High Traffic Areas
It’s tempting to choose your flooring based on looks alone—classy hardwood floors for the entry, an earthy natural stone tile for the kitchen. When starting a home design project, you’re likely to have a specific look in mind.
In project design, durability and scratch-resistance are not nearly as exciting as color and finish, but they’re arguably more important, especially if you’re shopping for a high traffic area.
High traffic areas at home typically include entryways, foyers, mudrooms, main hallways, and kitchens.
If you’re looking for the best flooring for high traffic areas, it’s wise to shop for flooring that is highly durable and scratch resistant. Your design vision will look its best for years to come—no redos or reinstallations necessary.
Porcelain Tile for High Traffic Areas
When you hear “porcelain,” you probably think of delicate fine china dishes. Porcelain floor tile, however, is one of your best options if you’re looking for flooring that will hold up to heavy traffic. It is a type of ceramic tile known for its fine grain, density, and smooth finish. It is the same color all the way through its layers, so it won’t change color as it wears down—slowly—over time.
Ceramic tile is classed by its hardness, with porcelain being the hardest class. The Porcelain Enamel Institute uses a zero to five scale to rate ceramic material, where five is the hardest and most durable. Porcelain scores between four and five on the PEI scale. Porcelain is also water-resistant, stain-resistant, and easy to maintain, making it a great flooring option for high traffic areas that can get messy, like kitchens and mudrooms.
Luxury Vinyl Tile for Heavy Traffic
Luxury vinyl flooring is an excellent option for home use. It can be used to achieve the look of hardwood floors in wet areas at home, and hold up to heavy foot traffic, drops, and spills in any room. Vinyl is available in sheets, tiles, and planks.
- Sheet Vinyl is easy to install, perfect for protection against water, pets, and active children.
- Luxury Vinyl Tile is made of layers designed to protect against scratches, rips, and dents, and is even easier to install and repair than sheet vinyl.
- Luxury Vinyl Plank boasts an incredible hard wear layer, providing the look of hardwood flooring, with higher durability and a lower cost.
Luxury vinyl is loved for its design versatility. It is available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and sizes. Vinyl easily mimics ceramic tiles, hardwood floors, and even terrazzo, making it a durable and cost-effective alternative to less sturdy or more expensive flooring options.
Defeat Wear and Tear with Laminate
Laminate flooring recreates the image of wood flooring, stone flooring, or tile flooring using a photographic image on a laminated wood base. Some designers prefer the finish of laminate to vinyl flooring.
Apart from being durable against scratches, dents, and stains, laminate flooring is also simple to clean. A damp cloth or a dust mop will do the trick for most messes.
The best laminate flooring for high traffic areas will have a thick wear layer of melamine resin. You can choose from layers measuring from six to fifteen millimeters. Thick laminate flooring—twelve or fifteen millimeters thick—will hold up even in the busiest of areas.
There’s one catch: if you’re looking for flooring that will stand up to a lot of water, be wary of laminate flooring. Look for laminate that is marked as waterproof, or consider vinyl flooring instead.
Choosing Natural Stone Tile Floors for Durability
Stone floors often come to mind when deciding on a flooring option for heavy-use areas. After all, stone is sturdy, right?
Right—but not always. Just like stones in nature, stone tiles in your home will vary in their sturdiness and scratch-resistance. Choose stone with sufficient hardness and scratch-resistance ensures that your space stays looking its best.
The most popular stone tiles for heavy traffic include limestone, granite, and sandstone. No matter the stone tile flooring you choose, your space will benefit from the unique beauty that comes with material made by the earth’s natural processes.
- Available in a variety of finishes, like polished, brushed, and tumbled
- Less expensive than granite
- Available in lighter shades, like ivory and beige, and some reddish browns
- Can become less durable without regular finishing
- Extremely durable
- Moisture resistant (though slippery when wet)
- Wide range of colors, including white, beige, brown, blue, red, and black
- Heavy—consult with a professional to decide if your floors can support the weight
- Mostly sandy colors like gold, red, brown, and tan
- Can be matte or polished
- Relatively porous and susceptible to stains
- Softer than limestone and granite
Managing Hardwood Floors
Wood flooring is infamous for scratching, but that doesn’t mean you have to rule it out right away—especially for home use. If you have your heart set on wood, consider looking into engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is highly durable against foot traffic, and protects against moisture, so you don’t have to worry about scratches, dents, or warping.
As for traditional hardwood flooring, you are best off reserving it for areas with light to medium traffic. Make sure you buy a hardwood with a tough finish layer to protect from minor damages. From there, you can take steps to prevent meaningful damages and protect the quality of your wood. If you have pets, make sure their nails are trimmed so they won’t scratch your floor. Kids should take off cleats before walking on the flooring, and adults should remove stiletto shoes.
We’re happy to help! Our expert interior designers know the ins and outs of every flooring option available at National Design Mart. Tell them about your space, and they’ll help you choose the best flooring option for your high traffic areas—and elsewhere!
At National Design Mart, we want your space to be as functional as it is stylish. We’ll guide you through your project, from planning to installation.
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