When planning a renovation, homeowners tend to get caught up in selecting flashy items like furniture, art, lighting, and hardware. One thing that can get overlooked is flooring. However, what’s installed under your feet often plays a crucial element that anchors a room’s design and can set the tone for the whole space. 

In this month’s blog post, we’ll talk about why flooring is so important in renovations and explore different options like hardwood, luxury vinyl plank (LVP), tile, and carpet. Each type has its own style and cost considerations, so understanding them can help you make the right choice for your home.

Hardwood – solid or engineered

Particularly in New England, hardwood flooring reigns supreme. Whether you live in an older or antique home or are building your dream home, many homeowners select hardwood flooring simply because it is timeless, elegant, and charming. Beyond aesthetics, hardwood offers durability that stands the test of time. With proper care and maintenance, hardwood floors can last for generations, making them a worthwhile investment. Additionally, since we do not live in a consistently high-humidity climate, homeowners don’t need to worry about cupping and cracking over time.

Hardwood flooring – Family Room – Beverly, MA

Hardwood flooring is just that — made of solid wood. Some of the most popular species are oak, maple, walnut, or cherry. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to consider factors such as durability, appearance, maintenance requirements, and budget when choosing the right option for your space. Here at Godfrey Design-Build, we typically recommend white oak, as it has great durability and color at a more reasonable cost point. Additionally, it can be used in high-traffic areas, as it hides dings and scratches well. Finally, there are several finish options available, such as oil-based, water-based, and polyurethane. Your contractor and flooring specialist can help determine your desired aesthetic and level of maintenance that makes sense for your home and lifestyle. 

As you can imagine, using solid wood can be pricey! If you’re looking for the look of hardwood, but are more budget-conscious, another option is engineered wood flooring. Not only are the planks less expensive, but installation is less labor-intensive and it requires less maintenance, which in turn can be a great cost and time savings. 

Unlike solid hardwood, engineered hardwood is not made of a single wood plank. Instead, it is typically constructed from layers of real wood veneer bonded onto a plywood base. The downside is that it cannot be sanded and restrained as often as traditional hardwood, so while its lifespan is certainly shorter than hardwood, it still lasts for several decades with proper care. Finally, on top of being a less expensive choice, it can also be installed in areas of the home where moisture may be more of an issue, like a basement or mudroom, all with less care and maintenance vs. traditional hardwood. 

Whether you install traditional or engineered hardwood flooring, you will need to determine how you’d like it installed! Mixing different lengths of plank can add some visual interest. More luxe options include a herringbone or chevron installation pattern, or using borders and inlays. As you can imagine, these design options also come with a higher price tag. Wider planks show more of the natural wood grain and are great for antique homes, where they were traditionally used. 

Infuse your space with personality using tile

For areas where moisture is not a risk, but a given, Tile can be the best choice. Best for bathrooms, mudrooms, and kitchens, tile flooring is versatile and offers a huge array of style and design choices. Tile is durable, resistant to water, and generally wards off stains, scratches, and fading when cleaned and cared for regularly — so it is a great selection in high-traffic or water-prone areas. 

Bathroom Tile – Topsfield MA

Tile design options are almost endless! Materials range from ceramic to porcelain to natural stone, and tile can be sourced in any number of sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns. Looking to add a pop of color, a geometric pattern, or some personality to your flooring choice? Tile is the way to go. And tile is great for any home -— from sleek and modern to rustic or traditional, there are tile options available to suit any style. 

Bathroom Tile – Beverly MA

We do caution you that there are some drawbacks to tile flooring. It can be cold and hard and is less forgiving on the feet, so it’s not great for areas where you might be on your feet for long periods of time. Natural stone tiles can be expensive to purchase and complex to install, making it a costly option. While most of the time tile is simple and easy to clean, grout lines between tiles require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent staining, mold, and mildew buildup, particularly in locations like bathrooms where water is present. 

