Is Cork Flooring Waterproof?

When you think of cork, you probably picture the soft stopper that comes in wine bottles. Many people assume that cork flooring isn’t a good match for water because of its flexibility. But that cork protects and preserves liquids in wine bottles, and it also has water-resistant properties when it’s used on floors.

Understanding Cork

Cork is a type of wood that comes from cork oak trees. These plants are native to the Mediterranean region and have special adaptations for using water efficiently. In areas where this tree grows naturally, winters are wet and summers are dry. The plant’s outermost layer of bark grows as a grayish, nubbly surface. It develops over time and keeps the tree hydrated during the dry season.

This is the portion of the tree that is harvested for cork flooring. Its sponge-like structure contains air pockets that create a bouncy, pliable feel. But although cork has a spongy texture, it doesn’t soak up water. This flooring material contains suberin, a waxy substance that resists moisture.

Water Absorption of Cork vs Hardwood

Hardwoods seem like they would be relatively impenetrable by water. Those that fall at the high end of the Janka hardness scale are more water resistant than softer woods. However, wood is largely porous. The open cells in hardwood soak up moisture. You can prevent this by sealing the wood appropriately. But in its natural form, hardwood is not the best flooring option for extremely damp areas, such as basements and bathrooms.

Although more than 50% of cork is air, the material doesn’t absorb water like hardwood does. The suberin that coats the honeycomb-like walls prevents liquids from entering the open areas. This substance makes the cork hydrophobic, which means that it repels water.

In contrast, hardwood is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture from the air. The more humidity that there is in the environment, the more the hardwood soaks it in.

If you soaked a cork block in water for 48 hours, its mass would increase by 3%. That’s because it’s not completely waterproof. It does have hygroscopic properties, but those are moderated by the hydrophobic qualities.

If you soaked a block of hardwood in water for 48 hours, its mass and weight would increase by much more than that. Some types of wood can absorb more than their weight in water.

Is Cork Flooring Good for Bathrooms and Kitchens?

Cork is an excellent material for kitchen and bathroom floors. It can be used as a surface layer or as an underlayment.

Cork’s limited water absorbency makes it a deterrent to mold and mildew. It isn’t susceptible to rot, making it ideal for areas that are prone to pest infestations and flooding. Another reason that cork flooring is practical in kitchens and bathrooms is that it has a naturally non-slip surface. It’s an ideal option for indoor/outdoor rooms and sunrooms.

You should avoid using flooring in rooms that are always damp, such as saunas and pool rooms. Prolonged contact with moisture will eventually cause the cork to swell.

The type of cork flooring that you use influences its susceptibility to moisture damage, though. Cork tiles, planks, rolls and sheets are made by grinding the wood into small particles. Then, the manufacturer binds those granules together with an adhesive. Some manufacturers create pure agglomerated cork, which involves pressing pieces of the material into a mold and activating the natural resins under high heat.

Many cork tiles and planks have several layers. Although the top layer may be made of agglomerated cork, the other layers often contain medium or high-density fiberboard. This material is similar to the substrate on laminate flooring. It’s more absorbent than cork and may be susceptible to water damage.

The process that the cork undergoes affects its water resistance. Check with the manufacturer to determine if a particular product is appropriate for use in a damp environment. The most waterproof kinds of cork flooring are made with non-absorbent materials and techniques.

Can You Waterproof a Cork Floor by Sealing It?

Cork flooring is usually factory finished with a water-resistant coating. Some manufacturers recommend re-sealing the material every so often.

If your floors have a polyurethane sealant, you should reapply it every five to seven years. Cork floors with natural wax sealant should be refinished every 6 to 12 months. Acrylic and oil-based urethane sealants are much more popular than wax nowadays. They last longer and require less upkeep. Therefore, some homeowners strip the wax from existing cork floors and apply a polyurethane top coat.

Applying the top coat over seams in the flooring prevents moisture from seeping into the gaps. It also protects the floor from wear and tear by preventing dirt particles from settling into the spaces. Your flooring will stay waterproof much longer if you avoid grinding abrasive grains, such as sand, into the material.

Protecting the Surface

Even though cork is naturally water resistant, it gets some support from the top coat. Enhance the waterproof nature of your cork floors by treating them gently.

Some tips for reducing wear and tear on cork flooring include the following:

  • Replace casters on furniture with wide, rubber ones.
  • Place breathable rugs or mats at sinks and entryways.
  • Avoid using rubber-based rug pads.
  • Sweep abrasive particles off of the flooring regularly.
  • Inspect the floor for gouges that penetrate the finish or top layer.
  • Clean up liquids immediately.
  • Avoid dragging heavy items, including chairs, across the floor.
  • Wear soft-soled shoes.
  • Keep indoor temperatures and humidity levels steady.

Factoring in the Installation Method

The installation method also makes a difference in the water resistance of a cork floor. If you use adhesive tiles, make sure that you use the right type of adhesives. Solvent-based glues will dissolve water-based binders. Add a moisture barrier beneath cork flooring in moisture-prone areas, such as basements and sunrooms.

In some cases, you can lay down a subfloor that includes adequate moisture protection. Glue cork tiles directly to this material. You can also install a floating floor with a moisture barrier over concrete slabs.

A reputable professional will install your cork flooring using the most effective methods. Let them know if the flooring will be exposed to high humidity. They will help you select the best products and techniques to prioritize the waterproof qualities of your new floors.

Look for a licensed and insured installer, and learn about their guarantees. The manufacturer will also offer guidelines for proper installation and maintenance of cork flooring.

How to Protect Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring allows you to create a customized look that often mimics tile, stone and hardwood for a fraction of the price of those materials. All types of laminate flooring have similar maintenance and care needs no matter what they look like. This material is resilient and reliable, but you can damage it if you’re not careful. If you’re wondering how to protect laminate flooring, you have come to the right place. Follow the guidelines for protecting laminate flooring to get the most from this versatile material.

Install it Properly

The best tip for how to protect laminate flooring is to install it correctly. Many types of laminate are convenient for advanced DIY-ers to install themselves. But you need to make sure that you’re using the right type of moisture barrier and technique. If you don’t have the skills, hire a professional. Investing in the installation can save you money and headaches down the road.

Protect Your Laminate Flooring From Furniture

Chairs might be laminate flooring’s worst enemy. Every time you drag a chair across a laminate floor, it creates the potential for damage. Protect the surface by attaching felt pads to the feet of any movable furniture. If you have furniture with casters, replace the firm wheels with soft rubber ones. Lift heavy furniture if you have to move it across the floor.

Use Rugs Intentionally

Areas that encounter heavy traffic can wear out before other parts of the floor. Protect them with strategically placed rugs. Prime spots for throw rugs or welcome mats include the following:

  • Hallways
  • Entryways
  • In front of sinks
  • Beneath desks
  • Under dining tables

A high-quality, non-slip rug pad will prevent falls. Natural rubber and felt pads are safe for laminate floors. Avoid cheap rug pads because they may be made with plastics that damage and discolor the flooring. If you don’t use rug pads at all, you run the risk of scratching the laminate by grinding trapped dirt particles into it every time you step on the rug.

Instead of a rug, you could use a waterproof floor cover. These are excellent options for kitchens, playrooms, laundry rooms and pet areas.

