top of page

Flooring 101

Every design is unique in its own way. Not only do people have different styles and budgets, but different needs. This little cheat sheet to hopefully help anyone that's on the fence about which flooring products they should use in their home.

Porcelain Tile

Cost: $6-$12 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~100 years


  • Waterproof- Porcelain absorbs less than .5% of moisture, which means it’s nearly waterproof (great for showers, mud rooms, and outdoor areas.)

  • Durability- There are different levels of durability when it comes to porcelain. The PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) is the abrasion resistance of a tile on a scale of 1-5 (1 being very light traffic and 5 being very heavy traffic.)

  • Maintenance- Tile is simple to clean and never has to be resealed or refinished.


  • Cost- A lot of the time you don’t need to spend money on a product as durable as porcelain, especially if you have light traffic and no pets.

  • Feel- Although porcelain is said to be warmer than stone or terrazzo, it’s not nearly as soft as other hard surfaces such as travertine.

Ceramic Tile

Cost: $5-$10 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~50 years


  • Cost- Ceramic is generally less costly than porcelain. It’s a great choice for wall tile or any light traffic areas.

  • Install- Ceramic is easier to install and cut (because it’s not as dense.) But beware, your project could turn sloppy without a professional.


  • Durability- Ceramic is suitable for residential homes, but watch out for the quality. A poor quality ceramic floor will show traffic patterns after a few years. Also, if ceramic is chipped you can see the red body of the tile whereas a lot of porcelain is color through (the exposed body from the chip will blend in with the color of the top layer.)


Cost: $20-$80 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~30 years


  • Style- There are so many different looks you can achieve by adding whatever glass/marble/stone to the mixture that you like.

  • Durability- Terrazzo has been around since the renaissance so its durability is not even a question. It’s one of the hardest and most resilient types of flooring. Years and years of wear can dull terrazzo but, good news, it can be refinished to look like new.


  • Cost- Because of its durability and capability to be refinished, terrazzo is not cheap.

  • Installation- This is no weekend DIY project. Unlike tile or laminate, a professional team must install and then it has to sit and cure for at least 18 hours.


Cost: $2-$6 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~10 years


  • Cost- Even luxury vinyl has a modest price tag. Installation is also inexpensive and quick.

  • Moisture- Since vinyl is similar to PVC, it has the same waterproof properties and is mostly scratch resistant.

  • Cleaning- Nonporous and easy to clean, which also makes it hypoallergenic.


  • Durability- Although it is mostly scratch proof, sharp items or dragging furniture can create gouges.

  • Sustainability- Companies have taken huge steps to make this product more ‘green’ but cheaper products can be made with harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds.)

  • Style- When people think of vinyl flooring, ‘stylish’ is not the first word that comes to mind. However, a lot of luxury vinyl products are putting out some pretty convincing pieces.

Natural Stone

Cost: $20-$50 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~50 years


  • Style- Natural stone (travertine, marble, and slate to name a few) is a timeless look. Since its created by Mother Nature herself, no two pieces look exactly alike.

  • Feel- Cool underfoot, which is great in the summer. Certain stone (like travertine) feels softer to walk on than other surfaces like terrazzo or porcelain.

  • Durability- Stone can look great for years and years if taken care of. Natural stone needs to be sealed every 2-5 years.


  • Cost- You know what they say- “You get what you pay for.” Any flooring that lasts this long (and gets better looking with age) is going to cost a pretty penny.

  • Maintenance- Natural stone is porous which leads to wear due to exposure of the elements, pigments, and acids. This can be prevented by sealing your floors.


Cost: $5-$10 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~6 years


  • Feel- There’s nothing better than stepping on a soft, warm floor in the winter time.

  • Insulation- Uninsulated floors can account for about 10%-20% of the heat lost from a room.

  • Sound- Carpet will work to absorb sound. An effective underlayment will add to this also.


  • Maintenance- Regular vacuuming in high traffic areas will protect your carpet from collecting buildup.

  • Durability- Walking on a carpet compresses the twisted/looped fibers which creates traffic patterns over time. Also, direct sunlight can age an area faster because of the UV rays.

  • Cleaning- A bad stain will never quite come out of most carpets.

Hardwood & Engineered Wood

Cost: $10-$20 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~50 years


  • Durability- When properly cared for, hardwood floors can last dozens of years. And, once your floors start to look worn, they can be refinished.

  • Investment- In the long run, wood is extremely cost effective because of its lifespan. Hardwood also increases the value of your home.


  • Moisture- Steam cleaners and wet mops can damage wood flooring. Spills should be immediately cleaned.

  • Cleaning- Wood floors definitely don’t hide dust bunnies or dog hair. Many people with pets need to sweep daily.

  • Cost- Engineered wood is a more budget friendly alternative, although since the wood layer is so thin it cannot be refinished more than a couple times.


Cost: $5-$15 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~25 years


  • Sustainability- Made from the bark of the cork tree, this is a renewable product.

  • Anti-Microbial- Naturally fends off mold, mildew, and pests. Also hypo-allergenic because it is not porous.


  • Moisture- Cork is water resistant but not waterproof, so it can absorb water if a puddle is left long enough. Once the water is retained, the pieces can swell and create bulging and lippage.

  • Maintenance- These pieces/planks need to be sealed with polyurethane or wax every few years.

  • Durability- As with carpet, areas left in direct sunlight are prone to fading. The weight of heavy furniture can be an issue, too.


Cost: $4-$8 per square foot installed

Lifespan: ~25 years


  • Style- You wouldn’t believe how convincing some laminate looks.

  • Installation- This product is so simple to install that many people do it themselves. Otherwise, it’s pretty inexpensive to hire an installer for the job.

  • Maintenance- No waxing, sealing or polishing required! Laminate can be easily swept and mopped, although puddles of water shouldn’t be left for too long.


  • Durability- Although laminate is stain and fade resistant, it can be scratched by animal claws, furniture etc.

  • Moisture- This product is essentially a high density fiber board, so water sitting on the seams too long will soak up and swell.

  • Sound- Although the appearance is convincing, the sound is not. A good soundproof underlayment can help dampen the hollow noise.

bottom of page