What is the best flooring for a high traffic area?

Asked by Ester Yates
Wake Forest, NC

My carpet is shot what the best water proof flooring option.  Is there a burn proof flooring?  The game room takes a beating, with grown ups that smoke and take tea,soda in there. Any suggestion please let me know.


Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

September 19, 2011

Dear Ester,

Your best environmental floor choices for the room/activities you have described are:

  1. Large format porcelain floor tiles with 1/8” grout lines that have been color sealed. This flooring is low maintenance, burn resistant, can handle spills if wiped up in a timely manner and will not retain odors such as smoke. Given the climate of your local, you should not need to add in floor heating but you could if want extra comfort.
  2. The second best choice would be carpet tiles such as those offered by Flor, Shaw or Mohawk. Most carpet tiles can be picked up and rinsed/washed and put back down again if spilled on. If the stain becomes permanent, you can switch out a clean tile, say under the couch, for the stained one in the high traffic area. Burn resistant carpeting, typically referred to as ‘hearth rugs’, is not made from environmental friendly materials.
  3. The third best choice is sheet linoleum. Sheet linoleum, such as Marmoleum, will have few seams and provides a low maintenance and easy to clean surface. It is not burn resistant and should not be placed in front of a fireplace or wood stove.

Applicability of all the above choices will be dependent on your sub-floor and your door thresholds. Check with the product manufacturer and/or your local retailer for installation tips and requirements.

For more information on flooring options, click here to review archived flooring Q&As on

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