Your flooring choice can have a huge impact on your decorating options. Because changing out your flooring is extremely disruptive, you want to make a choice that you can enjoy and rely on for the long term. Whether you’re going to DIY your floor or hire someone, the tips below can help you make the best choice.
Ceramic tiles come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. Because ceramic tiles are made from fired clay, they can be brittle and will not tolerate a lot of flexing. If your subfloor has flexed or sagged over time, the first step is to replace the subfloor.
However, if your entire home is prone to flexing because the soil is not terribly stable or you live in an earthquake zone, ceramic tile may not be the best choice. A house that has a flexing problem will destroy your tile by
- cracking along the grout joint
- fracturing tiles
- adhesive failure and loose tiles
If you purchase a house and the tile is in good shape, you can likely rely on the stability of the tiles in the future. In fact, looking at an old tile floor and noticing only that the grout is grungy is actually a really good sign!
Grout that has been in place long enough to get nasty is likely not going to crumble any time soon.
In such a case, do not remove the grout if it is not crumbling. Clean it for mold, mildew, and grease. Let it dry completely and do your best not to walk on it in the interim.
Tape alongside the grout lines and paint it in a shade that is very close to the tile body or, if the tile is cream or white and on the floor, paint it a dark gray or a chocolate brown.
Here’s why. Floor tile is easy to clean, but all the dirt and gook that you mop off the tiles will end up in the grout lines. Pale grout on the floor is going to get nasty no matter how often you clean the floor.
Getting down on a tile floor and scrubbing out that nastiness is The Project Voted Most Likely To Be Avoided. Painted dark grout will be consistent and you can keep that floor clean with a simple mopping.
A final (admittedly obvious) thought: Tile is very hard. If you’re considering putting down ceramic tile in your kitchen and you love to cook, your back and feet may suffer over time.
Additionally, if you have small children or are planning to age in place, anything you drop on that floor will likely not survive. A cushioned vinyl or vinyl plank may be more comfortable.
Pros: Durable, waterproof, easy to clean, consistent in color.
Cons: Prone to breaking, really permanent and tough to change out.
The world of vinyl plank is expanding rapidly; in fact, if your house is small or the space is tiny, you may be able to replace your vinyl plank floor with a discounted end lot.
If you are keen on DIYing your flooring project, do be aware that vinyl plank requires more precision than ceramic tile. Grout lines can be quite forgiving.
Additionally, there is a very good chance that the room you’re working on is not square.
In fact, you should just assume that no room you work on, ever, will be square.
As noted above, changing out flooring is disruptive. If you’re moving into a new house, doing your own vinyl plank will be labor intensive and require you to spend a lot of time on your hands and knees, but it can be managed.
Pushing yourself to finish this project done so you can get the couch out of the dining room by Monday morning may not be so enjoyable.
One of the nicest things about vinyl plank is that you can often buy it from the same showroom where you choose your carpet.
If you’re planning vinyl plank in the dining area and carpet in the living room, you can collect your samples from both spaces easily and likely find one installer to do both projects at the same time.
Vinyl plank is softer than ceramic tile. This flooring may come with the cushion attached or require a cushioned underlayment.
Not only will this be more comfortable to stand on for long periods of time, but it will quiet the space almost as well as carpet.
The color options on vinyl plank, whether you want the look of barnwood or the look of ceramic tile, offer a lot of variety.
If you love the look of ceramic but can’t stand the dirt collecting points found in grout lines, faux vinyl tile may be exactly what you need.
My Final thought on vinyl plank: If the space you’re updating is going to have to deal with a lot of water, such as an entryway where snow boots collect or a utility room with a laundry sink, put down sheet vinyl.
Moisture can get between the cracks in a vinyl plank floor and create havoc. Luxury sheet vinyl can tolerate standing water and is very easy to clean.
Pros: Soft and quiet, easy to clean, wide variety of options for your decor.
Cons: Fiddly to install, not completely watertight.