Tuesday, November 19, 2013

living room flooring options

The living room floor is currently covered in a super gross ten year old cream-ish-beigey berber carpet.

It doesn't look too bad in the above picture, but I assure you, it is gross.  We had it cleaned before we moved in, but it remains disgusting. (I can't solely blame the previous owners; we have contributed to making it more disgusting.)

We are are going to rip up the gross carpet and put down some sort of hard flooring, like hardwood or tile or anything other than this carpet. One consideration is that in a few years we would like to raise the sunken living room and renovate the kitchen, which will include all the floors downstairs.  This is about seven years away, so we are looking for an interim flooring solution that won't be too expensive or hard to remove when we are ready.

Our other consideration is trying to match the hardwood floors in the other half of the first floor.  When we bought the house, the previous owners gave us the paperwork for the flooring that is currently installed. They put in $18/sq ft hand-scraped hickory with a french bleed edge, which is a distinctive dark black edge around the edge of each plank. This french bleed edge pretty much ensures that no cheap flooring option will match the existing flooring.


This hickory floor is of course now discontinued.  We found similar but not perfect hardwood options, but unfortunately they are also in the $20/ sq ft range, which is not in our budget at the moment.

We considered a few different options.

Option 1:  vinyl planks.
This is a floating floor that looks like hardwood flooring but is actually thin vinyl planks that glue onto each other.

 It is cheap--it is under $2 a square foot and pretty easy to install ourselves. This would be an economical and easy option to put down for a few years, then easily take it up when we are ready to redo the kitchen and floors.

This had the best color match to our existing wood floors, but the lack of a french bleed edge was really noticeable.

Cons: the one big complaint is that it STINKS like chemicals.  Some reviews say it wears off in a month, some say years, some say it stunk so bad they couldn't live with it and had to rip it out.  I have a kid with severe allergies and I find myself rather sensitive to chemical-ish smells.

This option was the front-runner until I came across the smell problem.

Option 2: Polished concrete.
I would LOVE to just roll up the gross carpet and paint the concrete subfloor beneath.  Unfortunately the carpet is heavily glued down. I am reluctant to deal with harsh chemical strippers to remove the glue. Everything I have read on this just makes it sound like a nightmare. Furthermore, the concrete subfloor is very rough and would need to polished or ground down to a smoother surface.  

Having a new concrete floor put down would be essentially skim coating the concrete floor already there. I love the look of polished concrete, its very durable, and it would be a ready subfloor for putting flooring on top of when we redo the kitchen.  While I anticipate a lot of people saying "too cold!", we live in a warm climate that would be just fine year round for a "cold" concrete floor.

Cons: I called five concrete floor installers.  Only one returned my calls, and that one told me they would call me back after looking at their schedule, and never called back.  So I have no idea how much this costs. Obviously I'm not going with this option.

Option 3: laminate click-down flooring
We didn't find any samples that exactly matched our existing flooring, but, we found a few that are close. Its reasonably inexpensive and easy to remove when we are ready to remodel.

We went with the middle sample in the above picture.  It is a bit redder than the existing floor and the plank is an inch wider, but it was the best option out of all the ones we considered.  (That one on the far right looks a bit closer in color in the picture, doesn't it?  In person it did not.)

The floor goes in on Wednesday.

Cross your fingers that it is not glaringly different once installed in a large expanse.  


  1. That's going to look great! Nothing like dirty old carpet. I'm sure that's going to feel nice to get rid of it..


Yay! You're commenting! I love comments!