What are the Different Types of Flooring Materials for a Home?
The most popular home flooring types are hardwood (solid and engineered), tile (ceramic and porcelain), vinyl, laminate, carpet, cork, bamboo, natural stone and concrete. And, as you will learn, each of these floor coverings have different flooring options..
Last Updated: August 18, 2023, by: Greca Fotopoulos
Are you buying or replacing home flooring for the first time and wondering which type of flooring to choose? Get comfortable and dive into this Home Flooring Pros report where we summarize all the different flooring options available and take you through all the best types of floors for each room of your home.
Here at Home Flooring Pros we appreciate how important it is for you to make the right decisions when choosing, buying and installing new floors in your home.
We also understand that you won’t be installing the same type of flooring in every room of your home. What works in your master bedroom is unlikely to meet your needs in the kitchen.
There’s a lot of information to cover but if you want to go into more detail on any of the flooring types discussed then just follow the links in this report to learn more.
We are going to go systematically through each floor type and outline all the flooring options for each material. After that we will guide you through every room in a house and summarise the best types of flooring for each room.
Let’s get going…
TYPES OF FLOORING MATERIALS
Wood floors are a premium flooring option. Classic natural good looks come at a price both in terms of actual cost and ongoing care and maintenance, but the upside (apart from a beautiful floor) is a very long lifespan and a great return on investment when selling your home
Different Types of Wood Flooring
Choose between solid hardwood, planks milled from a single piece of wood, or engineered hardwood, multi layered hardwood and plywood plank with a solid hardwood wear layer. Hardwood flooring varies in average cost between $2.50 and $10 per sq/ft, and professional installation (recommended) adds an additional average cost of $3 to $4 per sq/ft
Choose between different hardwood species:
Domestic hardwood options include oak (red and white), hickory, birch, maple, acacia walnut and ash. Exotic hardwood options include teak, mahogany, ipe (Brazilian walnut), Australian cypress, and jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) kempas and tigerwood.
Choose between different hardwood floor styles:
Not only does each species of wood have its own unique characteristics but milling techniques, color stains and patterns all add to the wide choice of wood floor styles.
Textured wood finishes include handscraped, distressed and wirebrushed effects.
Colors, whether natural or stained, range right through from white, beige and gray to very dark brown and black.
Layouts and patterns give you the option to go with wide or narrow planks and patterns like chevron, herringbone and other parquet variations.
Stain resistant, water resistant, super tough and super versatile, floor tile is the best type of flooring for bathrooms, kitchens and hot climates (cold climates too if you can install underfloor heating). Floor tile comes in different guises and ranges from very low cost to eye wateringly expensive (a good standard floor tile starts at around $2 per square foot). It’s super easy to clean and maintain making it the go to flooring type if hardwood doesn’t suit.
Different Types of Tile Flooring
Ceramic tile is the most popular type of tile flooring but you can also choose porcelain tile (denser and more durable) or natural stone tile. There are many, many different types of natural stone floor tile to choose from including, but not limited to, marble, slate, travertine, terrazzo, limestone, sandstone and granite.
Choose Between Different Tile Shapes and Sizes:
One of the prime reasons tile is such a versatile flooring type is because of the large array of tile shapes and sizes available. Choose from very small mosaic tiles to 24″ by 24″ tiles and from traditional square tiles to, rectangular, hexagonal, octagonal and other weird and wonderful shapes. Tile allows opens up a world of patterned flooring only limited by your imagination.
Choose Between Different Floor Tile Styles:
There’s really no limit to what design can be placed on a tile, making floor tile styles seemingly endless. However there are some very popular styles that have stood the test of time and are worth considering at the start of your search. Subway tile, wood look tile, terrazzo tile, Mediterranean tile and art deco tile are just a handful of style options to consider.
Vinyl flooring has a justified reputation as a budget friendly, practical and durable flooring type that lends itself perfectly to kitchens, bathrooms, playrooms and basements. Vinyl floors, fall under the category of resilient flooring, which means that although firm they have a certain levels of give about them which makes them more comfortable to walk on whiles still being durable. And this DIY flooring option is much more popular now than you may realise.
Different Types of Vinyl Flooring
There are three vinyl flooring types, sheet vinyl which comes in rolls and is cut to size and glued down, LVP and LVT (luxury vinyl plank and tile) which is installed as a floating floor, and EVP (engineered vinyl plank) which is a subset of LVP and also installed as a floating floor. Dig even deeper and you will find that there are two types of EVP flooring, SPC and WPC (follow the EVP link below for more)! There is also a very cheap peel and stick vinyl flooring option that might be of interest if you’re on a very low budget or looking to install a temporary floor in say a rental property. So across these four flooring types prices range between low cost ($1.50 to $3.50 per square foot) to high quality ($4.00 to $9.50 per square foot).
