Living Room Flooring Ideas: Carpet, Hardwood, Laminate

Long-plank hardwood floor boards are one of the biggest flooring trends right now, House Beautiful reveals. Longer, wider boards create the illusion of space, so they’re a particularly popular choice for living rooms, which can always benefit from being made to feel bigger and brighter. If you’re in the process of choosing living room flooring, you should have three priorities in mind: affordability, durability against heavy foot traffic, and low-maintenance requirements. Carpet, hardwood, and laminate, in particular, are three stylish, durable options that promise to stand the test of time. By weighing up the pros and cons of each, you can successfully make the right flooring choice for your needs.

Cosy carpet

Warm and soft underfoot, carpet is a cosy choice for the living room. Ideally, you want to choose a carpet material that’s durable and lasts a long time. A 80/20 wool/nylon blend, for example, is a hard-wearing option that can last up to 25 years and still look great. Or, if you have children, pets, or are prone to drink spills, polypropylene is stain-resistant and easier to keep clean. It does, though, have a shorter lifespan of around ten years.

Carpet for the living room

In addition to being practical, carpet is also stylish. It comes in an endless array of block colours, as well as subtle, elegant patterns or big and bold motifs (like modern geometrics, stripes, or abstract designs). And, if all that wasn’t enough: carpet is also the cheapest option of all the different flooring types out there. It costs anywhere between €3 to €9 per square foot on average. 

Carpets can be bad for allergies

The main downside to carpet is that it generally isn’t suitable for people with allergies. Dust, dirt, mould spores, and pet dander get trapped in the fibres, which can trigger allergic reactions among those susceptible. “Mite allergen concentrations in dust from carpeted floors were 6–14 times higher than in dust from smooth floors”, reads a recent study on indoor air quality and adverse health outcomes associated with carpets. If this is a concern for you, but you still have your heart set on carpet, you may want to use a humidifier to relieve allergy symptoms. Humidifiers release water vapour into the air to increase humidity. Breathing moist, humid air can successfully reduce annoying allergy symptoms like a scratchy throat, nasal stuffiness, and sinus irritation.

Hardwood flooring

Hardwood flooring can add timeless natural warmth and beauty to your living room. It usually comes in the form of either engineered wood or solid wood. Engineered wood contains a high-quality plywood core covered by a thin veneer of real hardwood bonded on top, so from above it’s virtually indistinguishable from true hardwood. Solid wood flooring, on the hand, is a single, solid piece of real wood.

Each of these different wood flooring types have their own pros and cons. When it comes to the variety of colours and styles available, solid wood has the edge of engineered wood. Oak, walnut, cherry, ash, and maple are some of the most popular varieties. Price-wise, hardwood flooring is among the most expensive of the different types of flooring on the market. Solid wood costs somewhere between €4 to €9 per square foot, whereas engineered wood is slightly cheaper at €3 to €8 per square foot. 

Fortunately, both these options are fairly low-maintenance. Regular vacuuming and sporadic mopping is all that’s needed to keep them clean. Just remember to never use water or steam cleaners as moisture damages the wood. That said, if damaged, solid hardwood can be sanded down and refinished around five times to restore its natural beauty over its lifetime. But, as the hardwood top layer on engineered wood is fairly thin, it can only be refinished a couple of times at most before the hardwood layer thins out and needs to be replaced completely.

Laminate: an affordable alternative to hardwood

If you love the idea of wood more than any other of the different types of flooring, but it’s just too expensive, why not go for laminate instead? This material consists of a core board base topped with a plastic-protected photographic image of wood or tile. Installed laminate flooring costs around €2 to €6 per square foot, so it’s pretty affordable. Ideally you should go for good quality, long-lasting laminate that can cope with heavy traffic over the years. Fortunately, the protective plastic topcoat can withstand daily use and resist scratches, knicks, and dents.

Laminate’s also super easy to install as the planks snap together — no glue, hammer, and nails necessary. That said, although laminate gives a wood look, it’s never going to be mistaken for real hardwood. You’ll have to accept a plastic feel and empty sound underfoot.

The right flooring has the power to transform your living room. Whether you opt for carpet, hardwood, and laminate, these practical yet stylish options promise to meet your needs for years to come.