What’s the Best Flooring for Busy Households?

The flooring you choose lays the foundation for every room in your home, and sets the tone for how you use each space. From color and pattern to texture, there’s a wide array of flooring options, each with its own pros and cons.

A flooring material’s durability can determine its suitability for busy households, as well as the level of comfort and cost. Ideally, your floor will match your personal style and complement the architecture of your home. For example, if you live in a cottage with Victorian-style elements, a modern linoleum or vinyl tile might look out of place and clash with the overall design.

Hardwood floors are a classic choice that can be refinished to suit a homeowner’s changing taste over time and typically add to a house’s resale value. However, other flooring materials are also well-suited for busy homes and can stand the test of time.

For instance, laminates — made from dense fiberboard best flooring topped with a photographic image and clear-plastic protective layer — can mimic almost any type of wood or other surface. They resist water, stains and scratches, and won’t discolor from sunlight. In CR’s tests, the best laminates stood up to foot traffic and household spills, but were less adept at fending off dents or absorbing sound.

Another flooring option that’s a good choice for high-traffic areas is cork, which is a natural, eco-friendly product that absorbs sound, resists moisture and is easy to clean. It can be installed as a floating floor or attached to plywood using adhesive. Cork earned the highest score in CR’s slip resistance test, but it was only average at fending off dents and was below-average in our scratch and water-resistance tests.

If you want to spruce up your bathroom or kitchen with an eye toward durability, consider porcelain tiles. This flooring is resistant to stains and odors, easy to sanitize and comes in a wide range of colors and styles, including those that resemble hardwood. The only downside is that it can be cold and hard underfoot.

Other popular flooring trends include textured and large-format tiles. According to 50 Floor, textured tiles can create a warm and inviting feel while still providing the durability you need in kitchens and bathrooms. Large-format tiles are also gaining popularity as a statement floor in other rooms.

As you weigh the many options available, don’t forget to factor in the cost. Installed costs for each type of flooring vary significantly, and can add up quickly. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce your costs, such as purchasing from a discount retailer or going direct to the lumber mills for hardwood flooring. If you go the latter route, it’s important to work with a local dealer who knows the area well and can steer you to a quality hardwood. You may even be able to buy directly from the mill for an even more budget-friendly price.