Choose Between Different Styles of Vinyl:
Vinyl and laminate (as you will see below) are durable but less expensive flooring options that mimic the more expensive flooring types like hardwood and tile. So, top quality vinyl flooring of any type aims to replicate the look and feel of wood and stone. We recommend sheet vinyl if you want a tile-look floor and LVP or EVP if you looking for a faux wood-look option. Perhaps unsurprisingly, trends in vinyl flooring tend to follow the most popular wood and tile trends.
Laminate flooring is another type of flooring material that has had a renaissance recently and put itself back in contention as a cheaper flooring option for those looking for a wood look floor. Improved realism and water-resistant planks makes this flooring an option in any room. Prices range from the very cheap ($0.60 to $1.75 per square foot) to best quality with water-resistant features ($2.80 to $5.00+ per square foot).
Different Types of Laminate Flooring
Laminate is available in both plank and tile form and can mimic hardwood and tile, but overwhelmingly homeowners buy laminate planks as a budget friendly faux wood flooring type. This three to four layered engineered flooring uses a photographic image layer to reproduce the look of real wood (or tile).
Quality laminate planks vary in thickness between 6mm and 12mm, the thicker the plank the more hardwearing and quieter it will be to walk on.
Some laminate planks are sold with a pre-attached underlayment and some without. If you buy a laminate plank without pre-attached underlay you may have to install underlayment first depending on where you intend to install your laminate.
Choose Between Different Styles of Laminate:
In recent times laminate flooring improvements have led to many more water-resistant products and textured surfaces that more closely resemble the feel, as well as the look, of real wood.
In terms of style, laminate manufacturers follow hardwood trends, so distressed and hardscaped looks are popular right now as are wide planks and parquet patterns.
Warmth and comfort are the main advantages of carpeting and is a great type of flooring for your cold climates. With an almost unlimited selection of colors and styles you can find the perfect carpet option for your interior décor. Carpet can be incredibly cheap or incredibly expensive with prices ranging from as low as $1 per sq/ft to $10+ per sq/ft
Different Types of Carpet
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to carpet. There are many carpet types, often with multiple names for the same thing. Your very first decision will be to choose between wall to wall carpet (broadloom), carpet tiles or area rugs.
When buying wall to wall carpeting you essentially have four main carpet options to choose from, textured carpets (or cut pile carpets), Berber carpet (or loop pile carpets), patterned carpets (a mixture of cut and loop pile) and twist carpets (frieze).
Within these four main options you then have many more style choices which will be dictated by the height (low, medium and high pile) and density (face weight) of your carpet fibers.
Talking of carpet fibers, once you’ve chosen your preferred style of carpet you can then choose the type of materials the carpet fibers are made from which include natural materials like wool and man made materials like Nylon, Triexta, Polyester and Olefin.
Cork and bamboo are often listed as types of wood floors, but of course this is misleading as each has its very own unique qualities. Specialized types of flooring, cork and bamboo work very well in specific interior situations. Let’s start with cork which costs between $3 and $12 per square foot.
Different Types of Cork Flooring:
Cork flooring for the home is manufactured in tiles and planks. Typically cork tiles require glue down installation while planks can be laid as a click and lock floating floors. Like engineered hardwood, these plank and tiles have a multilayer construction with a top wear layer of solid cork.
You can also choose between water-resistant and fully waterproof cork floors making them a practical choice for wet or damp areas.
Choose Between Different Styles of Cork Floors:
Cork flooring comes in more styles than you may think, rather than try and describe them we suggest a quick visit to our cork flooring ideas Pinterest board to discover some of the more modern and unique looks and styles.
Like cork, bamboo flooring is popular for its eco friendly properties and unique look. Once installed, bamboo does resemble hardwood more closely in appearance than cork, but its is actually a type of grass most commonly grown and cultivated in Asia. Bamboo flooring is specialised and there aren’t that many manufactures and retailers, prices range from $3 to $9 per square foot.
Different Types of Bamboo Flooring:
Bamboo flooring comes in planks, either solid bamboo or engineered bamboo planks. When we talk about solid bamboo planks we mean planks that have been made entirely from stands of bamboo compressed and adhered into a solid plank.
You will also hear about three types of bamboo flooring, vertical horizontal and strand woven. These three terms refer to the way each piece of bamboo grass was adhered to another to make the solid bamboo flooring. Strand woven bamboo is the most durable method of manufacturing bamboo flooring.
Choose between different styles of bamboo flooring:
Horizontal bamboo flooring shows off more of the unique bamboo grain which is part of its appeal for some buyers. Vertical bamboo offers a smoother more consistent finish which is closer in appearance to hardwood and strand woven bamboo goes even further in this direction. All bamboo floors can and are stained into many different colors to match the current hardwood flooring color trends.
Until recently concrete flooring was went underneath home floor coverings. It was okay for a bare basement or garage floor but in a home it didn’t make sense. Trendy loft style apartments with clean, polished or patterned concrete floors changed all that and now a bare concrete floor is definitely a type of flooring to be considered in the right home environment. The cost of laying a basic concrete subfloor is between $4 and $8 per square foot. Polishing and cutting patterns will cost you more.
