Installing or replacing the floor in your home can be an expensive endeavor. The cost is generally accepted because of how long our floors can potentially last. However, with less durable flooring you may be spending that money all over again, very soon.
Finding an attractive floor is easy; finding an attractive floor that is also durable and can stand up to heavy foot traffic, though, can be hard.
So what are the top choices? There are literally dozens of flooring options out there. Everything from stone to laminate sheeting. Below are the best of the best when it comes to strength and durability.
- Natural Stone/Travertine – Natural stone floors are among the most durable and longest lasting. They have a few negative marks, but not in the durability category.
- Ceramic/Porcelain Tile – Tile is second in strength and durability only to stone. This hard flooring option provides a strong, sturdy base for your home.
- Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) – LVP is one of the most popular choices for many reasons, durability being one of them.
- Engineered Hardwood – Wood is strong, but engineered flooring is even stronger.
- Bamboo Flooring Planks – Bamboo has a lot of benefits, and while it may be expensive it is also comfortable and durable.
- Wall to Wall Carpeting – When talking about durability, we often overlook the softer flooring choices, but the right carpet can stand up to just about anything.
Choosing the Right Durable Flooring for Your Needs
Durability is a key criterion for most families when they’re on the lookout for new, dependable flooring. In addition to landing on a beautiful style and a great price point, having the peace of mind that your new floors are going to hold up to your household’s busy lifestyle is always an important goal.
When it comes time to buy your new flooring, there are several factors you should keep in mind. Below we will cover those factors and explain what they mean to you and why they are important.
Coverage Area/Project Size
Everything you need or will end up buying for your new floor revolves around square feet. The square feet of your project is the one thing you must know, if you don’t know how to measure for square feet, it is quite simple.
Measure the length of the room and the width of the room. Multiply these two measurements together and you have your square footage. This measurement is needed for knowing costs, installation needs, and almost every other aspect of the project.
Tools & Equipment
Depending on the flooring you choose, you will need various tools and equipment to perform the installation, cleanup, maintenance, and other situations. The cost for purchase of these tools will vary as much as the tools you will need.
Many new floors will require a flat, level subfloor in good condition. Before you start laying your new floor, you need to inspect the subfloor and make any repairs or replacements. Failure to do so can cause problems with the finished look and even the performance of your floor.
If a subfloor does cause damage to your new floor, it may void the warranty. Most subfloors are plywood, however there are also concrete subfloors, too. If you do have concrete, you may need to install plywood on top. Finding which subfloor you will need can be a big part of the new floor process.
Installation Options & Methods
Another huge concern for many is how to install the floor when it is time. With carpet and stone the answer is almost always professional installation.
However, with the more modern flooring options, you can install the floor yourself. LVP and laminate planks are among the most DIY friendly options out there. Engineered hardwood and tile can be installed as either a DIY project or by a professional. Your flooring choice and budget will help you decide.
Aside from the actual flooring, you will also need to purchase some additional materials.
For hard flooring, your needs will depend on the type of flooring and the type of install. You may need underlayment or moisture barriers, adhesives, moldings, thresholds, or spacers. Knowing the materials you need so you can adjust your budget is crucial to a frustration-free project.
Designated Floor Usage
Not all rooms need floors that are extremely durable. Low traffic areas can get away with less durable flooring to save you time or money. However, the entryways and rooms with heavy foot traffic need more durable flooring. It is important to know how the floor will be used, what will be on the floor (pet claws, dirt from kids’ sneakers, food and drink messes, etc.) so that you can purchase the right flooring for the space
Warranties on flooring range from 90 days to lifetime coverage. Aside from the length of the warranty, you will also need to know the coverage terms. Read through the warranty paperwork to find out if registration is required, if there is a registration time limit, and what is needed from you to initiate a claim.
Finally, the cost of the project is easily the biggest concern for most homeowners. Floor prices can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. The size of the project area and the flooring type purchased will be the biggest cost factors.
You also have tools, equipment, and additional materials to think about. Saving money with a DIY install is not a bad idea, but it costs you in other ways (time, effort, lack of labor warranty, etc.). When you know the range of your budget you can search for the right flooring for your exact needs that fits your price range.
Most Durable Floors for Your Home
One of the most durable floors comes in the form of stone. Natural stone has been used for flooring for centuries and many of the original stones are still around. While it may take eons for wear and tear to show any signs in a stone floor, that doesn’t mean they are impervious.
Most modern stone floors are made from slate, granite, marble, or travertine. Each of these is a strong, sturdy flooring material but they can chip, crack, or even break if you drop items on the floor. (The items you drop on the floor don’t usually fare well, either.)
However, one of the biggest draws is that even with some damage, the floors still hold up and can sometimes even add more appeal with additional chips or cracks. This by no means, should suggest that you start throwing heavy objects on your floor ro “add character,” but if it does happen by accident it may not be the end of the world.