Keep the Floor Clean

Cleaning properly not only improves appearances but also serves an important role in protecting laminate flooring. As people and pets walk across the floor, they deposit particles of dirt, food and dust. Although these grains are tiny, they are abrasive. As you track them across and grind them into the flooring, they create scratches. Repetitively abrading the surface erodes the wear layer and shortens the lifespan of the flooring.

Cleaning the floors also reduces static. While static buildup won’t damage your floors, it is annoying. Keeping the surface free of dust reduces the static electricity that makes you get shocked every time you touch someone in your home.

You should never use an oil-based product to clean your laminate floors. It can damage the material and make the floors slick. Also avoid using steam mops, which introduce moisture and cause buckling.

Use the Right Vacuum

Don’t use a carpet that’s designed for carpet on laminate. Cleaning equipment with hard edges or rigid wheels can scuff the flooring. Use a vacuum head that is protected with felt or another soft material. Avoid using vacuums with rotary brush heads. Better yet, use dry cleaning pads to attract dust, sand and grime and leave your laminate floors looking spotless.

Maintain Steady Humidity Levels

Laminate flooring is especially sensitive to humidity. Excessive moisture makes the material expand. This creates bubbles and waves in the flooring. Keep the humidity levels in your home between 35% and 65% to protect your investment.

Using central air conditioning and keeping your windows closed in warm weather helps you achieve this goal. You might also use a dehumidifier in damp areas, such as basements and bathrooms.

Wear Socks More

Shoes with hard soles can scratch and dull laminate flooring. You can make it a habit to wear socks or soft-soled shoes around the house. But you can’t make your pets wear socks. Keep their nails trimmed to avoid marring the finish with pesky surface scratches.

Be careful when you’re cleaning your laminate flooring, though. If you walk across damp floors with socks, you’ll create temporary marks that look dull when the light reflects off of them. Make sure that the flooring is completely dry before you allow anyone, including your pets, to step on it.

Can you Make Laminate Flooring Waterproof?

Laminate flooring has a relatively tough wear layer on the surface. However, the absorbent core can swell if water makes its way to it. Therefore, take measures to prevent water from seeping into the cracks.

  • Seal the seams – Seal the expansion gap with caulk or silicone. This is essential in high-moisture rooms, like the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Add sealant – Coating the floor with polyurethane provides an extra layer of protection. You can also use sealant in the locking systems to fill the gaps between the planks. However, you should check with the manufacturer to find out which sealants they recommend.
  • Install waterproof flooring – Some types of laminate are more waterproof than others. Use these in areas that are exposed to moisture and spills. No laminate is completely waterproof, though. You should use these recommendations for how to protect laminate flooring even if you have the waterproof version.
  • Wipe spills quickly – Don’t let liquids pool on the floor; keep the surface dry at all times.

Don’t Ignore Problems

Gouges that penetrate several layers of the material, warping and peeling issues should be addressed as soon as they happen. If you compromise the wear layer at the surface, dirt can get in and cause deeper erosion. Moisture can also enter, creating bigger problems.

If you notice that the laminate is warping, buckling or bubbling, you should investigate the source of the moisture issue. Leaving damp laminate on the floor can create further moisture issues and encourage mold and mildew growth. But you might keep encountering the problem if you don’t identify the cause.

Remove the boards and look for water damage around them. Address leaks in the perimeter of your home or from pipes. Replace the damaged parts of the floor with fresh laminate.

Contact a flooring expert if you’re not sure how to protect laminate flooring. They can guide you toward the right methods and products. A professional can also help you make repairs to extend the life of your floors.

Oak vs Maple Flooring: Important Differences

Oak and maple are both classic materials for flooring. These hardwoods are fairly neutral and create a solid foundation for the rest of your decor. Even though they have some similarities, oak and maple have distinct qualities. You may be partial to one over the other based on appearance, durability and personal preference.

Do Oak and Maple Look Different?

When you think of hardwood floors, do you imagine medium-brown planks with some grain patterns? Oak and maple may both fall into that category. However, you might be surprised by the subtle intricacies of each material.

Maple is lighter than oak. It has a blonde hue that borders on creamy white. Depending on the manufacturer, some types of maple flooring are beige or light brown. The overall appearance of maple is uniform. The wood doesn’t have high-contrast grain, and all of the planks that you’ll buy for a single project will have a fairly consistent tone and pattern.

White oak has a golden brown color. It has chocolate tones in the grain, which contrast nicely with the base color. The grain pattern of white oak is much more pronounced than that of maple. However, the type of cut influences the grain definition. Some oak planks have straight, subtle lines, while others have a swirling, organic design.

Red oak is lighter than white oak and has a reddish hue. Some experts say that it has a salmon-colored tint. This hardwood is an excellent option if you prefer the warm tones and want a floor that’s not as light as maple but not as dark as white oak.

Staining Oak vs Maple

Most people select the type of hardwood in part for its color. It makes sense that you would choose maple if you wanted lighter colored floors and white oak for a grayer, more neutral hue. If you want dark floors, you’re likely better off choosing a different type of wood. However, this isn’t always possible. If you’re interested in changing the color of your existing hardwood, you should consider the way that the different materials accept stain.

Maple flooring usually comes with a factory finish. This may differ between manufacturers. It might also include a stain that changes the natural color of the wood. If you want maple floors in a particular hue, you should select planks that best match your preferences. Most maple planks are finished with a light or clear sealant.

Maple is very difficult to stain once it’s on your floors. That’s because the grain is tightly closed on most of the plank. These spots don’t absorb stain well. The more porous areas do soak in plenty of stain, resulting in an uneven, blotchy appearance.

Manufacturers often use special techniques to prevent this from happening. But those techniques are difficult to replicate at home. Consult with a flooring professional if you are interested in changing the color of your existing maple floors.

If you’re looking for something darker than maple, consider oak. Not only is oak naturally darker than maple, but it also takes stain better. That’s because the wood is more porous and less dense than maple. If you want to darken existing oak floors, you can sand, stain and seal them.

You can stain oak flooring with any hue. Dark brown stains will camouflage some of the grain pattern and provide a more uniform appearance. However, dark floors aren’t as forgiving as light hardwoods when it comes to seeing dirt and dust. If you have a busy household and want dust and other particles to blend in with your floorboards, you might want to choose a lighter shade.

Is Oak or Maple More Durable?

Maple is harder than oak. However, these materials don’t fall far from each other on the hardness scale. Both are extremely good choices if you’re looking for a floor that will last for years.

These hardwoods resist scratches, gouges and dents. While dragged furniture or your pet’s claws can mar the finish, they’re not likely to dig into the wood itself. If your maple or oak floors do become damaged, you can sand and refinish them.

Even though maple is harder than oak, it’s not as stable in the face of humidity. The cells in any hardwood floors swell when they’re exposed to moisture and shrink in dry environments. Wood species that swell less in response to moisture are more dimensionally stable. Oak has more dimensional stability than maple.

This means that oak is less likely to become cupped or warped. Oak floors are less prone to developing gaps between the planks than maple. If your room is in a humid environment, oak may be the best option.

To reduce the risk of gapping between the boards, however, you can also choose narrower planks. These display less movement in response to moisture than wide boards.

How to Maintain Oak vs Maple Flooring

The best way to keep your oak or maple floors in good condition is to keep the humidity levels in your home stable. Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier in wet weather prevents moisture changes from affecting the floorboards. You can use a humidifier in dry weather, but don’t let condensation build up on the floors. You should also avoid leaving wet towels, shoes or bathing suits on the flooring.

