When it comes to flooring and surface treatments, you have many options in terms of material, style, and color. But before you get your heart set on one specific type, it's a good idea to know the advantages and possible disadvantages of each category. Knowing ahead of time will help you make smart choices in this important investment, ensuring you'll be happy with your decision for years to come.

Appearance

Advantages

Be Aware

Durability

Cost

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Hardwood

Real hardwood has a rich finish and a timeless appeal that ages with beauty and character. 

Still the most luxurious and prized flooring option with the highest resale value. Considered very eco-friendly. Engineered is good for in-floor radiant heat (IFRH).

In Colorado, relative humidity of home is key. Best suited for a lived-in home where temperatures and humidity are regulated.

Most pre-finished materials have a hardy finish that offers protection against stains, topical water, and some scratching.  Suitable for kids and pets.

Generally more expensive, but appraises with a home. Hardwood can be considered a lifetime floor.

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Laminate

Created with high resolution photography, quality laminate is often mistaken for the real surfaces it replicates.

Extremely durable, cost effective, stain/fade/dent resistant. DIY installation possible. Easy to maintain. More eco-friendly than vinyl. Suitable for IFRH but not as effective as tile.

Susceptible to moisture damage. May have a "hollow" sound to the room. Does not retain warmth, and may not be suitable for all room types, i.e. bathrooms and wet areas.

Finish layer is durable and difficult to scratch. The core may be compromised if excess moisture gets under the floor.

A more affordable flooring solution that looks and comes close to feeling like solid surface materials like hardwood.

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Vinyl

Vinyl and Luxury Vinyl are available in a variety of styles such as planks, tiles, and sheets. Offers the appearance of stone, hardwood, and tile.

Durable, affordable, easy to maintain and repair. Plank format is an easier option for DIY installation with few tools required. Does not absorb moisture. Suitable for IFRH but not as effective as tile.

Once installed, glue down materials are hard to remove. Susceptible to thermal shock from extreme temperature changes. Never decomposes in the landfill.

Durable and long lasting when well maintained. Pet and kid friendly.

Comparable with laminate for both materials and installation.

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Marmoleum

Smooth, timeless, classic linoleum look. Wonderful vivid color selection. Warm looks, fits almost any style. 

Very durable, easy to maintain, fade and stain resistant. Click installation and glue down options. Commercial application possible. Very eco-friendly.

Core is the same as laminate and cork. Needs exposure to light once out of the box to achieve true color.

One of the most durable floors. Easy maintenance and repair. Suitable for kids, pets, and all rooms. Water resistant with proper installation.

Mid price range, between laminate and cork price range.

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Carpet

From casual to rich and luxurious, carpeting comes in a wide range of textures and colors. Family and pet friendly.

Great way to warm up a room, create a comfortable play area, or soften a space. Wool carpets and pads are eco-friendly.

Some are less durable and stain resistant in high traffic areas. Requires frequent vacuuming, periodic professional steam cleaning, and spills require immediate attention. Not the best application for IFRH and requires special pad.

A well maintained carpet may last 7-15 yrs. Dampness can cause long term damage and mold. Look for stain resistant brands.

Price range is extremely broad, as are applications. Can be a very budget-friendly solution.

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Tile

Available in ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone, tile is a superior choice when a clean, distinct decor is desired.

A lifetime flooring option. Wide range of style and design possibilities; extreme durability. Best application for IFRH and wet surfaces. Very eco-friendly.

Higher installation cost and more difficult to repair. Natural stone requires regular maintenance and sealing. 

Highly durable and resistant to damage. Natural stone is stain resistant when sealed periodically.

Higher due to installation materials and labor. Tile itself comes in all price ranges.

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Cork

A natural appearance with or without stain. Some come with wood or other printed graphics. Beautiful, warm looking floor.

Eco-friendly, retains ambient temperature, durable and comfortable. Striking looks, easy maintenance, and easy installation. Naturally anti-microbial.

Can be light sensitive, may show indents but they will rebound with time. The core is the same as laminate, with the same moisture intolerance. 

Naturally durable with same hardy finish as hardwood floors. 

Varies depending on level of design. In hardwood cost category. Lifetime floor.

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Bamboo

For those looking for a modern and natural decor, bamboo flooring has a clean, contemporary look. Available in a variety of colors, styles, and plank sizes.

Eco-friendly, non-allergenic, easy installation, durable, and stain and pest resistant. Some types can be refinished.

Bamboo readily absorbs water and is susceptible to swelling or shrinking due to environment. Not suitable for bathrooms or basements. 

Very durable and stain resistant, it is resistant to abrasion and suitable for high traffic areas. Strand woven bamboo is the toughest of all bamboo styles. 

Generally less expensive than hardwood flooring, bamboo is DIY friendly. Available in a wide price range. 

First, Know & Compare Your Options