We all want floors in our home that look great, but sometimes there are other factors which are just as important. If you have a busy home with pets, kids and plenty of entertaining then you need a floor that can stand up to the onslaught.
If you are preparing a property for rental you want a floor that you can install and forget about. And if you are on a budget you’ll want to know that your investment is going to last.
In all these examples, finding the most durable floors will be just as important as what they look like!
In our recent article on home flooring options for each room of your house we focused on style but in this floor guide we concern ourselves solely with flooring durability. Specifically we will be looking at suitable high traffic flooring with a wood effect including bamboo, cork, solid hardwood and laminate. For the other types of durable floors that are best for high traffic areas check out this article.
Most Durable Hardwood Flooring:
Bamboo Flooring Durability
Bamboo flooring, with its good looks, price and sustainable eco-friendly label has made it an incredibly popular choice in the last few years.
However popularity has been a double-edged sword in terms of bamboo flooring durability. Increased overseas production and attempts to create more competitively priced flooring has led to lower quality products entering the market.
Higher quality bamboo flooring with 7-8 coats of a tough aluminum oxide finish from trusted manufacturers will be very durable, but cheaper flooring made from younger bamboo with only three to four coats of finish can wear pretty quickly.
Finding the most durable bamboo flooring product can be a challenge, but as a rule of thumb consider the following,
- Stick with trusted manufacturers – Companies like Teragren and Cali Bamboo with a solid track record are your best bet.
- Look closely at the quality of the boards. Low quality milling or finishes are a bad sign.
- Check price. Don’t skimp, decent bamboo will set you back $6-$8 per square foot
- Wider planks require higher standards of manufacturing and therefore suggest a higher quality product
- Finger nail test. With your finger nail, or another sharp object, scratch a sample. If you can easily scratch through to the surface of the wood then that’s not a good sign.
Cork Flooring Durability
Like Bamboo, cork flooring is popular for its green credentials, but also because it is warm and quiet under foot, thanks to its softer nature compared to hardwood.
Corks soft, flexible nature is both its strength and its weakness where durability is concerned. With its springy quality it rebounds well from minor dinks and high traffic, but being softer than wood you really must treat it with respect; sharp objects, high heels and dragging heavy tables etc across cork floors are a recipe for disaster.
Cork flooring offers great durability and a long lifespan if treated with care and attention. Sweep, vacuum or mop once a week to remove dirt and debris that can scar the flooring over time and be prepared to re-seal the floor fairly regularly with a wax finish or with protective coats of polyurethane every few years.
High quality cork flooring with a strong factory finish will give you added protection. Furniture can leave dents over time and so protective coasters or felt pads are also a good idea for the long term care of your floor.
As with most home flooring options, you get what you pay for so lean towards a trusted quality product. Cork flooring from Torlys and USfloors both have a strong reputation. For more top cork flooring brands read our reviews here. And you can read more about USFloors on our COREtec Plus reviews page.
One final word on cork flooring durability, cork contains a waxy substance called suberin which gives it great moisture resistance qualities, making it a great choice for kitchen and dining rooms.
Homeowners can and do install cork in their bathrooms too, although its a good idea to get feedback from a home flooring pro as to the suitability and correct installation of cork in your particular bathroom space.
Hardwood Flooring Durability
Solid hardwood flooring is certainly a durable flooring option and high quality, well maintained hardwood floor will outlast us all! Nevertheless there is plenty to consider if we want the most durable hardwood floor available. Here are three factors to consider.
Wood hardness – In our article on the hardness rating of your wood flooring we looked at why its important to choose the right species of wood for your home.
If durable flooring is your number one concern then you should be aiming for a hard hardwood like Brazilian redwood rather than a soft wood like pine, which will dent and ding fairly easily.
Tough finishes – Regardless of which wood you choose you should still be aware that the finish of your floor is the first and most important protection to aid durability. It is the finish that takes the main brunt of wear and tear.
If after some years your hardwood floors are looking a bit shabby you can always re-sand and re-finish your floors again, one of the main reasons that your hardwood floor can last a lifetime.
Care and maintenance – Like all flooring, treating your hardwood floors with care will improve their performance. Avoid high heels, too many dogs and tramping debris into your home! Make use of area rugs for high traffic areas and be careful how much strong direct sunlight falls directly on your floors to avoid fading.
Laminate Flooring Durability
In terms of pure flooring durability we’ve saved the best for last. Not as classy, but much more durable and a good deal cheaper, laminate flooring is a great alternative to bamboo, cork and hardwood floors and a perfect high traffic flooring option for busy households.
With a high density fiberboard core and a transparent resin top wear layer a good quality laminate floor is as close as you’re going to get to indestructible. Laminate floors laugh at dog claws and high heels! Hardly surprising then that some top manufactures are happy to offer a 25 year guarantee against wear and tear.
Furthermore unlike most wood flooring, laminate is pretty resistant to sunlight fading and moisture. Laminate still contains wood and should therefore still be acclimatised and you should consult a qualified installer when considering installation in a basement or bathroom.
Durable laminate flooring is a budget friendly option but please, please don’t go too cheap. Anything below $2 a square foot could be a seriously false economy. $3 to $5 per square foot should see you right. Stick to respected brands like Pergo or Mohawk or look for a product with the NALFA (North American Laminate Flooring Association) Certification Seal.
So there you are, the best durable flooring options for your home. Please share with us your experience with any of the flooring options discussed, good or bad. Is there a brand you particularly like or one you would never touch again. Let us know in the comment section below.
For pet friendly floors please read our article on the best flooring for dogs and cats.
To Get Started
Durable Floors in Action
Check out these other sites to see how durable wood floors are being put to use.
- Design Connection – Let interior designer Arlene Ladegaard guide you through all things bamboo in this great article from her design blog.
- Modern 24 Seven – This article from Elizabeth Sullivan’s design blog caught my eye…take a look at what some people are doing with their laminate floors.
- Modenus – In this guest post from Françoise Murat & Associates you can see a cork floor installation project with great results.