Maintain your roof, and inspect your home regularly for signs of moisture damage. Standing water and leaks can permanently disfigure both oak and hardwood flooring.

Maintenance requirements for oak and maple flooring are similar. Keep them free of dirt and debris by sweeping or using a vacuum with a soft head. Avoid harsh cleaning equipment with hard edges, which can dull or scratch the finish on your floors.

When it’s time to deep clean your floors, feel free to mop them with a damp cloth. You can find many commercial cleaners that are designed for any hardwood. You can use these interchangeably between maple and oak. However, you might want to use the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best cleaning products for the best results.

Which Flooring Fits With Your Style and Budget?

It’s difficult to separate cost from style. Maple is often less expensive than oak, but it offers fewer variations in grain, color and pattern. While oak generally costs more than maple, it comes in a broad range of styles.

If you’re looking to spend less money to put down a neutral, classic and timeless floor that matches any decor, you might want to consider maple. However, if you have a unique color and design in mind, you can usually find a type of oak flooring to match your vision.

Oak vs Hickory Flooring: Important Differences

Hickory is one of the most durable materials for flooring. However, many consumers overlook it in favor of oak, which is much more common for floors. Most people are familiar with using hickory for cabinets, though. If you’re the type of person who researches all of their options before making a decision about home renovations, you might want to compare oak vs hickory flooring so that you achieve the outcome that you desire.

Several species of oak and hickory are native to North America. For many American consumers, this is important. You can support the local economy by choosing wood flooring that is sourced and manufactured in the U.S. The abundance of these hardwoods makes them easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Appearance of Oak vs Hickory Flooring

While function is important, we will get to that later in the article. Aesthetics play a significant role in flooring choices. Your floors should reflect your style and coordinate with the rest of your decor. Hickory and oak are both classic choices.

Grain Pattern

Oak has a fairly consistent grain pattern. Its appearance depends on the type of oak, the way that it’s cut and the stain color. However, it generally provides a traditional look. Rift-sawn and plain-sawn planks offer the most consistency of appearance. The grain in these types of cuts runs parallel to the board, and there are few, if any, wavy patterns. Live-sawn wood highlights the variation in grain pattern and contains more curving lines.

Hickory is usually bolder than oak. It has an extremely varied grain pattern with plenty of contrasts, swirls, knots and waves. To make the most of its unique appearance, manufacturers often cut hickory in wider planks than oak.

If you want a subtle design that adapts to any living or working space, oak flooring is probably the way to go. Hickory is much busier, and some people find it distracting. However, if you want the floor to stand out and add interest to your environment, you might want to consider hickory flooring.

Even if you’re looking at engineered hardwood or laminate, it’s helpful to keep the differences between oak and hickory flooring in mind. These materials mimic the look of each type of flooring and maintain the characteristics of the different hardwoods.


White oak has a neutral brown tone. It falls in the medium-brown range and may contain notes of honey and sepia. Red oak is lighter than white oak and has pink or salmon undertones.

Hickory is lighter in color than oak. However, it has a wider range of hues and shades within each plank. The heartwood warms up the space with a reddish cast. However, most hickory is extremely neutral and ranges from beige to medium brown.

Both materials accept stain well. Therefore, you can adjust the tone to complement your environment. Adding a dark stain to hickory makes it look more uniform. The distinctive characteristics will show through, creating an interesting finish that’s less chaotic than that of unstained hickory. Staining oak also camouflages some of the variation in the planks, delivering consistent results. An unexpected stain color can take your oak floors from subdued to dramatic.

Oak and hickory flooring can both be distressed. This process adds character to any hardwood floor, making it look worn in certain places. It also makes the planks look like vintage wood flooring.

Durability of Hickory vs Oak Flooring

Hickory is one of the hardest types of wood for flooring. It has a rating of 1820 on the Janka hardness scale. Only pecan and exotic hardwoods, such as Brazilian walnut and Patagonian rosewood, are harder than hickory.

White oak is rated 1360 on the Janka hardness scale, and red oak is rated 1290. While oak is harder than many other popular flooring choices, including pine, black cherry and teak, it is softer than hickory.

Therefore, hickory is a solid choice for high-traffic areas and rough activity. It’s ideal for play areas, mudrooms and foyers but can be used in any room. Because it is resistant to scratches, it won’t be easily damaged by pets, furniture or falling objects.

Interestingly, hickory is not as stable as oak in the face of temperature and fluctuations. This could be due to the way that the planks are cut.

But hardwood is an organic material that is always susceptible to moisture damage. Even if the wood is sealed, it deteriorates faster when it’s exposed to moisture. Therefore, if you’re considering installing flooring in a bathroom or basement, you might want to look at alternatives.

Engineered hardwood is more waterproof than solid hardwood. Therefore, hickory or oak engineered hardwood is likely a better choice for moisture-prone areas. If you already know that you want engineered hardwood, you can base your decision off of the appearance because both materials have similar properties otherwise.

Does Oak or Hickory Flooring Cost More?

The price of flooring varies depending on the grade, quality and manufacturer. Because oak is more abundant, it’s generally less expensive than hickory. Still, you should look into all of your options before making a decision. The finish, plank size, texture and installation method also affect the cost of the floor.

Because it is harder, hickory is more difficult to work with. It takes longer to cut through a plank of hickory than oak. You also need to pre-drill nail and screw holes to avoid cracking the wood. A professional flooring installer understands how to work with various hardwoods to provide you with optimal results.

Keep your lifestyle and the durability of the wood in mind when you’re pricing out hickory and oak flooring. If you expect that your floors will be exposed to plenty of abuse, you will likely save money in the long run with a more durable option. If you go with oak, you may end up spending more to repair and maintain it over your floors’ lifespan.

Do You Have to Care for Oak and Hickory Differently?

Oak and hickory floors have similar maintenance needs. As with any hardwood, you should keep the surface free of abrasive particles. Sweep them regularly. Dirt that accumulates in the grooves and cracks wears down the finish. Pet hair that gathers in these areas can accumulate moisture.

These hardwoods withstand vacuuming well. However, you should make sure that your vacuum is designed for hard flooring so that it doesn’t scratch the finish.

While these hardwoods can withstand some humidity, they will swell, buckle and warp if they’re submerged in water. Leaving wet towels or spills on the floor dulls the finish in those areas, creating a mottled appearance. Clean up moisture from the floors immediately, and dry the floors after mopping them.

Finally, hickory doesn’t tend to discolor with age like oak does. Therefore, it might be a better option for sunroom and other areas that are exposed to UV light.

Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

If you like the look of hardwood but want something more unique and sustainable, you might consider bamboo or cork flooring. These materials have a similar price and offer a sustainable way to cover your floors. However, there are several differences between the materials. Compare their characteristics so that you end up with the perfect flooring for your space.

Sustainability of Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

Cork and bamboo are considered to be eco-friendly flooring options. Both come from resources that are more renewable than hardwood.

How Environmentally Friendly is Bamboo?

Although bamboo can grow to 100 feet tall, it’s not a tree. Bamboo is a grass that regenerates through the root system. When a stalk is cut, the plant puts out new shoots. That means that bamboo grows more abundantly the more it is harvested.

Unlike hardwood trees, bamboo doesn’t need to be replanted after it is cut down. Plus, bamboo reaches maturity in about five years. Its fast growth cycle allows for responsible farming. Because bamboo requires no fertilizer and less maintenance than other crops, it’s quite sustainable.