And as far as strength and durability go, though, there isn’t anything much tougher than stone. It is naturally scratch and dent resistant, can be cleaned with chemicals (in most cases), and looks great in kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways, and can even add elegance to a bedroom, living room, or dining room.
Best Features: Natural stone has a lot of allure. It is stronger than most flooring options in all categories and tends to last virtually forever. You don’t have to worry about the actual stones or stone tiles getting scratched or worn by heavy foot traffic or pet claws. Cleaning stone is relatively simple as well. A simple sweep a few times a week and a vacuum once in a while will take care of most dirt and debris. For wet messes or stuck on grime a mop will do well. The warranties for stone flooring tend to be closer to the lifetime range than not.
Notable Concerns: As with any flooring, there are downsides. Natural stone and travertine flooring is expensive, for starters. The material for the flooring itself is more costly than most of the other flooring options. Of course, your price will vary from brand to brand and stone type to type. On average, though, for a stand and single room you should expect to pay a minimum of $10,000. On top of that, stone flooring must be installed by a professional. It takes a skilled hand and expensive tools to get the stones cut and laid properly. This takes time and costs money.
Best For: Entry ways, kitchens, and bathrooms
Tile floors come in two basic types. Porcelain is the preferred option, but there is a case for ceramic tiling as well. With tile, though, you aren’t limited to just your floors. Tile makes for great accents, back splashes, and decorative options, too. The best part is that tiles are fairly inexpensive. In many cases you can find individual tiles for less than 50 cents and when you buy in bulk the price drops even further.
Best Features: Obviously tile has a lot of benefits and some negatives. It is up to your individual needs or desires to figure out if the good and bad are worth it. The best feature of tile is the ease of acquiring the materials. Tile is readily available almost everywhere flooring is sold. There are literally thousands of sizes, styles, colors and designs to choose from and with a little planning you can create some intricately detailed floors.
Notable Concerns: Of course there are some downsides. For example, with tile you need to be precise when installing. Everything needs proper spacing and measurements and you need to adhere every tile to the floor individually. It is a time consuming process. You also need to grout and seal the tile and that sealant may need to be reapplied annually. This is an added cost, but adds to the durability of the tiles. Tiles are strong, thick and durable, but they are also fragile.
Best For: Halls, kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms
Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)
LVP is ranked 3rd on our list, but could easily be number 1. Not only is LVP one of the most popular flooring choices for homeowners today, it is resilient, durable, and tough. However, strictly based on durability, it doesn’t rank as high as stone and tile. This is because LVP is a softer material, completely synthetic, and susceptible to denting, scratching, and damage. This doesn’t mean it will always happen, though.
Unlike tile, if you drop a heavy object on the floor you probably won’t have to replace a board. There may be denting, of course, but (depending on how bad) it can usually be overlooked, and LVP won’t splinter or crack because of the drop damage.
Best Features: Where LVP shines is in its waterproofing, stain and fade resistance, and ease of installation. There are commercial grade vinyl options as well. While there are different levels or grades of LVP, higher-end products can come with a lifetime warranty. Generally, though, you will find a 25 to 30 year warranty, which is still plenty long enough for a floor.
You can wet mop, sweep, or vacuum LVP and there isn’t a need to seal or coat the flooring once it is installed. With minimal maintenance and a little care, a new LVP floor can remain looking new for decades.
Notable Concerns: As with any flooring, there will be downsides. LVP does have a lot of benefits, however it can be difficult to find the right style, fit, size, and color. Locally, you will need to do research and in-person shopping to find the right fit.
Also, the install can be tedious. While it is simple, you need to acclimate the LVP for at least 24 hours. Installation can take another 12 to 24 hours per room, and you must let the flooring rest for at least 16 hours before you walk on it or return furniture to the room.
It is also important that heavy furniture uses felt pads to prevent damage, scratches, or gouging.
Best For: Any rooms in the home, especially living areas and bedrooms
Hardwood floors are one of the most sought after and beautiful floorings on the market, however, they are expensive, difficult to install, and require a lot of care. The answer to those problems is engineered hardwood. These planks and boards offer a top layer of real hardwood with a pressed wood core and underlayment bottom.
While they won’t add to the home’s value like solid hardwood, they look, feel, and act like the real thing. Because of the construction of the boards, they are also quite durable. This will, of course, depend a lot on the brand, quality, and wood species you select.
White and red oak are popular hardwoods, along with mahogany and the ironwoods IPE (Brazilian hardwood) and Cumaru (Brazilian tick). If you do select one of the ironwoods, you are getting a durable floor with natural beauty, however, they also cost a lot more.
Best Features: Engineered hardwood has many benefits, but when it comes to durability, it all depends on which type of wood you buy. The harder the wood, the more durable the boards will be, however, almost all hardwood is susceptible to dents and scratches.
