When this question is posed, usually we're talking about a household that is more active than other households, likely one with kids and/or pets. We're also talking about the common living areas, because in kitchens, bathrooms and similar rooms, the household makeup is less of a factor than are the room's uses and moisture issues.
Looking at the major types of flooring available, first let's consider carpet. It is soft and warm, even more of both if it has really good padding underneath.
But carpeting can stain easily, from spilled kool-aid and pet urine alike. Even some of the super stain resistant carpets may still allow the liquids to flow through and underneath the carpet, where they can hold odors or grow mold.
Additionally, carpet fibers can hold dirt, dust, cookie and chip crumbs, dead skin cells and dust mites like no other flooring option. Unless you intend to thoroughly clean your carpets, by which I mean no less than once a month using at the very least a home water-injection cleaner, then you may not want your children spending a lot of time on that carpet. It has a place, but not as the main flooring, we think.
Vinyl flooring takes care of most of those issues. It won't hold allergens and dirt, or allow liquids to seep and hide. But Vinyl flooring can scratch easier than other options because it is such a soft floor.
Pets may be hard on a vinyl floor. Your better options for scratch resistance would be hardwood and laminate flooring, with laminate having the edge. With real wood, the hardness can vary greatly, and there is no hardwood flooring on Earth that can handle high heels. Some laminate flooring actually can. In addition to being more scratch resistant to paws and dropped toys than hardwood. Laminate flooring is also better at handling spills. With most hardwood, any spill must be wiped or mopped up immediately. With laminate, resting liquid must still be taken up, but you can have up to a few hours to do it depending on how water resistant the flooring is designed to be.
What we are left with is two best choices then. If you are more concerned about scratch resistance than spills, we think you'll do best with laminate flooring. If you're more concerned about spills than wear and tear, then you should put down a 100% waterproof vinyl product, such as a vinyl plank flooring.
Now both of these floors are going to be pretty cool in the winter months for pets, who live and sleep on your floors. Here is where carpeting comes in, at least as a substance. Be kind to your animals, and put down a few little rugs for them to lay down on. These, and larger area rugs, can also protect high traffic areas of your flooring.
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David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with W. David Lichty
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