Choosing Finish Flooring – On the House

Choosing Finish Flooring

By on March 13, 2016

If you are considering a room addition or a major remodel, then you need to begin thinking about the floor covering as soon as possible. Even though flooring installation is normally the very last job to finish, you will need to the flooring type early on so that doors, cabinets and other finishes can be properly installed. For example: door frames are installed directly onto the underlayment when vinyl flooring is used. When carpet is to be installed the door and frame are held to the top of the opening – to clear the carpet and pad.

There are plenty of flooring options: Sheet vinyl, vinyl tiles, hardwood planks, wood parquet, carpet, ceramic tile, brick, slate, stone, granite, plastic laminate, and more. So, rather than spend a great deal of time comparing and contrasting the different types of flooring, we thought we’d cut right to the chase and simply look at the pluses and minuses of each type:


Plus: Absorbs noise like no other floor covering.

Minus: Absorbs dirt and water like no other floor covering.

Plus: Makes a room cozy and warm.

Minus: Does not last in high-traffic areas.

Plus: Easy fluff up with a vacuum.

Minus: Retains dust and pollen particles, which is bad if you have an allergy.

Ceramic tile

Plus: Easy to keep clean, although grout does take some cleaning and sealing management.

Minus: Hard surface reflects household noise.

Plus: Lasts a long, long time.

Minus: Cold to the touch and hard on the feet.

Plus: An almost infinite number of color, texture, design and style combinations.

Minus: Grout and tile are brittle and will crack if the floor is not sturdy

Sheet vinyl

Plus: Offers good value, good looks and durability

Minus: Cheaper vinyl collects dirt and stain easily

Plus: Easy to clean.

Minus: Cheaper vinyl needs to be replaced every five- to seven-years or so.

Plus: High end vinyl will last 15- to 20-years or more.

Minus: Caution must be taken to prevent cutting and gouging.

Vinyl tile

Plus: Very inexpensive.

Minus: Can look cheap if not carefully installed.

Plus: Do-it-yourselfers can easily do a good installation.

Minus: Doesn’t last as long as sheet vinyl.


Plus: Long lasting (with proper care).

Minus: Easily scratched. Easily dented by high heels.

Plus: Offers a warm, natural look.

Minus: Does not stand up to water and is expensive to maintain (i.e. refinish).

Plastic Laminate flooring (floating floors)

Plus: Is available in a myriad of colors and styles.

Minus: Looks like vinyl, but is more expensive.

Plus: Costs less than real hardwood.

Minus: Lasts about as long as vinyl, but is almost impossible to repair.

Brick, slate and stone

Plus: Unusual look.

Minus: Easy to stain, hard to clean.

Plus: Unusual look.

Minus: Expensive.

In the “old days” (10 or 15 years ago), people put sheet vinyl in the kitchen and bathroom, hardwood or carpet in the living room, and tile in the entry. Those time-proven guidelines still make sense, but homeowners are taking a more flexible approach.

Today, the “right” flooring can be just about anything.

For example, sheet vinyl is still the most popular choice for kitchens, bathrooms and the laundry, but other materials have made inroads. Ceramic tile is now a close No. 2 in the bath. Hardwood, previously limited to “dry” areas, is showing up in kitchens. Plastic Laminate and wood floating floors, which hit the market in the early 1990s, have quickly gained acceptance for use in a variety of areas, including the kitchen. However, we strongly suggest against using hardwood and floating floors in any wet are. But, with the proper care, almost any flooring material can be used almost anywhere.

And in case you’re feeling frisky (in a home-improvement kind of way), floor installation, except for the new floating floors, is not the kind of job most do-it-yourselfers care to tackle. Pick your floor covering and hire a professional installer to put it in — you’ll be happier with the end result.

Hot Tips

  1. If you decide on vinyl, buy the highest-quality product that you can afford, preferably one in which the pattern goes all the way through the material. It will last longer and look better.
  2. If you decide on dairy brick, you want to make sure you call a dairy brick repair contractor as soon as you notice damaged tiles. When the cracks in tiles are left unrepaired, the damage can spread and cause entire slabs of dairy brick tiles to come loose.
  3. The only types of hardwood flooring that can be glued down to a concrete substrate are parquet and laminated planks. Because parquet floors are actually made of thousands of little pieces, they aren’t prone to cupping, twisting and buckling caused by dampness that can attack the top of a concrete floor slab. Laminated floors are made of thin, cross-laid courses of wood (like plywood), so they also are not affected by moisture.
  4. Some elderly (20-plus years old) vinyl flooring may have asbestos in it. Don’t worry. It is the least dangerous type of asbestos-containing product we know of, and removing it (if done correctly) will not release a dangerous amount of fibers into the air. Here’s how to do it: Simply pry the underlayment and vinyl up together. Fold it over and bend/break it into manageable pieces. Never, ever sand a vinyl floor that may contain asbestos. Be sure not to separate the vinyl from the underlayment. Doing so could release a dangerous amount of asbestos. If the vinyl is glued to concrete, have the material tested. If it contains asbestos we suggest a call to a licensed abatement contractor.
  5. Be aware that if you install a new floor over an old one, you will may “lock” appliances like built-in dishwashers, refrigerators and trash compactors into place. The new material can block the lower portion and prevent them from being slid out of their spaces.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.


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