How to Choose the Correct Flooring Type for Your Home's Many Spaces
There are so many factors to consider, from the risk of water exposure to personal preference.
Ideally, the flooring in your home is durable, can hold up to daily wear and tear, and will visually complement the rest of your space. But not all flooring is the same, so the type that works best for your living room is not necessarily right for your powder room. Ahead, how to make the call for each specific spot, according to design and architecture experts.
Ask yourself a few questions.
Choosing a type of floor is a big decision, and it's one that will transform your entire space, notes Amy Studebaker of Amy Studebaker Design. That's why she suggests asking yourself a few questions before you get started. "How will I use the space that the flooring is in? How much foot traffic will the space receive? Is it a wet space or a dry space?" she offers. Once you those answers, you'll have a better idea of what the correct fit might be.
Determine if water exposure is possible.
If you are laying down a floor in a wet space, like a bathroom or laundry room, Studebaker notes that a ceramic or porcelain tile will create the most durable, water-resistant surface. A moist area, however, doesn't mean that you have to give up on the idea of wood all together. "Water is the main issue with certain types of flooring," explains Miami-based Samantha Gallacher, the founder of Art Loom and the co-founder of IG Workshop. "Wood is not ideal for humid or wet spaces, however we have made so many advances in the types of engineered wood on the market today. Now, in tropical climates like Florida, you can have wood floors without an issue."
Consider the area's size.
Do you have a lot of floorspace to account for? If so, Gallacher says you want to be especially mindful of your grout lines. "For larger spaces or open plans, we try to limit the grout lines—so use larger format tiles," she says. "Smaller tiles with more grout lines we save for bathrooms." Not only will opting for larger tiles make the space look better, but fewer grout lines may also make it easier to clean.
The age of your home matters, too.
While porcelain tiles are very popular these days, Gallacher says they don't work as well for older homes, where there may be extra movement in the floor joists; this could cause the porcelain to crack. In those situations, she recommends wood floors, which allow for more movement.
Choose the right type for your main living spaces.
If you're shopping for an area that will see high traffic and not a lot of moisture, Studebaker suggests going for white oak wood flooring, which is classic and warm. "A white oak is strong and takes color beautifully during the stain process," she notes.
Think about going bold.
Don't be afraid to try something different, say our experts. "Trying something bold and slightly unusual, like painting your hardware in a color or selecting an intricate patterned tile, is a fabulous way to play with design and take your space to the 'unexpected' level," explains Studebaker.
Pick like the professionals.
Gallacher says that she avoids using tiles with a gloss finish; these show a lot of dirt and scratch easily. "It is also important to consider the overall repeat," she says. "While a tile, on its own, may look beautiful, you have to think about how it will look repeated over an entire surface." Ultimately, your flooring is one of the most important choices you will make when designing your house, but you have to consider the entire style of your interior spaces when choosing it. "If you want to use warm, earth tones, be sure to stay away from cool blues," she says. "If you want to have a lot of wood millwork, then consider a natural stone for the floors. Everything needs to be taken into account."