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What are the Different Types of Floor Covering?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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Whether you are building a new home, remodeling an existing home, or simply looking for an easy way to completely change the look of a room, floor covering options are certain to factor heavily in your decisions. For those with a larger budget and a bigger project in mind, options such as carpeting, tile, vinyl, or hardwood flooring are all popular. For a smaller, quicker fix, area rugs and floor mats are simpler and less expensive options.

Of course, even if you've decided on a certain type of floor covering, there are numerous options within each category to consider. Carpeting is a relatively straightforward floor covering option, however you will need to determine if you want wall-to-wall carpeting, or an area rug. With carpeting, it is also important to consider the amount of traffic the area receives. For a high-traffic area such as a living room, a more durable carpet is a good idea, whereas in a bedroom, a softer carpet might be chosen. Carpeting also offers the benefit of many color and pattern options, and is a mid-priced option overall.

Another popular floor covering option is hardwood. Hardwood floors may be true hardwood, or they may be laminate designed to look hardwood. Both are long-lasting and durable, and can be used throughout an entire home. Hardwood is available in many different colors and different woods, ranging from very pale to very dark, to match almost any decor or taste. Cost is an obvious factor with hardwood flooring, which is one reason many choose to install laminate floors that imitate true hardwood. Another reason is ease of installation; many types of laminate hardwood flooring are designed to snap together for a quicker installation. On the other hand, hardwood flooring adds to the value of a home.

The third installation option is tile. There are many different types of tile, frequently made of ceramic or stone. Tile is also a long-lasting floor covering option that can add to the value of a home, and is also fairly expensive. The color and pattern options are relatively limitless. Vinyl flooring, sold in large sheets or individual tiles, can often provide the look of a more expensive ceramic or stone tile on a much more economical scale. Vinyl flooring is also very easy to clean.

If installing new flooring is not an option, such as in an apartment, there are still other flooring options. Larger area rugs can be sized to cover an entire room without the need to tear up the old carpeting or flooring. A set of smaller area rugs in various colors can also brighten up an uninteresting room. For purely functional purposes, floor covering options such as absorbent floor mats and plastic mats for office chairs exist as well.

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Discussion Comments
By MrsPramm — On Jan 21, 2014

@Fa5t3r - I just love the look and feel of non-carpeted floors. They seem much more versatile as well, since they are classic and neutral and you can put whatever kind of rug you like on them to match the rest of the room.

Plus, when you've got kids, I really think you're asking for trouble if you've got carpets. The amount of times we've had something spill on the floor would be heartbreaking if we weren't able to just wipe it up without a worry.

By Fa5t3r — On Jan 20, 2014

@umbra21 - Maybe the best compromise would be wooden or vinyl floors with rugs on them? That way you could really thoroughly clean the rugs, in a way that you rarely can with carpet, by putting them through the wash.

That's what we use for our basement floor covering, although that's more because we couldn't really afford to carpet it properly and the area might be a bit prone to dampness, so it's good to be able to just remove and clean the rugs now and then.

By umbra21 — On Jan 19, 2014

One thing I always have to take into account is the amount of dust that a particular kind of flooring will attract and let into the air. I have dust allergies and I just have a constant runny nose in places without some kind of precautions taken against too much dust.

Wooden and tile floor coverings are easier to clean so they might seem like the better option, but they also don't trap the dust at all so if there is any amount of it, it tends to get stirred into the air at the drop of a hat.

Carpets probably generate more dust (since they can give dust mites a place to live) but I find if they are vacuumed regularly they tend to be the better option.

Ideally I'd love to get the kinds of carpets that are treated to be proof against dust allergies, but they tend to be very expensive.

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