Minkoff considers carpet a hardy, affordable option. New carpets on the market have components that handle spills, such as Shaw Floors’ Life Happens carpet with its patented LifeGuard waterproof backing. Prices range from $3.99 to $5.99 per square foot installed.
“There’s a constituency of people that don’t want to use carpet with their kids,” she said. “But the carpet now is very different than carpet used to be.”
Some parents exclude nylon carpet because they worry that its fibers might trap dust and allergens. But if they want carpet’s softness under little feet, there’s a more natural option at a much higher price: wool.
“People ask me about wool fibers in carpet vs. nylon because they’re concerned about the environment, about their kids,” Minkoff said. “But if you wanted to do a room of wool carpet, that would cost you. It all depends on who is weaving them, how the carpet is woven and where.”
Luxury vinyl flooring heats up
Two popular flooring options are luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl plank (LVP), which look like wood but hold up well under the rigorous impact of kids’ play.
“LVT/LVP is the hottest thing going right now,” Minkoff said. “Price-point-wise, they rival most things. If you can’t afford to have wood, you can have something that looks like it that might last longer and has better wear-and-tear factor.”
Phthalates (chemicals that soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl) in some LVT/LVP flooring may concern parents. Shaw Floors’ Floorte product, which is phthalate free, is quiet underfoot and comes in many styles and colors. Average LVT/LVP prices range from $2 to $7 per square foot before installation.
Scott likes how resilient LVPs so closely resemble wood.
“Looking at it, you’d think it was engineered hardwood,” he said.
Not your mom’s linoleum
One affordable, natural product is Forbo Flooring Systems’ Marmoleum, a step up from the linoleum of the past. Minkoff likes Marmoleum’s water-resistance and eco-friendliness. Linseed oil-based Marmoleum comes in single-color sheets or different-sized squares and rectangles so parents can mix and match colors. Costs range from $2 to $5 per square foot before installation.
“People look at it and think it’s vinyl, but it’s really not,” she said. “They have a very green low-VOC (volatile organic compound) glue that’s used to put those down. They’ve also recently come out with a drop-and-click product as well.”
Hardwood not good?
Scott said he thinks hardwood floors aren’t the best choice for kids.
“You’ll go through regular hardwood in a matter of months,” he said. “We have homeowners all the time who say, ‘I need to have hardwood floors; it’s the only high-end material that will add value to my home.’ That’s not the case nowadays.”
For parents who insist on hardwood, there is a solution. Minkoff recommends putting down a large, sturdy area rug (not a small throw rug), which adds definition to a room while handling stains and tumbles. A rug pad can prevent it from shifting.
Rugs can be custom made from carpet, or store bought. For example, Target’s area rugs range from 5-by-7 feet to 12-by-18 feet, with prices ranging from less than $100 to more than $1,000, depending on size and material.
“And if for some reason the carpet gets ugly and nasty from wear, it’s nowhere near the cost of ripping out the flooring and replacing it,” Minkoff said.