How to Select the Best Hallway Flooring Material
Which flooring material will not only look good, but last in your hallway? Here are five main flooring options and their pros and cons.
Although your hallway is the ultimate high-traffic area, there’s also a need for it to look good. Luckily, there are many options to choose from. The best material for your situation will be based on how much traffic your hallway will see, your maintenance and cleaning preferences, and the overall look of the space.
Picking Your Floor
Before you settle on a certain product, keep in mind that modifications to your existing floor may be necessary. The construction of your structural floor will make a difference in which material to choose as well as how it is laid. For example, a concrete floor, which is common in most contemporary homes, will work with most flooring coverings. However, a suspended wood floor, regularly found in period homes, will most likely include some type of wood boarding. That means a ply base must be installed on top of it to form a level surface for tiles. If a new wood floor is desired, it might be best to tear out the existing boards rather than raise the floor level.
Wood flooring is a great way to invoke a natural, authentic feel to your house — something that laminate and vinyl flooring is unable to provide. Whether it be solid or engineered wood, contemporary and traditional settings benefit greatly from the real thing.
Keep in mind that wood flooring will require protecting through a wax, oil or lacquer topcoat. The type of finish you decide on will determine what kind of maintenance you’ll need to do. While lacquer ultimately will offer better protection, oil provides a more natural appearance and is easier to sand and reseal in small sections if damaged.
In addition, be sure to address any gaps between floorboards or under baseboards to get rid of any drafts.
• Pros: Wood is durable and is considered a lifelong product when well-maintained. Solid and engineered wood can be sanded and refinished over and over. It is also easy to clean and can be reused or recycled. Wood comes in a wide range of cost options as well as color options. It’s naturally warm to the touch, and engineered wood floors work well with underfloor heating.
• Cons: Solid wood flooring is not compatible with underfloor heating. When not covered, it shows wear patterns from foot traffic over time. Damaged areas are difficult to replace due to natural color changes.
Whether porcelain, ceramic or encaustic cement, tile is a classic choice for hallways due to its durable, easy-to-clean and aesthetically pleasing qualities. It comes in a wide range of shapes, colors and patterns and can be installed in a variety of different layouts, including diagonally, brick pattern or grid pattern. Pale shades are a great choice to optimize light reflection, while styles with flecks or veining in them will camouflage dirt.
If an intricate pattern is desired, keep in mind that installation will be more expensive. Also, avoid slippery polished finishes in a hallway setting. Most types of tile are compatible with underfloor heating.
Porcelain and ceramic. Despite having a very similar appearance, porcelain tiles are made from a denser clay and fired at higher temperatures, making them tougher than ceramic varieties. Ceramic tiles tend to be less expensive, so are a good choice for limited budgets. Try to find tiles with rectified edges — they can be laid closer together so that grout lines are thinner. This harbors less dirt.
• Pros: Durable and most work well with underfloor heating. A wide range of cost options are available, as well as styles, including different textures, patterns, colors and sizes. Hygienic and easy to clean.
• Cons: Can be hard, noisy and cold to the touch. Provides less character than wood floors. Irreparable if they chip or crack.
Encaustic cement. A perfect choice for a period home, these classic tiles typically feature a traditional look, although modern designs can be found as well. They are made from a mixture of cement, colored pigments and marble powder.
• Pros: Largely handmade, these tiles are full of character and so tough that many 19th-century floors are still going strong today. Tile patterns will not fade due to it being inlaid as opposed to painted on the surface. This also means that any chips won’t be very obvious because the color goes through the entire tile. Easy to clean with just soap and water.
• Cons: Encaustic tiles require sealing and may need re-sealing in the future. Due to their thickness, they are best suited for continuous flooring on an entire level of the home, rather than one area that transitions into other rooms. Tend to be heavier than most porcelain and ceramic tiles, so a significant subfloor is necessary.
If a timeless quality is what you’re after, then stone floors are the way to go. Whether limestone, sandstone, travertine, marble or slate, they are suitable for contemporary and traditional styles, including those that are rustic. With the right conditions and budget, stone flags are a great way to inject style and opulence to a hallway. Just remember that stone is much heavier than tiles so the subfloor must be able to withstand the weight.
• Pros: Durable and available in a wide range of cost options, neutral colors and sizes. Can be used on lime concrete substrates since they are porous. A great choice for underfloor heating as they hold heat.
• Cons: Rock floors are hard, and cold to the touch without underfloor heating. They are prone to staining because of their porous nature and may require sealing and re-sealing in the future, although they develop an attractive patina over time. Flags can be thick so floor leveling issues can arise when during installation.
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
Due to technological advances, LVT has the ability to convincingly imitate other materials like stone, tiles and wood, but for much cheaper. It’s also quite durable, so a wood-look style with a protective coating would make a safe wood substitute for homes with young children or pets. Vinyl is available in roll and tile form and features a wide variety of colors, patterns and special effects.
• Pros: Generally a less expensive option, vinyl is easy to clean and warmer to the touch than tile flooring. Provides a hard surface, but isn’t loud underfoot like tiles or wood flooring can be. Damaged sections can easily be replaced.
• Cons: There may be a heat restriction with underfloor heating, so check before installing. Requires frequent cleaning, and despite being scratch-resistant can be damaged. Is unrepairable when damaged and must be replaced. In addition, vinyl requires a very flat, smooth subfloor for installation.
Laminate flooring is composed of a high-definition image adhered to a high-density fiberboard base and coated with a protective resin. It can mimic other materials like wood boards, tiles and stone.
• Pros: A quality laminate is durable and easy to clean. They do not stain or require sealing, and are easy to install. The biggest benefit is most often in its pricing — some options are significantly cheaper than vinyl or wood, which means entry-level consumers are able to invest in a floor that typically lasts an average of 10 years.
• Cons: Lacks visual appeal when compared to wood and cannot be refinished if worn out or damaged. Not always compatible with underfloor heating. Can scratch easily and is not as durable as vinyl.