Too many different types of flooring can make a house appear chopped up, designers said, and from a resale point of view, it can turn off buyers who quickly start adding up the cost to rip out everything and install new hardwood or carpet.
The dilemma is determining how many is too many.
"There is really no rule, but there are some principles that should be followed," said interior designer Niki VanEch, of VanEch Studio in Northern Virginia. "You want it to flow. Coming into a tiled foyer, a wooded family room, and then a different tile in kitchen, that's way too much."
The type of flooring that homeowners choose should reflect the size of the house, said Amir Bamdad, manager of Carpet Palace in Rockville. "If you have a huge foyer and a 7,000-square-foot house, you can easily put ceramic in the entry hall, cork in the kitchen, and hardwood across the living and dining rooms," he said. "But if your house is small or you live in a townhome, it will look more spacious if the flooring is similar."
Chris Spaulding, of Carpet & Floor Designs near Dupont Circle, said the goal is to have a person's eyes keep flowing from the entry into the home, and different textures and colors can stop that flow. "Think of a baseboard," he said. "Your eye will flow naturally up and down the wall, but an abrupt color change will disrupt the eye."
That does not mean one flooring type suits all rooms. Floors can mix and match as long as transitions are gentle in tone and texture.
VanEch suggested a good rule of thumb: Stick with two types of flooring on the main level, but if one of those choices is carpet, stay with the same carpet. She said hardwood and carpets generally work best together.
Spaulding said more than three types of textures is too many. Many people will choose hardwood in the main living areas and buy area rugs to top them off. "That's a nice look," he said. "In the kitchen, people tend to go with something softer and easier on the back, like cork or marmoleum."
For homes with stone such as marble or granite in the entry area, hardwoods are a good second choice for the main living areas.
"Wood works best if you use the same color -- the same species, such as oak or pine, cherry or mahogany -- throughout," Spaulding said. "You want to keep the floor from looking like a patchwork, so it's best to stick to one particular flavor."
Bamdad said adding hardwood floors can add value to the home.