American politicians bring up the debt ceiling a lot, but they don't dare make a floor reference - those have a bad connotation. Homeowners cringe at the thought of choosing and installing floors, even if their house has several rooms that desperately need a new covering under their feet. The choices of floor types range widely in quality and price, so it's difficult to even begin the selection process. Let's look at 10 of the most popular floor choices and the advantages of each one.

Hardwood Floor

Hardwood FloorCredit: www.afandar.com

Maintenance: Medium

Durability: High

Comfort: Low

As the "lumberjack" of floors, this solid covering works well in kitchens, living rooms and dining rooms, though it has its place in any part of the home considering log cabins have taken advantage of it for centuries. Hardwood comes in many forms, including cherry, white ash, acacia, maple and oak, among others[1]. Easy to clean, heavy duty and vintagy, this covering possesses a beautiful simplicity. Just remember, you must seal and stain the wood periodically to keep it in tip-top shape.

Carpet Floor

Carpet FlooringCredit: shopathomeflooringonline.com

Maintenance: High

Durability: Medium

Comfort: High

During the winter months especially, carpet gives bedrooms insulation and warmth for those waking moments when your feet first touch the floor. Most home carpets have a layer of padding underneath (as opposed to commercial, glued-on carpet), so your feet will appreciate the softness. If you have young kids, expect stains and damage that may be non-repairable without floor replacement. Carpet with longer "nap" hides more things beneath its jungle of cotton tentacles, so use that vacuum often.

Tile Floor

Tile FlooringCredit: innerdesign.info

Maintenance: Medium

Durability: Low

Comfort: Medium

Don't try laying tile yourself unless you're a professional - it takes a lot of skill and the right equipment. An excellent solution for waterproofing your floor, you can choose among ceramic, quarry or stone tile to seal high moisture areas like your bathroom[2]. Many homeowners choose ceramic tile because it gives you the best bang for your buck, and they hide scratches relatively well. Maintaining clean grout lines (sealer around the tile) can be a big task, though[3].

Laminate Floor

Laminate FlooringCredit: img.diynetwork.com

Maintenance: Low

Durability: High

Comfort: Medium

As a cheap alternative to hardwood floor, laminate covering gives a custom, realistic look without constant need to refinish. In addition to the hardwood look, laminate gives endless possibilities for a custom appearance in homes, from dark granite to white marble. It stands up like armor against chipping, burns and most staining material, so let the kids play rough. If the hubby is dying to do the flooring job himself, this material is perfect for beginner installers.

Vinyl Floor

Vinyl FlooringCredit: diabloflooring.com

Maintenance: Low

Durability: Low

Comfort: Medium

No, we're not talking about vinyl records, although some have tried it. Vinyl flooring is a relatively new material that provides the low maintenance of hardwood with the beauty of laminate. Don't count on keeping it for a long time, though; kitchen appliances tend to tear vinyl if shifted, and vinyl forms bubbles with age, much like carpet. Also, new vinyl sometime contains high amounts of polyvinyl chloride which can pollute your air.

Linoleum Floor

Linoleum FlooringCredit: flooring.about.com

Maintenance: Low

Durability: Medium

Comfort: Medium

Linoleum works perfect for kitchens and hallways, since its rubbery quality cushions the fall of dishes and adds a level of comfort to high trafficked areas. This floor type is easy to clean and just as easy to install, since it normally comes in flexible tile form. Depending on the gauge (thickness), it can hold up in rough conditions like factories and even warships, so you get what you pay for.

Bamboo Floor

Bamboo FloorCredit: hardwoodfloorsbrooklyn.com

Maintenance: Medium

Durability: High

Comfort: Low

Go green (tannish). For those concious of the environment, biodegradeable bamboo flooring is a great way support reduced impact on Mother Nature. Although its normally considered a type of hardwood, bamboo is worth having its own separate category. It does scratch more easily due to the softness of the wood[4]. Also, the bright color of the wood may fade if exposed to sunlight for several years, so try to keep the shades down when you're out of the house.

Cork Floor

Cork FloorCredit: flooring.about.com

Maintenance: Medium

Durability: High

Comfort: High

Cork gives a literal spring to your step, and it dampens sound so those early risers won't wake you up. Cork comes in all kinds of colors, so you can match it with almost any room in your home (though kids' rooms offer the best use, given its high durability). Because of the material, heavy objects like bed posts can create permanent impressions in cork over time, so homeowners should weigh the pros and cons before choosing this floor type[5].

Stone Floor

Stone FloorCredit: simplykole.com

Maintenance: Medium

Durability: High

Comfort: Low

Bring nature right into your home; stone flooring has solid potential in matching your other decor, whether you use a polished marble or rustic multi-colored slate. It can feel like ice during the winter, but its durability outranks any other type of flooring listed here. Floor installers charge a pretty penny for installing stone, so be sure you're ready to use it for the long haul. Stone floors are most commonly used in bathrooms and basements, and depending on the type, you may need to seal them occasionally.

Concrete Floor

Concrete FloorCredit: houseplanse.net

Maintenance: Medium

Durability: High

Comfort: Low

Similar to stone, concrete stays cool all year around and only needs wax or sealant every 3-9 months[6]. Given the fact that almost all relatively modern foundations start with concrete, you can begin with it and always install another type of flooring at a later date - perfect for struggling decision makers. Concrete provides a durable surface but as much cushion as you receive walking on a public sidewalk, so only choose low traffic areas.

Bottom Line

Popular floor types go in and out of style all the time, so it's important to choose something that you can see yourself walking on for several years. If you don't plan on installing the floor, choose your installer wisely and pay the extra for a professional job - it will last you much longer and you'll save in the long run.