• Carlie Dillon

A Homeowner’s Guide to Flooring

As a mitigation company who specializes in water cleanup and restoration, one question we constantly run across when damaged flooring must be removed is, “What flooring should I choose to replace the old?”

There is no specifically correct answer considering how each home is different and personal taste will always vary, but here is an outline on some of the pros and cons of what is available in today’s market.

One of the biggest factors that comes into play is budget. Fear not, as flooring has evolved greatly over the years, and there are many wonderful products designed for every budget and taste.


Carpet comes in a multitude of colors, designs, and price ranges. Generally speaking, carpet is the most budget friendly floor covering, and it is a suitable choice for living areas and bedrooms where water damage is unlikely to occur. While carpet and pad can be dried, it can only be saved in a clean water loss where the water originates from a clean source, such as bathtub overflow. When contaminated water is involved, carpet and pad must always be removed.

Tile Flooring

Tile flooring is another great floor covering option that comes in a variety of designs and price ranges. The great thing about tile is that even when contaminated water is involved, it can usually be cleaned and salvaged by professionals using the proper chemicals and techniques. This makes tile a fantastic choice for bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens where contaminated water losses are most likely to occur.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is a type of flooring often made from paper and wood by-products held together by resins with a layer of veneer over the top, resembling wood floor. Laminate flooring has some great properties. First, it is definitely budget friendly, as laminate flooring can commonly be found under $1 per square foot. It can be easily installed over most surfaces commonly found in homes such as: plywood, subfloor, or concrete slab. Second, laminate flooring is available in a multitude of designs and colors that are visually appealing and hold the appearance of real hardwood flooring.

As with anything, laminate has its downfalls. Laminates that fall on the cheaper side of the spectrum are more susceptible to water damage and scratching. There are cases where new laminate floors were ruined by heavy mopping, minor spills, and chairs sliding across the surface of the floor. Once water penetrates the floor, it must always be removed. When the glue has dissolved and the laminate swells and buckles, it will never go back to its original size and shape, even if all of the moisture is removed. This is not the case with all laminates, as there are more expensive laminates that are advertised as waterproof and even scratch resistant. These waterproof laminates do a great job of handling surface spills and are easy to maintain.

One thing to be aware of with all types of waterproof flooring, whether it be waterproof laminate or vinyl plank, is when water seeps around the edges of the flooring or comes from below and gets trapped in the subfloor. Whether it is plywood or concrete, waterproof is a good aid to remedy surface spills, but once water gets underneath the flooring, moisture cannot be pulled up through the floor because the floor acts as a moisture barrier and will not allow moisture to pass through to the dry subfloor.

To recap, mid to higher grade waterproof laminates and vinyl plank do a great job of protecting from surface spills, and they are very maintenance friendly while being available in a plethora of design options to fit any home. However, they will still normally need to be removed when large amounts of water is introduced into a home, especially from beneath the flooring or in areas where it goes around the edge and submerges beneath to become trapped in the subfloor.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is a resilient flooring option with a beautiful appearance. Depending on species, hardwood can be one of the most expensive flooring options, but it is unmatched in its longevity from wear and tear. It can be sanded, stained, and refinished multiple times over decades of time. Also, with clean water losses, it can normally be dried in place, sanded, and refinished to account for cupping and buckling so long as it is reached in a timely manner with less sever secondary damage.

However, if grossly contaminated category 3 water is involved, it normally has to be removed because of pathogens from the water soaking into the wood and subfloor. Such damage must be treated properly through removal.

Overall, T. Ryals Restoration hopes that this has been an insightful look into flooring materials from a builder’s perspective and can aid in providing a more informed and educated decision in the process of choosing floor coverings. As always, if you or someone you know has been affected by water damage, please give us a call. T. Ryals Emergency Restoration is here to clean up your mess so you never have to stress!