Choose between different styles of concrete floors:
You can just seal a plain concrete floor and leave it at that, but that won’t win you many style points. This type of flooring can be finished in lots of different ways that can really impress. For simplicity consider polishing your concrete either to a matte or high gloss finish. Concrete can also be stained, stamped or have patterns cut into it. Concrete applications like epoxy can be added over the surface and other materials like glass, stone and tile can be embedded within the concrete mix.
BEST FLOORING OPTIONS FOR EACH ROOM
So now you know the main flooring types available, but which option works best in different rooms of your home. Some homeowners like to tie the interior design of their home together by having the same flooring material throughout their home while others prefer a more mix and match approach where certain flooring materials are a better match for certain rooms.
Lets go through the most important spaces in your home now and briefly consider the most appropriate floor types for each room. The options we suggest are typically the most popular flooring types per room but of course you are not limited to these suggestions…express yourself!
The kitchen is one of the high traffic areas in your home where your family and friends spend a great deal of time and where spills are pretty much inevitable. Kitchens have become showcase spaces in a way they never were 20 or 30 years ago and style options are limitless.
Therefore flooring types that are attractive, durable, easy to clean and at the very least water-resistant are the order of the day. Hardwood and floor tile remain the most popular high end choices with vinyl closing the gap in third place. Laminate is another popular for budget conscious homeowners. If you’re looking for the wow factor then brick, slate and other natural stone options are worth considering too.
What flooring options do we have for the bathroom? More than you would think. With plenty of water and humidity we can discount carpet and solid hardwood but otherwise we can go with pretty much anything.
Funky vinyl designs are back in trend, engineered hardwood floors are classy and ceramic or porcelain tiles are, of course, a staple favorite. Another option is the new and improved water-resistant laminate floors on the market and concrete, whether polished, stained or epoxy, are also gaining in popularity.
Your bedroom is all about warmth, comfort and style. Style is personal and so is your choice of flooring materials for the bedroom. Carpet is still the flooring option of choice but floor tile, engineered or solid hardwood, cork, bamboo and even laminate flooring can all work well in your personal space.
Interior designer Cathy Wolfram, in her bedroom trends article, describes her preference thus,
My first choice is always a wood floor with an area rug in the bedroom but many of my clients like wall to wall carpet in the bedroom, it’s a personal preference.
Whether relaxing or entertaining your living room is likely to be one of the most frequently used spaces in your home. Your main consideration will be style but you also need to think about the high traffic which means durability too.
Your choices here are really just limited to your budget, low-cost vinyl to high-end solid hardwood are all viable solutions. Hardwood and tile are the two most popular living room floor options closely followed by carpet.
When deciding on the right flooring option for your dining room you should be led by lifestyle. Are you a large family with young kids, prone to dropping food and drink, or do you use the room primarily for entertaining friends in a more formal setting?
If your dining room opens up directly from your living room perhaps you will want to extend the same type of flooring through out for continuity. Think style and practicality.
Hardwood, both solid and engineered, and floor tile are the top two choices here.
Simple, smart and comfortable are the watch words for your home office. A formal, uncluttered setting but with some warmth where you can receive clients, focus on work and generally be productive.
Flooring should be low maintenance and easily cleaned. No need to go crazy with your budget either, laminate, cork, vinyl and carpet are all great options. Perhaps extending your floors from the hallway will work. Keep it simple.
Wise homeowners know better than to let their garage become a disorganized and unattractive space whose only function is housing their car and clutter. A well thought out garage can act as an extra room for your home.
A smart utility space or workshop will provide you with functionality and higher resale value. Floors need to be tough, durable and easy to clean. Think stamped or acid stained concrete and garage floor tiles.
Just like your garage your basement can be so much more than just a storage space. A kids play room, a games room or a man cave are all options to consider but just be aware of the different flooring requirements compared to the rest of your house.
Higher humidity below ground level means only certain flooring is practicable. Take a look at engineered wood flooring, waterproof rigid core, vinyl or ceramic tile. If you want to give your den a warmer feel then basement carpet is definitely something to consider. More functional flooring types like rubber and epoxy are further options.
Many homeowners now see the benefits of creating an outdoor living space if their property permits one. Creating a simple deck, a BBQ area or a more sophisticated recreational space are all ways to improve your overall standard of living with great potential for a return on your investment when the time comes to sell.
Your main considerations should be focused on durability to the outside elements and aesthetics that match your outdoor environment. Think solid wood decking, natural stone, hard-wearing tiles, decorative concrete or low cost outdoor carpets and rugs.
We love hearing about your interior design projects so let us know what types of flooring you like using in the comments section below.
About the Author:
Greca is the lead style writer at Home Flooring Pros (more), with a BA in Technical Art, she’s focused on flooring trends, flooring ideas, and flooring brand reviews.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a home that you love. The hardest thing about this job is trying not to covet all the great floors I get to review; if I could remodel my home every month, I would!”