Last modified: 2020-05-18 | Approximate reading time 7 mins
Wooden floors are so common that we tend to forget that other options are out there. Here are 7 types of flooring materials that serve as alternatives to wood, if you are looking for something different.
Originally from Asia, bamboo is a flexible plant that is also very resistant. Sold in the form of boards, parquet flooring or floating floor, bamboo often has a look that is very similar to wood. It can have a natural tint, or it can be carbonized. In most cases (except for floating floors) nails or glue are used for the installation process.
It is a sustainable and renewable material, which is a great benefit for eco-responsible consumers. It is essential to find a product labelled FSC, explicitly indicating that the material has been harvested following environmentally-friendly harvesting practices. A material devoid of formaldehyde in its composition is also to be prioritized. Note that products from China may contain them, as well as other toxic products.
Showing a beautiful appearance, bamboo flooring is also available in a wide range of colours and styles. Also, it is relatively easy to maintain while being resistant to insects and the dangers that come with them. Since bamboo flooring is likely to crack or dent, it is encouraging to know that it can be restored as needed.
On the other hand, it should be noted that this type of floor is quite resistant to moisture, although it can withstand stains and water damage better than hardwood.
This is why if your subfloor is made of wood, it should not have a humidity level above 12%. If your subfloor is made of concrete, the level not to be exceeded is 75%. As for its price, it varies between $3 and $8 per square foot in Quebec. This makes it a quality flooring that is more affordable than traditional hardwood flooring.
Interested in this flooring? Check out our article Installing and maintaining a bamboo floor.
Cork originates from cork oak. This flooring material is available in the form of tiles, rolls and floating floors. Oftentimes, a vapour barrier will have to be installed under the cork covering. The rest of the installation process for the cork pieces will require a special glue. In addition to being renewable, environmentally-friendly and durable, this material is fire and water-resistant. It is shock-absorbent and provides good sound and thermal insulation.
Apart from these enviable qualities, it should also be mentioned that cork flooring is hypoallergenic and that because of its waxy edges, it is resistant to water.
Moreover, cork flooring is a good option when it comes to energy efficiency. Since it is good for insulation, it tends to retain heat and does not feel cold like ceramics.
Its fireproof and soundproofing properties help make it a wise flooring choice. However, it seems that its ability to absorb sounds effectively dissipates when it is made too hard by the layer of varnish.
Another important fact is that cork is known to be water-resistant, although it is less waterproof than ceramic. This is why it is recommended not to wait too long before cleaning spills. Among the few disadvantages related to this flooring, it must be said that it is quite difficult to maintain in addition to being available in a limited number of colours and styles.
Besides, cork flooring will tend to be damaged by heavy objects (furniture, etc.) although the use of PVC as a protective layer corrects this issue. Beware, however, of poor quality cork which may be too malleable as well as plastic counterfeits.
We should finish by stating that bamboo flooring must be installed by professionals, which of course involves additional costs. In Quebec, the price of cork ranges from $2 to $10 per square foot.
Ceramic is a word that regroups every material derived from high-temperature mineral solidification (earth, clay, mineral glass, etc.) In terms of floor covering materials, this usually means either tiles or porcelain.
The resistance level of these materials is ranked and determined according to their grade, with higher grades meaning that they are more wear-resistant. Floor materials of this sort are graded between 2 and 5. Installing ceramic tiles will require the use of cement, grout and, in certain cases, a coat of varnish.
This material is easy to clean, durable and very resistant to fire, water and stains. The wide variety of colours, shapes and designs mean that endless layouts are possible (mosaic, square, round, hexagon, etc.).
However, the problem with ceramic flooring is that it feels cold, it can be slippery and it breaks quite easily. Moreover, it isn’t very sound resistant. Here’s a small trick that good for people whose bathroom is modest in size: the use of large tiles. This will create an illusion of a bigger room, which will certainly be positive with regards to an aesthetical point of view.
Remember to buy extra tiles if you are completing a floor renovation project with this material. Eventually, some models may be discontinued. This could be a major problem if a tile is broken! The price of ceramic tiles ranges from about $2 to $7 per square foot in Quebec.
To learn more about ceramic floors, here are three articles on our blog:
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Concrete is often used to build house foundations. Currently, this popular building material is having its shining moment in decor and design magazines. It works well with contemporary and minimalist decors. One of the main advantages of concrete is that surprisingly enough, it retains heat very well. Also, if your concrete foundation slab is accessible, it can be very economical.
On the other hand, installing a concrete floor can be a long and complicated process, due to the extended drying time that has to be completed before the polishing step is carried out. The concrete will have to be sealed with chemical products that release volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are harmful to the environment.
As for its maintenance, the whole thing is rather simple: simply clean with a mop and the job is done! Although this is an advantage that is not often put forward when it comes to concrete flooring, it must be said that dust does not tend to adhere to its surface.
Also, because of its composition, this flooring material is not conductive and is, therefore, an excellent way to stop fires. Finally, it offers a non-slip surface, which is rather convenient for children and people with reduced mobility. How much will you have to pay for concrete flooring? Between $1 to $12 per square foot in Quebec.
Linoleum is a flooring material that is made of renewable natural compounds such as flaxseed oil and cork powder. Retailers sell it in the form of tiles and rolls. It is rather complicated to install and a protective coat is usually installed over the surface to protect it from scratches. Linoleum is durable and easy to maintain. It is fire-resistant and has several properties that make it anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic.
However, if the installation is not well done, bumps and defects will be highly visible. Also, linoleum that is not protected will tend to lose its colour when washed with certain cleaning products. Be aware that right after the installation has been completed, a strong smell and a yellowish tint may persist for a few hours, this is normal and will dissipate over time. In Canada, a linoleum floor cost around $5 per square foot, installation included.
Vinyl is sold in the form of sheets, boards or tiles. Often confused with linoleum, vinyl is slightly more expensive than its flooring counterpart. It can be installed over other flooring materials such as ceramic, concrete or wood. While being very resistant, it is easy to clean and able to and can withstand water damage well.
It is available in many designs, some of which offer a near-perfect imitation of hardwood or marble, at a fraction of the cost. However, it is less durable than other materials such as linoleum or ceramic. Also, certain vinyl tiles are so thin that they can tear easily. In Canada, its price will fluctuate between $1 and $3 per square foot.
A rug is made of synthetic and/or natural fibres. It is relatively easy to install, requiring only nails and glue. However, you must make sure that the subfloor is clean and smooth. With that in mind, a rubber sub-layer can be a good option. Endless options in terms of colours, textures and designs are available on the market.
This type of flooring works well for sound and thermal insulation. It also absorbs chocs. One of the main drawbacks of rug flooring is that it stains more easily than others. Also, the fibres tend to retain dust and mites, which can be a problem for people who suffer from allergies or respiratory issues.
For more details on the price of flooring and the factors that influence it, read our article Price Guide: Flooring Materials.
|Type of project or flooring material||Average price|
Approximately $3 to $8/square foot
Cork floor (material only)
Approximately $2 to $10/square foot
Cork floor (installation)
Approximately $2/square foot
Low-end ceramic tiles
Starting at 60 cents/square foot
Mid or high-range ceramic tiles
Approximately $2 to $7/square foot
Concrete floor (installation and materials)
Approximately $1 to $12/square foot
|Linoleum floor (installation and materials)||Approximately $5/square foot|
Approximately $1 to $3/square foot
Approximately $3 to $6/square foot
For average prices for various renovations, check out our 2020 Home renovation price guide.
Updated by Karine Dutemple
Would you like more information on the different types of flooring? Check out our RenoQuotes.com Flooring Renovation Guide.
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