Living Room Flooring Ideas and Options
Living Room Flooring
In this Home Flooring Pros living floor report, we are going to take a deep dive into the pros and cons of the most popular living room floor options. Learn which type of floor is best suited to your budget and living room décor.
April 12, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford
When it comes to home flooring, homeowners spend more time researching floors for their kitchen or bathroom than any other room in the house, but should they? According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when we’re awake, the majority of our time is spent in the living room or family room. It’s true that a kitchen or bathroom remodel is a more popular home improvement project but given the amount of time we spend in the living room, it’s really important that we choose the best living room flooring at the right price.
Let’s start with some flooring ideas and considerations for the living room.
LIVING ROOM FLOOR IDEAS AND CONSIDERATIONS
The top priorities for a new or replacement living room floor fall into three categories which are cost, comfort and style. Let’s discuss each briefly and narrow down your living room flooring options.
WHAT IS THE CHEAPEST FLOORING FOR A LIVING ROOM
The cheapest flooring option for a living room, and one of the most popular, is carpet. The average size of a living room is around 350 sq.ft. and the average price range to buy and install carpet in a living room of this size will be between $1,400 and $2,400, depending on the quality of the carpet.
The another popular living room flooring type is hardwood, but your initial outlay will be much higher wit,h the average cost to install wood flooring in a 350 sq.ft living room ranging between $4,900 and $11,200, again, depending on your choice of hardwood.
One cost consideration before you decide to go with living room carpet is long-term value for money and your return on investment. Hardwood is far more durable, lasting the lifetime of your home, whereas carpet will need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. And if you decide to sell your home, hardwood floors make your property a more attractive proposition.
WHAT IS THE BEST LIVING ROOM FLOOR FOR COMFORT?
Given that we spend so much time in our living or family room, comfort is a number one priority, and a warm floor goes a long way to providing long-lasting relaxation and comfort. To make the best decision for warmth, we should consider your local climate.
Cold Climates: If it’s fairly cold all year round its hard to beat a thick carpet for a living room. Buy a quality carpet with a deep, soft pile and install insulated underlay for extra warmth. Avoid ceramic tile, unless you have radiant floor heating. Use warm area rugs over other flooring types.
Hot Climates: For all-year warm climates, flip the advice and choose tile or hardwood. Maybe lay an area rug if you want to sit on the living room floor. Avoid carpet and consider vinyl flooring if you need something cheaper than wood or tile.
Seasonal Climates: If you can afford hardwood, then it’s a great living room floor choice for seasonal climes. Install underfloor heating beneath engineered wood for extra winter warmth or make do with area rugs. Either way, hardwood works well in all seasons.
Related Reading: Area Rug Cleaning Costs
WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF FLOOR FOR AN ON-TREND LIVING ROOM?
Living room design trends change from year to year, but some fundamental preferences stay pretty constant and can help us with our choice of living room flooring. For some time now, the trend has been towards modern living room decor, with rich and warm natural colors. Often homeowners bring some bold color into a living room in the form of an accent wall or some colorful sofa or other furniture.
Living room flooring is typically chosen to compliment these styles which leads to many homeowners choosing muted floor colors in light and dark grays, beige, and cream for carpets, or sometimes dark wood floors to complement a light and airy living room.
We’ve touched on this already. With many homeowners keen to keep their living rooms warm while also saving money on energy costs, many have turned to radiant floor heating systems that are efficient and increasingly eco-friendly. Clearly, installing underfloor heating isn’t practical just for one room, but it might be a consideration if you have an open-plan kitchen/living room.
THE BEST FLOORING FOR A LIVING ROOM
Having considered the functionality we want from our new living room floors, let us take a look at the most popular flooring materials typically installed and consider the pros and cons of each.
LIVING ROOM CARPET
As we hinted at earlier, wall-to-wall carpeting traditionally tops the popularity charts for living room flooring. Our living rooms and family rooms are where we relax and typically leave our shoes outside, making carpet a more practical flooring type than in other high-traffic areas of the house, not to mention the added comfort of walking barefoot on carpet.
Cost too plays a big role in carpets’ popularity. Labor costs to install carpet can be as low as $.50 to $1 per sq/ft leaving you free to spend as much or as little as you want on your actual carpet. It’s worth noting that high-end wool carpet can be as expensive, anywhere between $6 and $20 per sq.ft.
