Where Do You Stand?

Flooring is an important design decision, especially when it can reach the ceiling of a decorating budget.

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    Suzanna Cullen

“A carpet is the soul of the apartment,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe in his famous essay The Philosophy of Furniture. However, Poe wrote that piece long before wall-to-wall carpet existed and “carpets” referred to beautiful wool, silk and linen one-of-a-kind antique rugs that were imported from Asia and Africa.

Floors remain a critical part of the design process, though contemporary tastes with ease-of-use predominate the South Bay mindset when selecting flooring. Many local homeowners are gravitating toward one type of flooring throughout—creating a seamless and uniform appearance that ties all of the spaces together for a larger effect. There can also be significant savings when using one type of flooring due to ease of installation.

Here are some pros and cons to a handful of popular floor options, including aesthetic, installation and cost.

Hardwood Floors

PROS: The most classic type of flooring, hardwood provides the best long-term investment due to its universal appeal, strength and durability. It is also among the healthiest floor surfaces because it’s easy to quickly clean with a broom or vacuum. A variety of woods and stains present tremendous options for any aesthetic, and this ageless solution is guaranteed to increase the value of any home.  

CONS: Expense. Real hardwoods are significantly pricier than their laminate counterparts. Whereas laminate only lasts about seven years, real hardwoods will last for generations—provided they are properly cared for. However, they are susceptible to scratching and often sensitive to water. They should be refinished or rebuffed every seven to 10 years, or as needed.


PROS: One of the lowest maintenance flooring surfaces available, tile choices abound in both ceramic and porcelain. While some people prefer the terra cotta tiles found in Spanish and Mediterranean homes, there are also extraordinary options that resemble limestone, travertine or even hardwoods. Tile is one of the most durable surfaces and will last for decades even in high-traffic areas, and it’s also easy to clean.

CONS: Tiles are heavy and thus require a strong sub-floor. The installation is critical for a polished, uniform look, so it’s important to have an experienced company measure and properly install tile. Grout color is also aesthetically important, so make sure to choose wisely when selecting. Samples of both tile and grout are available so they can be seen in the home before installation.


PROS: A traditional favorite that offers low cost and high comfort. It’s also one of the safest options under bare feet. Carpet is a good insulator from both temperatures and noise, so it’s frequently a go-to material for apartments and bedrooms. Carpet comes in a myriad of colors, patterns and materials, so it’s likely there’s something to appeal to everyone in this category.

CONS: It’s an extremely unhealthy option, a downside that far outweighs any pros to this flooring surface. It traps dirt and moisture and stains very easily. Dust mites, mildew, mold, pollen and dust love carpets—even those that are frequently vacuumed or pet- and shoe-free. Surprisingly, even the most expensive carpets can be toxic with an abundance of chemicals. And carpets do not last long. After just a few years, even the most luxurious and highest-quality carpets show signs of wear in the high-traffic areas and at seams. The abundance of evidence against carpet is overwhelming, and it should not be considered a good investment for any home.


PROS: A frequently requested floor material due to its durability, concrete enjoys the ease of both maintenance and longevity. Most often seen in commercial settings or contemporary lofts, concrete has evolved in many residential applications. It’s also one of the more environmentally friendly products out there because of a minute carbon footprint. In fact, it’s become so popular, the tough, resilient surface now comes in a variety of colors and textures.

CONS: It’s hard … really hard. People, particularly small children, can be easily hurt falling on this unyielding surface, and if anything is dropped on it, it’s likely to shatter beyond repair. Concrete is susceptible to moisture, so a proper installation is imperative, and it requires resealing every five to nine months. Also it can be cold, so area rugs are a good option where furniture might otherwise slide or feet get chilly.