However, there are some concerns about the way that bamboo is farmed. If land is cleared to plant a single crop, it damages the natural ecosystem. Look for FSC-certified bamboo products. These have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that the farming procedures preserve the biodiversity of the environment and allow for long-term sustainability.

How Environmentally Friendly is Cork?

While cork flooring comes from trees, it doesn’t require the entire plant to be harvested. When a cork oak tree reaches maturity, which takes about nine years, the bark begins to separate from the live tree fibers. At this point, workers carefully remove the bark without cutting down the tree. The bark grows back and can be harvested again every ten years or so if it’s done properly.

Cork trees can live for centuries if they’re cared for properly. In Portugal, where the majority of cork is harvested, cork trees are protected. The bark must be removed by skilled workers without harming the tree.

Is Cork or Bamboo Flooring More Durable?

Cork and bamboo flooring are both relatively durable. When properly maintained, cork flooring lasts about 25 to 40 years. High-quality bamboo flooring lasts 20 to 50 years.

How Durable Is Bamboo Flooring?

Even though bamboo flooring is harder than most hardwoods, it doesn’t usually last quite as long. Its longevity depends on the product’s type and quality.

There are three basic types of bamboo flooring:

  • Vertical – Bamboo stalks are arranged vertically before being fused into planks, creating a narrow grain pattern and a modern look.
  • Horizontal – Stalks are arranged horizontally, offering a wider grain pattern and a more traditional finish than vertical bamboo flooring.
  • Strand-woven – Instead of being butted together, bamboo stalks are separated into fibers. Those fibers are compressed with a resin to form a solid block.

Strand-woven bamboo is up to three times more durable than vertical or horizontal bamboo flooring. It’s often the best option for high-traffic areas and spaces with pets or kids.

However, you can also choose engineered bamboo. Instead of bonding bamboo into a solid plank, engineered flooring fuses a thin bamboo veneer with a sublayer and a wear layer. In some ways, engineered bamboo is more durable than solid bamboo. That’s because the wear layer provides extra protection against moisture and stains. However, you can’t sand and refinish engineered bamboo if the surface becomes marred.

Even though it’s harder than many hardwoods, bamboo doesn’t have the same resilience. Hardwoods contain natural oils and other compounds that naturally resist abrasion and cracking. But bamboo is less sensitive to moisture than hardwood, which makes it an ideal choice for humid environments.

How Durable Is Cork Flooring?

Although cork flooring is soft, it’s more durable than you might think. Because it’s so pliable, it resists cracking and scratching. In fact, it’s a naturally self-healing product. Small dents and gouges spring back into shape when the source of damage is removed.

However, cork is generally more delicate than bamboo. If large chunks of flooring are chipped away, they will need to be repaired or replaced.

Still, with an adequate finish and proper maintenance, cork flooring can last longer than bamboo. Cork contains a natural wax that makes it resistant to water and pests. However, some cork planks are made with a layer of high-density fiberboard at the base. If water seeps into the cracks, it can cause this layer to swell or buckle. Choosing high-quality tiles or waterproof click-together planks and installing them properly can prevent this from happening.

Installing Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

If you have some skill with power tools and home improvement projects, you can likely install bamboo or cork flooring yourself. It’s essential that you prepare your subfloor properly, however. It must be level, clean and dry. Take measures to protect the subfloor from moisture to extend the life of the bamboo or cork floor.

Most types of bamboo flooring are pre-finished. You won’t need to add any sealant, and you can walk on it immediately after installation. Click-and-lock cork planks may be pre-finished with a polyurethane sealant. However, glue-down cork tiles require one of the following sealing agents:

  • Acrylic urethane
  • Polyurethane
  • Wax

The sealant must be reapplied every several years, depending on the type. Without sealant, a cork floor will readily absorb moisture and deteriorate quickly.

Cork vs Bamboo Flooring Maintenance

Cork and bamboo flooring don’t require too much special maintenance. Take care of them by sweeping off grit regularly. Particles of dirt are abrasive and wear down the surface. Although both materials are water resistant, they last longer if the humidity and moisture levels in the environment are controlled. Clean up spills as soon as they happen to prevent moisture from seeping into the flooring.

You can deep clean both materials every month or so. Use a product that is designed for cleaning each type of flooring, and avoid dousing the surface in water. A damp mop works well for removing residue and freshening the floors.

You probably don’t need to reseal bamboo flooring during its lifetime. However, cork requires resealing every few years to help it last as long as possible

What Are the Benefits of Cork vs Bamboo Flooring?

If you’re still trying to decide between cork and bamboo, evaluate the benefits of each type of flooring for your needs.
Some of the benefits of cork flooring include:

  • Insulation from extreme temperatures
  • Provides a cozy, comfortable surface
  • Unique appearance that can be stained to your preferences
  • Excellent noise absorption
  • Non slip

Some of the benefits of bamboo flooring include:

  • Versatile for homes with fluctuating temperatures
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Durable and scratch resistant
  • Ideal for transitional pieces

Both surfaces resist mold and mildew growth, making them excellent choices for people with allergies. They also offer a distinctive look that can transform your space.

How Much is Marble Flooring?

Even though it’s not the most versatile, durable or expensive material, marble flooring holds a special place in our impressions of luxury. Marble is certainly elegant. But it can be as understated as it is dramatic. Some marble is so subtle that you mistake it for quartz or tile at first glance. Is it the epitome of luxury? And if you love the look of marble flooring, you probably wonder, “Is marble flooring expensive?”

What Makes Marble Flooring so Luxurious?

There is something so serene and refreshing about marble. It’s not just the delicious sensation that you get when you glide across it in bare feet, but also the way that it makes you marvel at the beauty of nature.

Marble is as grounded as it is lavish. It is formed in the ground and mined from quarries. Each slab of marble is unique. Your marble floor will not be identical to any other marble floor. This rare quality makes marble desirable.

But marble is a natural stone with inherent beauty. It can be polished to a smooth sheen, making it silky to the touch. The reflections that bounce off of the surface create depth and illumination. Although it is cool, marble retains temperature well and feels comfortable underfoot.

Marble flooring is also extremely durable. When maintained properly, marble can last many lifetimes. Because it is water resistant, marble flooring is suitable for high-moisture areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms. When it is used in living spaces and bedrooms, it offers a surprising warmth.

How Much Does Marble Flooring Cost?

Most residential marble flooring is made with marble tiles. These cost between $5 and $40 per square foot. Professional installation protects your investment and ensures the longevity of the floor. Installation costs an additional $3 to $7 per square foot. According to HomeAdvisor, the average total cost is between $10 and $20 per square foot. Luxury marble slabs cost between $50 and $80 per square foot.

Below are some general ideas of the cost of marble compared to other flooring materials (per square foot):

Factors That Affect Marble Flooring Prices

The following elements influence the price of marble flooring:

  • Flooring type – Marble tiles are much less expensive than solid slabs.
  • Complexity – An intricate design or complicated layout can boost the cost.
  • Additional prep services – Installation costs more if it includes floor removal or subfloor repair.
  • Custom sizes – Standard marble tiles are generally 12 by 12 inches or 12 by 18 inches.
  • Thickness – Thicker tiles are more durable and more expensive.
  • Finish – Tumbled finishes reduce the slickness of the surface, which is ideal for bathrooms and poolside areas.

