(ARA) - While many homeowners like the warmth and comfort of carpeted floors, they are often hit with the harsh reality that carpet comes with a host of problems. Besides being very difficult to clean, carpeted floors can also be a health concern. Bacteria, dust, dirt and odors can easily become imbedded in carpeting and beyond the reach of vacuuming. What’s more, homeowners with carpet could also run into problems when trying to sell their home; many new homebuyers prefer the more modern look of hardwood flooring or other comparable options.

Replacing carpet with another type of flooring doesn’t have to be an investment - or time-consuming. There are hundreds of flooring options - materials, colors, textures - for all homeowners, project parameters and budgets.

“Recent technological advancements have greatly increased the number of attractive and affordable options for flooring,” says Tom Sullivan, founder of Lumber Liquidators, the nation’s largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring.

Among the most popular alternatives to carpet floors are hardwood, laminate, resilient, engineered wood, bamboo and cork floorings. Each has its own distinct advantages.

Hardwood flooring - Solid hardwood has become the gold standard for flooring in homes. Besides adding elegance and beauty to a home, properly cared for hardwood floors have been known to resist the microscopic allergens that carpet can trap, including pet dander, pollen, mites and mold.

Companies such as Lumber Liquidators offer hardwood floors in multiple finishes: prefinished domestic floors, prefinished exotic floors, prefinished stained floors, unfinished floors and handscraped. Solid hardwood floors are also a more eco-friendly option than carpet. Carpet typically lasts eight to 10 years, according to BankRate.com, and then gets tossed or recycled. But hardwood floors can last nearly a lifetime.

Laminate flooring - An inexpensive and versatile substitute for carpet, laminate flooring is made by attaching a photograph to a high-density fiberboard using heat and pressure. Recent advancements in high-definition imaging have created laminate floors that are unbelievably realistic looking.

In addition to being very budget-friendly, the construction of laminate flooring makes it well suited for higher-moisture areas. It’s relatively dent- and scratch-resistant, and is easy to install. The lifespan of well-maintained laminate flooring varies, but it is possible to find 12-millimeter laminates that feature a 30-year warranty.

Resilient flooring - Made from vinyl, resilient flooring is water-resistant and perfect for damp environments such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements. As with laminate, resilient flooring can also be manufactured to look like a variety of wood species, ranging from African Mahogany to Elgin Oak.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of resilient flooring is its price: It can be found for as little as 89 cents per square foot. Resilient flooring is available with a 25-year guarantee.

Engineered flooring - A misconception is that engineered hardwood flooring is not “real.” It is in fact real hardwood that is constructed for specific applications such as a basement. Virtually indistinguishable from solid hardwood, engineered flooring is constructed by adhering a solid hardwood layer to multiple cross-grain plies. This construction makes it more moisture-resistant than solid hardwood, enables a variety of installation options, and makes it a perfect choice for radiant heat and below-grade installations.

Brands such as Bellawood Engineered flooring offer a lifetime structural warranty and a 50-year warranty on the finish. Unlike laminate or resilient, engineered flooring can be sanded and refinished to even further extend its lifespan.

Bamboo and cork - Bamboo and cork are two newer additions to the flooring family. Both great alternatives to carpet, bamboo and cork are also ecologically sound choices. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth. It is actually a grass with an extensive root system that creates new bamboo shoots and requires no replanting. Cork flooring, which is durable, acoustical and insulating, comes from harvesting the outer bark of the cork oak tree - found mostly in the Mediterranean region. It is considered a green product because the same tree can be harvested numerous times.

“With so many flooring options, selecting the one that’s best for you really comes down to personal preferences and budget,” Sullivan says. “But regardless of which type of flooring you choose, you’ll be impressed by how the hardwood flooring look improves your home.”

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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