Keep carpet colors simple and classic, warm and calm colors are best.
Advantages of living room carpet:
- Reasonably priced
- Warm and comfortable feel
- Easy installation
- Not as long-lasting as other materials
- More care and maintenance required
- Holds dust, dirt and allergens
SOLID WOOD FLOORS
Wood flooring is certainly the smart and aspirational living room choice if you can afford the upfront costs. Hardwood flooring is timeless, which is just as well as it will also last over 50 years, making it a great investment. And wood also brings warmth to a living room both in its feel and appearance.
As discussed, costs are higher; both materials and labor installation costs. Check out our hardwood materials cost report and our report on hardwood installation costs for more details.
Dark wood floors in the living room are popular.
Advantages of living room hardwood:
- Long-term investment
- Always in style
- Easy to clean
- More expensive to buy and install
- Avoid liquid spills
- Prone to scratches
CERAMIC & PORCELAIN TILE FLOORING
Tile flooring is a great low maintenance, water-resistant flooring, with a wealth of colors, shapes and patterns that can really bring your living room decor to life.
If you have a kitchen that transitions into your living room, then tile makes a lot of sense and can be a really tough and easy-to-maintain floor, resistant to spills, stains, and dirt.
Tile really isn’t a good choice in a cold climate unless you also have underfloor heating, in which case it is a great choice.
In terms of style, there are some great wood-look tile options, while travertine and other natural stone tiles are very popular for an upmarket look.
Advantages of living room tile:
- Tiles are durable. They will not show much wear over time and they are water and stain-resistant if maintained well.
- Tile is a versatile flooring that can complement many different styles.
- Tile floors are easy to clean and repair.
- Tile is cold unless you install radiant heat
- Tile is hard and less comfortable
- Tile is expensive to install
Vinyl flooring for a living room, in the form of luxury vinyl planks, is a great lower cost alternative to hardwood. You have a similar wood look, which includes all the different color and style variations, but at a much smaller price point.
Of course, vinyl won’t have the same durable lifespan as hardwood but it is resilient and easy to clean making it a good living room option for bigger families with young children and pets.
It’s a warmer and softer flooring underfoot and can also be installed over radiant floor heating (check the manufactures guidelines for confirmation).
Don’t discount vinyl sheet flooring either, there are a few companies offering trendy and retro vinyl flooring patterns that will give you living room a very contemporary feel.
Advantages of Living Room Vinyl:
- Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) and engineered vinyl plank (EVP) are both trending floors offered by multiple brands and in many, many styles.
- Vinyl is a budget friendly, easy to clean, resilient flooring material
- Vinyl flooring is easier and cheaper to install than hardwood
- Vinyl can’t be repaired and has shorter lifespan that hardwood or tile
- Vinyl doesn’t increase home resale value
- Vinyl isn’t eco-friendly or easily recycled
Which color flooring is best for the living room?
Typically the best color for a living room floor is a muted warm tone that complements the rest of your living room decor. Sometimes though, dark floors in the living room work well if you want to make a bold design statement.
Best living room floor for pets?
Pets think carpet is the best flooring for your living room, its certainly the most comfortable. However, homeowners might not share that view, as cleaning pet hair out of carpet isn’t much fun.
Best living room floor for kids?
Hard surfaces are the best living room flooring option for kids as they are easy to clean and are less likely to harbor allergens. Hardwood, laminate, and vinyl are all good choices for a busy family with kids.
What are the two biggest trends in living room flooring?
Hardwood and carpet continue to be the hottest living room flooring trends. They are both warm, and stylish and offer value for money. Which one you choose will depend on your lifestyle. Hardwood is more durable than carpet.
What is the most durable type of living room flooring?
Hardwood is our favorite durable living room flooring of choice but ceramic or porcelain tile if the most resilient flooring if it suits your lifestyle. If you live in a generally cold climate choose hardwood over tile.
OTHER PLACES TO FIND LIVING ROOM OR DEN FLOORING IDEAS AND PROJECTS:
- Youtube – Video tutorial on Engineered Hardwood Flooring Installation over Concrete.
- RenoCompare – Get decorating ideas for the living room.
- Freshome – Find out what the top kitchen design trends for 2013.
About the Author:
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction, followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business, he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”