Living Smart: Choose the right flooring for rooms that get wet

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Flooring is a foundational facet of any home project. But when the room youíre upgrading is prone to spills and splashes and the chance of leaks or flooding, carpet isnít an ideal choice.

Here are some options for moisture-prone areas, from flooring pros whoíve earned top ratings from Angieís List members:

TILE: This is a durable option, with material choices ranging from ceramic to natural stone. However, some tiles must be sealed to prevent water penetration, so some types may not work well in moisture-prone area.

If you choose tile flooring, keep grout lines tight, especially in a bathroom. Grout, even when sealed, will eventually let moisture through. Look for grouts that contain additives to reduce moisture intrusion.

Some specific tile materials:

Ceramic: Waterproof, durable and available in many colors, sizes and styles, ceramic flooring is easy to clean. In rooms that get wet, such as the kitchen or bathroom, choose textured tiles for more secure footing. Porcelain is an extra-durable form of ceramic tile.

Stone: Options include marble, limestone, travertine, sandstone, slate and granite. Each stone type features various degrees of porosity, and most should be sealed. Stone comes in four absorption levels: non-vitreous, semi-vitreous, vitreous and impervious. Non-vitreous stone, which has the highest absorption level, isnít suitable for water- or moisture-prone rooms.

VINYL: If youíre looking for an easy-care and affordable option, consider vinyl. Sheet vinyl has the benefit of few, if any, seams that can let moisture through. Vinyl also has its high-end side, which can make it a practical alternative to hardwood or stone in high-traffic rooms. Vinyl planks and whatís called "luxury vinyl tile" can be made to mimic the look of wood or stone.

High-quality vinyl brands can feature mold and mildew inhibitors and waterproof guarantees rather than water-resistant claims.

CONCRETE: A staple for basements and garages, concrete is worth considering for a bathroom or kitchen. Concrete staining, stamping and other decorative techniques allow this sturdy material to stand alone decoratively.

WOOD: Wood can work in a kitchen, especially if itís engineered hardwood flooring (sometimes called laminate hardwood flooring), which has a sturdier, more water-resistant plywood base, a hardwood veneer and usually costs more than laminate.

LAMINATE: Laminate is a layered flooring type featuring wood fiber. Itís relatively easy to install and is affordable, compared to hardwood or engineered wood. However, itís not recommended for full bathrooms or a basement that may experience flooding. If water penetrates, laminate can swell.

BAMBOO: Bamboo is a durable, relatively water-resistant option that can be an alternative to hardwood or laminate flooring. But like hardwood, itís not a great option for full baths or basements prone to water damage.

Before selecting the best flooring for a room prone to dampness or spills, visit a reputable flooring showroom that displays all kinds of options. Hire a highly rated flooring professional ó who is appropriately licensed, insured and bonded ó to help match the right floor to your need and who has experience in whatever material you choose.