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Foyer and mudroom floors – best options

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Escorting you in and out of the home multiple times each day, the foyer is a high traffic area. Choosing a flooring material for this space needs to take into consideration both its durability and ease of maintenance, yet without compromising design.
The products on the market today are diverse from the real-deals to the bountiful (and quite impressive!) imitations. Be sure to check out all of the products—even one’s you think are out of the question—before making your final decision.
Regardless of your style or budget, you are sure to find a flooring material to lay the foundation for the rest of your home after reading this guide. Take the time to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each, and you’re sure to be happy with your selection for years to come.

TYPES

When it comes to flooring materials in the foyer, your choices are not limited. Each boasts its own advantages, but unfortunately the good always comes with some sort of bad. Weigh your options and find out which one is best for you.

SOLID WOOD FLOOR

Wood floors in the foyer are a warm welcoming to both you and your guestsWood is timeless and classic, never going out of style. When properly maintained, solid wood floors can last a lifetime—even in the high traffic area of a foyer. The heavy traffic will create a beautiful patina over time, but remember that the floors can always be sanded and refinished again to look like new.

Advantages:

  • Wood caters to many styles with the diverse species available for flooring as well as installation patters.
  • From light maple to exotic ipe and skinny planks to intricate designs, there is a wide variety of choices and patterns for every taste.
  • Wood floors bring a sense of warmth and charm to a space while feeling lovely underfoot. Solid wood floors are a classic that won’t soon need replacing.

Disadvantages:

  • Moisture—whether melted snow or rain tracked in—can do damage if not quickly taken care of.
  • Some species dent or scratch easily, needing refinishing.
  • Wood floors fall somewhere between cork and concrete on the shock-absorbing scale—different woods have different densities.
     

LAMINATE FLOOR

Laminated wood floors in the foyer resembles the look of real woodConstructed of layers of engineered material glued together. The top layer is often a thin veneer of wood. Veneers are available in different thicknesses, allowing you to refinish the surface. The thicker the veneer, the costlier the material.

Advantages:

  • Sometimes closely resembles the look of real wood or tile without the hefty price tag.
  • Installing is easy, so you’ll not only save on the cost of material, but also on the installation. In fact, many homeowners simply DIY.
  • Maintenance and clean-up is a breeze—sweep and/or mop.
  • Laminate doesn’t scuff or scratch making it a great addition to foyers with extreme use or destructive children and pets.

Disadvantages:

  • Though the look closely resembles the real-deal, the overall feel of the floors will not. Some say these floors feel hallow, and noise levels on them are often high.
  • If you’ve chosen a thin veneer on top, you likely won’t have enough wood to sand down and refinish—sadly, when the floors show signs of wear and tear, they will need to be completely replaced.
     

CERAMIC TILE FLOOR

Tile can accommodate unlimited styles.Ceramic tile is a great foyer flooring go-to. Its advantages paired with limitless options—size, color, shape, pattern and even texture—makes it a great choice for any style.

Advantages:

  • Durability and longevity coupled with a slim price tag make this material a homeowner favorite.
  • Spills, foot traffic, pets and more couldn’t destroy these floors if they tried.
  • Clean-up is simple—mop, vacuum or sweep as the situation calls for it.
  • Tile is often sold in 12 x 12 squares, making it easy to transport and install by yourself.

Disadvantages:

  • In older homes, the grout lines and even the tiles themselves can crack if the subfloors settle.
  • Tile is not forgiving. Standing on the hard surface for long periods of time may become uncomfortable, and if you’re in bare feet it will be cold.
  • Liquids (such as melted snow) will make the floor ultra slippery.
  • Grout lines are often difficult to keep clean, but periodic special cleaning and sealing will help.
     

STONE FLOOR

Slate tile stones are timeless and classic in the entrance foyerNatural stones have been used as flooring for centuries. Slate, marble, limestone and travertine are popular, but there are many options when it comes to stone. This material offers the entrance to your home an elegant foundation, and the rich variation from piece to piece—no two cuts of stone are identical—is a beautiful feature that other materials can’t imitate well.

