The Best Living Room Flooring Choices To Consider, According To Our Flooring Expert

Choosing flooring for the living room is not a small issue because it decides the tone and feel of the space. It also needs to be durable and comfortable so the room feels liveable. You might be thinking of the best flooring to complement your living room style or the one that can help increase your home's resale value and need some guidance in navigating the complex world of flooring. Rodney McNeil, vice president of Shaw Floors, spoke exclusively to House Digest, sharing some wisdom that's sure to help. He discussed what stands out about the most popular flooring types and how to choose between them.

When asked what the best type of flooring material for a living room is, McNeil suggested going more with your personal preference and needs. "Whether it's carpet, hardwood, luxury vinyl, or a tile and stone selection, the key is to think about how you will use the space, who will be using it, and what activities the space will be conducive for." Consider if you have elderly family members or pets, for example, as those are some factors that come with unique requirements. 

McNeil doesn't think there are any real downsides to any specific type of flooring. "It's more about understanding the considerations and limitations of each [flooring type], and then understanding your personal style and lifestyle preferences," he said. "What sacrifices are you willing to make and what are your deal breakers? (ex: some prefer coziness and warmth over a sleek surface with natural character.)"

Carpet, tile, and stone

Rodney McNeil provided a breakdown of each flooring type. Carpet, for example, is all about comfort. "Cozy up to this popular option if you prefer softness and serene style," he said. "With many colors, patterns, and performance features, carpet is a wonderful way to make a style statement that begs to be touched. It's also a great option for bedrooms, playrooms, basements, loft spaces — and especially stairs. Adding softness to your space is guaranteed to improve quality time gathering." 

If you're looking to prioritize comfort in your living room, perhaps due to young kids or pets, then carpet is your go-to. While cleaning might make people hesitant about this flooring choice, McNeil suggested people think of carpets beyond the traditional concept. He noted that "recent innovations in carpet technology mean there are now easy-clean, easy-care for options."

If you're looking for unlimited design flexibility, tile and stone will give you that. "Whether you're looking for timeless and classic, whimsical, ornate, or sleek and elegant, tile and stone options offer beauty and versatility in one, making this a durable and low-maintenance option," shared McNeil when he spoke exclusively with House Digest. "Visuals range from neutral to bold colors, wood looks to old world stone to bold pattern. Glazed porcelain is a versatile option for [walls or floors]. Find the magic with mosaic. The design possibilities are endless." As for the coolness that tile and stone come with, he recommends asking your local retailer about radiant heating and what installation and maintenance costs will be overall.

Hardwood floors and luxury vinyl

When it comes to hardwood floors in a living room, it's more about the look and the timelessness. "Choose the best species, texture, tone, and style for your home. There are options for width, length, and thickness. Original knots and graining make for a one-of-a-kind statement, and various installation options can create added interest and dimension on the floor," explained Rodney McNeil in his exclusive interview with House Digest. But, it isn't just about the aesthetics. This flooring choice gives you much more. "Hardwood floors are known for their durability — meaning this investment can last for generations (and improve home value)," McNeil said. "Advancing technology also brings new options designed to stand up to household spills and moisture. The long-term quality makes hardwood a cost-effective option long-term."

He also mentioned luxury vinyl. "Designed for performance and dashing good looks, luxury vinyl is a popular option because it is suited for any lifestyle," he said. "Like wood, it is available in various lengths and widths with realistic visuals, meaning it can provide stellar styling if you want to achieve a look of wood, stone, or other popular surfaces without the investment." In addition to a more affordable price tag, vinyl is easier to clean and maintain, so you also skip the high cost of maintenance. "Among the attributes that help this category maintain its popularity [are] waterproof options, quietness underfoot, and pet-friendly options," he explained further.

How to choose

While there are options for all budgets, Rodney McNeil suggested focusing on meeting your specific needs. "Try to break free from allowing budget to be the main driver to guide selection," he said. "Instead, consumers should identify what senses they want to appeal to, what problems they need to solve — and how these solutions bring peace of mind into the home. Be driven to find a flooring that accomplishes this." 

Something that can help your decision-making process is to talk at length with your local retailer. "Be vocal about your specific needs, what you want and don't want, or if you are torn between two options. Retailers are excellent local experts and can help you as you navigate your options," said McNeil in his exclusive interview with House Digest.

He also recommended taking advantage of the tools that you can access from your home as you weigh your options. "In addition to mood boards and ordering physical samples, product visualizers have become essential tools for consumers and designers to help assist in product selection and are great ways to try before you buy," McNeil said. "Product selection quizzes are also a popular tool." Shaw Floors has a visualizer tool and a product selection quiz. McNeil concluded with an encouragement to think outside the box. "Don't be scared to explore your options and experiment with personal style."