If I could choose any flooring in all the land, I would go with some form of Spanish tile. I LOVE it. Thankfully my dad has a beautiful Spanish-tiled sunroom in his home that I can walk on and admire.
All flooring types have their advantages and disadvantages, even when it comes to care. Wooden floors can scratch easily and can "move" over time from moisture changes in the atmosphere. Tile floors hurt to stand on after a while, they have annoying grout, but they don't scratch easily and if your grout is sealed it's much easier to clean spills. Vinyl and laminate floors have been the easiest to clean from our experience, but they are also easy to damage, hardly resilient to sharp or heavy objects.
All flooring requires care, and not a day goes by where our floors don't necessitate spot cleaning or deep cleaning.
Vacuums & Brooms
No matter your flooring type, especially wood and vinyl, it's important to consider the bristles and brushes you rub against your floors. Over time a vacuum cleaner or a broom that is too coarse can damage the surfaces of your floors. Make sure to use a soft bristle indoor broom and soft dusting brushes for your vacuum cleaner.
The best spin mops can provide thorough cleaning without damaging your floors. Your floors only need to be mopped once or twice each month if you are daily/weekly spot cleaning with a Swiffer or some type of damp (static cling) mop.
Keep in mind that soaking your floor in too much water can cause damage, and can also damage the baseboards and the paint on your walls.
Pets & Furniture
Pets (particularly dogs) can cause daily minimal damage to flooring, and over time the damage can be significant. With pets, keeping their nails clipped and laying out a few rugs in the main traffic areas will help. With rugs, your pets have better traction on the floors as well.
Obviously dragging heavy furniture across flooring can create deep marks, lifting these pieces with help is always better. It's the furniture that moves in and out over the floors on a daily basis that will also cause damage. Dining room chairs, rocking chairs, even doors that are too low will cause scratches over time.
Consider adding castors or furniture pads underneath the pieces of furniture that move over your floors often.
Most people are unaware that wooden and vinyl floors can be prone to sun damage. UV rays from the sun can cause discoloration over time. There are UV inhibiting finishes that can be used to prevent discoloration; however, you may simply be able to prevent sun damage by covering your windows with blinds. You can also purchase UV blocking films for your windows – this allows the natural light into your home but won't damage the flooring and also the furniture.
Short Term & Long Term
Flooring can be a nuisance, but also makes the largest aesthetic impact on a home. A home with beautiful floors looks that much more lovely. In the short term it's helpful to have a "no shoe" policy in your home. This helps with both the cleaning and the noise that shoes make. Guest don't typically mind either, especially if you keep a drawer of warm cozy (clean) socks by the doorway.
Over time it's also helpful to assess your floors for more crucial repairs and maintenance. Tile floors will need to either be sealed or re-sealed, and having the grout deep cleaned can make your grout look brand new. After many years, tile floors will require re-grouting. Wood floors may need to be polished, sanded, waxed, or even refinished. Vinyl floors may need actual sections replaced.
The better care our floors receive during the day-to-day living, the longer they will last.
*This is a collaborative post.