Personal Finance

8 Types of Flooring

The floor is the largest surface in the home, and picking the best type of flooring for your space depends on your budget, lifestyle and personal tastes. Each type has its unique benefits, and determining which flooring is best depends on each room’s needs and location.

Popular flooring options include wood, engineered flooring materials, vinyl, tile and carpet. Learn more about the most common flooring types, the materials’ best attributes and the best usage of each one.

Hardwood Flooring

Wood FlooringSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Hardwood flooring comes from a solid piece of milled wood and contains solid wood all throughout. Popular hardwood varieties include maple, oak, walnut or cherry. Its versatility and quality make it a desirable flooring option for many home buyers.

However, it’s one of the more expensive flooring materials on the market and does take regular maintenance, such as using a specialty hardwood floor cleaner once a month and applying a fresh coat of finish every three to five years, to keep them looking great. The average cost for installed hardwood flooring is $5 to $10 per square foot.


  • Increases home value
  • Can be refinished multiple times
  • Many options available
  • Strong and durable


  • Expensive
  • Can incur scrapes, scratches and dents in high-traffic areas
  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Not suitable for bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered Wood FlooringSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Engineered wood flooring offers the look of real wood at a more affordable price than solid wood. The floor features a thin layer of hardwood bonded over a high-quality plywood substrate. It’s as durable as solid hardwood flooring and can last as long with proper care.

Engineered wood flooring is a good choice for DIYers to install, which will save you money on installation costs. The average cost for installed engineered wood flooring is $4 to $9 per square foot.


  • DIY-friendly
  • Has real hardwood top layer
  • Greater resistance to moisture and water than real wood
  • Less likely to warp
  • Multiple installation methods


  • Can’t be refinished more than once
  • Not fade-resistant
  • Wide variation in quality
  • Can sound hollow underfoot
  • Emits VOCs

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooringSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Laminate is an affordable flooring option for homeowners who prefer an alternative to carpet but want to avoid the cost of hardwood or tiles.

The floors consist of a particleboard wood base topped by wood or tile photo beneath a clear plastic protective layer. This flooring is very DIY-friendly, and laminate offers a multitude of texture and color options. The average cost for installed laminate flooring is $3 to $7 per square foot.


  • Inexpensive compared to wood
  • Easy to clean
  • Scratch-resistant
  • DIY-friendly
  • Many styles and colors available


  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Chips easily
  • Does not look and feel like wood
  • Has a hollow sound underfoot

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooringSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Vinyl flooring is extremely water-resistant and won’t sustain damage even if water sits on the surface for an extended amount of time. Composed of plastic, it’s available in plank, tile and sheet form.

Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) are two forms that have gained popularity recently because of their durability and variety of styles available. The average cost for installation varies depending on the form; the average range is $1.50 (sheet vinyl) to $6 or more (LVP and LVT) per square foot.


  • Good for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements
  • Durable
  • Water- and fade-resistant
  • DIY-friendly
  • Many design choices available
  • Easy to maintain


  • LVP and LVT is more expensive than laminate
  • Lower ROI than wood


Tile flooringSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Tile flooring is a popular choice for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens. The most common tile materials are ceramic or porcelain. Tile is water-resistant, durable and comes in a variety of styles and colors.

The installation cost varies depending on the material; for instance, glazed ceramic is less expensive than porcelain tile. The average cost ranges from $2.50 per square foot for ceramic tile and $3 to $10 for porcelain tile.


  • Waterproof
  • Durable
  • Long-lasting


  • Expensive
  • Hard to install
  • Lot of prep work is needed before installation
  • Cold and slippery

Stone Flooring

Stone flooringSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Natural stone, such as granite, marble, travertine and sandstone, are popular flooring choices for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Like ceramic and porcelain, stone is extremely durable and waterproof.

The stone’s finish determines the amount of care needed to maintain the floor. However, stone offers natural beauty and quality that is unparalleled by most types of flooring. The average costs range from $5 to $10 per square foot.


  • Bold and elegant
  • Long-lasting
  • Waterproof


  • Expensive
  • Hard to install
  • Lot of prep work is needed before installation
  • Cold and slippery
  • Difficult to maintain

Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooringSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Linoleum is a durable, eco-friendly flooring option made from linseed oil and cork. Linoleum flooring is affordable and easy to install. The flooring comes in sheet form and in a variety of colors and styles. It is resilient (made with elastic materials) and can last for decades if cared for properly.

Linoleum is gaining in popularity as flooring manufacturers offer more modern colors and styles. The average cost to install linoleum flooring ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot.


  • Inexpensive
  • Eco-friendly
  • DIY-friendly
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns
  • Requires little maintenance


  • Does not increase home value
  • Easily dented or cut
  • May darken or turn yellowish when exposed to sunlight
  • Not suitable for moisture prone-areas


Close up of carpetSamantha Allen | Forbes Advisor

Carpet is a favorite flooring option for homeowners, especially in bedrooms. It comes in a variety of colors, materials and textures. Carpet technology has improved over the years, and modern carpets have stain-resistant qualities. It’s also the most cost-effective flooring option on the market.

Carpet installation varies in price, depending on the type of material and thickness of the carpet padding. The average cost of installing carpet ranges from $2.50 to $10 per square foot.


  • Soft and warm on feet
  • Visually warms up the space
  • Multiple colors, materials and designs available
  • Great for soundproofing
  • Stain-resistant varieties exist


  • Hard to clean
  • Can stain
  • Shows wear pattern
  • Not suitable for allergy sufferers

Alternative Materials

Flooring isn’t limited to the materials mentioned above. There are plenty of non-traditional materials used for flooring. Here are some alternative materials to consider:

Cork: A natural material made from a cork oak tree’s bark that features excellent fire resistance and sound-blocking ability
Rubber: A natural material with good resilience and a non-slip surface
Bamboo: An environmentally friendly choice that is a real wood alternative to hardwood floors
Terrazzo: A durable composite made of natural stone chips and resin

Bottom Line

Choosing the best flooring for your home isn’t as simple as selecting the best-looking or the one that’s on sale. Several factors such as moisture, durability, ease of maintenance and budget greatly influence the decision. A new floor can be an investment, so your floor choice should balance your needs with your style.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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