Given the enormous number of product choices available on the market, the options for your living room flooring are enormous. Whether you’re building a new home or refreshing an existing one, you can create the living room of your dreams with nearly limitless design options to pull together your decor.
Varied flooring options can match the style of almost any house and are available in a variety of beautiful options and price points. How can you make a sound flooring decision for your living room? What’s the best choice for you?
Durability, ease of cleaning, costs, and other factors are sure to factor into your decision. If you have children or pets, you will need a flooring option with excellent wear and stain resistance. It pays to take time to understand the various flooring types, as well as the benefits and drawbacks before reaching a final decision about what will work best in your home.
Here’s a helpful guide to five flooring materials to consider for your living room floor, along with some pros and cons of each.
1. Hardwood Floors
Available in dark, medium, and light hues, 100% solid hardwood floors are a timeless classic, giving a high-end look to any living room. Available in many wood types, colors, and widths, hardwood has been an extremely popular and elegant flooring option for generations of homeowners.
Thought by many to be one of the best flooring options for a home’s resale, hardwood floors are unquestionably gorgeous but can be real work to maintain. Since living rooms aren’t typically susceptible to water being splashed from sinks or tubs, they make a great candidate for this flooring type. Tip: Keep high-traffic areas covered with area rugs to protect the hardwood floor.
The exact kind of hardwood you choose can make your living room appear elegant and chic or more casual and rustic, depending on what you select. There are many different design options ranging from colors, grain patterns and even the size of the plank you prefer.
The most common wood types for hardwood floors are walnut, cherry, oak, all of which can be stained to your specifications. Some homeowners achieve reclaimed elegance by using wood sourced from old buildings that are being torn down.
In the minus column, hardwood flooring is notoriously prone to scratches, so it may not be the best choice for homes with active or large dogs as damage from claws is possible. Also, hardwood flooring is costly to purchase and install, and it requires refinishing throughout its life.
2. Versatile Vinyl Planks
Durable, eco-friendly, and easy to maintain, the built-in versatility of vinyl plank flooring makes it a very popular option for living rooms. What’s more, this type of floor is easiest for homeowners to self-install since each board connects to an adjacent board instead of to a subfloor. Best of all, vinyl plank flooring is considered to be extremely cost-effective.
Vinyl plank flooring is tough and durable and can withstand enormous wear and tear, making it one of the most popular flooring choices for homeowners today. Most types of vinyl plank flooring have non-slip surfaces and are 100% water-resistant – great assets for inadvertent spills on your living room floor.
Vinyl plank flooring is also a good choice for people aging in place, since it’s slip-resistant material, easy to walk on, and provides more cushioning than other hard flooring types. Vinyl plank floors can look like hardwood and can be virtually indistinguishable from real hardwood flooring making it a popular choice.
Downsides to vinyl plank flooring include an ability to be punctured by sharp objects and it can show fading and discoloration with excessive UV exposure. Vinyl plank flooring that is glued down can be very difficult to remove.
3. Cozy Carpeting
Softer, cozier, and warmer than other flooring options, carpet is a nice option for many families seeking an inexpensive solution for their living room floor. Carpet fibers come in several pile heights and can be made from an array of materials. Plus, carpeting is generally considered to be the least expensive flooring surface lending itself to budget-conscious customers perfectly.
Available in a variety of softness levels, carpet is comfortable on bare feet, providing a layer of insulation to your home, and delivering sound-absorbing qualities to living spaces. Carpeting has long been a great option for those who live in colder climates and want a cozy feeling from their flooring options. Depending on the carpet pad you choose you can make your carpeting plush.
Many carpet manufacturers offer built-in warranties for stain and wear which can help them stay looking clean longer and also makes the maintenance of the carpeting particularly easy to deal with.
A downside of carpet is its fibers can trap pet dander and dust mites, making carpet a less-ideal choice for allergy suffers, but when you put new carpeting in your living room you can control the environment to keep it as allergen-free as possible. As long as the carpeting is frequently vacuumed having allergies doesn’t preclude you from carpet ownership.
4. Terrific Tile
Offered in a fantastic range of size, color, and design options, tile is a long-lasting floor choice for a clean, modern aesthetic. Ceramic or porcelain tile can liven up your living room floor with its endless (and artistic!) array of colors and even shapes.
Ceramic or porcelain flooring is a beautifully strong choice for pet owners because the tiles are so durable, difficult to damage from pet toenails or claws and staining from pet “accidents,” and super easy to clean. Note: Tile grout lines can be damaged by pet claws unless they are routinely sealed but most sealants need only be applied every 5 years.
Valued for its versatility, ceramic tile flooring offers beautiful options with unique characteristics to pack big personality into even the smallest of living rooms. Depending on the pattern of installation you can change the look of tile completely giving you many options.
Tiles are known to stay cool in warm climates and is a terrific flooring choice in high-humidity climates. Conversely, tile flooring might be too chilly in the winter months for those living in colder climates but could still be a great choice in conjunction with an area rug.
One con of ceramic tiles as a flooring material is that they can crack (but cracked tiles are easy to replace) and they are a less comfortable floor to stand or walk on. Porcelain tile is considered to be stronger but it’s increased strength often comes with a significant increase in price.
Another downside to ceramic tile is that it generally requires professional installation, although many DIYers do install it just fine and it can be a bit more expensive flooring choice than some of the others. But it’s extreme versatility makes up for it’s few downfalls.
5. Beautiful Bamboo
One of the most durable flooring choices, bamboo looks similar to hardwood but exceptionally resistant to moisture and stains. Bamboo is a natural material made from the fibers of farmed bamboo. Many people who are concerned about the environment are drawn to bamboo as their flooring material of choice.
Due to bamboo’s sustainability and widespread availability, it’s an eco-friendly, renewable resource, making it a popular alternative to traditional hardwood. Plus, bamboo flooring is lighter on your wallet than hardwood.
Bamboo flooring comes in different types and hardness ratings. Higher-quality bamboo floors are tougher than hardwood flooring options, easy to maintain, and are antimicrobial. These pet-friendly characteristics make bamboo an exceptional choice for households with pets or for people with allergies.
One drawback to bamboo is that it is not sound absorbent and it does not do well in very humid environments. But many find the natural patina bamboo floor will acquire over time to be quite pleasing. For a flooring option that will tell your family’s story along with you, choose a bamboo floor.
Choosing the flooring material that’s best for your living room can be daunting. When deciding on a choice of flooring, take a closer look at the array of product types available to you, compare costs and features, take some samples home, then select the material and design that best suits your space.