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Get Grounded: 7 Flooring Options

10/26/2017 10:51AM ● Published by Kerrie Kelly

Beautiful floor covering can truly transform a room, but it can also be one of your biggest interior design expenses, so planning ahead is essential. Before deciding on materials, colors and textures, consider these design basics:

To create the biggest impact, use a single type of flooring throughout most of your home, breaking it only at bedrooms and wet areas.

Plain colors make a room seem larger, and a solid color is easier to decorate around; light colors exude spaciousness and help brighten a room without much natural light, while dark colors help anchor furniture and make larger rooms feel cozier. 

If you choose to change the color or type of flooring between rooms, picture how the transition will look when the doors are open.

How a room is used will also affect your choice of finishes. For a kitchen, you’ll want a floor that’s easy to clean and resistant to water and other spills; bathroom flooring will need to stand up to moisture; flooring in family rooms, hallways and children’s bedrooms should be able to take more wear and tear than a room used primarily for relaxing or entertaining; and any room that opens directly to the outdoors will need flooring that can handle both dirt and heavy traffic. 


To see which floor covering is right for you, think about the pros and cons of each option.

1 / Ceramic Tile

Pros: Broad range of sizes, shapes and colors; durable; water resistant

Cons: Must choose styles with enough strength for floors; can be slippery; cold underfoot; grout is high maintenance

Price: $–$$

Green Issues: Look for tiles made of recycled materials or for salvaged or surplus tiles that would otherwise go to waste

2 / Porcelain Tile

Pros: Can mimic the look of stone; strong; water resistant

Cons: Cold underfoot; grout is high maintenance

Price: $–$$

Green Issues: More eco-friendly

3 / Stone

Pros: Luxurious; range of colors and patterns

Cons: Color and veining can vary from what you see in the showroom; heavy; cold underfoot; must be resealed regularly

Price: $$–$$$

Green Issues: Most varieties are shipped to the U.S. from overseas; choose one that’s quarried close to home

4 / Wood

Pros: Wide variety of colors, grains and plank widths; soft and warm underfoot; can be sanded and refinished several times

Cons: Must be resealed regularly; can be damaged by hard use

Price: $$–$$$

Green Issues: Use water-based, low-VOC stains and finishes; buy FSC-certified or reclaimed wood flooring

5 / Laminate

Pros: Looks similar to hardwood, ceramic or stone but can be less expensive; easy to maintain; somewhat stain resistant

Cons: Can’t be refinished

Price: $–$$

Green Issues: Look for manufacturers who have FSC-certified or recycled-content fiberboard cores; avoid those that contain formaldehyde adhesives that off-gas

6 / Linoleum

Pros: Wide variety of colors; made of natural materials; durable; biodegradable; warm and soft underfoot

Cons: Linseed oil in linoleum gives off a slight odor that some find objectionable; must be resealed regularly

Price: $–$$

Green Issues: Linoleum is a wholly green material, from cradle to grave, although it’s currently manufactured only in Europe, which means transportation emissions issues are involved

7 / Carpet and Area Rugs

Pros: Wide variety of colors and textures; soft and warm underfoot

Cons: Harder to keep clean; carpet not recommended for moist areas

Price: $–$$

Green Issues: Choose carpets and rugs made of natural materials like wool or that contain recycled material  


 Kerrie L. Kelly is an award-winning interior designer, author and multimedia consultant. To contact her, visit kerriekelly.com.


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