Carpet: Cozy Comfort Underfoot with Practical Perks and Maintenance Challenges

Your feet’s favorite flooring is very likely carpet! Carpet is the softest and most cushioned option underfoot. It’s comfortable and cozy and is best for areas where you spend a lot of time walking barefoot, such as bedrooms or living rooms. It’s also best for areas away from potential spills or moisture, like kitchens and bathrooms. In these spaces, for some extra cushioning, consider a mat or area rug for some added style and comfort.

Carpet keeping a basement space warm and cozy – Beverly MA

Carpeting also has some great practical uses, including insulation – both heat and noise – and safety. Carpet can help to retain heat, and is the warmest option for flooring, so it’s great for rooms that typically are colder, or in a bedroom – where you may sneak to the bathroom barefoot in the middle of the night! Carpets also absorb noise, so this can reduce sound between rooms or floors. This can be more important in areas like bedrooms (hello, sleeping baby!) or home offices. 

Carpet is also a great comfortable and non-slip surface. So it’s smart to install in areas where children spend more time on the floor playing with their toys, like a living room. We urge all of our clients to install a stair-runner as well, both for safety and noise reduction. Stairs are one of the most dangerous spots for slips and falls, so carpeting them is always a smart choice.

Basement Stair Runner – Lynnfield MA

However, we all know there are rooms that should never be carpeted (we’re talking to you, bathrooms!). Carpet is like a Real Housewife: high-maintenance. It requires regular vacuuming and occasional deep cleaning to remove dirt, dust, and allergens. And we all know how hard it can be to remove a stain from our carpeting, despite all of the amazing cleaning products out there. Opting for a pattern or color that hides dirt or stains is always a good idea. Carpet also has a somewhat limited shelf life, particularly in high-traffic areas, which over time can show signs of wear and tear. Got pets or allergies? Carpet may not be the best option for you. Fibers can trap allergens such as dust, pet dander, and pollen, which can cause particles to linger, exacerbating allergies or respiratory problems for some folks.

Not your mother’s laminate — it’s LVP! 

While wood and tile flooring often reign supreme, both have their own limitations. Even given an unlimited budget, they aren’t always the best choice. Luxury Vinyl Plank, or LVP, has emerged as a great alternative to other options over the past few decades. 

LVP is a manufactured floor, made primarily of PVC resin layers, including a print layer, which mimics various species and finishes of hardwoods or tiles. It is then pressed and cut into planks of different shapes and sizes. 

Luxury Vinyl Plank – Basement Bathroom- Beverly MA

First and foremost, LVP provides a similar look to more expensive flooring, at a more affordable price. There are various options for installation, including glue-down, click-lock, or loose lay methods. It is available in a wide range of designs, colors, and textures, allowing homeowners to achieve the look of hardwood, stone, or tile without the maintenance or cost associated with these natural materials. LVP can also be installed over a variety of existing flooring surfaces, including concrete, plywood, and tile, eliminating the need to always remove the existing floor.

Luxury Vinyl Plank – Basement – Lynnfield MA

The most compelling reasons to opt for LVP are its moisture resistance, durability, ease of maintenance, and comfort. Unlike hardwood, which can warp or swell when exposed to moisture, LVP is waterproof and can stand up to high or changing levels of humidity. This makes it an ideal choice for areas like basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. It is also highly durable and resistant to scratches and stains. Got kids or dogs? LVP could be the perfect option for a high-traffic area of the home. LVP cleans up like a breeze, which is also great for families with small children or pets. It only requires regular sweeping or mopping, and doesn’t require special cleaners or careful maintenance like hardwood, or grout staining like tile. And unlike hardwood or tile, which can be painful to the feet over time, LVP is softer (and quieter!). Its construction provides cushioning and reduces noise, adding to the overall comfort of living spaces.

So many great options! 

Ultimately, the best flooring option for your renovation will depend on your style, budget, and lifestyle. Here at Godfrey Design-Build we work with our clients to determine the perfect flooring for any new space and will help you bring your design vision to life. 

Contact us to learn how we can help you reach your remodeling goals