Most engineered hardwood will rate a 25 to 50 year warranty, with some top-end brands offering lifetime options.
Notable Concerns: Cleaning and maintenance are the top issues for engineered hardwood. Wood and water do not mix well, so wet mops are strongly discouraged. If you do have a mess, it will require a damp sponge on your hands and knees. You also need to dry the area completely and work in small, 2-foot sections at a time.
This added concern isn’t much for most homeowners, but it can be a large hurdle if your home has pets or small children. Daily cleaning with wet sponges or mops is not something the floor can handle very well.
Best For: Living area and bedrooms
Bamboo Flooring Planks
If you want a sustainable floor that is naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and pests, bamboo is your answer. However, there are a lot of different types of bamboo flooring options and only a few rank high on the durability scale. Strand woven bamboo is, by far, the most durable bamboo flooring option out there. However, compared to the other options on this review list, the durability is second to other benefits of the flooring.
Best Features: Bamboo floors easily have the longest list of beneficial factors of any floor type. They are eco-friendly, repairable, and mostly affordable. On top of all that, bamboo is naturally resistant to termites, mold, and mildew. It is also anti-allergen and repels dust mites. Because bamboo is a grass, it also naturally repels dust and pollen, making it a go-to flooring for homeowners with allergies.
Notable Concerns: Obviously, bamboo is a handy, strong, and durable floor surface. This is a good thing, and homeowners can sometimes overlook the main problem: even with all that strength, bamboo is easily scratched. Even small cat claws can make large marks if not properly cared for. Gouges and scratches can be sanded out, but only so many times. Eventually, the damaged boards will have to be replaced, which can get expensive. Being a grass, bamboo naturally absorbs water, too. So cleaning with a mop or installing in high humidity areas can cause swelling, bowing, or even cracking.
Best For: All areas of the home except wet areas
Wall to Wall Carpeting
When it comes to durable flooring you don’t often think about carpet. However, carpet is about the only flooring option on the market that can claim it won’t get dented or scratched.
Best Features: Carpets have been popular for over a century. It has come a long way in that time, and today offers a lot of benefits. Carpet is highly durable in all aspects and can be resilient to staining, fading, and even wear and tear, depending on the quality. With new fibers being produced, carpet has a natural defense system that puts it well ahead of anything installed in homes in the last 30 years.
Not only does carpet insulate your home, it also acts as a sound dampener, which is great for those that work from home with conference calls or zoom meetings.
Notable Concerns: Carpets do have a few drawbacks. First, carpet should always be installed by a professional. It adds to the overall cost, but installing carpet yourself is difficult, tedious, and not something many people can do without proper training and proper tools.
Second, carpet requires a well maintained subfloor. Any holes, cracks or damage to the subfloor must be repaired before installing the carpet pad and carpeting. Unlike floating floors, like LVP and engineered hardwood, carpet must be adhered directly to the subfloor.
Best For: Halls, living area, bedrooms
Professional or DIY Installation?
One of the biggest decisions that you need to make (aside from the flooring itself) is how to install the floor. There are two options: do the install yourself, or hire a professional.
As a DIY project, many hard floor types can easily be installed in a day or a weekend. Floating floors use a quick-lock system that allows you to snap the boards together fairly easily. With a few cuts to change the board lengths and align the planks correctly, you can quickly complete a room from start to finish (including the mandatory acclamation time); a standard 10×12 room can have laminate or LVP installed in about 72 hours. The actual install process should only take 6 to 8 hours.
However, this will require you to have the knowledge, tools, equipment, all materials, and desire to install the floor yourself. Tools and equipment rental can get expensive, and you may need more than a YouTube degree to finish the floor with professional results.
Professional installation has only one major drawback: it is expensive. On average you can expect to add between $2 and $6 per square foot to your total cost. However, with professional installation, you don’t need to do any of the work or clean up, and you don’t need to buy or rent tools or equipment.
You also get (usually) a labor warranty that will last a couple of years to help if anything goes wrong because of the install.
If you’re thinking of going the DIY route, you will also want to check with your flooring warranty. For full coverage, some brands or floor styles require professional installation or else the warranty is void.
Thus, in almost all cases, professional flooring installation is recommended. In the case of natural stone, travertine, carpeting, and hardwood, it is all but required.
Finding the most durable floor for your home can be a tricky thing. Besides deciding on a material, you also need to decide on a brand, type, color and style. With the right foresight, searching for your new floor will lead to a durable, long-lasting, and beautiful floor.
Regardless of your selection, any flooring on our list will give you the durability that meets your needs and matches your decor.
Having trouble selecting a durable flooring option? Call the flooring experts at May River Flooring Company. We will guide you seamlessly through the process from start to finish.