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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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