Best Floors for High Traffic Areas

Heavy traffic demands that you install a tough, durable and solid flooring that can stand up to the wear and tear of high traffic and continue to look good for several years. After all, who wants to have new flooring installed in a hallway or kitchen, only to have to pull it up and replace it a couple of years later?

Here are the top types of flooring for high traffic areas in your home.

Tile Flooring

There are many reasons that ceramic tile has been in use for more than 5,000 years, and one of them is durability. Tile is classed by its hardness. This helps consumers determine where it can be used. The Porcelain Enamel Institute standards are used to rate tile on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the hardest and most durable. If you’re planning to use tile in a high-traffic location, choose tile that is rated either 4 or 5 on the PEI chart. You’ll get many decades of resilient, attractive performance from this high traffic flooring. Modern manufacturing and design has taken tile to a whole new level, need tile but wanted wood? No problem, just take a look at the great range of wood look tile now available.

Concrete Flooring

Concrete flooring doesn’t have to look like a sidewalk or a parking lot. Today’s concrete flooring options include acid-stained, etched, stamped and tinted concrete as well as concrete floors with embedded tiles, stone and other features. For example, using an acid-staining process, concrete flooring can be made to look like natural stone flooring such as granite. Use the right stamp along with tint and make a concrete floor to simulate flagstone pavers.

Natural Stone

Of course if you have the budget there’s no need to lay concrete flooring that looks like natural stone when you can just go ahead and install the real thing. Both the cost of the materials and installation are quite high but the natural look is something special. Not all stone floors are super resilient though. For high traffic areas stick with stronger varieties of stone like granite, limestone and sandstone.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring uses a photographic image applied to a laminated wood base to replicate wood flooring, stone flooring, tile flooring and other types of floor covering. If you choose laminate for high-traffic areas, look for a product with a thick wear layer of melamine resin. Options range from 6-15mm and where the floor sees a lot of feet you’ll do better with 12mm or 15mm laminate flooring.

At home, high-traffic areas include foyers, entryways and main hallways. In commercial settings, they can be even more numerous. When you need flooring that will continue to look good where traffic is the heaviest, tile flooring, concrete flooring and laminate flooring are your best choices.

Engineered and Solid Hardwood

And finally, just because wood can scratch and dent doesn’t mean you should instantly rule it out as a possibility for high traffic areas. Especially when you are buying pre-finished wood flooring, its worth bearing in mind that it’s the finish applied to the floor that provides the protection and many modern finishes are rock hard! Even with solid hardwood floors, if you choose a species of wood with a strong hardness rating and a strong finish it’s going to be very durable and resilient.

If by ‘high traffic’ you mean three dogs, high heels all the time or stomping grit and gravel in from outdoors continually then okay, woods not your best choice, but high traffic without these exceptions should be just fine. Click here for the best flooring for pets.

What do you consider the best flooring for high traffic areas in your home and how did you choose the flooring? Let us know in the comments section below or email us direct by clicking here.

Home Flooring Price Estimates

Learn more about Tile, Concrete, Stone and Laminate Flooring

  • Hippie Home Improvement – Cool website that highlights all types of home improvement projects, interior design techniques and even includes a section about apartment remodeling.
  • The Angle –  Great place to find remodeling and makeover ideas that also gives you tips for saving some money.
  • Homedit – Interior design and architecture website that can help you come up with some new and creative ideas to update your space.
  • Houzz – Great article on the pros and cons of different natural stone flooring.

36 thoughts on “Best Floors for High Traffic Areas

  • February 18, 2014 at 1:33 am
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    I have 80 square feet of HIGH TRAFFIC area, being entry from garage(attached) and also laundry area. I am looking for something to hold up for both. Area is currently finished in an outdated indoor outdoor carpeting, which also goes down my stairs to the basement. Well in cluding the 12 steps to the basement would increase my square footage not sure what that would be. Anyway hope you can offer a solution for my need, and to keep the laudry noise to a minimum upsatirs and down. Hope this offers you a challange and look forward to your response. Puzzled in Greendale, WI

    Reply
    • February 18, 2014 at 10:15 am
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      Hi Doug, thank you for the question. Without an on-site inspection I would really be guessing as to the best option. My gut would say that a a reliable option, especially for those kind of areas, would be a high quality/ non slip tile or stone. Of course that’s not a cheap option given installation costs. Maybe even a luxury vinyl tile would work best. I personally would discuss options with a local professional or three…get them on site and quoting for the work. Even if you don’t go with any of them you’ll be in a better head space to consider the options.

      Let us know what you go with.

      Reply
  • June 18, 2014 at 9:58 am
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    Hello,

    I need assistance finding a flooring that is appropriate for wheelchair traffic in a residential home. Hardwood is not resilient enough.

    The product I’m looking for needs to hold up to wheelchair traffic and most people like it to look like wood and be easy to maintain.

