Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cork flooring

I think the part of this renovation I am most excited about is the new flooring. I cannot wait to see that vinyl go. Just a quick note that pretty much all of the decisions with this remodel are mine to make, even though I say "we decided" and "we want". Jeff is very trusting of my taste, or is just afraid of saying no to me, as he should be. Anyways, he's on board with all of this.

So I've always thought we'd go one of two directions with the flooring in the back half of the house. Either cork flooring or real linoleum. I say "real linoleum" because people think that's vinyl flooring. It is not. It's very different. Real linoleum is what you find in elementary school cafeterias, or hospitals. It's smooth, long-lasting and made with linseed oil, tree resin, wood and cork flours, limestone and pigment, with a jute backing making it very eco-friendly. Vinyl flooring is made with salt and crude oil (petroleum), felt, fiberglass and dyes and off-gasses and is yucky.

Marmoleum is a brand of this real linoleum and comes in easy-to-install click lock boards or sheets, a ton of colors (like 120 of them), and is relatively inexpensive (about $4-7 a square foot). You can lay it down in all sorts of designs and patterns, and we toyed with the idea of fat stripes. This was part of the reason I decided not to go with linoleum. Too many choices and I would have driven myself crazy with all the options we could do. This chevron is an example of the crazy you can do with linoleum:

Cork flooring was our other option and the one we decided to go with. From the BuildDirect.com website, cork's attributes are:

  • Easy cleaning and maintenance: cork is possibly the easiest floor material to clean and maintain; simply pick up wet messes with a sponge or paper towels and clean with a damp mop - no cleaning products necessary
  • A naturally anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic material: cork flooring is often used in hot yoga rooms, where anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic properties are essential to maintain the health of yogis
  • Excellent durability and a long lifespan: cork is naturally resilient and resistant to scratches, stains and wear
  • Insulating flooring sourced from an ecological, renewable process: the perfect choice for a greener home and lower energy costs

Cork is warmer underfoot because of its insulating properties, and is naturally repellant to insects like termites and carpenter ants. They stay away from cork. It comes in click-lock boards, and sheets and tiles that are glued down with an adhesive. We're going this route because we want to continue it in the half-bath and the laundry room area, and maybe even our full bathroom too (the grout in between the small tiles in there is cracking and coming out and driving me crazy), and you can't do click-locks in rooms with a lot of moisture like bathrooms and laundry rooms. If water seeps into the cracks and gets in the cardboard base of the click-locks, it can warp and buckle. You don't have this problem with the glue down version.

The cost is also a huge factor for us. You can buy cork at the big boxes like Lowe's and Home Depot for around $3.50-6 a square foot, but the one we're going with is only $2.49 a square foot from Builddirect.com. I have been so impressed with BD so far. They let you choose 5 samples for free (along with free overnight FedEx shipping!) and I was expecting tiny little samples but they gave us really substantial boards which helped in making our choice. The little sample at the bottom of this picture is the sample from Home Depot (also free), and right above it are four click-lock samples assembled from Lowe's (25 cents a piece). The top three are from Build Direct, and I didn't include the other two BD samples because those were not what we wanted at all (one was Macadamia, a cool white one that won't work for us, and the other was Faro, a really trippy swirly pattern).

We decided on the middle piece, the Algarve sample. The tone of the cork matches our existing hardwood floors so it will transition nicely between the front house and back house. I also think it'll play off the butcher block countertops nicely. It has enough unique marks and coloration changes in it to make it interesting, yet still staying neutral. The second sample was much more uniform, kind of like a cork board cork. I liked it, but I liked the Algarve more. Here's the picture from the website:

We're waiting on a quote from our contractor's flooring guy about the cost to install it, but it's easy and fast to install so that too helps with the bottom line. We have about 450 square feet of flooring to do, so the cost of the cork, moisture vapor barrier, adhesive and moldings/transitions comes out to about $1300. That's without installation mind you, but a pretty amazing price for redoing 1/3 of our house's flooring. I can't wait to see it installed! 

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