Depending on your experience with home renovations there might be very little difference to you when it comes to the types of flooring out there. Aside from flooring either being carpet or not carpet, there’s really little reason to pay close attention to such details. However, as this author recently discovered, once you decide to jump into the world of home renovations the nuances do begin to make an impact. So how do you choose the right flooring if you’re not certain what the differences are? Well, a good place to start might be this article and from there we suggest speaking to one of our flooring specialists.
Vinyl and Laminate
If you’re looking for hard flooring, then a couple of the most popular options are either vinyl or laminate. These also happen to be the most confusing in terms of differences, so let’s break it down to its parts and the most suitable rooms for each one.
- Vinyl is completely synthetic: the base layer is (often) made of fibreglass which is then coated in PVC
- There are 4 layers to vinyl flooring
- Vinyl flooring holds up well in high traffic areas and with luxury vinyl, is often waterproof
- While being more waterproof than laminate it’s not quite as scratch-resistant
- Comes in plank and tile forms
- Laminate is also composed of four layers but has a fiberboard wood core (highly compressed wood fibres)
- Comes with scratch-resistant wear layer
- Considered a suitable replacement for hardwood at an affordable price
- Also, considered to be more durable than hardwood, but can also be prone to warping due to moisture
Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood
If you’ve got the budget and you’re looking for a more natural option then you’re most likely in the market for hardwood. All natural, resilient and with a long lifespan it raises property value and is considered the crème de la crème when it comes to hard flooring. There are actually two different types of hardwood (not speaking of the different types of wood like walnut, oak, and ash); engineered hardwood and natural hardwood, the former being a bit more budget friendly. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between engineered and natural hardwood from the surface. Pretty much identical, the difference comes into play below the first couple of layers.
- Instead of a single wood plank, engineered hardwood has multiple layers
- The core is actually made up of high-quality plywood
- There is a clear protective finish on top of the hardwood layer for extra protection
- Cannot be refinished but with proper maintenance can last up to 30 years
Natural (Solid) Hardwood
- Made of a single solid piece of woods
- There are a lot of options for the type of wood you can use, from pine, cedar, walnut, birch, oak, maple, and more
- Hardwood flooring involves nailing the wood planks to the subfloor so it takes some skill to get them installed
- An advantage of hardwood is that it can be sanded and refinished many times over its lifespan
Porcelain and Ceramic Tile
There are a LOT of options when it comes to tile (glass, cement, marble, limestone, travertine,
metal…you get the idea) but to keep it simple we’re giving you a comparison between the two most
commonly used in flooring projects.
- This tile emulates natural stone, brick, or even wood without any of the maintenance
- Porcelain is made of clay and because of the heating process it goes through, it does not contain any ‘pores’ making it extremely resilient to moisture and humidity
- Available in a wide range of colours and design
- Can used both outside or inside as it does not crack or freeze
- There are different classes of porcelain so be sure to know if the porcelain you’re buying is appropriate for flooring or if it’s meant for tiled walls
- The most common tile, ceramic, is extremely versatile and you’ll find it used in many rooms throughout the house - kitchens, bathrooms, entryways
- Made of a mixture of water, sand, and clay and baked at a lower temperature than porcelain
- Three types of ceramic tile: floor tiles, wall tiles, glazed ceramic tiles
- Naturally waterproof it’s a great option for bathrooms, kitchens, and poolside
Yes, there are even differences in the types of carpet you can get. Actually, there’s been a lot of changes to carpet over the past decade in terms of style and patterns but the main differences really comes down to the pile (how short or tall the carpet threads are), how they’re structured, and what they’re made of.
There are four main types of carpet fibres: olefin, wool, nylon, and polyester. You can also find carpet made from recycled materials, if you’re interested in making a more sustainable choice.
In regards to the different structure and pile, refer to the illustration below.
Needless to say, keep carpet out of the bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen, along with anywhere else there tends to be a lot of moisture.
One of the less common flooring options is cork. While it’s been around for decades it hasn’t exactly been the most popular option for flooring. That’s starting to change a bit now as more people are becoming conscious about the environment and the impact they’re having on it through their consumer choices. Cork is biodegradable so at the end of its life it can be broken down into the environment unlike other flooring options. However, cork flooring is more susceptible to some types of damage and isn’t recommended for every room in the house and probably isn’t the best option in a house with pets. However cork is a great insulator, provides a soft cushioned surface to walk upon, is hypoallergenic and can be refinished, extending its life.
We hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding of the basic difference in flooring. The next step we recommend is to talk to a professional who will be able to help guide you and narrow down your options further until you find just what you’re looking for. Also, don’t forget to save this article so you can come back and refer to it later!
In a room that gets as much activity as a child’s does, you need to choose flooring that will stand up to constant use and look great doing it. Here are some options for all the parents out there who are looking for kid friendly flooring.