You name it ­— kids, pets, dirty feet ­— and these materials can take it

Tired of running around with a mop and a damp cloth, hoping to forestall any lasting damage? Then these surfaces are made for you.

Floor with hardwood and tile

1 Tile

If you want your floor to look like new 10 years from now, a hard tile is your best bet. Ceramic is good, but porcelain is denser and more durable. Natural granite and slate tiles are also sturdy options.

2 Vinyl

This tried and true floor covering is flexible underfoot and cushions falls. For superior durability, choose a sheet with a thick urethane topcoat that resists scratches and scuffs.

3 Wood

Like tile, not all wood floors are alike. In a home filled with kids and pets, shop for wood planks with a rating higher than 2,000 on the Janka scale. The Janka scale measures a wood’s resistance to denting, marring and wear. The higher the Janka number, the harder the species and the tougher the floor.

4 Laminate

As with vinyl, look for a laminate with a tough, thick topcoat. This top layer is scored for durability via an abrasion coefficient (AC) rating from AC1 to AC5, with AC5 being the most durable. The rating should be noted on the packaging. Don’t go lower than AC3 for rooms with children and choose AC4 or AC5 for pets.

While carpet may be prone to stains and tears, a newly introduced yard named Triexta makes for a very durable carpet.

Newer, specially designed yarns such as Triexta make for an extremely durable and long-lasting carpet.

5 Carpet

Carpet has its advantages, especially in rooms where kids will be sprawling on the floor to watch TV or play video games. A newly introduced yarn called triexta can stand up to most anything two- and four-legged creatures can dish out. Look for this durable, soft yarn under the trade names Sorona or SmartStrand. Because of this new durability, several manufacturers are offering lifetime warranties.

Radiant heat coils under floor

Radiant heat is administered by coils directly under the floor surface.

Toasty toes – Give your room radiant heat

Controlled by a thermostat, radiant heat coils warm the floor to a temperature that feels comfortable to bare feet. The coils can be used underneath many materials, including stone, tile, vinyl, and even wood and laminate, providing care is taken during installation to allow for expansion and contraction of the flooring.

The Soft Touch

Get yourself some pillows and rugs

Baby and kitten playing on rug

Pillows and pretty, washable throw rugs have a practical purpose in rooms with hard floors. Those little soft touches cushion impact and dampen noise. Pick up rugs for places where family members regularly stand or lounge, such as in front of sinks or near TVs. And don’t forget rugs for doorways.

Any fabric-covered surface helps absorb noise and reduce echoing, so for the sake of quiet choose upholstered furnishings and fabric window treatments for rooms with hard-surface flooring. And if you need a good reason to buy piles of decorative pillows, here it is!

Tough and natural floors

In addition to wood, there are several other natural surfaces that can stand up to abuse.

Bamboo stalks

Bamboo flooring has become increasingly popular lately due to its eco-friendly construction and hardness.


Eco-friendly bamboo has surged in popularity in the past few years. Like wood species, bamboo types are given ratings on the Janka hardness scale, and all bamboos are not the same. Tough strand bamboo comes in at an impressive 3,014, while engineered bamboo rates 1,690. (The harder a material, the more resistant to wear it’s likely to be.)


Water- and mold-resistant, cork provides a natural cushion underfoot. It is also durable enough to withstand daily wear and tear, so consider this sustainable resource for any room in your house.


Almost all varieties of granite are tough enough for kids and pets. Other natural stones, however, may not be. Before settling on one, take the time to find out about the type’s porosity, which affects wear. Slate is another rock-solid choice.


Fabricated from all-natural ingredients, linoleum also offers natural beauty. The color and pattern are saturated throughout the material, so even as the flooring wears down, it remains attractive and functional.

Set on Stone?

  • There are many durable porcelain tiles that mimic the beauty of natural stone, but if you want the real deal, ask the retailer about the stone’s porosity, which indicates the amount and size of pores in a stone. A lower number indicates a less porous stone. Porosity affects the stone’s strength and stain resistance.
  • For lower maintenance in a high traffic kitchen or bath, choose a hard, nonporous stone such as granite or slate. Granite porosity rates between 0.4 and 1.5 percent.
  • Softer stones, such as marble or limestone, require regular sealing to reduce staining and scratching. Marble and limestone porosity ranges from 2 to 5 percent or more. In the plus column for soft limestone: its feel underfoot.
  • Some colors and patterns vary from these ranges so be sure and ask about the specific rating for the stone you are considering.
  • Concerned about the cost of natural stone? Tile a small area such as a foyer or bathroom, and showcase a beautiful material without breaking the bank.

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