Basic tiles usually hover around the $10 per square foot range. Specialty marble typically starts around $45 per square foot.

How the Grade of Marble Affects the Price

Marble’s quality and appearance are rated on a grading system. Grade A is more expensive than grade D. However, it’s not always preferable for flooring.

  • Grade A – Few natural imperfections, consistent coloring and little veining; this is the least dramatic type of marble.
  • Grade B – Few flaws, dry veining; this marble contains subtle veining that may be filled to reinforce the structure of the stone.
  • Grade C – Moderate flaws, significant dry veining, voids and pitting; the manufacturer fills chipped areas and dry veins to stabilize the marble.
  • Grade D – Significant flaws; this grade requires repairs before it can be polished and used, but it results in some of the most dramatic effects.

Types of Marble by Cost

The type of marble that’s used for decorating is classified into several categories. Each group has a distinct appearance and quality. The following are the most common types of marble, arranged by price per square foot:

  • Carrara – White surface, uniform texture, little to no veining, $6 to $12
  • Crema Marfil – Light surface with beige base, honey-colored veining, $6 to $12
  • Calacatta – Light surface, warm glow, subtle veining, $12+
  • Breccia – Dark and dramatic, comes in many colors, high contrast, $10 to $30
  • Emperador – High contrast, illusion of depth, increased variation in veining and colors, $70 to $90

How to Save Money on Marble Flooring

Although marble is one of the most expensive flooring materials, it pays for itself in longevity. You can save money on flooring repairs and replacements down the road by maintaining your marble floor properly.

Maintain Your Marble Floor

woman hand on marble floor

You’ll get the most life out of your luxury flooring by keeping it clean. Sweep and use a dust mop frequently. Doing this will eliminate the particles of dirt that degrade the floor. Be careful when using a vacuum cleaner on marble floors. The wheels and hard components can mar the finish.

Blot up spills quickly. Acidic foods and beverages can stain the marble. Therefore, you don’t want to spread the stain by wiping it around the floor. Only use mild dish soap with water or a specialty product to deep clean marble flooring.

Use an appropriate sealant to protect your marble floors from stains. Depending on the level of traffic that your floor is exposed to, you’ll need to reapply the sealant once or twice a year.

Marble feels hard under your feet, but it is prone to getting scratched and scuffed. Protect high-traffic areas with area rugs. Keeping rambunctious pets and children’s toys away from marble floors will also reduce the chances of damaging your floors.

Choose Small Tiles

Although marble slabs make for impressive flooring, they’re expensive. The price of marble increases with larger tiles. However, smaller tiles may fall within your budget. Standard-sized tiles are also more cost-effective than custom sizes.

Fill Small Spaces

You don’t have to cover your entire floor plan in marble to benefit from its splendor. Use it as an accent in smaller areas, such as bathrooms, hallways and foyers. Creating a pattern with small tiles creates interest without requiring truckloads of material. You can also create a base with lower-priced tile and reserve the specialty marble for accents.

Hire a Professional

While it costs more to hire a professional than to lay the tile yourself, working with an expert saves you money in a number of ways. They’re insured, which means that you won’t be liable for costly mistakes or accidents on their end. Marble requires special equipment, and a professional is likely to work more efficiently and produce less waste. Moreover, professional installation optimizes the longevity of your floors. You’re less likely to have to deal with costly repairs down the road.

Consider Alternatives to Marble Flooring

If you love the look of marble flooring but don’t feel aligned with the price tag, you have plenty of options for achieving similar results. The following materials come in designs that mimic marble but have a lower price tag:

  • Porcelain and ceramic tile
  • Vinyl plank flooring
  • Laminate flooring

While these materials don’t have the same feel or requirements of care, they may offer benefits that make them preferable. For example, vinyl and laminate are softer underfoot and excellent for families with kids. Porcelain and ceramic don’t stain as readily as marble. Check out some of our other flooring articles to research the best options for you.

The Best Flooring For a Sunroom

A sunroom creates a transitional space between your home and yard. These spaces are often breezy and light-filled, giving you a view of the outdoors while protecting you, your furniture and your flooring from the elements.

Top Needs of Sunroom Flooring

You want your sunroom to feel as inviting and cozy as your living room. However, you can’t always use the same flooring in a sunroom as you would in a traditional indoor living space. Consider the following factors when choosing flooring for a sunroom:


Your sunroom is exposed to harsher elements than the other rooms in your home. If the space isn’t air conditioned, it’s probably more humid than your living room. Even if it is climate-controlled, a sunroom is often exposed to intense sunlight.

Your flooring needs to withstand the heat and resist damage from UV rays. It must also accommodate extreme temperature changes. Some of the less rugged materials can crack or buckle if the weather shifts rapidly.


The abundant sunroom flooring options make it easy for you to select a color that complements your style. You don’t have to match it with the rest of your home.

Many people choose neutral colors for their sunroom flooring to highlight the natural feel of the room. Lighter colors are often preferable to dark ones because they reflect sunlight. Dark hues absorb light and can feel hot to the touch. This might be a benefit in the winter, but it can render the room unusable in the summer.

Moisture Barrier

Especially if it’s in a screened-in porch or high-humidity area, flooring must be moisture-resistant so that it doesn’t rot, warp or develop mold. Therefore, you should choose a material that naturally repels moisture.

You’ll also need to create an adequate moisture barrier below the floor. Placing organic materials, such as hardwood, against a concrete slab invite moisture problems. If your sunroom is raised, have a vapor barrier installed in the crawlspace below it.

Hardwood Flooring for Sunrooms

Hardwood is a popular choice for indoor floors. Many homeowners extend it to the sunroom to provide a cohesive look throughout the home. Many types of hardwoods are ideal for transitional spaces.

White oak is one of the best hardwoods for sunrooms. This dense wood resists moisture and scratching. You can extend its weatherproof properties by using an adequate sealant.
Avoid using richly colored hardwoods or dark stains. These will fade in a sunlit room. Choose a light color or planks with a dappled tone to reduce the bleaching effects of UV light. Protecting the flooring with a carpet and moving the furniture regularly will help prevent sun damage.


  • Natural, traditional look and feel
  • Doesn’t get too hot in sunlight
  • Brings a sense of warmth to the space


  • Not the best choice if the room isn’t climate controlled
  • Feels cold in the winter
  • Not intended for floors that get rained on
  • Not ideal over a concrete slab

Can You Use Engineered Hardwood in Sunrooms?

Engineered hardwood is more water resistant, moisture tolerant and stable than natural hardwood. It stands up well to fluctuations in temperature and doesn’t absorb moisture readily. Because engineered hardwood is made of multiple layers, it has a sturdier composition. The layers are applied in different directions, providing strength and reducing the chance that the wood will warp or buckle.

The top layer is a hardwood veneer, which delivers the visual appeal and adds protection. The veneer makes the surface look like real hardwood. If the veneer isn’t thick enough, though, it can scratch or peel off easily. Thin veneer also reduces the flooring’s water-resistant qualities. Therefore, you should look for engineered hardwood with thick, high-quality veneer if you plan to use it in a sunroom.


  • Excellent choice for installation over a concrete slab
  • Broad range of colors and styles
  • May be more affordable than hardwood


  • Difficult to refinish if the flooring gets damaged
  • Not suitable for exposure to rain
  • Low-quality versions won’t be durable in a sunroom

Is Tile Flooring Ideal for a Sunroom?

