Like other aspects of interior design, different types of flooring go in and out of style. Sometimes the trends coincide with when a newly developed material is mass produced and becomes affordable and widely available—like linoleum in the early 20th century, or synthetic-fiber carpeting in the 1950s. Other times, a popular color or palette might dictate what’s considered fashionable in flooring, like the gray vinyl flooring installed when design shows made the color ubiquitous in the 2000s and 2010s.
But the most popular flooring at a given moment isn’t always the most practical choice for every room in a home. (Two words: Carpeted bathrooms.) Instead, you’re better off considering how the room is used and finding flooring to meet its needs. To make that process easier, I asked three flooring experts to identify the best types of flooring for each room and space in a home. Here are their top picks.
The best types of flooring for each room in your home
A quick caveat before we begin: The flooring experts’ recommendations are based on how the rooms are used, rather than budget or style, and were made with the assumption that you’re installing new flooring, rather than working with what you have.
The best types of flooring for a kitchen
Ceramic or porcelain tile
Both Sean O’Rourke, a 30-year veteran of the flooring industry and the national director of merchandising for Floor Coverings International and Mark Buskuhl—the founder and CEO of Ninebird Properties, a company specializing in buying, renovating, and selling houses in Dallas, Texas—identified ceramic and porcelain as the most durable and long-lasting types of flooring for a kitchen. That’s thanks, in part, to being water resistant.
“They also come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and textures, allowing you to create a customized look for your kitchen,” Buskuhl says.
O’Rourke and Buskuhl also agree that vinyl flooring is the next-best option for kitchens. “LVT—luxury vinyl tile or plank—is waterproof and much less expensive,” O’Rourke says. Plus, as Buskuhl points out, vinyl planks or tiles can mimic the look of other materials—like hardwood or stone—at a lower cost.
The best types of flooring for a bathroom
Ceramic or porcelain tile
O’Rourke and Buskuhl are on the same page again: Ceramic or porcelain floors are also their top pick for bathrooms, for much of the same reasons. According to O’Rourke, it’s “the clear winner” for bathrooms, “due to its practicality, durability, and waterproof capabilities for both floors and walls.”
They’re also hygienic and easy to clean, making them a practical option for a space that is frequently exposed to moisture, Buskuhl notes. Plus, “tile also offers design and color options not found in other flooring types,” he adds.
According to Buskuhl, vinyl flooring is also a great option for bathrooms, as it can withstand high levels of humidity without warping or expanding. “Vinyl planks or tiles can also provide a waterproof barrier, making them ideal for bathrooms with shower stalls,” he explains.
The best types of flooring for a living room
This is O’Rourke’s top choice for living rooms “due to its authentic, natural appearance, durability, and warmth.” He says this is especially true in newer, open-floor-plan homes, where it can be incorporated throughout the kitchen area.
Tile is another solid choice for many of the same reasons, O’Rourke explains, adding that it’s a popular option in “southern & warmer climates.”
Don’t overlook laminate flooring, O’Rourke advises. “Today’s laminate floors are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, and most have water-resistant or waterproof warranties, and are considerably less expensive if your budget doesn’t allow for hardwood or tile,” he notes.
The best types of flooring for a bedroom
“Carpet may give the bedroom a more cozy feeling, adding extra warmth through its installation,” Rotem Eylor, the founder and CEO of Republic Flooring tells me. From a practical sense, carpet still rules in bedrooms, O’Rourke says, because of its softness and comfort under foot—especially if it’s installed over a high-quality padding.
Hardwood is O’Rourke and Eylor’s other top pick for bedrooms. “Some people may prefer hardwood for a more clean, classic look, and for easier maintenance,” Eylor explains.
The best types of flooring for a hallway
“You can’t go wrong with hardwood flooring for a hallway,” Eylor says. “It’s a timeless look, and easy to sweep and clean.” Plus, as Buskuhl points out, hardwood’s durability means it can withstand heavy traffic and other wear-and-tear, and both hardwood and engineered wood floors can be refinished if necessary.
O’Rourke suggests carpet for bedroom hallways. While it can add warmth and a level of comfort, it may require more maintenance than other types of flooring, and may not be the best choice for high-traffic areas, Buskuhl notes.
Laminate or LVT (luxury vinyl tile)
Laminate flooring or LVT are good options for areas considered “living spaces” and connect adjacent rooms, O’Rourke says. And, as Buskuhl points out, it’s also scratch-resistant and easy to clean.
The best types of flooring for a mud room
Porcelain or ceramic tiles
Like kitchens and bathrooms, porcelain or ceramic tiles are a good choice for mud rooms, according to all three flooring experts.
Natural stone flooring
Slate or granite are also durable and options for a mud room, Buskuhl says.
The best types of flooring for a home office
Almost any flooring type can work in a home office, O’Rourke says. “My choice would be a hardwood floor with a stylish area rug under the seating and desk area,” he says. Laminate, LVT, and cork flooring are all solid options as well.
The best types of flooring for a basement
Waterproof vinyl planking is the best option for basements, according to O’Rourke—especially if there are known moisture issues.
Carpet squares are another practical and durable option, which is why they’re often used in commercial spaces, O’Rourke explains. “Carpet squares have a moisture-resistant backing and can easily be repaired or replaced due to their portability,” he adds.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles
Like other rooms prone to moisture, ceramic and porcelain tiles also work well in basements, Buskuhl says.
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