“Not that long ago we wanted to freshen up the Kitchen. One of the first things we did very inexpensively was add cabinet and drawer hardware. A trip to the local hardware store and a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and we were done!”
“We are constantly asked about what type of floors homeowners should put in their homes. The answer varies with where the floors are going, how they will be used and what your budget is. This article from Consumer Reports, might just help you make a decision in the future.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
Flooring takes up a lot of real estate in any room, and given its visual impact, you’ll want to make sure it lasts more than a few years. But when you consider all the flooring options on the market, it can be tough to know which material to go with.
“Is there potential for moisture or spills? How much traffic will the space have,” says Joan Muratore, a senior test engineer who evaluates flooring for Consumer Reports, “Ease of cleaning and maintenance is something else to consider.”
If you need help thinking through the functional aspects of flooring, check out our buying guide to the best types of flooring for each room. If you already have a sense of which material you’re looking for, well, you’re almost there: Take a look below at our top picks in five categories of materials, based on CR’s extensive lab testing.
We test wear resistance by subjecting a 6-by-6-inch sample of each flooring material to an abrasion machine fitted with a fine sandpaper disc, and assessing each sample for signs of visible wear after each cycle of sanding.
To test a floor’s resistance to denting, we drop a heavy, blunt weight that has the same impact as a large can of tomatoes, plus smaller, lighter, pointier objects that serve as proxies for kitchen utensils. Our testers drop the weights from progressively higher release points, examining the flooring for visible denting after each drop. The higher the drop before damage becomes evident, the better a floor’s dent-resistance rating.
We evaluate potential for fading by exposing part of a sample of flooring to UV rays for two weeks straight, then comparing the exposed portion to an unexposed portion. This gives us information on what can happen to a section of flooring that gets more sunlight than the rest of a room over time.
Powering It, Fixing It, Protecting It
Get everything you need to know when it comes to your home.
That depends on whether the material can be installed as a floating floor, or whether it should be nailed or glued into place.
With a floating floor, the pieces click together to create one large puzzle that can be installed right over an existing floor; its own weight will keep it from shifting, and the walls hold it in place. It has the advantage of being relatively easy to remove, which comes in handy if you make a mistake while you’re laying the floor or if you want to change it out for something different in the years to come. (We indicate which flooring can float in our extensive ratings.)
This approach doesn’t work with solid wood and porcelain tile—both of which get attached directly to a subfloor. (Wood is either nailed or glued, and tile is set in a bed of mortar.)
Below are CR’s top-scoring options for engineered wood, laminate, linoleum, prefinished solid wood, porcelain tile, and vinyl flooring, plus a runner-up in each category.
This flooring consists of factory-finished planks and is available in a variety of wood species. It can survive more scuffs than unfinished hardwood but designwise still add lots of warmth and character. As a whole, this category doesn’t do well when it comes to dent resistence—many in our ratings earn a Poor.
Lumber Liquidators Builder’s Pride Select Pewter Gray Maple solid wood flooring
Runner-up: Armstrong Paragon Original Ember SAKP59L401
Price per square foot: $7 CR’s take: This is the only other model in this category that receives an Excellent rating for ability to resist wear from foot traffic. This flooring also does well in retaining its color when exposed to ultraviolet rays; it won’t fade as much as others might in sunny rooms. As for installation, it needs to be nailed down to a plywood subfloor.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Made from several layers of plywood bound together by adhesives and topped with a layer of solid wood, this floor type simulates the look and feel of hardwood, but has one important advantage: The plywood substrate makes each plank less susceptible to seasonal shrinking and swelling than solid wood, which minimizes gaps between boards that can appear in dry conditions. (We have no runner-up in this category because none of the other products tested well enough for CR to recommend.)
Harris Wood Traditions SpringLoc Red Oak Bridle engineered wood
A less expensive option, laminate flooring simulates wood with a photographic image of wood sealed on top of dense fiberboard. Laminate comes in a variety of wood patterns, from oak to maple to pine. It’s usually easy to install because most products allow you to float the material over another flooring surface. That makes it ideal for quick upgrades.
