I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but carpet sucks. It’s not a DIY friendly material, it’s not very ecofriendly and it lasts about as long as a virgin on their wedding night. Wall to wall carpet to me is a waste of money and I’d much rather spend it on a flooring material that looks elegant, is safe for the environment and is easy to keep in good shape, even when your family treats it like a red headed stepchild. Although I’d rather have sawdust and peanut shells on the floor over carpet any day, here’s a list of my favorite flooring options that are easy to install yourself, look good and give you a great return on your investment.
I love this stuff. Wood has always been my favorite building product because it’s so easy to work with, it lasts lifetimes and it’s a renewable resource. Solid wood flooring can be as cheap as chips or as expensive as gold plated boxer shorts, so no matter what your tastes entail or budget allows, wood flooring has a product for your small bedroom or your whole house. Best of all, solid wood flooring can be sanded down and refinished cost effectively, ensuring you get a floor that will still look brand new for generations to come.
All materials have their disadvantages and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t discuss solid wood flooring problems. The biggest problem is if it gets wet. While the surface of the wood flooring is well protected against spills, when water comes from underneath or from the sides of the flooring finish, it’s bye-bye wood flooring. The biggest problem I’ve encountered is when the refrigerator’s water line (for the ice maker) leaks and goes behind the baseboards. The end grains of the wood flooring are like a straw that sucks up more water than Eric Clapton’s nose in a baggie of cocaine back in the day. Once the tongue and grooves warp, the whole board is toast and needs to be replaced.
Can you see a theme developing here? I love wood and cork is no exception to my rule. Cork is really wood bark since technically it doesn’t have a grain, but it’s still wood to me. What I really like about cork tiles besides the fact that they are wood is that you don’t have to kill the tree to harvest the material. Cork trees live long and complete lifespans so they make a really great green flooring option. They are also really soft underfoot. That’s nice when you’re in the kitchen and you drop a dish—it’s not going to damage the floor and the chances it’s going to break sure are lower than with a tile floor. Best of all, it’s water resistant with a quality sealant, making it an option for some kitchens and bathrooms.
Cork tiles are softer than conventional wood flooring and that makes them more susceptible to severe damage. If you drag the refrigerator across a cork tile floor it can peel like a pasty Florida tourist after a spring break spent sunbathing. Interlocking tiles can also make it tough to replace damaged pieces.
Well what happened to his “wood theme”, you may be wondering? Fooled you—linoleum is made out of wood and Linseed oil (thus the “lin” in “linoleum”). Sort of. It’s made from resins and wood flour, a sawdust powder so fine you could use it dust your babies bottom with the stuff (not actually recommended). This mix of wood pulp is easy to install over just about any substrate with minimal preparation. Use an all-natural adhesive and you’ve even got a green flooring material any hippy would hug you for. Plus, when it’s pressed with textures and colored, it can mimic just about any flooring material. I have it in my house and most people think its wood flooring at first glance.
The problem with linoleum is it’s freaking soft! Moving furniture across this flooring product is a sure way to ruin your day. It rips and tears worse than a pack of Oreo cookies around a hungry fat kid, and is tough to fix once you’ve done the deed. As an inexpensive and green flooring material though, linoleum definitely has its advantages.
Whatever flooring material you choose, make sure it’s a good fit with your home and your individual tastes, otherwise you’ll be kicking yourself every time you walk through the room.