Genuine linoleum — a durable, versatile, all-natural floor covering — offers unlimited and distinctive decorative options. The material can be a snap to install, too: Marmoleum Click is a new line of 12-by-12-inch tiles and 12-by-36-inch panels that fasten with a click; seams are practically invisible. The 3/8-inch-thick product's 2-mm decorative surface is applied to an MDF (medium-density fiberboard) core backed by sound-dampening cork. The panels cost $5.50 to $6 per square foot. Forbo Flooring, 570/459-0771, www.themarmoleumstore.com
Veni, Vidi, Vinyl.
Conquer any preconceived notions about ho-hum vinyl-flooring designs with Mannington's Style & Pace, which serves up unusual patterns and a subtle color palette. Available in a wide variety of styles, the flooring comes in 12-foot-wide rolls that keep seams to a minimum. Prices for the line run $3.30 to $4.20 per square foot, uninstalled. Mannington, 856/935-3000, www.mannington.com
Travertine and tumbled marble are beautiful — but the open porosity of these stones may not suit a kitchen or bathroom installation. Enter Solidity resilient flooring, a stone-look solid-vinyl tile with an aluminum oxide finish for enhanced scratch resistance. The tiles measure 16 by 16 inches and come in slate, granite, travertine, and tumbled-marble styles. I found them on the Web for $2 to $3.70 per square foot. Metroflor, 203/299-3100, www.metroflorusa.com
Sliced, diced, and dyed in exciting colors and patterns, natural cork makes for a unique and long-lasting floor. Its resilience, durability, and comfort are practically unrivaled by other flooring materials. Composed from the waste products of bottle-stopper production, Globus Cork Tiles come in both preglued and snap-lock formats, and cost about $7.50 per square foot. Globus Cork, 718/742-7264, www.corkfloor.com
Rocksolid Granit, a 1/4-inch-thick engineered stone, can be flexed to cover curved surfaces with radiuses as tight as 30 inches. Because the product weighs only about 3 pounds per square foot, it can be placed over existing countertops. The material comes in 19 stock stone colors, with others available upon request. It's sold and installed by franchised dealers nationwide, at a cost — according to the maker — comparable to demolition and replacement with ordinary 3/4-inch material. Rocksolid Granit, 866/685-5300, www.rocksolidgranit.com
Clean and Seal.
Stone may be less vulnerable to damage and discoloration than other materials, but it still requires care and maintenance. Stone Care's water-based products are designed to safely clean and preserve every conceivable type of stone and solid-surfacing countertop. The company's convenient Care Kit contains three quart bottles each of cleaner, sealer, and polish; it costs $59. Stone Care International, 800/839-1654, www.stonecare.com
Composed of such semiprecious stones as jasper, rose quartz, carnelian, and agate, Concetto countertops are among the most striking you're likely to find. The line encompasses eight styles, at a cost of $400 to $500 per square foot installed. CaesarStone, 818/394-6000, www.caesarstoneus.com
Silestone Leather quartz surfacing's unique finish lends this normally glossy material a softer, more matte quality. The product's antimicrobial protection allegedly inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. Slabs come in 20 colors at a cost of approximately $15 to $50 per square foot installed, depending on thickness, color, and edge treatment. Cosentino USA, 800/291-1311, www.silestoneusa.com