Flooring sets the tone of every room. Select the type of flooring according to the room’s function, the desired effect, foot traffic and your budget. Installation is relatively easy for some flooring such as vinyl tile squares and laminate boards, but hiring a professional may be more economical in the long run, particularly for more complicated materials such as stone and wall-to-wall carpeting. The type of material you choose can increase the value of your home.
Carpet and Rugs
Carpets and rugs provide a quiet, comfortable and slip-resistant surface that enhances the look of a room. Nylon is most commonly used for carpeting due to its ease of maintenance, durability and affordability. However, homeowners can now choose from a variety of natural fibers such as wool, linen and grass. Wool provides a flame-resistant surface that is soft and luxurious, as well as environmentally friendly. Linen fibers are durable, and grass-based carpeting provides a natural anti-static surface. Given the range of materials, consider carpets that have received the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label certification. These carpets emit lower levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that contribute to allergies and asthma, and promote a green and sustainable environment. Pricing for natural fiber flooring can be as low as $2 per square yard to over $100 for high-end custom designs. Homeowners can expect to pay between $14 and $30 per square yard for nylon-based carpeting and between $30 and $60 per square yard for wool carpeting.
Wood and Laminate
Homeowners can choose between two types of hardwood flooring: solid or engineered. Engineered wood boards consist of a wood veneer surface that covers layers of plywood. Unlike solid wood, these boards cannot be sanded down over the floor's lifetime but are less susceptible to moisture and temperature changes. The existing sub floor determines the type of wood that may be used. Wood-like sub floors allow for glue down, staple, or floating installation methods of wood boards so both engineered and solid wood flooring may be installed. However, concrete and other hard sub floors limit the choice to engineered wood flooring. Pricing for hardwood floors average $8 to $14 per square foot for material and installation.
Laminates imitate the look of natural materials such as wood and stone for a fraction of the real material‘s price. Laminates are comprised of a high resolution photographic image printed on a dense fiberboard with a moisture-resistant underlay. However, laminates do not add appreciably to the value of the home and are easily damaged by water. Laminate flooring ranges from $7 to $11 per square foot including installation.
Bamboo flooring is gaining in popularity. Technically a grass, bamboo is a durable, resilient and moisture-resistant alternative to hardwood floors. Its rapid growth rate compared to hardwoods makes bamboo an environmentally friendly option for flooring. Bamboo flooring averages $4 to $6 per square foot for material only.
Stone and Tile
Stone flooring can make the right home look elegant while adding to its resale value. Use natural stone, which includes marble, granite and limestone, or choose agglomerates, which are manufactured by binding natural stone chips in cement, epoxy resin or polyester. They offer the natural look of stone with the advantage of being stain and scratch-resistant, and practically maintenance free.
Ceramic tiles are primarily made of clay and fired to hardness. These tiles offer a durable, low-maintenance surface that is fire, water and scratch-resistant. Note that not all stones and tiles are equal; some stones and ceramic tiles can be porous, and will require extra care and attention, particularly if used in high-traffic areas. Ceramic tiles range from $1 to $20 per square foot; natural stone tiles cost more, starting at $2 per square foot and rising according to custom designs and special orders. For best results, these materials should be professional installed.