So you want to know the most durable flooring money can buy? Concrete. Done.
But that’s not really what you wanted to know, is it? Like most attributes, durability is on a sliding scale. The most durable floor may also be one of the least desirable.
The question of durability cannot be answered in a simplistic fashion. Most durable for what, or under which circumstances? How exactly should durability be measured?
Do you want the flooring that lasts the longest in mostly one piece, or the flooring that looks the best for the longest time, or the flooring that is easiest to maintain, or the flooring that can stand up best to moisture, or the flooring that can be restored the easiest over time, or, or, or… I assure you, I have not exhausted the possibilities!
The real question is not about the most durable flooring generically speaking, but the most durable flooring in your home. Even that must be broken down into a room by room assessment. I can’t give you an answer without knowing something about your home and particular needs.
What this article will do is give you the tools to assess your flooring needs for yourself, and at least give you an idea of the direction you want to go. Let’s begin with the options from which you have to choose:
Durable Flooring Options
Let’s start by taking a look at 8 of the most durable flooring options:
If you find 8 different lists of the most durable flooring options in the world, every one of these eight options would find themselves in the top half on some, and the bottom half on others.
Why? Because they are the most durable flooring options on the market! What it depends on, is what you are measuring, and for what purpose.
Concrete and stone are known for being fantastically durable. But, when it comes to flooring, they are possibly the least desirable material for any high-traffic area in your house.
Why? Because a material like concrete is super expensive, difficult to apply perfectly, cold on the skin of bare feet. Even socks may not help all that much.
It is noisy in two ways: Walking on that surface with hard-soul shoes is noisy. And it causes unpleasant echoes in the room with all available sound waves bouncing off of it.
Stone mountains have been around forever. Your stone floor stands a good chance of surviving your kids. It may even be a desirable choice for something like a basement game room featuring a pool table.
You might also increase the desirability factor by strategically deploying throw rugs. The key to the durability of any flooring option is that it is deployed in the right circumstances.
Kitchens, Bathrooms, and Other Water Zones
Vinyl can take on any look you like. It can replicate anything from classic wood to decorative tile. Seamless vinyl is best, as fewer seams allow for fewer places where water can enter.
It will not be damaged by an occasional glass hitting the floor. In fact, your glass has a pretty good chance of survival. But drop a knife point down, and your vinyl could be damaged. The takeaway: drop glasses, not knives.
Tile is fantastic but cold and unyielding. It can also be slippery if you get the wrong kind. Never mind water. You are going to end up with shards of glass that can cut little feet. (No one is a perfect sweeper.)
Broken glass is not such a big concern in the bathroom and laundry room. You are not in the laundry room for long stretches of time. And the bathroom will have rugs in places you are most likely to place your feet for more than a few seconds.
Cork is an intriguing possibility for the kitchen as it is somewhat soft and spongy. Broken dishes are not a concern. It is also good for the feet and knees during those long cooking and dishwashing sessions.
The other challenge is that spills need to be wiped up quickly. So, if you have a cat with the habit of knocking over things while you are away, cork may not be the right choice.
Wood is good for most applications. But it probably has the most drawbacks in a kitchen. It can be chipped, scratched, and suffer water damage. A lot is riding on the installation and topical treatment.
Durable Flooring for Dogs and Pets
Let’s address the 800lb gorilla in the room. Or should I say: the 25lb dog. There are multiple factors to consider: Scratches, water, cleanup, and lifetime maintenance.
Again, vinyl gets top billing because it is so versatile. We have already established that it is good with liquid exposure. No one likes to admit it. But every dog has, well, let’s call them accidents. A floor that is easy to clean and that resists damage is a good choice.
There are also the claws that can make quick work of some materials. Harder wood is better if you are going to go the wood route.
Just remember that good wood is expensive, whereas good vinyl is not. Wood also has higher maintenance requirements.
Laminate flooring is more susceptible to water damage. More things can go wrong. It’s great while it lasts. But if you have a dog that is unsupervised for long periods of time, it is hard to do better than vinyl.
Carpet, Mats, and Other Overlays
But regardless of your choice, there is still the question of what, if anything, you might place on top of the floor for added comfort, safety, durability, or beauty.
If you have pets that live on the floor, you should probably avoid carpet at all cost. If pets are not a concern, carpet can be quite nice to walk, or even sit on. But carpet is extremely high maintenance. It gets ugly and smelly real easy, real fast.
In the kitchen, you may consider those ugly, industrial non-slip mats. Safety trumps aesthetics. So if you have a slippery floor in your kitchen, you are going to have to put something down to make it safer.
Ultimately, there is no perfect flooring for all occasions. Very cold and hard floors will need rugs. Everything has a trade-off. But at the end of the day, starting with vinyl, concrete, hardwood, or even laminate, along with the proper care, will get you a floor that will outlast the investment.