    I also am looking for some sort of sheet vinyl (again for residential use although good looking commercial would work) for wheelchair traffic. I need the vinyl to have a skid resistance of .6 or above and to be aesthetically pleasing.

    Please advise.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm
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    I am looking for the best flooring solution for high traffic staircase and great room (living room, dining room, and kitchen). I have a tile floor in the foyer, and the stairs and great room are currently carpeted with a berber. The rugs are about 3 years old and are showing a lot of wear on the stairs. This home is in a coastal area, so sand and moisture are an issue.

    Any help is much appreciated. Thank you.

    Reply
    • June 26, 2014 at 6:25 am
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      Sounds like your location might be a bit tricky for solid wood, although you might want to look at an engineered wood floor. My gut instinct would be to replace what you’ve got. Re-install and upgrade to a new carpet, preferably medium to high quality (price) to give you maximum durability (a low cost carpet will just need replacing after a few years).

      Of course a natural stone floor would be really amazing and very suitable given your location…but not cheap!

      I hope that helps.

      Reply
  • July 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm
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    We are three people in the home. no pets. our builder is providing harwood floor on living/dining/library/family roms on ground floor and tiles in Foyer, hallway and laundry area but separating living room and passage area from Foyer to going to library, dining and kitchen areas with tiles. our confusion is, should we keep it as tiled area or change it to hardwood flooring continuing with living room? our major worry about hardwood is salt and snow during winter that might come in from main door while walking in. There is no step between foyer and main floor, its all at one level. What is our best option?

    Reply
    • July 29, 2014 at 9:33 am
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      Hmmm! Well my personal opinion would be to go with which ever flooring you would prefer and make arrangements accordingly. It’s true that you will want to avoid walking snow and salt on to your hardwood floors, but I would want to avoid snow and salt on my tiles too. Snow and salt won’t hurt your tiles but you’ll be mopping and cleaning your tile all the time during winter which won’t be much fun.

      So I would either instigate a ‘no outdoor shoes in the house’ policy or if that doesn’t suit you then make sure there are good door mats or the like in the tiled foyer to clean off shoes. As long as you don’t have hardwood the moment you walk through the front door I don’t see too much of a problem.

      I hope that helps?

      Reply
      • July 29, 2014 at 9:52 am
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        I appreciate your response. Considering “No Shoe policy” ….
        what is your advice as far as looks and fashion is concened? Should I go with hardwood or leave the tiles in walking area? We are not sure what would look good.
        Thanks

        Reply
        • July 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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          Neil, from your first post I don’t have a very clear idea of your ground floor layout so its a little difficult to give definite advice. If you wanted to send me some images or further description by email feel free. jamie@homeflooringpros.com

          My personal preference, and it really is just my preference, is for continuity within defined living spaces. So I would have no problem having tile in part of my ground floor and hardwood in the other but only if those different areas were clearly defined. So this tiled area between living room and library/dining room/kitchen…does it feel very separate from the other rooms, a space in its own right, or does it feel like all the rooms should be flowing together?

          Reply
  • October 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm
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    We are looking to replace a worn out wood floor in our high-traffic retail art and jewelry gallery. The last two floors we’ve installed have been engineered hardwood and the finish didn’t hold up very well. We like the warmth and soft feel of wood plus we don’t like the clickity-clack of tile so we would like to stay with wood but we need a floor/finish that will withstand a lot of abuse. We aren’t expecting it to look like-new but wear in a manner that doesn’t look bad. The last floor we installed was a hand-scraped walnut that had a lot of color variation which kept the warmth but also gave it a bit of a rustic feel. The idea being that the wear wouldn’t be as noticeable. Dents and scratches are one thing but the finish has completely worn off in large sections. This last floor was installed 5 years ago and we really should have replaced it 1-2 years ago. I know some significant advances have been made in flooring in the last few years. Can you recommend a wood floor that might hold up better? The idea of installing a real hardwood floor and refinishing it every few years is not a good option as we are unable to close our doors for days/week to allow the multiple coats of polyurethane to dry.

    I appreciate any input. Thank you!

    Reply
    • October 22, 2014 at 5:07 am
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      Hi Renee, thanks for getting in touch. Typically engineered hardwood floors have very tough finishes, so if i were you I would probably go that route again and just make sure that any product you like had 8+ coats of finish.

      However installing a brand new floor does seem like quite an expense…are you not able to refinish your existing floor? I appreciate that re-sanding may be a problem, depending on the thickness of the wear layer on your existing floor, but a refinish should be possible. I understand that you can’t close for extended periods but you would have to if you want to replace your floors so I would look to see if the current floor could be re-finished and hopefully last you another 5 years.

      If you don’t already have a local contractor you can get free estimates from qualified wood refinishing experts by clicking here.