Tile is a common choice for sunroom flooring in warm, humid climates. Many types of tile are heat and fade resistant. This flooring is also waterproof, making it perfect for rooms that are open to the elements. You can sweep and mop tile floors easily. However, tile flooring can be difficult to vacuum. Still, it handles heavy traffic and spills.

But tile can crack when your kids run through the sunroom in their cleats or your cat drops a potted plant on the floor. Tile also makes for a hard landing if you or a toddler trip and fall. Still, you can throw a rug onto the floor to make it more comfortable and protect it from damage.


  • Stays cool in the summer
  • Easy to clean
  • Create unique patterns and mosaics


  • Intolerant to extreme conditions
  • Not ideal for cold climates
  • More fragile than some other options

Installing Vinyl Floors in Sunrooms

Vinyl is one of the most waterproof materials around. In fact, it’s used to make pipes and shower curtain liners. Therefore, you might want to consider it for a sunroom. It holds up well to heavy traffic, spills and falling pots. It can feel cool underfoot. However, it’s not as refreshing as tile.

Because vinyl comes in planks, it’s easy to install yourself. It can be a budget-friendly option for sunroom flooring, giving you a chance to show off your style without breaking the bank. It offers an affordable flooring option for every room, helping you maintain a cohesive look throughout your home.

However, vinyl can become brittle when it’s exposed to intense sunlight. Therefore, it might not be the best choice for a sunroom with lots of windows. Using plants, furniture and throw rugs strategically can protect this type of flooring and help it last longer.


  • Waterproof
  • Easy to install yourself
  • Comes in unique and traditional designs
  • Slip resistant


  • Susceptible to fading
  • Deteriorates in bright sunlight

Laminate Flooring for Sunrooms

Laminate is a combination of materials that are engineered for affordability and ease of use. Layers of high-density fiberboard are pressed together to create the planks. This material is covered with a melamine laminate that is printed to mimic any material, including hardwood and tile. The laminate is covered by a clear, protective coating, which prevents moisture from penetrating the planks and safeguards the surface from wear and tear.


  • Springy and comfortable underfoot
  • May resist fading better than vinyl
  • Easy to clean


  • Not the most waterproof option
  • Can’t be exposed to the elements
  • Not as tolerant of heavy foot traffic as other materials

What About Carpet in a Sunroom?

Putting carpeting in a sunroom protects the floor from foot traffic, moisture and sunlight. While carpet makes the room feel comfortable and welcoming, it isn’t always the best choice.

Carpet traps dirt particles, preventing them from entering the rest of the home. But you might have to spend extra time cleaning the rug in your sunroom. You should avoid traditional rugs and carpeting if your sunroom is humid.

However, you might opt for an indoor-outdoor carpet, which won’t absorb moisture. Carpet tiles are another great choice that you can easily reinstall if they become damaged.


  • Comfortable underfoot
  • Protects the floor from dirt, fading and damage
  • Wide selection available
  • Reacts well to extreme temperature changes


  • Gets dirty easily
  • Absorbs moisture
  • Increases the risk of mold and mildew growth

How to Make the Best Choice

If you can’t decide, research a few different materials. Talk to experts that can help you envision the final results. Does a particular aesthetic attract your interest? Once you select a few options, think about their benefits and disadvantages for your lifestyle. Which one fits best with your budget? The best choice will begin to make itself apparent.

Red Oak vs. White Oak Flooring

If you’re looking for hardwood flooring, you will come across a lot of oak. This type of hardwood is plentiful, durable and versatile. While oak has been used in traditional homes for centuries, it complements many styles of decor. White oak has the neutral honey tones that most people think of when it comes to this type of flooring. But red oak is another option with distinctive characteristics.

The Basics of Red and White Oak

Red and white oak trees grow abundantly throughout most of the eastern U.S. These trees develop quickly, growing more than two feet every year until they reach maturity. Each subspecies has special characteristics, adding variety and interest to the hardwood planks that are available for flooring.

Oak is a particularly hard and durable wood. It resists scratching and stands up to heavy traffic. It also has moisture-resistant properties, which help it last long indoors and outside. Red and white oak both showcase the beneficial characteristics of this hardwood. However, they have some distinct differences when it comes to appearance, durability and price.


White oak has tones that fall into the brown colorway. While it can have a rich, warm, appearance, its shades favor the yellow family. White oak is often preferable in rooms that have other cool tones, such as grays and blues.

Red oak is not as dark as white oak. It also has honey and brown tones, but those are pervaded by a rosy hue.

Both types of hardwood flooring take stain well. Therefore, you can adjust the color depending on your preferences and decor. If you’re using a light or cool-toned stain, you will likely have better results by applying it to white oak. However, medium and dark stains make white and red oak look almost identical.

Because white oak is lighter in color, its patterns don’t stand out as much as they do in red oak. Therefore, red oak flooring may look livelier and attracts more attention than white oak.

Grain Patterns

Regardless of the type of wood that you use, you can vary the appearance by choosing one of the following cut styles. These influence the grain pattern along the surface of the plank:

  • Rift sawn – The plank is cut diagonally across the rings, creating a uniform pattern of mottled striping along the surface.
  • Quarter sawn – The plank is cut perpendicular to the growth rings, creating long, straight grain patterns that span the length of the board and flecks that interrupt the striped graining.
  • Flat sawn – The rings lie parallel to the face of the board, creating wavy grain patterns.
  • Live sawn – The log is cut through the heartwood, preserving the full strength of the wood and showcasing organic, undulating graining.

Red and white oak have different tendencies when they’re cut using specific methods. Quarter-sawn white oak planks often deliver the most consistent look. However, whereas the markings on quarter-sawn white oak are subtle, they stand out more in red oak. In fact, red oak generally showcases variations in the wood more dramatically than white oak.


Both types of oak hardwood have tight rings and a strong structure. They have stood the test of time as construction materials for home. But white oak is slightly more durable than red oak. According to the Janka scale, which identifies the hardness of lumber, white oak has a rating of 1360, and red oak has a rating of 1290.

Because it’s harder, white oak resists scratches, scuffs, gouges and dents. It is also more appropriate for outdoor use, such as on a deck or patio. However, the intricate and obvious grain patterns in red oak disguise scratches well. Red and white oak are both popular choices for indoor flooring, stair treads and handrails.

Again, the cut style influences the durability of the wood. Narrower, rift or quarter-sawn planks are the least susceptible to cracking and breaking. Wider pieces with variable grain patterns respond inconsistently to force. Rift-sawn wood also resists twisting and warping more than planks that have wavy grain markings.

Moisture Resistance

Oak is a porous, organic material that’s more prone to moisture damage than inorganic materials, such as vinyl flooring. Water damage from a flood or burst pipe could cause it to swell and buckle. However, if the hardwood isn’t sitting under a puddle, it can resist moisture relatively well. Because it’s so hard, it doesn’t soak up water quickly. Therefore, you can protect it by wiping up spills quickly and keeping wet towels off of the floor.

But if you’re particularly concerned about moisture, you might prefer white oak to red oak. White oak contains tylose, a plant material that obstructs the open channels within the wood and makes it less porous. This property makes it ideal for making barrels and boats as well as indoor and outdoor flooring. Because red oak doesn’t contain tylose, it’s more absorbent.

