The Best Floors for Families

by Sam Ferris
Not all floors can raise a family. Between toys and tots and paws and prints, the flooring you buy for your home has to withstand scratches, scuffs and stains.?

The following five floors can do that. We rated each in terms of four factors: affordability, durability, maintenance and longevity. Then we give you a rundown of the pros and cons of each flooring type.?

Our rating system is relative; we're comparing these floors to each other, not necessarily in an objective sense. To give you an idea, our maintenance rating for travertine is at three stars. Compared to the other floors on this list, it requires more maintenance. In general, though, travertine isn't a high-maintenance floor.?

Now it's time to see the best family flooring types:?
Porcelain Wood Look Tile
Wood Look Porcelain Tile in Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Earthwerks.
The Good
If flooring were a monarchy, porcelain wood look tile would be king.

Porcelain wood look tile already has a firm grip on the flooring industry, according to Floor Covering News. Its reign on top certainly isn?t without merit: families appreciate how versatile of a product it is.

As Floor Covering News points out, wood look tile is versatile. You can install it in places you might think twice about installing hardwood floors ? such as kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor spaces. You can also clean it with just about any type of product.

While that?s a good perk, the biggest advantage to families is how durable porcelain wood look tile is. Porcelain tile doesn?t absorb a lot of moisture, meaning you don?t have to worry about water damage (heavy flooding excepted).?

Color body wood look porcelain is the most scratch-resistant flooring on the market because its glaze goes throughout the entire tile body. When the surface gets scratched, you see the glaze color instead of red or white clay. With kids and pets roaming around, that?s a luxury.?

The Not So Good
You?re paying for a high-quality floor when you buy wood look porcelain tile, and quality costs more money.

Not so ironically, it costs about the same as hardwood floors do, generally around $4 to $8 per square foot.? If your budget can?t afford that price tag, you may want to choose another alternative.?

Vinyl Floors
Photo courtesy of Mannington Residential.
The Good
It?s almost as if vinyl were made with families in mind: Easy installation. Low cost. No upkeep. High durability.

Vinyl floors have the most DIY-friendly installations, from peel and stick and glue down to loose lay and click and lock. With the average cost of professional vinyl installations at $1,000 according to HomeAdvisor, families have an opportunity to save money by installing vinyl themselves.

Compared to tile, hardwood, and travertine, vinyl is cost-effective. Quality sheet vinyl sells for under $2 per square foot, while luxury vinyl tile trends upward of $3 per square foot.

There?s also a reason why commercial properties are buying vinyl in droves (families, take note): they don?t crumble under the weight of heavy foot traffic, nor do they scratch easily. If vinyl can hold its own in a commercial setting, it?s no match for your kids and pets.?

The Not So Good
Though vinyl doesn?t have a short shelf life, it won?t last as long as wood look tile or natural stone. Because it?s a soft surface floor, furniture will leave its mark. It is, however, easy to replace.?

Laminate Floors
Photo courtesy of Mohawk Flooring.
The Good
The best part about laminate floors isn't the fact that they look so much like real hardwood, or even that they're less expensive than hardwood (we do like that, though). It's that they're excellent replacement floors.

According to Floor Covering News, 86 percent of laminate sales were for residential replacement projects. Why? You can install laminate over almost any existing surface so long as there's a proper moisture barrier. It?s perfect for fixer uppers and families who don?t have the time or money to remove old floors.

The Not So Good
Whereas porcelain wood look tile thrives in moisture-prone spaces, laminate doesn?t. Laminate isn?t the best choice for kitchens and bathrooms (and certainly not outdoors), but it can be installed in these spaces with a proper moisture barrier.?

Laminate floors aren?t going to last you too long, either. Scratches and scuffs to the floor?s surface show more easily.?

The Good
We summed up one reason why natural stone is perfect for families in our Flooring Ideas to Increase Your Home?s Value blog: it lasts forever.

Travertine?s rugged texture, chiseled into form by sun exposure and weather elements, hides scratches and scuffs. Seal it right and you won?t have to worry about stains from food and beverages, either.

It?s also slip resistant (a characteristic that earned it a spot on our list of go-to outdoor floors). That time-tested texture provides enough traction to minimize slipping when the surface is wet.?

The Not So Good
The major drawbacks to travertine as far as family concerns go are its price and maintenance.

Don?t be surprised to spend upwards of $5 per square foot on high-quality travertine. That said, your budget may not favor travertine floors.

You also need to seal your natural stone every 1-2 years so that it remains durable, a task that makes your to-do list one item longer.?

Smartstrand Forever Clean Carpet
Mohawk Smartstrand Forever Clean Carpet
Photo courtesy of Mohawk Flooring.
The Good
We know what you?re thinking: my kids spill way too much food and drink; Fido has an uncontrollable bladder.

We?ll admit that you wouldn?t find carpet on a list of family-friendly floors 20 years ago. Maybe not even 15 years ago, actually. ?

But as Bob Dylan crooned in the 60s, ?the times they are a-changin?.? Thanks to some serious innovation by Mohawk Flooring, carpet isn?t blacklisted anymore. ??

Carpet?s biggest bugaboo is how easily it stains (and how difficult it is to remove said stains). So, Mohawk cracked the code on carpet by building stain protection into its carpet?s fibers ? stain protection you can?t wipe away after a few spills.

Calling the carpet ?Forever Clean? wasn?t a marketing gimmick or out-of-touch management: Mohawk put its Smartstrand to the test against a herd of wild animals and it held its ground.

Almost all stains can be removed with just water and a washcloth. This easy maintenance is a good fit for households with children and wildlife.?

The Not So Good
The downside, of course, is that carpet doesn?t last as long as other types of flooring because its soft fibers can?t withstand long-term foot traffic. Expect Smartstrand Forever Clean to last about 10-12 years, like most other carpets.?

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