For many homeowners nothing compares to the comfort, style and texture that real wood flooring imparts.  However, some types of wood flooring can present challenges in high traffic areas as they can be easily damaged and more time-consuming to maintain.  In consideration of new flooring options, high traffic areas might be better served using a more durable, lower-maintenance option in such spaces. Fortunately, there are several fantastic alternatives that look great while still providing resilience and easy maintenance in well traveled areas. Understandably, however, if no flooring option exists that completely replaces the desire for real wood, wood flooring can still be used in higher traffic areas with a few modifications as outlined below.

High Traffic Considerations

When selecting new flooring for high traffic areas, it is important to keep a few key considerations in mind. After all, allowing a little time for research before purchase usually goes a long way in saving time, frustration and money in the long run. Focusing on the below factors should help ensure that the new flooring chosen will stand the test of time.

  1. Durability – Naturally, most high-traffic areas see nearly constant movement, therefore, the best flooring options to consider for these spaces are scratch-resistant, stain-resistant, fade-resistant and made of highly resilient materials to prevent signs of wear and tear soon after installation.
  2. Low Maintenance  – As a matter or course, high-traffic areas need to be cleaned more frequently to maintain their appearance and ensure that they last as long as possible. Therefore, flooring options that are quick and easy to clean are a top priority.
  3. Water Resistance – If the flooring area has the potential of being exposed to water in spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms or entryways, water-resistant flooring will be essential to ensure that it holds up under the conditions.
  4. Comfort – When it comes to comfort, durable flooring has the propensity to be inflexible and difficult to stand on due to the strength in its composition. Sometimes, these extra firm materials might need to be avoided in areas where a lot of time will be spent standing as the inflexibility can be bad for the joints.  Alternatively, the challenge of using strong flooring materials can be met by placing rugs or anit-fatigue mats where frequent standing occurs in order to provide the support and cushioning needed.
  5. Warmth – Many types of resilient flooring options often don’t conduct heat well and can become extremely cold as the temperature dips. As a result, some flooring types can become frigid underfoot as well as more difficult and expensive to keep heated.  However, these areas can be warmed with rugs if desired.
  6. Aesthetics – Of course, not everything is always about practicality and durability.  It is essential to locate flooring options that look great and meet or exceed personal design standards while still offering a great deal of function to the area.
  7. Cost – Needless to say, budget is always an important consideration.  A flooring type is needed that provides a good balance between meeting cost expectations as well as offering a good resale value if selling the home will be a consideration in the future.

Porcelain Tile

In today’s flooring market, one of the most popular options for high traffic areas is porcelain tile that has been engineered to look like real wood.  It is a newer type of flooring but has quickly risen in popularity due its high level of durability as well as its relative inexpensiveness.   Although porcelain tile does not offer the same feel of real wood, its aesthetic and multitude of features make up for it.  Porcelain tile placed in high traffic areas such as kitchens, hallways and basements has been shown to be scratch-resistant, stain-resistant and simply does not wear out upon rigorous testing. In addition, porcelain tile is waterproof, doesn’t fade and is somewhat slip-resistant, even when wet.  One drawback, however, can be found in tile’s inflexibility as special care should be taken when installing in areas of frequent standing.  For example, when tile is used in the kitchen, comfort rugs should be placed on top of the tile to reduce joint pain and fatigue while cooking or washing dishes.

Laminate Flooring

Modern laminate flooring presents an extremely solid, yet, budget-friendly choice for high traffic areas.  In fact, recent technological advancements have elevated laminate flooring to an exceptionally versatile design option as this type of flooring can be engineered to resemble wood, stone, and tile as well as several other types of flooring materials.  In addition, laminate offers a softer material in consideration of joint fatigue, making it a good option to use where standing occurs for long periods of time.  A disadvantage of laminate flooring, however, lies within the repetitive pattern of laminate boards as the repetition can reveal its imitation.  However, mixing planks from several different boxes during installation should suffice in breaking up the pattern in creation of a more natural-looking design.

Vinyl

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There are several pros and cons in consideration of installing vinyl flooring.  This type of flooring is especially good at repelling wear, dents, scratches, discoloration from sunlight, and stains making it a well-suited flooring choice for high-traffic areas.  In addition, it offers a great balance between firmness and flexibility, adding comfort when walking and standing. More positive features include being relatively inexpensive, ease of installation, and availability of a good variety of color and design options. In fact, some high quality brands can even resemble stone, tile, marble, slate and even wood with some options allowing grouting. Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to vinyl flooring, however, as it can sometimes appear like a reproduction upon close inspection.  Another consideration is that vinyl flooring can be difficult to remove due to the strength of its adhesive backing.

Pre-finished Solid Wood

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Although it is true that in some cases wood flooring can become easily worn in high traffic areas, it should not be instantly ruled out as good possibility in today’s flooring market.  It is important to note that with pre-finished wood flooring, it is the finish applied to the floor that provides the durable protection.  Fortunately, many modern finishes are extremely strong and resilient. In addition, choosing a wood with a strong hardness rating, will provide even more strength and durability.  As an added measure, placing rugs in high traffic areas will prevent much damage allowing the wood flooring to remain beautiful and well-maintained for years to come.

To discover a few additional types of durable flooring options and read more about the materials outlined above, see the article published by the experts at The Spruce:  The Most Durable Floors You Can Install.