Safety and sound issues are foremost in this room, and carpet emerges as the best choice. It cushions kids' falls and takes the noise level down a notch. Some carpet is made from yarn that's virtually nonabsorbent, which allows spills to be cleaned easily.
Any type of floor covering will work in this area, since most people wipe their feet off on a mat before entering the house. "If it's a high-traffic house with several kids and pets, I'd be more concerned with scratching (the flooring) than moisture," Jennings says. "Hardwood's still a good look for many homes, as well as ceramic tiles."
The most private room in the house is still the domain of carpet, which dampens sound and feels softer underfoot than other floor coverings. "Carpet is textile for the floor," Jennings says. "The construction of the fiber itself dictates how it performs underfoot. Choosing plush pile versus Berber is a cosmetic choice. Someone older, who's more tentative on their feet, wants a firm feel underneath, so a harder finished carpet is best to avoid slippage." Image courtesy of Shaw Floors
In most cases, the dining room is attached to the kitchen, so it makes sense to simply extend the flooring from one room to the next, whether you choose wood flooring, tile or cork. Image courtesy of Pergo
While carpet is a popular choice for the bedroom, wood flooring, whether hardwood, engineered or laminate, can be a great alternative for a guest bedroom if you're looking to add style. Choose a warm color and a defined texture to up the coziness factor. Add a premium underlayment for maximum sound reduction. Image courtesy of Pergo
Library or Study
A study or reading room should exude a sense of elegance and formal serenity. Wood floors in dark, rich colors help make that statement. If you're on a budget, laminate is an affordable alternative to the real thing. Image courtesy of Pergo
The flooring options for living rooms are many and should match the style of the house. Hardwood is timeless, and slate, terra cotta and carpet are also good choices.
Water splashed from the tub or shower and the high humidity in this room require flooring that won't be affected by moisture. Laminates and hardwood floors, which absorb moisture, aren't recommended, but ceramic tile is a good choice. And if you use natural stone or marble, seal them with a protective coating. Image courtesy of Daltile
When watching television and movies or listening to music, the acoustics of a room are a factor. You don't want to disturb others in adjoining rooms, and at the same time you want to enjoy hearing what you're listening to. Carpet and cork are good choices where acoustics count. Avoid hardwood.
Basement and Below Grade
Before installing any flooring option, make sure there are no moisture issues with the concrete slab. If there are, laminate and wood wouldn't be good choices, because they tend to absorb water. Resilient vinyl floors are often used in basements because vinyl is unaffected by moisture and is low maintenance. Engineered wood or laminate flooring, above a moisture barrier, will also work. If moisture isn't an issue, carpet will help keep the room warm.
Wood flooring and tile are popular choices for the kitchen, which may be affected by liquids hitting the floor during cooking, but Tom Jennings, technical adviser and former chairman of the World Floor Covering Association, recommends cork for those who cook a lot. "Cork has a similar finish to laminate but has resiliency, which matters if you're going to be on your feet a lot," he says. Cork is virtually nonabsorbent and moisture-proof, and it won't burn. It comes in many patterns, making for a unique look. Jennings says the problem with using ceramic tile in the kitchen is that it adds weight and thickness to the floor, which can cause clearance issues with the refrigerator or stove areas.