Pergo Outlast+ Vintage Pewter Oak laminate flooring
Runner-up: Home Legend Textured Oak Angona HL 1224 (Home Depot) Price per square foot: $2.80 CR’s take:This flooring earns a rating of Excellent for its resistance to foot traffic and scratches in our tests, and holds up to prolonged UV exposure. It doesn’t stand up to dents very well, so it might not be best for kitchens, where there’s a chance you might drop a pot or pan.
Usually made of flexible PVC, vinyl flooring comes in squares or planks that can made into floating flooring or glued into place, or sheets that need to be glued down (by a pro). Vinyl flooring comes in hundreds of looks—woodlike, stonelike, and woven appearances, to name just a few.
Armstrong Vivero D10 Homespun Harmony Rugged Brown vinyl flooring
Best: Armstrong Vivero D10 Homespun Harmony Rugged Brown U1042 Price per square foot: $4 CR’s take:This vinyl option, which comes in planks, performs well in all our tests. It resists foot traffic, scratches, stains, and dents. There really isn’t a negative to note. It’s also easy to install, allowing you the option of floating it over an existing floor or affixing it with adhesive.
A type of ceramic tile, porcelain tile can look like marble, stone, hardwood, or handmade tile. It easily resists foot traffic, scratches and stains, but porcelain can dent, crack or chip if hit by a heavy object. Be warned if you’re considering porcelain tile for your kitchen: It’s hard on your feet when you’re doing a lot of cooking, though you could consider using a cushioned mat to provide a bit of relief.
SnapStone Beige porcelain tile
Best: Lumber Liquidators Avella Brazilian Cherry 10043950 Price per square foot: $3 CR’s take: With high marks across the board, this porcelain tile has the look of Brazilian hardwood without the high cost—which means you could have a wood-look floor in a bathroom or kitchen without worrying about moisture. Like most porcelain tile, this needs to be installed by a tile setter in a bed of mortar.
Runner-up: SnapStone Beige 11-001-02-01 Price per square foot: $8 CR’s take: Although most porcelain flooring calls for a subfloor (and pro installation), this runner-up from SnapStone happens to be DIY. You install it by joining each tile to the next with plastic tabs, then securing tiles with a proprietary flexible grout from the manufacturer. It earns a rating of Excellent for resistance to foot traffic and scratches, and doesn’t show much fading in CR’s UV tests.
“Ever struggled to get a picture actually hung on a nail? Well, here’s a much easier way to do it.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
Who among us hasn’t gotten totally fed up while hanging pictures on the wall? One of the most aggravating experiences in home decorating is when we’re hammering a nail into the wall only to have that nail push all the way in when we try to hook a photo or piece of artwork onto it. And don’t even get us started on trying to get the picture exactly straight: We need a small army of onlookers saying, “A little to the left!”
All in all, the whole process of hanging pictures can be utterly frustrating, leading many of us to either call in a professional or give up on the mission entirely. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way, thanks to a fabulously simple picture-hanging trick making the rounds on the internet. The best part? This home-decorating hack uses a basic item that every single one of us has in our kitchen: a fork.
Here’s how it works: After you put the nail in the exact spot where you need your picture to go, all you need to do is stick the fork upside down, nestle the prongs on top of the nail, prop the picture onto the nail, and then gently pull the fork out of its place. It’s hard to believe, but people are using this trick to hang their pictures in a matter of seconds — and the final result is pretty darn impressive. Watch the magic home decor hack in the 10-second video below to see how the magic works:
Although we’ve heard quite a few great home decorating tips over the years, we have to say that we’re especially impressed with this one. As it turns out, the simple curve of the fork works so well for this annoying household task, taking care of the hardest part. Who knew that the secret to fabulous picture-hanging was hiding in our kitchen drawers all this time? Just think of how many great pictures we’ll be able to decorate our walls with now.