Find the right flooring for every room

By Julia Moore

A remarkably realistic 6” distressed oak pattern, this vinyl flooring from Mannington Mills features the look of reclaimed wood. Shown here: Havana - Habanero.

Each room in the house weathers different aspects of a family’s life – from dropped dishes in the kitchen to stomping, wet feet in the mudroom – and each needs the right flooring to handle the job.

The cure-all for flooring

“There’s no product that can solve just about every problem like luxury vinyl planks,” says Patrick Copell, a salesman at Florcraft Carpet One. “It looks like wood, but it’s made completely of vinyl,” he explains. Luxury vinyl planks are hard, durable, easy-to-clean, moisture-proof and easy to repair, since each strip/plank installed can be individually removed and replaced, instead of the whole floor. Patrick says that he often installs luxury vinyl throughout an entire house because of the warm wood-like appearance and its sheer strength – luxury vinyl will even hold up against common chemicals used in bathrooms, like bleach or acetone-based products. The only downside of luxury vinyl planks is that the cost is quite a bit higher than traditional sheet vinyl or other common flooring materials.

Another end-all, be-all of flooring is Marmoleum sheet, tile or Cinchloc, which is the do-it-yourself click-backed version that snaps into place. “It’s a natural floor covering made with linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour – it’s linoleum,” says Tim Donahue, a sales manager with Forbo. “(There’s) no PVC, no off-gassing, no chemical additives. It’s a natural floor,” he adds.

The natural flooring is durable and can withstand the foot traffic of your living areas, as well as the watery wear-and-tear of bathrooms, laundry rooms, living areas and mudrooms. Similar to the luxury vinyl planking, it also comes in many colors and patterns, but Marmoleum tiles are also available in many shapes and sizes. “You can really create custom looks based on if your home is more country or more modern. It’s really customizable,” adds Lori Lagana, marketing manager at Forbo.

  • Marmoleum natural linoleum from Forbo (Real - Graphite) Marmoleum natural linoleum from Forbo (Real - Graphite)
  • Resilient vinyl from Mannington Mills (Havana - Smoked Habanero) Resilient vinyl from Mannington Mills (Havana - Smoked Habanero)
  • Marmoleum natural linoleum from Forbo (Real - Sand) Marmoleum natural linoleum from Forbo (Real - Sand)
  • Resilient vinyl from Mannington Mills (Serena - Sand Dune) Resilient vinyl from Mannington Mills (Serena - Sand Dune)

Affordable, stylish alternatives

Although luxury vinyl planks and Marmoleum are durable options for the house, a few rooms – like mudrooms and bathrooms – need extra consideration.

During winter, snow is often tracked through mudrooms and melts into a puddle. “I’ve done many ceramic tile mudrooms,” says Patrick. Patrick installs the tile in part because he can do stylish patterns to wow guests when they enter, but also because it holds up better than anything against water. Like mudrooms, bathrooms and kitchens are high-water areas.

When properly sealed and grouted, ceramic tiles withstand splashes from overfilled bathtubs, high-moisture and bathroom chemicals even better than luxury vinyl, but some of them are very slippery. A tool used to measure this “slip factor” is the material’s Coefficient of Friction (COF). An example of different COF ratings would be polished marble, or another polished natural stone, which is very slick, especially when compared to a slate or quartzite tile. When the COF increases, it can still be less slick, but you can still slip on it when wet, advises Patrick. A minimum COF to consider is 0.60 when wet. “Anything higher is a plus,” says Patrick, but he warns that commercial-grade COF resistances are really rough. “It’ll even sandpaper your feet down a little bit,” he adds with a laugh.

Ceramic tiles seem like they’d be another no-brainer flooring for kitchens as well, since it’s waterproof and is easy to clean, but it has a few drawbacks. The tiles are cold, hard and brittle compared to other economical options, like vinyl or Marmoleum sheets, which are less expensive than their plank/tile counterparts. “(Tile) may not be the best option for someone who fumbles a lot of things,” Patrick admits, since ceramic tiles can break if a heavy pot is dropped. It’s also not the best option for folks with bad knees since you’ll be standing a lot while cooking and entertaining guests.

Carpet in bedrooms has practically always been popular because of its cozy plush feeling on the feet, and because it fits better into the average budget. One consideration that should go into carpeted bedrooms, however, is the flow of the halls into the bedroom. “If somebody has luxury vinyl in other areas of the home, and it goes up and down a hallway to some bedrooms, I recommend putting the same product in the bedrooms just to keep the flow going,” advises Patrick.

The secrets to perfect flooring for your home

According to Tim, the most important thing to consider when choosing the right flooring for you – other than your budget – are what the furnishings will be in the room.

“Understand what are the color and design aspirations that you have for the room so that the floor can be combined with the lampshades and furniture fabrics and the drapery,” Tim says. This way, the room can be truly stunning. “Some people will pick out these beautiful, high-end drapes,” he explains, “and they pick a very stale beige flooring.” Make sure your flooring and décor will enhance each other instead of detract from the overall room.

Instead of researching everything by yourself, go to a trusted flooring shop for advice. “The best thing to do is to talk to a qualified professional who is interested in hearing your life’s story or the life that they plan on giving this floor,” says Patrick. If you are dreaming of hardwood, but you have big dogs or a rowdy family, your salesperson can work with you for a viable option. Although luxury vinyl or Marmoleum would be more practical, if it’s the homeowner’s passion, a hardwood shouldn’t be ruled out. Picking a weathered-looking wood will save your floor from showing its age down the road, says Patrick.

When picking your floor, you can explore options online at first, but visit a trusted expert when you’re ready to buy. They’ll help you find the right floor for your lifestyle so when your kids go to college, when your home becomes the family gathering place, or when your puppy turns into a full-size dog, your floor will still be intact and in style.