In 2020, the average cost of installing new flooring for just a 500 square foot space was $2,950. In fact, many homeowners spend even more.
This price tag makes redoing your floors a significant investment. As with any investment, it’s important to approach your flooring project wisely.
That means choosing the best flooring for a high traffic area. So what material is best for areas that are likely to endure significant wear and tear?
Find out in this helpful guide.
What Are the Main Flooring Options?
When redoing your floors, you have several options. These include:
- Natural hardwood
- Vinyl and linoleum
- Ceramic or porcelain tile
- Natural stone
In addition, you can choose from an assortment of rugs to complement these base materials.
What Is the Best Type of Flooring for a High Traffic Area?
So which of these options is best for the most heavily trafficked areas of your home? What factors should you consider when making this decision?
First, you need a flooring material that’s durable. A durable material should be able to resist scratches, chips, dents, dings, and cracks. The best material is also waterproof, UV-, and stain-resistant. Finally, many high traffic areas bear not just frequent loads but also heavy loads. This means that the best flooring should be able to endure a significant amount of weight.
Second, high traffic areas need flooring that is easy to clean. Spills and dirt will happen. Look at the bottom of the average shoe, and you can see the dirt. What you can’t see are the more than 421,000 bacteria covering their soles.
You can’t see them, but they are there. And that means they’re also setting up shop in the highest traffic areas of your home. To keep your home looking its best and your family feeling healthy, you need flooring that’s easy to clean.
Finally, it’s generally a one-time consideration, but you also need flooring that’s relatively easy to install. If you’re hiring someone to install your floors, labor costs can significantly increase the price tag for your project. On the other hand, if you’re installing your floors yourself, a difficult job means headaches and prolonged inconvenience for you and your family.
With these factors in mind, how do the main flooring materials perform? Which should you choose?
Vinyl or Linoleum
Truly one of the best flooring materials for high traffic areas is vinyl. Vinyl is a synthetic material that ranks among the most durable flooring options. It’s comprised of several layers. These include a tough wear layer that resists scratches, dents, stains, and sun. The best vinyl flooring options, like Pergo Extreme Waterproof Vinyl Flooring, bring all of this toughness and more.
While tough, vinyl flooring is also beautiful and versatile. It’s available in a range of color and style options. In fact, its look can mimic other popular options, including wood, stone, and tile. Beneath its tough and beautiful surface, moreover, vinyl flooring includes a thick inner core to enhance comfort.
Vinyl flooring is also easy to clean. Regular sweeping or vacuuming followed by an occasional wet cleaning with a pH-neutral detergent does the trick. Between those more intense, all-over scrubbings, spot cleaning to remove spills and debris also helps keep your vinyl floor looking its best.
Finally, vinyl flooring outranks the competition when it comes to ease of installation. It’s easy to measure and cut. It doesn’t need to be bonded to the subfloor. And it snaps neatly together.
Ceramic or Porcelain Tile
Ceramic and porcelain tile flooring is another good option for high traffic areas. When it comes to durability and cleanliness, it shares many of the attributes of vinyl. It also offers a classic and elegant look.
While durable in many ways, though, ceramic tile can chip and crack. And when you drop fragile dishes on ceramic tile, they’re much more likely to break than they would be on a vinyl surface.
Lastly, ceramic loses points when it comes to installation. Ceramic is one of the most difficult options to install. Installing ceramic tile is generally not a do-it-yourself job. Furthermore, it can be an expensive job when you hire professionals.
Natural stone flooring options combine luxury and durability. Granite is the hardest of these natural stone materials. It resists scratches and dents. It’s also impervious to stains and UV-damage. Plus, it’s as easy to clean as ceramic or vinyl.
With natural stone, though, you’ll have the added job of sealing the surface every few years.
Carpeting? For high traffic areas? Really?
Yes, really. In fact, certain types of carpeting can work well in high traffic areas.
The best carpet for high traffic areas is Berber. The defining feature of Berber carpeting is its loop pile. It is this looped construction that makes Berber so durable. Unlike traditional carpeting that has exposed ends, Berber carpet fibers are woven into the backing. This construction makes Berber carpeting much less likely to snag or unravel.
Berber carpeting also comes in a range of colors, patterns, and styles. Some of the most popular—and some of the best for high traffic areas—feature a darker earth tone base punctuated with lighter earth tone flecks. These designs are generally more forgiving of the dirt and debris prevalent in busy areas.
Of course, cleaning any type of carpeting is more challenging than cleaning vinyl or ceramic tile. Without frequent cleanings, dirt can become embedded in the surface. Wet messes are even more difficult to remove and can stain.
Because of its tighter weave, Berber is more stain-resistant than most carpeting materials. Still, if you do choose Berber carpeting, it’s best to select an option with an additional stain-resistant finish.
Many homeowners prize hardwood floors. Hardwood floors look stately, and their neutral colors complement any decor. Nevertheless, they are expensive and difficult to maintain. They also scratch and chip easily and tend to show the wear patterns of heavy daily use.
If you love hardwood floors, it’s best to reserve them for lower traffic areas of your home, or commit to an intense schedule of ongoing maintenance and repairs.
Maybe you love wood floors, and the two so-called “options” above don’t satisfy you. You want wood floors throughout your home—including in the most heavily trafficked areas. Still, you can’t deal with the maintenance. Isn’t there a third option?
Actually, yes. Laminate flooring can be a good solution. In fact, laminate flooring can mimic the look of various materials, including wood, natural stone, or tile, without the expense or maintenance.
Even better, laminate flooring is highly durable and easy to clean.
No matter what flooring material you choose, high traffic rugs remain an option to reduce wear and dirt. The best rugs for high traffic areas are made from durable materials like wool and nylon. These materials are also easy to clean and relatively economical.
High-Traffic and Low-Maintenance Flooring? The Best Materials Make It Possible
Redoing your floors is a significant undertaking and a significant financial investment. It is also a job with significant long-term…consequences? …results?
How you finish the sentence above depends on the care you take when choosing flooring materials for a high traffic area. With the tips in this guide, you can make an informed decision. Then you can enjoy the benefits and move on to your next project.
As you do, count on our blog for the best advice.