      I hope that helps a bit.

      Reply
  • December 12, 2014 at 8:48 am
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    I am looking to replace my kitchen floor, it has very high traffic on it as it is the main door everyone uses, We do have a deck and the drive next to it is sand and gravel, so when it’s moist out people bring this in on their shoes. I need something that will hold up to all the little pebbles and moisture, I don’t mind cleaning it, I just need something very durable, HELP please!!!!

    Reply
    • December 13, 2014 at 7:07 am
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      Hi Kim, that sounds like a job for a high quality ceramic or porcelain floor tile!

      Reply
  • December 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm
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    Hi,
    I have a home that is 12 years old in Texas. I need to replace the tile floor in the kitchen due to cracks in tile. I had the foundation checked and it is fine. I need something that will stand up to very heavy traffic and I am concerned about cracks again. The contractor says he would put down a substance. I could use ceramic /porcelain tile or LTV tile. So I want the flooring that would stand up to the most traffic but I have the concern about cracks in the future. What should I consider?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • December 15, 2014 at 9:09 am
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      It sounds like you want to go with ceramic tile again? What did the contractor say he would put down? If the foundation is good then typically crack tiles would be due to poor installation or poor quality tile.

      Reply
      • December 15, 2014 at 10:18 am
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        I am leaning to ceramic tile because I have that is in other rooms in my house and don’t want this selection to impact resale value. This would be the largest area of floor with any kind of tile in the home. I am in Texas with no basement, on a concrete slab, and clay soil with variation of drought/ rain. The foundation is okay but we were one of the first homes in the subdivision with lots of construction after us. All the construction has been completed for years now.

        The contractor said he is going to use a roll on flexible membrane that is latex. It comes in buckets and he has used it at his home when he replaced tile. He replaced his tile about 2 months ago and I was in his home. The reason I was considering LTV was perhaps it might be more flexible for settling cracks but my hesitation was how it would stand up to this being the highest traffic area in my home and the other areas of the house having ceramic tile.

        One other note is that beside the cracks in the tile, there are areas in the kitchen where the current grout has worn down. I have never had this happen before. This is not by the cracks. I don’t know if the builder did a lousy job. We haven’t had major problems with the house (this is our 3rd home and been there, done that with lousy builders) but it is possible.

        Thanks!

        Reply
        • December 15, 2014 at 11:42 am
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          Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like your contractor is going to use DITRA underlayment or something similar for the tile which would make sense, it would help to combat any further movement of the foundations. Certainly a good quality LVT should hold up fine against high traffic but it’s hard to beat tile when it comes to durability.

          I don’t know why your grout is degrading!

          Sounds like you’re in good hands with your contractor. Let us know how you get on.

          Reply
  • December 29, 2014 at 5:28 am
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    Question regarding what type of flooring would be best for our house. We currently have large white tiles (which show everything on them, are imposibble to keep clean, and about 1/3 of them are cracking) in our front entryway & hallway, hallway/entry from the garage, laundry room, kitchen, and dining room. The entire space is about 400 square feet and most of it is a high traffic area. We are looking to replace the flooring, and are unsure as to which hard flooring option would be best. I like the wood look, so am looking into laminate wood flooring or wood looking tile. We have small kids and a dog… so want something durable that will not scratch easily, and also don’t want to have to worry too much about water damage in case we somehow don’t get to a spill right away. What are your thoughts on what flooring would be best for these areas for us? Thank you!

    Reply
    • December 29, 2014 at 10:45 am
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      Hi Emily, Thanks for the question…well it sounds like you would like a floor that mimics wood so I would, personally, take a look at wood look tile. My one reservation would be…why are your existing tiles cracking? I would want to diagnose that before installing more tile!

      Anyway that’s just my personal taste. Luxury vinyl is also very durable as is laminate, it really depends on what you like best and what your budget is.

      Reply
  • February 14, 2015 at 1:30 pm
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    I’m looking for flooring that can handle two high energy dogs bounding down stairs. Currently there are scratches all over from their nails. I was considering ceramic tile, but might consider laminate if it can stand up to the wear and tear. Do you have any insight?

    Reply
  • March 19, 2015 at 10:09 am
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    Hello! I live in an 11-story high-end modern condo building. We are looking to replace flooring in the 2 elevators now that construction in the building has been completed. Current elevator flooring is carpet squares that have gotten smelly with pet odors, as we have several dogs in the building. Condo owners would like a durable but beautiful tile of some non-porous material with pieces that could be replaced without tearing out the entire elevator floor. Our building is somewhat unique in that the elevators do not open to hallways on each floor, but to each individual condo entry. Therefore, the elevator serves as a sort of personal front entry to each of the 30 units. Elevator flooring needs to be quite neutral in order to look good as an entry to individual condos with different flooring. As I said, the building has a modern (as opposed to traditional) aesthetic. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • March 19, 2015 at 10:28 am
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      Hi Julia,

      Well given that the elevators are basically a communal area that is going to see lost of wear and tear I would say tile would be a good choice. I would certainly go for tougher porcelain over ceramic. It also strikes me that you should be taking a look at some commercial flooring options rather than residential flooring. Companies like Armstrong, Forbo and Karndean all have a range of commercial products.

