Homeowners have a variety of choices for flooring and many of today’s options have incredible durability, a wide range of options, and they match home life far better than flooring products from just five or ten years ago. The big categories for home flooring include laminate, vinyl, cork, luxury vinyl and carpet.

Laminate

Designed in thin layers that are synthetically bonded with each other and typically include some portion of wood in the mix, laminate flooring can easily provide the appearance of hardwood flooring without the price pain involved. While hardwood flooring remains one of the most expensive choices out there, laminate provides a comparable appearance at a fraction of the cost both for product and installation.

When compared to other choices, laminate also resembles engineered wood as well. It has a similar finished top layer, and laminate flooring tends to have the advantage over wood of not being absorptive when it comes to moisture. That top layer is an image of a synthetic surface versus real wood which would start acting like sponge to water after bit of time.

The typical cost of laminate ranges anywhere from under $1/sq. ft to as much as $8/sq. ft, depending on the type chosen and the detail needed. The product quality can range a bit too, obviously with the better product choices at the higher end of the range.

Cork

Among the natural flooring choices, cork is a favorite. First, it qualifies in the sustainability category as this flooring, should it ever need to be removed, would naturally deconstruct in a landfill, or could be recycled as natural wood. In short, it’s environmental impact is a big two-thumbs up positive. Even better, cork doesn’t involve killing the plant; instead, the cork is harvested as bark and the tree itself continues to live and produce.

As a flooring, cork has a look of wood but far more peppered with swirls and dots. The flooring comes in both planks or tiles, and the assembly is very similar to laminate with layering adhered together to make up the flooring itself.

Once installed, cork flooring is finished, but it does usually have a recommended maintenance every five years on the outside for reconditioning. Otherwise, moisture and stains can start to penetrate. Most maintenance resurfacing involves either waxing or applying polyurethane.

In terms of cost, cork is a bit of a mid-range flooring choice, typically running from a low end of $2/sq ft to as much as $6. In addition, the installation adds another $3 to $5/sq ft to a project.

Carpet

One of the most common floorings people start with in a home, whether new or used, carpeting is regularly used because if its low cost compared to other choices and the fact that it can cover a large space with a very quick installation. For a homeowner planning a replacement, a carpeting choice is often a three-step procedure of choosing the carpet, then the padding, and then the installation service.

Natural carpet is made of wool, but there are plenty of artificial choices that are high quality and cost much less. Nylon is probably one of the most durable choices, and there are also carpets made of Acrylic and Polyester. When carpets really need to take a beating or may be outside, Polypropylene carpeting tends to be recommended.

Cost-wise, carpeting has a wide portfolio of choices with the low end running at $2/sq ft to as much as $12/sq ft for premium brands. The installation, however, typically only runs about $1-3/sq ft.

Vinyl

As a flooring, vinyl has been around a long time, and folks over 40 remember the early versions of it in their homes growing up as kids. However, today’s vinyl is very different. It has a higher product quality, comes in a variety of colors and textures, and it can be installed as a sheet, as planks or as tiles.

Vinyl is definitely on competitive ground as one of the most affordable flooring choices, and it has scores big points in resisting moisture. No surprise, vinyl has been used for decades in kitchens and bathrooms for the same reason. In terms of price, standard vinyl will run about $1/sq ft with an additional $1-2/sq ft for installation.

Luxury Vinyl

A step up on the quality offering, luxury vinyl has a greater range of colors and textures as well as patterns. The product is extremely durable, has a strong appeal, and it works well with a variety of other flooring types in terms of transition. Unlike basic vinyl, luxury vinyl last longer and provides a far better appearance for a high-quality interior look. Luxury vinyl can also be mixed, increasing its pattern and color range dramatically. In fact, some choices give a good impression of imitating wood or brick from a distance. Luxury vinyl tends to be closer to $5/sq ft for product and the installation is also about $1-2/sq ft.