As we head inside for fall, it’s a great time to look around our homes and think about options for flooring updates.  

A new flooring surface can refresh and revitalize the look of your interior, whether you redo a room or the entire house. Plus, it can make cleaning up after muddy boots easier, and enhance your home’s resale value.

We asked two Seattle-area flooring and design pros about a few of the most popular options for new floor surfaces.

New hardwoods

For living areas, hardwood flooring is considered the go-to choice. And while traditional oak floors are still beloved, prefinished engineered hardwoods are increasingly popular. Made of layered wood, with quarter-inch-thick hardwood as the top layer, engineered hardwood planks are easier to install (no need to sand, stain and finish) and less susceptible to warping in humid environments such as kitchens and baths.

And engineered hardwoods don’t require a plywood subfloor. “You can put them right on concrete,” says Craig Munson, owner of Seattle Floor Service. “They’re ideal for basements.”

Prices for engineered hardwoods usually run between $7 and $14 per square foot installed, based on the type. They are available with a variety of factory-applied finishes and unique wire-brushed textures. Demand for those options has created a market for prefinished solid hardwoods, as well, says Wendy Albee, owner of Albee Interior Design. She uses both engineered hardwoods and prefinished solid hardwoods for clients, many of whom are replacing their worn or tired carpeting.

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Seattle-area interior designer Wendy Albee replaced the carpet in a client’s bedroom with luxury vinyl, which has the look of hardwood but can hold up to the wear and tear caused by the homeowner’s dogs. (Courtesy of Albee Interior Design)
Seattle-area interior designer Wendy Albee replaced the carpet in a client’s bedroom with luxury vinyl, which has the look of hardwood but can hold up to the wear and tear caused by the homeowner’s dogs. (Courtesy of Albee Interior Design)

Luxury vinyl

Albee says she has helped many clients get the look of wood they crave without spending top dollar by choosing vinyl, which ranges from $3–$7 per square foot installed.

If the word “vinyl” calls to mind the bathroom in your first apartment, think again. Luxury vinyl is no oxymoron. The vinyl industry has upped its game to the point where sheet and plank vinyl can convincingly mimic tile, wood or stone. It’s also scratch-resistant and easier to clean.

“Luxury vinyl is often the answer for laundry rooms, offices and kitchens,” Albee says. “It’s durable and waterproof, and you don’t have to worry about scratches.”

When a longtime client came to her looking for bedroom flooring that could stand up to the wear and tear caused by the foot traffic of her dogs, Albee recommended a premium vinyl called Reclaimed Walnut by Golden Arowana. Not only does the vinyl withstand dogs’ paws, but it has taken the room’s decor from bland and beige to rich and rustic, Albee says. 

“It looked so real, her contractor thought it was wood,” she says.

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To bring back its original luster, this white oak floor was wire brushed, then coated with Ciranova’s Burnt Oak stain and a transparent hardwax oil. (Courtesy of G&S Floor Service)
To bring back its original luster, this white oak floor was wire brushed, then coated with Ciranova’s Burnt Oak stain and a transparent hardwax oil. (Courtesy of G&S Floor Service)

Refinished floors

If your problem is beat-up hardwoods, your best course of action is refinishing. Most older solid hardwoods can be sanded down and refinished as many as three times. And good news: You don’t have to settle for the traditional gold-hued finishes. You can have the on-trend finishes of engineered hardwoods.

Munson says refinishers can transform your white or red oak with a lighter or darker finish. He also has a special machine that puts a matte, wire-brushed texture onto solid hardwoods.

“Refinishing takes some time, but it’s still a lot less expensive than new flooring,” he says.

Patterns and textures are popular choices when adding or replacing carpets. (Courtesy of Nourison)
Patterns and textures are popular choices when adding or replacing carpets. (Courtesy of Nourison)

Carpet comeback

Many people prefer the coziness and comfort of installed carpeting — especially in bedrooms and on stairways. It’s a protection against falls for kids and adults, and many people with older dogs say that carpet makes it easier for their pets to get up and down stairs.

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If you’re looking to refresh your carpeting, Albee has some tips.

“If you’re into using ‘green’ materials, and your budget will allow it, get wool,” she says. Wool carpets are chemical-free and recyclable. 

If you have pets, Albee suggests carpeting designated as “pet-friendly.” It’s dyed all the way through to reduce the chance of damaging the color in a spot where you’ve had to remove a stain.

For a luxurious feel to a carpet, be sure to invest in good padding. 

And for contemporary good looks? “The new thing is carpeting with patterns and textures,” Albee says. “A mixture of loop and cut carpeting is wonderful.”