Carpet and wood flooring are elegant and durable solutions, but not all carpeting and types of wood are alike. Some have become more popular than others because of their beauty, the way they feel under the feet, their ease of care or their durability. Given the winters, some may even be chosen for how warm they help keep a room. Here are some of the most popular carpet and wood flooring materials:

Carpets
Wool is the hair from a sheep, goat, camel or one of its relatives, like the alpaca. The gold standard of high end carpeting, wool has a lustrous feel, resists static and stains and is naturally flame retardant. The downside of wool is that it is expensive and so is often blended with other fibers such as nylon and polyester.

Nylon
Nylon is a synthetic fiber. Indeed, it is the strongest and the most popular of the synthetic fibers and resists mildew and stains.

Polyester
Polyester looks like wool but is much less expensive. It can be used anywhere in the home, including high traffic areas and is famous for its bright colors. However, it is subject to matting.

Acrylic
Acrylic is also very wool-like and is mildew, insect and abrasion resistant. It also comes in a wide range of bright colors, but has a tendency to pill with time.

Olefin
This synthetic fiber can be used indoors or outdoors. This is because it’s very tough and nonabsorbent. It’s the most stain-resistant fiber of those mentioned.

Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are floors made of wood made from deciduous trees. This does not mean that they’re any harder than softwood trees. African cedar, for example, is much harder than white oak. Here are some popular choices for hardwood flooring:

Oak
Many different species of oak are used for flooring, including red and white. Quartered oak is a type of oak where the planks have been sawed through the center of the tree, which makes the grain more decorative.

Maple
Maple is a strong, hard, light-colored wood.

Birch
Birch is similar to maple in that it’s light and strong, and has a fine-grain. It can be stained to mimic more expensive woods such as mahogany or walnut.

Beech
Beech can come from America or Europe and it resembles both birch and maple.

Walnut
Walnut is a light brown wood that’s grown on every continent but Antarctica. A homeowner has a choice of English or black walnut or white walnut, or butternut. Walnut was once such a popular wood for furnishings that there’s a period named after it that dated from around 1660 to 1720.

Mahogany
This much sought after tropical hardwood has a gorgeous reddish hue and an equally beautiful grain.