The floor of your home is the base upon which you and your family live your lives. It may be something that you walk on every day without thinking about or noticing, but it is an essential part of your home. Not only does it support you, affect the comfort of your bare feet, and keep you warm or cool, but it also plays a huge role in the appearance of your interior.
It’s very easy to overlook the flooring in your home; after all, we all live busy lives and tend to march to our destinations with eyes looking ahead, not down. But when the floor of your home starts to wear out and needs replacing, you will soon start to notice it.
There are a number of viable, durable flooring options to choose from, and if you are considering replacing the floors in your home, you’re probably wondering how to choose between them, and which option, or options, might work best for you. We are here to tell you about the five most durable possibilities available to you.
The 5 Most Durable Flooring Types
1. Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles
Tiles are generally made from ceramic or porcelain, and there are many different types and styles to choose from. Tiles are an extremely popular choice for flooring because they offer a wide range of design choices, and they look great in a number of situations.
Tile durability is determined by two factors – how resistant it is to scratches, gouges, and water, and how well it withstands force. Dropping something heavy on your tile could crack it.
Not all types of tiles are created equal, and not all types can hold up to the strain that flooring is put under on a regular basis. So be sure to choose a type of tile that is designed to be used as flooring. The main types of tiles and their general characteristics are as follows:
This unglazed tile is available only in reddish, earthy colors. It’s not as durable as other types of tiles and will need to be sealed regularly to prevent stains.
This is an unglazed ceramic tile. It doesn’t have as many colors and textures as glazed tiles do, but it is rougher and more slip-resistant. This type of tile is great for outdoor use or areas that are likely to get wet.
Glazed Ceramic Tiles
This tile features a glassy surface, which can be extremely slippery on un-textured tiles and can be made in just about any color or texture. Due to the glazed surface, these tiles require almost no maintenance.
Porcelain tiles can be bought either glazed or unglazed, depending on the desired look. Both options are low maintenance and resistant to stains. Porcelain is very hard, and this is the most durable type of tile.
Tiles hold up well in high traffic areas and are great for use in kitchens, bathrooms, and wet rooms, as well as porches. The pricing of tiles can vary greatly, with no real average price per square foot. Some cheap tiles could cost you under $5, while some luxury tiles could set you back over $100 per square foot.
2. Natural Stone
Natural stone comes in 4 common types: sandstone, marble, granite, and travertine. These types of stone vary greatly in appearance, durability, and porousness. For example, travertine is just as durable as concrete, while marble can wear down more quickly than you might expect. Keep in mind that finishes require different amounts of care. A polished marble surface will show scratches and scuffs more easily than a tumbled one, for example.
Stone has a lovely, natural appearance, as well as an insulating effect. Despite being a natural flooring option, there are plenty of beautiful colors and styles to choose from, and many shapes and sizes of tiles. Stone does not wear down as easily as most other flooring types and will stand up well in a home with kids and pets. Stone flooring is also eco-friendly, so you can install it with the knowledge that you are not harming the environment.
Installing stone flooring is expensive, and you need to be careful about which type of stone you choose for high-traffic areas. Some types are more likely to chip and scratch than others. Self-installation is not possible, and hiring a professional will increase the installation cost.
3. Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring belongs to a group called resilient flooring types and is true to its name. It is a flexible, completely water-resistant type of flooring that is built to last. Vinyl flooring is made from PVC over a layer of felt, which means that it is spongy, and softer under your feet, unlike wood or stone.
Vinyl flooring comes in a number of forms: sheet vinyl, tiles, planks, and luxury vinyl. Sheet vinyl is the most difficult to install, and self-installation is not recommended, but it is the most durable type. It is best used in small spaces, because the seams where you join 2 sheets are the most vulnerable part, allowing water and dirt under the flooring.
Tiles and planks are fairly easy to install, generally designed to be glued into place individually. Luxury vinyl can be clicked together in panels, making it the easiest option to install, though also the most expensive.
Although vinyl flooring is generally affordable and has the advantage of being able to look like any other surface, the main disadvantage to it is that it is made from a non-renewable resource. Also, some cheaper vinyl types can release harmful compounds into the air. If you are concerned about the environment, this option may not be for you, although there are some eco-friendly types of vinyl flooring.
4. Hardwood Flooring
Real hardwood flooring is one of the most popular flooring types because it looks beautiful in every situation, and it is durable and easy to install. Although hardwood is easier to damage, easily showing signs of scratches, scrapes, and gouges, the biggest advantage is that it can be restored and refinished up to 5 times, meaning that, in the long run, it is likely to last longer than many other floor types.
Related: The 7 Most Durable Hardwood Flooring Options for Your Home
The disadvantages of hardwood flooring are that it can be easily damaged with rough handling, and it doesn’t stand up to exposure to water. Too much moisture will cause it to swell and warp, so don’t use this flooring type in bathrooms or damp basements.
Engineered hardwood flooring is made with a thin layer of wood over layers of plywood, or in some cases, a combination of stone dust and recycled wood fiber. This flooring type is a good option if you’re looking for something that looks like real hardwood flooring, but is a bit cheaper and stronger. It comes in a variety of wood patterns and colors, so you can find the perfect fit for your home. However, the main disadvantage to this type of flooring, in comparison to natural wood, is that it can only be refinished once.
Engineered wood flooring comes in planks, parquet tiles, or strips, which can be nailed or glued down, or sometimes clicked together with a tongue and groove system. If you choose this type of flooring, it may be best to keep it to lower traffic areas only, to extend the lifespan.
5. Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is similar to engineered hardwood flooring in that it is made from a thin, strong layer over plywood or wood fiber. The major difference is that the thin veneer on top is not wood; it is made from plastic over a printed design. This means that laminate flooring can look like absolutely anything.
Laminate generally comes in the form of tiles or planks, and can often be installed over your existing flooring, saving you a significant amount of money and stress, by not having to tear up the old floor. Laminate is very easy to clean and requires minimal maintenance, and it is very resistant to scratches. It doesn’t stain and is easy to install yourself.
The disadvantages of laminate flooring are that it cannot be used in damp areas, due to the wood fiber base, and it is slippery when wet. It cannot be refinished and will have to be replaced once it wears out, which could make it less cost-effective than more expensive options, over time.
Factors Affecting Flooring Durability
In order to install new flooring, it is best to ensure that you are very well prepared, and that all due diligence has been done. A very good example of this is subflooring. If your subflooring is subpar, your new flooring will not have the lifespan you expect, and in some cases, you might do significant damage to it, like breaking a tile because there was uneven subflooring underneath.
Subflooring should be completely flat, and have no regular exposure to moisture. If you are unsure whether your subflooring is suitable, be sure to consult a professional, and bear in mind that if it is not perfect, you may need to remove and redo it, adding a significant cost to your project.