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Tile, Hardwood, Vinyl & Carpet: An Honest Comparison

joetilepicmedFew aspects of your home are as important, both functionally and aesthetically, as your floors. They’re subject to constant strain and pressure, yet they can totally transform a room and increase your aesthetic enjoyment for years to come.

That’s why it’s important to choose your flooring wisely. You want something that looks great and lasts long. You also want something that’s easy to clean, strong, aesthetically pleasing, and cost-effective.

You already know the main options available to you: Tile, hardwood, vinyl and carpet. There are others, such as stone and bamboo—but chances are, you’ll end up going with one of the mainstream options. Part of your decision will naturally come down to personal taste, but you’ll also want to know how each of type of flooring stacks up in for practical ways.

Appearance & Feel

Tile has come along way in both appearance and texture. It’s now possible to accurately mimic a number of other surfaces, including stone and hardwood. The feel is smooth and the floor stays cooler in Summer months.

Hardwood is prized for its beautiful, natural look. It does however require periodic treatments in order to preserve the appearance. It can also dent, darken and warp over time.

Vinyl is also available in many looks and colors, and many people find it very comfortable under their feet. Depending in quality, it can be highly susceptible to discoloration.

Carpet can feel lush and soft or quite hard underfoot, depending on the pile you choose. It adds a soft, welcoming look to the room when properly maintained.

Durability & Maintenance

Tile is arguably the most durable and easily maintained flooring surface. Dry or wet cleaning is easy with tile floors, and there is virtually no risk of water damage or stains over time.

Hardwood is more difficult to clean. This is mainly due to its susceptibility to water damage. It’s more prone to aging than other types of flooring, but can be refinished to improve the look and lengthen the lifespan.

Vinyl is relatively easy to clean, and is water-resistant when correctly installed. Repairs, however, can be quite challenging and expensive.

Carpet requires regular deep cleaning in order to maintain the look and hygiene of the material. It’s also highly prone to stains, rips and burns—although these can usually be repaired.


Tile is constantly one of the most affordable types of flooring. Prices can top $15 per square foot for highly specialized or printed tiles, but $4 or $5 per square foot is an ordinary price for high quality tile flooring.

Hardwood is one of the most expensive types of flooring, with prices topping $20 per square foot in some cases.

Vinyl is at the lowest end of the cost spectrum, with prices sometimes as low as $1 per square foot. The problem is, you often get what you pay for with vinyl.

Carpet probably has the widest average price range of all types of flooring. It can be as cheap of vinyl or flooring, but for a good quality carpet, expect to pay at least $10 per square foot.


It goes without saying that no single type of flooring is right for every home or every room. Your choice will depend on what you want and need out of your flooring. But since new floors are a considerable investment, it’s always good to be informed and take the above factors into account before you choose. After all, you’ll be living with those floors for a long time!

Questions? Comments? Please feel free to leave your thoughts below.