Unconventional Flooring Inspiration

Aaron and I have had a fabulous month of nearly non-stop guests.  Our friends and family are getting one [hopefully] last glimpse of the house (and us!) before the addition begins.

Yesterday, we were both off of work and decided to do a little floor shopping.

I’ve been researching online, but our scenario is a challenging one.  I’ll explain momentarily.

If you’re not familiar with different types of home foundations, allow me to give you a little background.  Many newer homes (especially in Texas) are on a slab foundation, meaning the foundation sits directly on the ground.  Older homes in our area (and many areas around the country) were build on pier-and-beam foundations, meaning that the house sits on concrete piers (i.e. blocks or cylinders) above the ground.  Here’s a little diagram of how a newer pier-and beam foundation looks:

PierAndBeam

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There are pros-and-cons to both types of foundations.

The major “pros” of our pier-and-beam foundation have been (1) ease and subsequent lower price of foundation adjustment and (2) easy access to plumbing.

The major “con” for us has been the unpredictable shifting that occurs.  I’ll never forget the day that we moved into our house and couldn’t open the back door.  Panic ensued.  The door opened fine when we looked at the house (several times) and also when we had the inspection done.  We weren’t even remotely handy at that time but were lucky to have a good neighbor to help.  Since then, the issues have been much less dramatic than that, but you can tell a difference in how the doors open and close after a rain storm because of the swelling of the ground.

Similarly, because of the minor rising and falling of the home and some foundation adjustments, flooring can be an issue.  This is our high-quality [sarcasm] sheet vinyl flooring in the laundry room:DSC_0945

Isn’t she a beauty?!?  Yikes!  So, imagine, if this is what happens to sheet vinyl flooring over time what tile or grout would look like after a few months/years.  Now, consider, what type of flooring do you put in a bathroom if you cannot use tile?  Our problem exactly.

We also currently have 3 types of flooring in our existing house, so we’d like to have a single type of flooring for the addition (which includes a kitchen and bathroom).  If possible, we’d like to replace that nasty vinyl pictured above with the same flooring of choice used in the addition to tie it all together.  We have two major contenders at this point:

Cork

Pros: flexible, acts as insulation, soft, water-resistant, green/renewable resource, some can be refinished.  I’ve read that if cork is attached to a cork base (which would be glue-down only), then it could possibly be used in a bathroom.  Frank Lloyd Wright used cork as a shower tile in his home, Fallingwater.

Cons:  The alternative installation type, floating plank cork floors, are cork attached to HDF, which is similar to MDF.  It is water-resistant enough for places in your home that have occasional spills that are wiped up, but not water resistant enough for a steamy bathroom.  Another issue that is purely aesthetic to me is that it is difficult to find a variety of sizes of cork tiles.  They are either in 12×12 squares or plank styles.

Check out these cork inspiration photos:

LargeGreyCorkTile

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CorkPennyTile

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CorkPhoto

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Holy smokes!  This isn’t your grandma’s dingy 1970’s cork!

We found a place in the DFW metroplex that had a decent selection of cork flooring (which is hard to find).  When we were explaining the pier-and-beam bathroom no-tile dilemma to them, they asked if we’d seen luxury vinyl tile.  A look of, “Hell no,” passed between Aaron and I. Visions of 12×12 tiles with faux grout and peeling edges with permanently encrusted grunge like every-apartment-ever passed through my head.

However, I have to say, I was extremely impressed by the quality of the materials they showed us.  According to several stores we’ve talked to, luxury vinyl is on its way up to stardom- even above laminate!

Luxury Vinyl

Pros: Warm, durable, waterproof, ease of install (click, glue, grout/no-grout, loose-lay), no shortage of colors, sizes or styles

Cons:  Cannot be refinished, not as green as cork (some are made of 50% recycled materials), sub-floor must be level

LuxuryVinylWhisperWood
Here is one of the several products that Aaron and I really liked.
The browns would bring out the wood tones we’re planning on using and the metallic finish helps to reflect light on the otherwise dark/dramatic grey surface.  We really liked the 18″x36″ size, too!
IMG_0371
This is not what we were expecting when we heard the word “vinyl”.  The salesperson may have had us at, “Looks like concrete flooring.”
Surprisingly (to us), cork and luxury vinyl are comparable in cost.
So, what it will come down to is function and funding.  Do you have a preference between these two types of flooring?  Do you, like us, turn your nose up when you hear the word “vinyl”?  Does cork remind you too much of the cork board you used to have as a kid?