Updating the flooring of a home is one of the most practical, valuable, long-lasting, and noticeable ways to improve the aesthetic of a living space. Appropriate flooring can tie a home’s decorative design together, set the tone for a room, increase the value of a home, and dramatically increase a house’s visual appeal. Deciding to update your flooring is easy. The real questions is, “How do I choose the right flooring for my home and my family?”

To best choose the appropriate flooring for your living space, you must make a decision regarding three key flooring categories: purpose, material, and cost.

The Room’s Purpose

Deciding on a room’s purpose is the first step in selecting appropriate flooring. A room’s major purpose will dictate whether your flooring should be durable (as in the flooring for a utility room), comfortable (for a living room), or practical (for a child’s room). Flooring also sets the mood for a room. For example, guests will be less likely to “kick back” in a room floored in richly polished hardwood than they would in a room with a thick, durable berber carpet. Don’t forget the issue of room traffic. High traffic areas will necessitate durable flooring that will resist staining and wear. What purpose do you want the flooring in your room to convey? What will the room be used for?

The Material Used

Selecting a material for your new flooring helps dramatically narrow your search for the perfect floor cover. For many consumers, this decision is made simply by preference. The three major materials for flooring are tile, wood, and carpet. Each of these materials has variations that can be selected to fit almost any room’s purpose. Choose a material that best fits your visual tastes and personality. Tile floors are versatile: they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and styles. Tile is beautiful and visually striking. Wooden floors are considered classic and austere, but can also be rustic and comforting. Floors of wood can be a simple canvas for an otherwise visually stimulating room. Carpet is generally considered the most comfortable and casual flooring choice, but can also be fancy and luxurious. The decision regarding flooring material can be made purely by preference.

Considering the Cost

The cost of your new flooring will most likely be the best guide in choosing the appropriate material for your project. Each material (tile, wood, and carpet) comes in a countless number of styles reflecting a wide variety of prices. If you have chosen tile for your new floor, you may select a beautifully tiled floor of ceramic or porcelain. Real tile floors are exquisite and durable, but can cost several hundred dollars. A more economic choice may be linoleum (a cheaper material that imitates the look of true tile flooring). Similarly, flooring of real hardwood is beautiful and can drastically increase the value of your home, but a hardwood flooring project can be expensive. Composite wood or laminate wood flooring is an economical alternative: many laminate wood floors are nearly indistinguishable from hardwood floors, and the cost is considerably lower. Carpet also has a variety of styles at varying prices. When selecting carpet, a consumer chooses based on thread count, stain resistance and cut pile. Keep in mind that less expensive carpets are often a poor value as they wear and stain relatively easily. Also, overestimate the square footage you will need to purchase; awkwardly shaped rooms often require more carpet than is anticipated.

Keeping these three categories in mind will help you immensely in selecting the flooring most appropriate for your living space.

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