No matter what flooring material you choose, it should be serviceable for your lifestyle. Take the following into account before you decide:
- Cleanability. For easy-care flooring, choose vinyl, laminate, or ceramic tile, which are smooth surfaces that clean up with a sweep and a rag. Other materials will require a bit more upkeep to maintain their good looks.
- Durability. With the ability to endure an onslaught of abuse from children, pets, and heavy traffic, ceramic and stone tile, laminate and concrete rank at the top. Although marks will show on hardwood, the surface can be refinished.
- Longevity. Standing the test of time are stone and ceramic tiles, hardwood, cork, and concrete. Most other flooring materials will eventually need replacing.
- Moisture resistance. For rooms prone to highly humid conditions, such as kitchens and baths, use materials that are more water-resistant, such as tile, vinyl, and certain types of laminate (check manufacturers' warranties).
- Allergens. If you're particularly sensitive and concerned about your home's indoor air quality, choose a hard flooring material, such as ceramic tile or hardwood, that contains few crevices or grooves to harbor dust mites and allergens.