Get a floor with more: When it's time to remodel, think with your feet first
Want to dramatically reinvent your living space and prioritize the remodeling projects on your to-do list? Don't think top-down; think bottom-up by devoting dollars to new flooring in key areas of your home, experts say.
"Flooring is very important; it's everywhere in the house and really impacts how you interact with your home. The floors are also one of the first things people notice about your home when they walk in, and it sets the tone for your entire living space," says Marie Bromberg, a real estate agent with Compass in New York City.
Oren Farkash, owner and founder of South Land Remodeling in Los Angeles, echoes those sentiments.
"Investing in a new floor for one or more of your rooms is a smart way to freshen up the look of those interiors. It creates a cleaner, more polished appearance and design and may make the room feel larger," he says.
Neil Daley, director of merchandising for Norcross, Georgia-based Floor Coverings International, says the latter goal can be accomplished by using a single flooring material continuously throughout one or more levels or a series of connected rooms.
"And choosing the right flooring material can eliminate the stress caused in a busy family by muddy paws, spills and heavy traffic; reduce the time needed for cleaning floors; provide sound absorption; improve safety with slip resistance; and help you express your style," Daley says.
Today, the most common flooring materials remain wood, tile, carpeting, laminate and vinyl. Each has its pros and cons.
"Wood floors -- whether it's solid hardwood or engineered wood made of multiple layers, including a top layer of high-quality wood -- are durable, attractive and easy to clean and offer a great return on investment," says Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association in Chesterfield, Missouri.
He says wood floors work well in nearly any room, especially entryways, living and dining rooms and bedrooms. "Species like oak, hickory or maple are best for homes with heavy traffic or pets."
Expect to pay between $4 and $16 per square feet for installed hardwood floors.
Tile remains a top choice among today's homeowners, too, particularly sturdy and scratch-resistant porcelain tile and natural stone. Nathan Foreman, director of real estate sales for Tyler, Texas-based Cascades of Texas Real Estate, recommends tile for kitchens, baths and entryways.
"Tile provides a clean and attractive appearance when the tile and grout are regularly cleaned, sealed and maintained," says Foreman, noting that prices can vary from $6 to $15 per square foot installed. "But an unfinished or unattractive transition between a tile floor and an adjacent floor of another material can give the perception of poor workmanship, so make sure your contractor does a good job."
Carpeting still holds a sweet spot among many homeowners. However, it's less popular nowadays because it wears and dirties quicker than other materials and traps dust and allergens that can trigger sensitive noses. The good news is that carpeting is among the least costly flooring options, spanning roughly $3 to $12 per square feet installed.
"You can't go wrong with traditional plush carpeting thanks to its timeless look," says Farkash, who advises a neutral color like beige or gray.
"Carpeting is cozy and comfortable in bedrooms, walk-in closets and nurseries. But spring for a thick and durable pad underneath, which can make a significant difference in the feel and quality perception," Foreman says.
Laminate and vinyl can be a good choice for those on a tighter budget, as it only costs around $3 to $8 per square foot installed, and it mimics the look and feel of wood or tile.
"Laminate is extremely durable but is easily damaged with water, so you want to avoid areas like bathrooms and mudrooms. Waterproof vinyl flooring, including luxury vinyl tile or luxury vinyl planks, is usually a better choice, although a little more expensive," says Daley.
If you select laminate, "try to purchase an option with at least 12 mm thickness for better durability," Farkash advises.
Whatever material you settle on, take time to find the right flooring installer or contractor, "and provide a buffer zone in your budget, as unexpected costs often arise with flooring projects," says Devin Shaffer, a design expert with Decorilla Online Interior Design in New York City. "Be mindful that you may need to relocate while the project is happening, too, as flooring replacement can be invasive."