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Choosing flooring for a new building can be daunting, since looks, cleaning, cost, maintenance, safety and longevity all factor into the equation. Here are today’s most popular flooring options and a list of important questions to ask before purchasing.

COMMON TYPES OF FLOORING

Hardwood: Hardwood is preferred for its warmth, durability and high resale value. Finished hardwood is relatively easy to clean and, if scuffed or weathered over time, can be sanded and refinished to look brand new. Popular hardwood styles include oak, mahogany and teak, although there are softer options such as bamboo and cork that are more environmentally friendly.

Laminate: Offering a hardwood look without the price tag, laminate flooring is made from a composite of wood-based materials laminated together and finished with a printed photographic layer that mimics wood grain. It’s scratch resistant, durable, easy to clean and resists fading in direct sunlight.


Engineered hardwood: Engineered hardwood features a base of composite plywood layers topped with real hardwood. This type of flooring doesn’t expand and contract as much as hardwood, giving it more versatility in spaces where water is present. The price typically lands in between laminate and real hardwood.

Tile: Porcelain, ceramic and stone tiles offer virtually unlimited design options. All tile is waterproof, so it’s an excellent choice for rooms where there’s a lot of moisture. Tile is also low maintenance, easy to install and can withstand high foot traffic.

Vinyl: A great option for the budget-conscious builder, vinyl is moisture resistant, easy to clean and offers as many design options as tile; plus, it’s much more shock-absorbent. Vinyl is ideal for spaces with lots of foot traffic and activity.

Carpet: Soft, quiet and comfortable, carpet has the potential to lower energy bills with its insulating qualities. Although not as stain-resistant as other flooring options, carpet is available in endless materials and designs.

Linoleum: Made from all-natural materials, linoleum is a versatile green flooring option. It’s easy to clean and keeps bacteria from multiplying, so it’s great for preventing the spread of contamination.

Rubber: Rubber flooring typically is chosen more for its function than its looks. Its shock absorbency and nonslip qualities make it ideal for buildings such as daycare and senior-living settings.

Concrete: Often relegated to the subfloor, concrete has emerged as a stylish and durable flooring option in its own right. Concrete can be painted, stamped, stained or sealed, and can even be made to look like marble or brick.

SEVEN QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN SELECTING FLOORING

The answers to these questions will help narrow down any potential flooring options during the project planning and estimating phase.

Is the floor above or below grade? Below-grade rooms are susceptible to moisture from the ground, so basement-level rooms may require different flooring than first- or second-floor rooms.

Will the floor be installed in a high moisture area? Vinyl, tile, concrete and linoleum are ideal for rooms with lots of exposure to moisture, including kitchens, bathrooms and some basements.

Does the room have radiant heat? Engineered hardwood and concrete are compatible with radiant heating systems.

Are pet- or kid-friendly options preferred? Messes and scuffs happen, so buildings with pets or kids may require scratch-resistant, easy-to-clean flooring. Vinyl, tile, laminate and engineered hardwood with a urethane aluminum oxide finish are best for these situations.

How much direct sunlight does the room get? Untreated hardwood is susceptible to fading in UV light, so choose laminate or other fade-resistant flooring products for sunny rooms.

Is low-maintenance flooring a priority? Vinyl and laminate flooring require little maintenance, but it’s not recommended to use mops on laminate floors. If hardwood is desired in high-foot-traffic spaces, area rugs or runners can cut down on potential damage.

What is the square-footage budget? Use each room’s square footage to calculate how much it will cost to install different types of flooring in each room. Most flooring or carpeting is sold by the square foot, so it’s simple to compare pricing before buying.

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