Advantages:

  • Stunning floors that will last a lifetime, natural stone is a timeless, classic choice.
  • Clean up is simple—much like that of ceramic tile but depending on the installation, you might not have the grout lines to deal with.
  • Colors, styles and installation patterns are extremely diverse: you’re sure to find a stone to coordinate with the style of your home.

Disadvantages:

  • Though the beauty is extraordinary, so is the price tag.
  • Textured surfaces become a little more difficult to keep clean as dirt and grime can get stuck in the crevices.
  • Rock hard, literally, you won’t want to stand long on natural stone without a rug or mat.
  • Installation is difficult and meticulous, not for the DIY-er.
  • The layers in slate sometimes peel with age, soft stones can chip or scratch and porous stones will need to be protected with a sealer occasionally.
     

VINYL FLOOR

Let me re-introduce you to vinyl—no longer the cheap, tacky flooring material it used to be. Chic finishes and designs are now available with the option of using wide sheets or individual tiles. Vinyl often imitates other materials—tile, stone, wood—quite well, actually.

Advantages:

  • Price is its main advantage.
  • Get the similar look of other materials at a significantly reduced price.
  • Installation is easy, a project you could tackle (saving money yet again!).
  • Clean up is quick and simple, but keep in mind that textured vinyl will harbor some dirt.
  • Unlike the other dense flooring materials, vinyl is actually quite comfortable to stand on.

Disadvantages:

  • Though the price is right, the durability is not. Expect your floors to begin wearing after only five years.
  • Dirt and other contaminants can make tiny scratches in the surfaces, dulling its finish over time.
  • Vinyl does tear.
  • It can also fade in the sunlight and even curl, dent and bubble as it ages. Overall, durability is not its strong suit.
     

LINOLEUM FLOOR

Linoleum is not to be confused with vinyl—their materials and construction are distinctly different. Linoleum is making its way back to the fore-front of the market as eco-friendly consumers are realizing its benefits. This flooring substrate is all-natural: linseed oil, wood flour, resins and other natural materials comprise it.

Advantages:

  • Versatility is linoleum’s claim to fame. From any hue under the sun to unique installation patterns, you can accomplish nearly any look with linoleum.
  • The price is affordable, the material is durable and the maintenance is simple. Win, win, win!

Disadvantages:

  • Though installation patterns are limitless, they can be tricky so you’ll have to call in the professionals.
  • Though durable, linoleum can fade and show signs of wear over the years.
  • A protective coating is often applied to the surface at the manufacturing facility—if you opt for no protective coating, the floors will likely require waxing and polishing.
     

CORK FLOOR

Cork is a natural product that is sustainably harvested. In fact, the material used for flooring comes from the bark of the tree that is simply trimmed back from the tree, leaving the trees and forests undamaged. Eco-friendly consumers can’t get enough of this product.

Advantages:

  • It wasn’t until recent years that cork was available in different shades. Now, you can have cork floors in a variety of tints and even patterns.
  • Floating floors—which are laid right over existing floors—are available as well.
  • Cork floors are shock absorbing (great for little ones learning to walk), and they offer a comfort underfoot.
  • Cork softens the sounds of a noisy foyer, bringing a cozy feeling to the space.
  • This flooring holds temperature well, getting neither hot nor cold.
  • Its natural substance called suberin resists mildew, rot, mold and pests!

Disadvantages:

  • Cork may need occasional resealing with wax or polyurethane to keep it protected.
  • Floors should stay free of dirt to keep from damaging and scarring the surface.
  • Small tears are fine and will heal, but major gashes may prove difficult to repair.
  • Signs of wear and fading eventually begin to show.
     

BAMBOO FLOOR

Much to everyone’s surprise, bamboo is not wood; it is a grass. Eco-conscious consumers love it because it is a product that grows extremely quick, ensuring the earth’s resources will not become depleted.

