Choosing the Right Floor for a Family with Kids and Pets

As soon as we went under contract for our new home in Texas, we immediately ordered a home inspection and then got to work budgeting repairs and upgrades that we’d like to make before we move in.

At the top of the upgrade list is replacing the carpet. There are a number of stains on the carpeting upstairs in what looks like a kid’s room. That’s easy to replace. The only question is whether we want to keep carpeting in the downstairs.

We’ve lived in rentals over the past 4 years that had all different types of flooring: carpeting, vinyl, laminate, and even hardwood. We want to make sure that we install flooring in our new home that will be able to take a beating from our son and our pets.

Carpeting downstairs is simply a no-go. It’s not worth the hassle of cleaning and shampooing every time the pets have an accident or our baby spills his juice on the floor. We have also seen what happens when water sits on hardwood flooring and, while we love the look of genuine hardwood, we know that it would only be a matter of time before the flooring scratched or warped from water damage.

Since carpeting and hardwood are both out, we’re now trying to decide between luxury vinyl plank (LVL), laminate plank, engineered hardwood flooring.

Each has its pros and cons.

Engineered hardwood has a laminate or composite base with a thin hardwood veneer on top. It gives you the look and feel of hardwood flooring with the durability of a laminate option. But, like all hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood can suffer scratches and dings, and can always warp if exposed to enough water for long enough.

Vinyl flooring is super durable and water-resistant, if not water-proof. While I hate the roll-out vinyl flooring of the past, companies are now offering what they call luxury vinyl plank flooring to give you a hardwood-style install with the durability of a traditional vinyl flooring. These planks tend to be a lot thinner, however, meaning that if the subfloor isn’t perfectly smooth, imperfections will be noticed in the finished product. Since I have no idea what the subfloor looks like, I am extremely hesitant to pull the trigger on a vinyl option.

That has left us leaning towards laminate flooring. The laminate options have the thickness of engineered hardwood with much of the surface level durability seen in vinyl. Since laminate planks tend to be a bit thicker than vinyl, I have more confidence that the flooring will work with the yet-to-be-examined subfloor.

Ultimately, I am going to need to go down to Texas and pick a style that matches or at least compliments the tile in our kitchen. So, it’s impossible to make any decision on this now.

But after weighing all of the pros and cons, it seems pretty clear that laminate flooring is the best fit for us and our family.

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