The cut style also influences the wood’s water resistance. Flat-sawn pieces are more susceptible to the effects of moisture than quarter-sawn planks. Live-sawn boards tend to be wide and have an inconsistent grain pattern, which absorbs moisture more in some places than others.

Floorboards shift as they absorb moisture. Therefore, they can warp, bend, lift and crack. It’s often best to use boards with consistent grain markings to prevent uneven deterioration. Sealing the wood properly also protects it against water damage.


White oak and red oak flooring tend to be comparable in cost. However, white oak may be slightly more expensive because these trees take longer to grow to a harvestable size than red oak trees.

The grade of the flooring has a lot to do with the price. Experts use the following rating system to identify the grade of the wood:

  • Select – The most expensive grade of oak hardwood, it has few imperfections. This grade offers the most consistent grain pattern, with only small knots permitted.
  • #1 common – This grade features more variation among the color and grain pattern.
  • #2 common – This wood is more rustic and less expensive than the other grades. It features dramatic variations, knots, wormholes and shorter planks. Sometimes, this is called cabin grade flooring.

Research the availability and cost of different types of flooring with various manufacturers. The prices fluctuate, and some manufacturers may have styles that aren’t available from other companies.

Matching Your Red or White Oak Flooring

If you’re repairing a section of your flooring or want to match the hardwood to the rest of the home, it helps to identify whether you have red or white oak flooring. If you can get your hands on a plank that shows the cross-section, look at the end of the wood. Seeing plenty of open vessels indicates that it’s probably red oak. Coating the wood with a clear sealer also brings out the undertones. Boards with a salmon glow are red oak, and pieces with a tan hue are likely white oak.

Although they have similar characteristics, the different types of wood won’t match when they’re installed next to each other. However, you can blend the different types of flooring using a medium or dark stain.

If you’re trying to pair your hardwood flooring with other elements, such as cabinets and countertops, consider complementing the tones instead of matching them exactly. In most cases, you can combine red oak cabinets with white oak flooring and vice versa. The neutral undertones of white oak make it appropriate for almost every situation.

Travertine vs. Porcelain Flooring

Tile flooring is popular for its ability to keep your home cool, easy upkeep, durability and timeless style. But with so many types of tile available, you might wonder which is the best option for your space. Travertine and porcelain are popular high-end choices. Learning more about their characteristics and benefits can help you make the best selection.

What is Travertine Flooring?

Travertine is a natural limestone that develops around mineral-rich springs. As the minerals from the springs interact with the limestone, they create unique swirls and patterns in the stone.

This is one of the most ancient building materials. Its durability and attractiveness made it an exceptional material for building many famous structures, such as the Trevi Fountain and Getty Center. Although travertine tiles are processed to deliver a relatively consistent look and feel, they retain the original peculiarities of the stone.

The following classifications of travertine offer distinct looks:

  • Brushed – The surface of the stone is textured with a wire brush to remove traces of shine and deliver a matte finish.
  • Honed – Grinding the top surface of the stone gives it a subtle sheen.
  • Polished – The surface of the travertine is smooth and glossy, giving it a marble-like, reflective appearance.
  • Tumbled – The stone is processed with abrasive particles to deliver rustic style.

Travertine tile can be filled or unfilled. Filling the indentations with grout or epoxy makes it smooth. Polished travertine is filled before it is buffed and polished. Honed travertine may be filled or unfilled. Tumbled travertine is typically unfilled, especially when it is used outdoors. Filling it adds some protection and consistency, however. Brushed travertine is usually unfilled.

The method that’s used to cut the tiles also affects their appearance and functionality. Straight-cut tiles have smooth edges that enhance a polished style. Chiseled-edge tiles have irregular borders, which provide traction and a more irregular look. Polished tiles usually have a straight edge, while brushed and tumbled tiles generally have a chiseled border.

What is Porcelain Flooring?

Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic that is made from fine, dense clay. Manufacturers produce porcelain tile by combining materials such as clay, feldspar and sand. Other materials, including quartz and silica, are often added. The wet mixture is poured into molds and flattened under high pressure. Then, it is fired at extremely high temperatures. This process removes moisture, makes the porcelain waterproof and increases the durability of the product.

You can find porcelain tiles in glazed or unglazed varieties. Glazed tiles are coated before they enter the kiln. The glaze is fused to the material under high heat and can add color, glossiness and design elements to the tile. Unglazed porcelain may have more texture than glazed tile. However, unglazed tiles can be polished to achieve a glossy finish.

How Do Travertine and Porcelain Tiles Compare?

Travertine and porcelain tiles have many similarities. But knowing how they differ might help you choose the best type of flooring for your home or business.


Travertine and porcelain come in many different colors. Whereas travertine obtains its hue from the natural elements to which it is exposed during its development, porcelain can be colored artificially. Therefore, it has a broader range of tones and patterns.

Porcelain glaze can be applied in an intricate design, resulting in unique patterns and images that create lovely mosaics. Porcelain tile may also be colored before it is pressed and fired, resulting in a consistent tone throughout the material. Digital printing creates porcelain tiles that mimic other materials, like vintage wood or travertine.

Although sealing travertine can bring out the depth of its natural hues, it doesn’t change the color dramatically. Travertine usually comes in warm, neutral tones, such as cream, rust, tan, gold and gray.


Travertine is a rugged stone that stands up to heavy traffic without cracking or chipping. However, its porous surface should be sealed to prevent damage and corrosion from acids, the elements and moisture.

Outdoor travertine flooring doesn’t necessarily need to be sealed. But coating it with a sealant will protect it from sun and rain damage, reduce staining and prohibit mold, algae and mildew growth.

Porcelain is the hardest type of ceramic. To be classified as such, porcelain must have a moisture absorption rate of less than 0.5%. Therefore, it is inherently water and stain resistant.

Both types of tile are ideal for busy areas and pet traffic. Even though travertine and porcelain are incredibly durable, they can get scratched. Don’t drag furniture across them or scrub them with abrasive materials. After installation, you might want to add a rug as a layer of protection in heavily trafficked areas


Travertine and porcelain tiles have a wide range of uses. Because they’re so durable, they are often used for indoor and outdoor flooring as well as backsplashes and fireplace surrounds. However, porcelain is less commonly found outdoors than travertine.

Porcelain is more compatible with moisture than some types of travertine. Therefore, you’re more likely to find it in a bathroom or kitchen. Porcelain is commonly used in showers and on countertops. Using porcelain slabs instead of tiles eliminates the grout, which can absorb moisture and stains.

Travertine can be used in bathrooms if it has a proper finish and sealant. It may not be as slippery as porcelain when it’s exposed to water. But you should not use unsealed travertine for indoor flooring in moisture-rich areas. It can be difficult to clean and may increase the risk of mildew growth inside your home.


Tile flooring is much more rigid than wood, carpet or vinyl. If you drop a glass on porcelain or travertine tiles, it will probably shatter. But travertine is Travertine tiles aren’t as susceptible to temperature changes as porcelain. The fact that travertine doesn’t get uncomfortably hot in the sun makes it an excellent choice for outdoor areas and porches.

Although porcelain remains stable in extreme temperatures, it reflects the heat and coolness of the environment. Therefore, it may feel colder than travertine in the winter and warmer underfoot in the summer.

porcelain tile flooring outside


Both types of tile are relatively easy to clean. You can wipe spills from porcelain and sealed or polished travertine easily. Remove acidic materials, such as juice, coffee and wine, as soon as possible. However, you should be cautious with the products that you use to deep clean both types of tiles.