      It’s a very specific space that you’re putting flooring in so make sure you find a contractor/installer that knows what they’re doing.

      Reply
  • August 3, 2015 at 10:54 pm
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    I have ceramic tile in my large kitchen that was installed 16 years ago. I have several hairline cracks that are running. I would like to install some sort of laminate with padding over the ceramic. What would I need to put over tile before I did this and what would be best to install. Also would that make the floor to high to match up to my hardwood. All one open room.

    Reply
    • August 17, 2015 at 9:51 am
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      Hi Diane, Depending on the laminate you are installing it will either come with its own pre-attached underlay or you will need to buy underlay separately, your local DIY store or contractor can advise…but I would be concerned about laying laminate on tile for the very reason you mention…floor level.

      Reply
  • August 12, 2015 at 12:44 am
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    We have sandstone tiles in the living and dining areas of the house. It’s a very porous tile with hairline cracks everywhere. Ideas on replacing this are very welcome. An professional clean has been done, but it is very high maintenance. Ideas please.

    Reply
  • September 15, 2015 at 11:09 am
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    We have a 1500 sq foot dining area in a restaurant on the Oregon coast and were looking into putting in laminate flooring..We have carpet now and it doesn’t hold up very well to all the traffic. what would you suggest as flooring type to install. Is laminate a good choice and if so what kind?

    Reply
    • September 18, 2015 at 4:01 am
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      Hi, my gut feeling is that you should be looking to install a commercial flooring product, something I can’t advise you on. If you have an installer/contractor who thinks a home flooring option would be suitable then you could consider it but just remember all those products are intended for home use rather than a busy high traffic business.

      Reply
  • January 17, 2016 at 5:55 pm
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    I am looking to replace carpeting in my den/study. As we have a desk chair on wheels, I am wondering what is our best option. (we do not want to carpet it again) Tile, wood etc. ???
    Thanks for the info in advance!
    Carol H

    Reply
  • April 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm
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    We have just converted a garage into a work shop we layed a 50mm king span floating floor with a 18 mm chipboard top for building regs as its around 33sq mtrs looking for a cheap but hard wearing floor could I lay paving slabs on floating floor ?

    Reply
  • November 23, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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    I have carpeting over plywood flooring (initial construction). I am contemplating laminate flooring with a minimum of 10-12 mm. I am concerned that since I can hear squeaks in certain high traffic areas when we walk, what needs to be installed under laminate? Laminate with attached underlayment or underlayment or new subflooring?

    Reply
    • November 24, 2016 at 3:24 am
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      Fixing squeaks in the sub floor is something you should be able to do as part of the preparation before laying your laminate. Find the squeaks and nail them down. It’s certainly a good idea to add laminate underlayment as well to reduce noise.

      Reply
    • March 15, 2017 at 11:07 am
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      I would guess the subfloor needs looking at. It might be as simple as parts of the subfloor being nailled down tight or areas replaced

      Reply
  • May 21, 2017 at 3:19 am
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    Hi, I have a very old (1850ish) Cornish Cottage, with no foundations. When we first moved in’ the lounge floor (approximatley 7m by 4m) was laid with plastic stick on tiles onto concrete. Entry to the lounge for visitors and residents is via a small (2m by 2m ish) porch to the lounge which is now currently carpeted. The lounge floor is uneven and has a slight, very shallow, gardient. There is a differnce of approximately 2 inches in height at either end of the lounge. There is also a small mound (approximately 60cm long and 30cm wide and approximately 5cm height) that is next to the external wall. The lounge leads to the kitchen (tiled extentsion) and takes a LOT of heavy traffic, dogs, children, visitors ect. We have had an ongoing battle with damp/condensation but think the recently installed ventilation system will help sort it. I want a robust, cottage style floor that I can clean easily and is very much in keeping with the cottage. The cottage is granite fronted, small windows and door entrances, low ceilings, uneven painted walls. I like the idea of tiles/slate with a large rug for snug comfort but can’t see how this would work with the current uneven floor? I suspect I have major renovation/repair work to do. My budget would be tight, although for a nice finish I dont my paying for the right material. My husband is great at DIY and can do all the donkey work providing he has the correct instructions/plans, materials and tools. Can you offer any advise. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  • July 5, 2017 at 5:48 pm
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    i was looking at eagle creek luxury vinyl it is waterproof they say it is scratch resistance but cant find any info on how good this product is can you help

    Reply

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