 or more per square foot (depending on your choices). And installation is not the cheapest, given the need for a highly trained professional. That said: if you’re wondering how to replace flooring on a budget and you want carpet, it can be done. You just need to talk to a flooring professional for help!
It’s time, friend. We’ve given you the lowdown on all the most popular types of flooring. Now it’s time to go straight to the source: a local retailer. Don’t fret; we won’t make you type stuff like “carpet near me” and “hardwood flooring near me” over and over into Google (it’ll just return a bunch of results for Home Depot and Lowes, anyway).
There’s an easier way: use the flooring stores near me search. It’ll show you all the flooring stores in your area, complete with their contact info, inventory, and descriptions. See? We told you we’d help you find the best flooring for you. And you thought we were kidding when we said we’d make flooring fun.