Remodeling Realities: How to Choose Flooring

This is the sixth post in a series called Remodeling Realities. We’re looking at all the moving parts of a home remodel, from how to choose an interior designer and general contractor to picking flooring and finishing touches. Read the last post in the series here and stay tuned for all of them! 

Many clients come to us, stumped about how to choose flooring for their home renovation. There certainly are a lot of options and factors to consider, so some confusion is understandable. That’s one of myriad reasons why hiring a professional interior designer really pays off. With years of experience, my team and I can help clients discern the best choices for each room. Here’s where to start.

Consider the room’s functionRemodeling Realities: How to Choose Flooring | Interior Design Dallas | Barbara Gilbert Interiors

The first step is to consider a room’s function. A high-moisture space, like a bathroom, should never have an absorptive flooring, like carpet, for example. Those kind of spaces do better with ceramic or porcelain tile.

If a space will get tons of foot traffic, or if you have children and pets, you’ll need extra durability. Some flooring that appears to be wear resistant actually isn’t. Cheaper engineered hardwood floors can scratch pretty easily. The scratches can be sanded out easily, but it’s a hassle. Look instead for solid hardwood floors with a high “Janka” rating, like Patagonian rosewood, Brazilian walnut, Brazilian ebony, red Cumaru, and Cumaru. All wood floors can be hardened somewhat by the application of polyurethene finishes, so if you don’t want to totally replace your existing floors and they are a softer wood, that’s something to keep in mind.

Bamboo, which looks like wood but is not, is harder than any wood because they add resins to it. It’s available in a range of luxury finishes and looks, making it a beautiful and eco-friendly flooring option.

How much maintenance is right for you?  Remodeling Realities: How to Choose Flooring | Interior Design Dallas | Barbara Gilbert Interiors

All flooring requires some level of upkeep. Know how often you are okay cleaning and choose accordingly. Hardwood and tile floors will beed to be swept and cleaned at least weekly, or more — neat freaks will want to do this more often. The invention of robot vacuum cleaners and mops is a bonus, but they’re on the pricey side. Expert top: placing area rugs over hard floors to extend times between cleanings.

Carpeting is probably the easiest and a lot of people prefer it in bedrooms for the warmth. It needs weekly vacuuming, spot cleaning for stains, and twice-yearly deep cleaning to keep it in the best shape.

Examine your budgetRemodeling Realities: How to Choose Flooring | Interior Design Dallas | Barbara Gilbert Interiors

All home remodeling projects have some sort of budget in mind and flooring options take a chunk out of them all. Because this is such a big part of an overall design plan and needs to last for many years, I don’t recommend cutting corners and scrimping in this area. You can get beautiful flooring without blowing the budget or going with cheap-looking laminate or generic tile.

I mentioned bamboo above as an extremely hard and durable flooring option. It’s also less expensive than many hardwood options, averaging around $5 to $7 a square foot, not including installation. Compare that to walnut or pine, which cost roughly $10 a square foot.

Generally speaking, ceramic tile is less expensive than porcelain. Buy a basic tile you like and then add more expensive tile in accent areas, like the bathroom floor above, as a shower niche, an accent area above a stove…there are a lot of ways to stretch the budget here.

Understand the options
Remodeling Realities: How to Choose Flooring | Interior Design Dallas | Barbara Gilbert Interiors

Every type of flooring has advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a rundown of the options.

1. Porcelain tile

a. Hard on your feet; dropped items break easily
b. Cold in the winter
c. Grout lines absorb spills and dirt
d. Durable
e. Simple maintenance
f. Excellent in wet areas

Porcelain and ceramic tile are excellent choices for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. When choosing a porcelain tile be sure it has a rectified edge so grout lines will be small approximately the size of a dime. Seal grout when floor is first installed to resist absorbency. Don’t used a polished finish on a tile or marble as it can be slippery when wet. For bathrooms, choose a tile that is honed or has texture.

2. Solid hardwood floors

a. Classic look
b. Simple maintenance
c. Can be refinished multiple times
d. Can be scratched
e. Slippery for pets and kids
f. Cannot tolerate standing water
g. Acclamation for minimum of one week prior to installation

When real hardwood floors are being installed, they must sit in the room for a minimum of one week prior to being installed. This is called acclimation and it describes the process of conditioning hardwood floor planks so their moisture content is at the optimal level for the environment they are to be installed. The wood floor must be within 4 percent of the moisture content of the subfloor.

3. Engineered hardwood floors

a. No acclimation time necessary prior to installation
b. Typically, can be refinished only one time
c. Less expensive than solid hardwood floors
d. Will only last about 15 years
e. Pre-finished

4. Luxury vinyl floorings

a. Fifteen years to lifetime warranty
b. Waterproof
c. Scratch and stain resistant
d. Available in patterns that look like real wood
e. Simple maintenance
f. No acclimation time
g. Child- and pet-friendly

I was in awe when I looked at a sample of Market Place Flooring’s EVP option. It has a lifetime warranty when used in a residential setting, it’s 100 percent waterproof, and looks and feel like real wood.

5. Natural stone

a. Everlasting beauty
b. Must be sealed every three years
c. Polished finish will be slippery when wet
d. Timeless look
e. Can’t be cleaned with anything citrus-based

6.  Carpet

a. Soft and plush; feels good underfoot
b. Room temperature: neither hot nor cold
c. Provides shock absorption thanks to its flexibility and cushioning
d. Provides warmth and insulation to a space
e. Acts as a sound barrier
f. Spot cleaning required
g. Requires professional deep cleaning on occasion
h. Dust and dander bury deep into carpet — a less desirable choice for those with allergies

Look and feel reignsRemodeling Realities: How to Choose Flooring | Interior Design Dallas | Barbara Gilbert Interiors

Look and feel is actually the biggest consideration for many of my clients. This is all about preference. Many people insist on wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedroom because that’s what they’ve always had and like the best. For others, flooring needs to be 100 percent hardwoods with only area rugs. Some like large-format tile treatments, others want bright and colorful. This is another area where an interior designer can really earn her keep! We know how to translate a client’s desires into flooring realities that work beautifully for years to come!


Do you have tips on how to choose flooring? Tell us about it here or over on Facebook or Twitter (don’t forget to mention @bgidesigner)!

We’ve got years of experience creating inspired, gorgeous interiors — contact Barbara today at 214-641-7897 or via the website contact form. We offer North Texas interior design services in Dallas, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Highland Park, University Park, North Dallas, and many more areas — please see the list of the areas we serve.


Here are the other 6 Remodeling Realities posts in case you missed them!

#7 – Add Style,Value with Home Gym

#5 – How to Have a Pet-friendly Home Remodel

#4 – 4 Things To Keep In Mind When Redesigning Your Kitchen

#3 – 5 Space Planning Tips for Good Home Design

#2 – Picking a General Contractor

#1 – How to Pick an Interior Designer