Advantages:

  • Bamboo has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its durability, affordability and sustainability.
  • It has beautiful, variegated patterns throughout, and it brings a fresh and somewhat modern edge to any foyer.
  • It requires virtually no maintenance and is more comfortable underfoot than wood.

Disadvantages:

  • Bamboo isn’t completely moisture resistant and may warp in humid conditions.
  • Styles are not as diverse as other woods, as there are only so many shades and widths of planks of bamboo.
  • More importantly, bamboo is often imported from other countries that do not have as strict of regulations as North America—ensure you trust your source before installing these floors.
     

CONCRETE FLOOR

With the explosion of the industrial-chic style came the transformation of concrete floors. What used to be only seen in the basement, garage and beneath other flooring materials suddenly found itself in the spotlight. Staining, texturing, stamping, acid etching and more turns the old gray cement we used to know into a stunning, durable flooring material.

Advantages:

  • It doesn’t get much more durable than solid concrete which is basically indestructible.
  • Clean up is a breeze.
  • Styles are unlimited, and can even mimic other materials through the use of faux finishes.
  • Also, concrete is the perfect subfloor, so if you ever want to install tile, carpet or wood overtop, you’re ready to go!

Disadvantages:

  • Concrete is downright cold come wintertime.
  • It is hard and unforgiving, both on your feet and dropped items.
  • If the concrete isn’t already in place, chances are you’ll need professional installation.
  • Because concrete is a porous material, you’ll need to seal it to keep stains at bay.
     

TRENDS

Ultimately, you need to choose the flooring material that is right for you, but take into consideration rising trends:

  • Wood, ceramic tile and stone are still very popular materials for the foyer. You really can’t go wrong with any of these choices.

  • Larger pieces of stone and tile are popular, as it helps the space feel larger; rectangular (as opposed to square) pieces of stone and tile are also trendy with tight grout lines.

  • Cork flooring is gaining ground as homeowners realize the benefits of the relatively inexpensive flooring material. Being that it is a “green” product also helps.

  • Whereas vinyl used to be the go-to imitation flooring choice, linoleum sales are on the rise. Not only is linoleum a more “green” product than vinyl, but it is proving to offer more sophisticated and chic styles.

 

CONSIDERATIONS

Aside from durability, longevity and even style, there are other considerations to keep in mind when choosing a flooring material for your foyer.

  • Size of the space: You will need to consider the size of the foyer when choosing a flooring material. Often, foyers are small spaces, so it is wise to consider the size of the flooring material in compact areas. Use small sizes for tiles or stone and skinny planks for wood. The foyer is also a great place to consider an intricate pattern, such as herringbone, that may feel too busy in an expansive space.

  • Natural light: Is the foyer light and bright or dark and gloomy? Consider the amount of natural light the space receives when choosing a flooring material. If the space is naturally dark, choose a lighter flooring material—such as bamboo or a light colored tile—to brighten the space. However, if the space receives plenty of sunlight, consider a patterned floor that will help hide dirt, dust and even hairs. Nothing is worse than having to keep a bright white tiled floor immaculate all of the time.

  • Open or closed space: Is the foyer a contained space or does it open up to the rest of the home? Consider using one flooring material in the foyer as well as adjoining rooms to keep the flow moving. This will create the illusion of a larger space. If the space feels too large, give the foyer its own flooring material to break up the monotony and cause a visual distraction.

  • Frequency of use: Will the space be used by residents on a daily basis, or is it reserved only for “guests”? If choosing a flooring material for a space that is used multiple times a day, durability and ease of cleaning should be your first priorities. Puddles of melted snow can wreak havoc on some floors such as wood or laminate. On the contrary, if the foyer is only used to welcome guests into your home, splurge on a beautiful floor such as a natural stone or intricate tile design.

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Wood floors in the foyer are a warm welcoming to both you and your guests
Foyer and mudroom floors – best options