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Upstairs Flooring Options (If You Don't Want Carpet)

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Upstairs Flooring Options (If You Don't Want Carpet)

Customers ask us all of the time about flooring options for their upstairs. Many customers want to get away from carpets and move on to other types of flooring.

In this article, we will discuss some of our thoughts on products to consider for your upstairs living space, as well as some of the installation issues that you need to consider when doing an upstairs remodeling product.

If you are looking to remodel the flooring in your upstairs bedrooms, hallway, or bathroom, read on. This article is intended for you.

Upstairs Flooring Options (If You Don't Want Carpet)

Many customers just want to get away from carpets. They might have allergies, it could be they don't want to worry about the cleaning aspect of carpet, or maybe the customer simply likes another type of flooring better than carpet. No matter what the reason is, if you currently have a home that has carpet installed upstairs, it can be quite the project to replace all of the floorings to something brand new.

Let's take a look at some of the installation issues that sometimes get overlooked, and how they cause a lot of extra time and frustration for the customer.

Upstairs Flooring Options - Wall Baseboards

Many homes have wood baseboards throughout the house. With carpet, that wood base board is sitting on top of a thick carpet pad and thick piece of carpet. When you remove the carpet and carpet pad, whatever type of flooring you put back down, needs to be close in height to the carpet, or you will have a gap in the floor.

If the new floor creates a significantly lower height issue, depending on the type and quality of your existing base board, your installer can always remove the boards and then re-hang them, but that will always be an extra labor cost.

Keep in mind, if your installer takes off the existing wall baseboards, and then re-installs them at a lower height (due to the new floor), now you will probably have a paint problem. Most of the time, your wall paint will not go all the way to the floor. So, if you lower your baseboards, you'll be looking at a space in your wall that will need to be painted. And here's some more good news....your flooring installer won't touch that sort of project. That will either be a DIY project, or you will need to hire a painter (at an additional cost).

One last note about baseboards: if you have existing white baseboards, no matter what your flooring project is if your installer has to remove and then re-hang those boards, plan on those boards getting scratched and dinged up. You are better off planning on that happening. Because it will. No matter how careful an installer is, white baseboards are going to scratch.

Will You Need Underlayment?

If you plan on replacing your upstairs carpet with ceramic tile, or engineered hardwood, there is a very good chance that you will need to purchase some sort of underlayment for your sub-floor. With ceramic tile, it is a certainty that you will need a cement board on your floor. With engineered hardwood, it depends on the condition of your existing floor. If you live in an older home that has some sub-floor imperfections, you might be required to have some wood sub-flooring installed, to get the floor level and smooth.

Once you start installing cement board or a wood subfloor, as mentioned above, now you need to be concerned with your height and your wall baseboards.

What To Do With The Top Step In Your Upstairs Hallway?

Once you remove the carpet, if you're installing a hard surface floor, you have to tie in the hallway with that first step. How exactly do you do that? If you're installing a laminate, vinyl plank, or hardwood product, then you will need to purchase what is referred to as a "stair nose piece." The stair nose piece will wrap around the top step, and tie your hallway flooring to the step. You can also finish off the top step with a reducer that has a finished edge.

However, putting a hard surface floor in your hallway now creates a new dilemma. What do you do with the steps? Are you going to leave the carpeting on the steps? Or, are you going to replace the carpet with the same new upstairs flooring? Let's talk about that for a second...

If you are purchasing vinyl plank flooring, laminate, or hardwood, you can buy matching stair treads to do your steps. Most stair treads can be purchased as either a "flush" stair nose or as an "overlap" stair nose. Both types of pieces are perfectly acceptable. Which one you pick comes down to an installation and decor decision. The overlap stair tread seems to be the most popular.

With most hard surface upstairs floors, you will have a click-together installation. However, with stairs, it is a little different. Your stairs will need to be glued, to protect your family and friends from slipping. Likewise, the foot traffic on stairs is very high, and a glued-down installation will hold your product in place much better than the click-together installation.

One last point of discussion about remodeling your stairs: stair treads can be very expensive. Before you fall in love with the idea of remodeling your stairway, be prepared that you will need to open up a bank account. Many customers go into sticker shock when they see the price tag of the stair treads with the labor cost

Upstairs Sound Issues

If you have little kids in the house, you know how loud they can be. Now take that noise and multiply it by a factor of 10. What will the sound in your home be like as your kids and their friends roll their toys on that new vinyl plank floor?

What about just the general noise that is created by walking? With new hard surface flooring, if you're sitting in your main floor living room watching a movie, are you going to hear every step a family member takes along the upstairs hallway?

What's the answer? A pad. If you're installing a laminate or vinyl plank, you want to make sure you purchase a product that has an attached pad or make sure you purchase the pad along with the flooring product.

Noise issues are a common concern with customers that put new hard surface flooring upstairs. Make sure prior to any installation you discuss this with your local flooring professional.

How Long Will Your Renovation Project Take?

If you're renovating your entire upstairs, how long will this project take? Will your family even be able to sleep in the house? Will it be dangerous for my little kids to be in the house during the installation process? These are important questions that should be planned out long before you see an installer knocking on your front door.

Upstairs Flooring Options - Products That We Recommend

Now that we have started worrying you to death about renovating your upstairs living space, let's take a step back for a second, and mention that most customers that remodel their bedrooms, bathrooms, etc...have projects that get installed without ever having an issue, and those customers end up being very happy. We just think it's always best to know the potential issues and address them with your flooring store prior to getting things started.

Luxury Vinyl Plank

The fastest growing product in the floor covering industry is luxury vinyl tile and plank flooring. If you walk into any floor covering store, you will see that a huge percentage of their showroom space is dedicated to vinyl tile & plank displays.

These products come in a variety of styles, colors, and thicknesses. There are so many vinyl plank manufacturers that it would be too long of a list to put on this blog post. All of these companies have a line of good, better, and best products.

As far as style and popularity, you really can't go wrong in picking out a vinyl plank flooring product. Multiple colors and wider plank boards seem to be the trend in the marketplace. You can also find vinyl plank products that have longboards. When installed, this gives your space a very beautiful and stunning look.

For upstairs bedrooms, hallways, etc...we would recommend purchasing either a 12mil product or preferably a 20 mil product that has an attached pad. We have a really good article on a vinyl plank, "Axiscor Flooring Review," that does a great job of showing you an example of vinyl plank products.

Some of the benefits of luxury vinyl plank include:

  • The product is easy to clean

  • Durable

  • Waterproof

  • Great when dealing with pet hair

  • A wonderful product when it comes to cleaning up spills.

As long as you purchase a pad, or purchase a vinyl plank product that has an attached pad, we think that vinyl plank flooring is a great alternative to carpet for an upstairs living space.

Laminate Flooring

Very similar to luxury vinyl plank flooring, laminate flooring comes in a variety of colors and styles. Unlike the laminate products of old, today's laminate products are durable and would perform well in an upstairs living space.

Laminate features include:

  • Very durable

  • Easy to clean

  • Waterproof

  • Great for dog hair clean-up

There are numerous laminate companies. We recommend getting with your flooring professional to discuss products, and what would be best for your upstairs remodeling project.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is another great option for the upstairs area of your home. You can purchase hardwood in a solid product or an engineered product. Both types of products would work just fine in a home upstairs area.

Before selecting a product, we would recommend allowing a flooring professional to look at your project. They can help you determine which type of hardwood (solid or engineered would work better in your home. The hardwood solid products are usually thicker, and sometimes, depending on other types of flooring that are connected to your space being renovated, it might be better to go with a thinner engineered product.