Floors are a hot topic in home improvement, from flooring materials to DIY installations, budgets, and sustainability. Because floors take the most wear and tear in your apartment, you want to make the right choice that will last for decades with minimal maintenance. This guide takes you through the most common types of floors, a few specialty floor materials to consider, and how to pick the right one for your home.
Six Factors to Consider When Choosing Flooring Types
If you have numerous flooring choices and are not sure where to start, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What’s Your Budget?
Decide how much you want to spend per square foot of flooring. If your budget allows for under $2 per square foot, don’t limit yourself to laminate flooring if it doesn’t suit your needs. Shop for bargains on ceramic or porcelain tiles that meet your price range. That said, most flooring costs about $5 per square foot, including some wood floor options and higher-quality vinyl tiles. Increase your budget if you want imported wood floors, marble, or granite.
2. Which Rooms Need New Floors?
The key here is moisture and traffic: rooms that tend to get wet, e.g., bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen, have different flooring needs than living rooms and bedrooms. Concrete, ceramic tile, and vinyl are excellent for high to medium-moisture rooms, but you can use virtually any flooring type for moisture-free spaces. High-traffic rooms also need tougher floors to withstand friction, e.g., laminate or particular carpets. Otherwise, wood floors will scratch and need sanding and refinishing over time, which may increase your budget.
3. What Are Your Maintenance Needs?
Consider whether you’ll need special cleaning methods or extra effort to keep your floors in good condition. For example, tile and laminate floors are easy to clean using a basic mop and soapy water. Carpets need vacuuming, stain removal, and the occasional steam cleaning to disinfect and remove odors. Hardwood floors need a combination of sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and refinishing to keep them looking new. If you have any mobility challenges, choose floors that require minimum maintenance.
4. Who Will Install Your New Floors?
Some floor types, such as vinyl and laminate, are better for DIY renovations than others. You can learn to install tile floors yourself, but it takes work and experience to do a good job. Carpets and wood floors need a pro, so browse for floor installers or hire a renovation company to handle the floors, plus any other upgrades in your apartment.
5. What Tradeoffs Are You Willing to Accept?
You need some flexibility to find the most suitable flooring for your apartment. For example, you may want a wood floor, but your budget allows for tiles, so try getting tiles with a wood design. Or you’d like wall-to-wall carpeting, but maintenance becomes challenging, especially if you have children or pets. Look for alternatives for your must-have flooring idea because you may save money or effort with another option.
6. What’s Your Aesthetic?
Your floor’s look and feel should come last because practical factors matter the most. You don’t want to splurge on a high-end wood floor only to find that you can’t maintain it or choose a floor color that does nothing for your furniture style. Once you know your budget, installation, and maintenance needs, you can get creative with the aesthetic. Think of high-quality laminate floors that look like natural wood, marble, or a concrete floor with a painted mural instead of carpeting.
Five Most Common Types of Floors for NYC Apartments
Once you’ve answered the questions above, the next step is to know the pros and cons of different floor types. Let’s begin with the five most common floors today: tile, laminate, vinyl, hardwood, and carpet.
Note: The material and installation prices indicated here are only guidelines. Get quotes from installers and stores for a more accurate estimate.
1) Tile Floors
Average price per sqft: $3 to $10
Installation cost per sqft: $10 to $15
Pros: Wide variety of quality, patterns, colors, and textures; easy to clean; waterproof; durable
Cons: More permanent installation
Tile floors are ceramic, porcelain, or glass in various sizes, up to 2x2ft squares. Tile works perfectly for bathrooms and kitchens because it’s moisture-resistant and easy to clean, but you can use it for every other room, too. Tiles are available in smooth or textured finishes and are easy to install over a radiant floor heating system. In most cases, however, tile floors are permanent, meaning they can cost more to change to a different floor type.