Use mild soap or a product that’s designed for natural stone to clean travertine. Avoid using cleaners with bleach, ammonia, citrus or vinegar, as these can etch the surface of the tile. Don’t use generic cleaners on travertine either.

You can use a diluted vinegar-and-water solution to give porcelain a deep cleaning and sanitize the surface. For everyday cleaning, hot water, mild soap or multipurpose cleaners that are safe for porcelain will work well. However, avoid leaving puddles, and use fresh water to rinse the surface and remove residue from the cleaning agent. You should avoid using waxes, oil-based cleaners, ammonia and bleach on porcelain tile.

No matter what type of cleaner you use for your tile, sweep up loose debris before mopping or wiping your floors. If you don’t, you risk scratching the surface with particles of sand and dirt. Regular sweeping and mopping extends the longevity of the tile, preventing residue from building up.


Porcelain tiles require little maintenance compared to travertine. Depending on the amount of traffic that it’s exposed to, travertine must be sealed every three years or so. You can tell when it’s necessary to seal travertine because it starts to look patchy and absorbs stains easily.

You don’t have to do much more than clean porcelain to maintain it. Most porcelain tiles don’t require a sealer. Some homeowners choose to seal the porcelain to protect the appearance of the grout, however.

You may have to perform more complicated repairs on porcelain than travertine, though. You can often fix cracked travertine epoxy. But repairing damaged porcelain tiles usually requires you to remove them and install new ones.

Recycling Your Hardwood Floors (How, Where, and Why)

It’s exciting to plan a flooring project. Deciding on the style, color and material keeps you busy and allows you to customize your home’s environment. But you might spend so much time envisioning the new floor that you don’t stop to consider what happens to the waste from the old flooring. If you’re replacing hardwood floors, you can reduce your impact on the environment by recycling them.

Benefits of Recycling Hardwood Flooring

Most people are familiar with recycling glass, metal and paper. However, you may not realize that you can also recycle your hardwood flooring.

Reduce Deforestation

The primary benefit of recycling hardwood is that it prevents trees from being cut down to make wooden products. Many hardwood planks are restored and sold as reclaimed pieces to lumber yards and flooring manufacturers.

Prevent Waste From Ending Up in Landfills

Recycling old hardwood floors also reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Although landfills are necessary for containing solid waste and preventing it from ending up in other areas, they have detrimental impacts on communities and the environment.

Wood makes up slightly more than 8% of the solid waste in landfills. With some states running out of landfill space, it’s more important than ever to repurpose or recycle garbage, including hardwood flooring.

Landfills also produce greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change and pollution. Natural habitats are decimated to make room for landfills. Garbage dumps further damage ecosystems by leaching chemicals and toxins into the ground.

Moreover, landfills can be smelly and noisy. They reduce the value of adjacent land and create health risks for nearby residents.

Produce New Materials

Whether you send your old hardwood floors to a recycling center or repurpose them creatively, you support the creation of new materials. This practice protects natural resources and reduces the amount of energy that is spent on production of new materials.

It also reduces costs. Disposal fees for recycling facilities are often lower than those for landfills. DIY recycling saves you money on these fees and prevents you from having to buy new materials for projects. Manufacturing products from recycled materials also tends to cost less than making items from new raw materials.

How to Recycle Hardwood Floors

Part of the process of renovating your floors involves making decisions about how to dispose of the old materials. Coming up with a plan ahead of time can make the recycling process easier. Here are some ways to recycle hardwood floors.

1. Repurpose It Yourself

If you’re handy with woodworking tools, you can make just about anything with the planks that you pull off of the floor. Some creative ideas for things to make with reclaimed wood include:

  • Shelving
  • Furniture
  • Decorative facades for cabinetry
  • Accent walls
  • Headboards
  • Home decor
  • Artwork

Old floors often have discoloration and imperfections. However, sanding and refinishing the surface provides a clean look. You may not be able to get rid of all of the flaws. However, this aspect of repurposing hardwood gives your projects extra character.

Reclaimed hardwood is an excellent material for many home improvement projects. It is often harder and denser than wooden planks that are available at hardware stores. If it’s still in great shape after being tread on for years, it will deliver the same resilience wherever it ends up. Plus, reclaimed wood adds character to projects.

2. Contact a Recycling Facility

You can’t put old hardwood floors with your other curbside recycling items. Wood contaminates the city recycling facilities, which cannot process this material. Look for an independent recycling center that deals with other materials.

Some recycling facilities work directly with construction and demolition companies and accept large loads of wood. They may offer recycling dumpsters, which you fill up at your pace. Recycling companies that accept hardwood should even be able to haul off the material for you. You’ll typically have to pay a fee to use a recycling service.

3. Sell or Donate It

Building with reclaimed wood is a popular way to protect the environment and save money. You may be surprised by the number of people who are looking for inexpensive sources of reclaimed materials for their projects. You can try to sell the hardwood on local marketplaces, on Craigslist or at yard sales.

You might even have takers if you set the material by the curb with a sign indicating that it’s free. However, you can’t guarantee that the person who picks it up will recycle it.

If your old flooring is in great condition, or even if you bought too much, you might want to contact a local salvager or flooring contractor. In addition, you can donate it to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

4. Use a Removal Service

Some contractors will dismantle a hardwood floor for a fee. The benefit is that they’ll clean up after themselves and haul away the old material. If you choose this option for your hardwood floor removal, ask about what they do with the planks. Eco-friendly companies will recycle it, making it an efficient option for those who don’t want to get involved in a home improvement project.

Dos and Don’ts for Recycling Hardwood Floors

Before you make provisions for recycling your floor, ensure that it’s made of true hardwood. Engineered hardwood flooring is harder to repurpose because it may be glued down. Also, the click-and-lock mechanism on engineered hardwood planks often gets damaged as the wood is removed.

The condition of the wood makes a difference if you’re using the wood for another project. Pieces with extreme damage or rot won’t be suitable for upcycling. If the hardwood is in bad shape, the best option is usually to have it hauled off to a recycling facility.

If you are planning to reuse the wood, take care when you’re removing it. Start by removing the baseboards. Easing planks off of the substrate with a flat bar is an ideal way to get them up. Try to remove several rows at a time to avoid damaging the tongue-and-groove areas. Older wood floors have been subjected to temperature and moisture changes for years and may be susceptible to cracking. Be gentle, and follow the directions of the nails. If you use too much force, you might split the wood.

Find out how you should prepare the wood for the recycling option that you choose. You may need to sort the material, discarding planks that are in poor condition. Some facilities require you to remove nails and other fasteners from the boards.

Although creating a bonfire sounds like a fun way to dispose of your hardwood flooring, it’s not the best idea. The planks likely contain finishes and chemicals that are harmful to your health and the environment. When you burn them, you put yourself and your neighbors at risk of breathing in the toxic smoke. The chemicals in the wood also make it a poor choice for using as mulch.

Take the proper safety measures when you’re working with wood. Wear gloves to protect your hands from getting splinters. Use a mask to avoid inhaling particles when you’re sawing or sanding reclaimed wood. With the right precautions, planning and creativity, you can recycle your hardwood floors, contributing to the preservation of the planet and potentially saving yourself money in the process.