2) Laminate Floors
Average price per sqft: $1 to $3
Installation cost per sqft: $3 to $8
Pros: Affordable, easy to install, scratchproof
Cons: Unusual or unnatural feel underfoot; can make noise if poorly installed
Laminate floors are light and durable, offering a cheaper alternative to tile or hardwood. Laminate is also much easier to maintain and resists scratches, making it ideal for high-traffic rooms or play areas. You can install laminate yourself, but remember that it can pull up quickly or get clumsy if poorly laid. Avoid laminate in wet areas as it doesn’t handle moisture well.
3) Vinyl Floors
Average price per sqft: $1 to $6
Installation cost per sqft: $2 to $11
Pros: Waterproof, scratchproof, affordable, versatile
Cons: Less durable than laminate; can be difficult to remove
While vinyl floors have a reputation for looking tacky, modern manufacturing improvements significantly improve quality. Vinyl is the most affordable waterproof flooring. You can use it in bathrooms and kitchens and have laminate floors everywhere else. Consider luxury vinyl tile (LVT) if your budget allows. LVT is thicker than regular tile, super realistic in its look, and textured to imitate wood or stone closely.
4) Hardwood Floors
Average price per sqft: $3 to $10
Installation cost per sqft: $3 to $8
Pros: Wide range of colors and finishes; durable and resilient; works with every decor style.
Cons: Can be expensive to install and maintain; can fade when exposed to sunshine
Hardwood floors exude warmth, character, and style, but only if you do it right. There’s a huge variety of wood floors, including walnut, pine, oak, and cherry, with various patterns, inlays, and stains. However, the material and installation costs also vary, so comparing prices beforehand is best. A wood floor is a good investment because you can refinish it over decades. Unfortunately, the initial cost may put it beyond reach for many homeowners.
5) Carpeted Floors
Average price per sqft: $1 to $5
Installation cost per sqft: $1 to $8
Pros: Ideal for small rooms; feels warm underfoot; made from natural, recyclable materials
Cons: Unsuitable if you have allergies or pets
Add a wall-to-wall carpet to keep the space warm if you’re looking for a new playroom, home office, or gym flooring. Many different textures, colors, and materials are available to match any budget. Carpets are also relatively easy to install and replace, plus newer materials are more stain resistant and designed to survive high foot traffic. On the downside, carpets can be high maintenance if you struggle with allergies or have pets. The pile accumulates dust, fur, and other allergens, so vacuum regularly and steam-clean your carpets every few months.
Six Unique Floors for NYC Apartments
Maybe you’re looking for a more unusual or adventurous floor material for your New York apartment. Here are some options that might appeal to your budget and lifestyle:
- Linoleum for a durable, eco-friendly, and waterproof flooring option. It also works well with retro decor.
- Concrete for a smooth, seamless, and hypoallergenic floor. Choose a vibrant color and a glossy finish for a glamorous look.
- Rubber flooring tiles for high-traffic areas, playrooms, and basements. Choose this option for spaces where you’re mostly on your feet because of the warm, soft feel.
- Ceramic plank tiles for a wood floor look without breaking the bank. These are also much easier to maintain and forgiving with stains.
- Terrazzo for a natural textured floor with the same qualities as concrete. The stone or marble fragments create a distinct look for minimalistic spaces.
- Cork for a warm, noise-proof floor in low-traffic rooms. It’s a natural material with insect-repelling qualities, too.
Professional Floor Installation With NYKB
With so much variety, choosing floors can be a daunting task. In that case, let NYKB come to the rescue. Our experts will advise you on the best floors for your New York apartment to fit your budget. Or your heart is set on a specific type of floor, and you’re looking for a reliable, experienced contractor. NYKB is the team you want on your project, and here’s why:
- We have over 20 years of interior design and renovation
- All our work comes with a 5-year labor guarantee to prove our artistry
- We handle everything from planning and budgeting to construction
- We assign a dedicated project manager to walk you through the renovation from start to finish
Start with a free consultation with our renovation professionals, or call 1 (212) 242-3500 or 1 (800) 780-8700 toll-free. You can also visit our showroom at 8 W. 25th Street every day except Saturday to see our selection of home improvement products and designs. Begin your floor renovation with NYKB today.