Designer's Corner: Let's Talk About Floors

How do I help a client choose a Kitchen or Bath flooring?
 If a client is doing a remodel, the most important delineating factor for choosing flooring is her budget.

A low budget can mean choosing a vinyl flooring product, anGreenMarmoleumd most often I would work with a Marmoleum or Congoleum flooring. They have a good br name, longevity, great variety. If you look at the kitchens on our web site  view the beautiful green marble kitchen with Shaker cabinets, you would think that it had a custom wood floor. WRONG! It is a custom laid Congoleum the owner had for years, because they have lots of pets.  Hardwood floors dogs don’t mix well, without a lot of upkeep.  In a bathroom, it is even thriftier to choose a vinyl sheet (I prefer sheets to tiles, less messy, less opportunity to fail from corners turning up). There are terrific, inexpensive GREEN options here, Marmoleum Corkoleum. While having a lovely range of colors, they are mostly swirly looking rom patterns, no faux ‘tile’ look or nifty patterns, but you can create your own patterns by using Corkoleum click system tiles. Flooring made from Marmoleum has been a mainstay floor covering for over 100 years because it is one of the few products made from primarily natural raw materials.  

TGoma_verthe nextTatami_vert low budgNihonet optiGoma_verton is Porcelain tile. Porcelain tile comes in so many different styles, you can do ANYTHING with the floor.  You just have to make the design decision about the style of the room:  is it modern, country, beachy, traditional, any style has a porcelain tile that will fit. Porcelain is so flexible, it can mimic any stone or wood so that you cannot tell the difference from just walking on it.

The options I like best these days are the porcelain tiles that look like real hardwoods. Feataured here in this photo are Graniti Fire NIHON floor tiles, that come in various sizes, from wood planks to large squares. There are MANY companies making great looking wood-styles for floors, my favorites come from Eurowest/Graniti Fire, because they are well priced, I can pass this saving along to my customers. My work ethic actually prevents me from gouging my clients!  I charge cost +15 or 20%, that’s it. Since we are also a construction company, if we are going to be doing the work, I charge 15%. If not, I charge 20%.  Many porcelain tiles provide a good co-efficiency of friction for baths, look cool in kitchens, they DO NOT SCRATCH like wood are so easy to maintain if you have children, pets, or both. 

I try to discourage real hardwood floors in the kitchen for families or people Aging In Place. It is much less expensive easy to maintain a Pergo-type wood floor, your floor will always look great.  If an adult couple with no children want to put hardwood in their kitchen, then that’s okay as long as they are aware of the upkeep requirements. We recommend installing prefinished hardwood, because using unfinished wood is a long expensive process, best left to to people with a lot of time money. I’ve seen folks who, after investing a lot of money, loose their passion for the wood floor once the first scratch, stain, or heel mark settles in.

Brs sometimes play a role, as I do direct sell at least 10 different manufacturers tile. So, of course, those are the brs I look to first.  And, if something works well for a specific area, I tend to use it all the time. For example, Dal Tile Keystones Mosaics in 2” or 3” size are PERFECT for shower floors. So I spec them consistently, the range of available colors allow me to always make a design statement if the client is up for it.  A stark white bath with a little black accent tile on the floor in the shower: we suggested the client use BLACK Keystones for the shower pan.. She loves it!  In another mostly white bath, with a deco line of mosaic Glasstile in blue/green ocean colors, we used a match to one of the aqua colors, again, playful, but sophisticated. And, at the Beach House Inn in HMB shower remodel I did last year, we used 3 colors of Chiaro glass tile on white walls, matched a yellow to the flooring in the shower, it is so pretty.  The colored tile floor has the advantage of being easier to keep clean-looking for longer than a stark white or off-white shower floor.  Same with pebbles. If they don’t want the Keystones, I try to get them to use Isl Stone Pebbles. Again, for the texture to make it just a little bit more fun.

The higher the budget, the more likely a client will choose a pebble or other textured tile. A low budget or someone with other priorities (ADA remodel) will choose the Keystones. I have not found a product from another vendor quite like this one. If you use the Dal Tile website, you can probably get a 2×2 sample of this tile to see what I mean.

Again, as budgets increase, options increase, you can move into the natural stone choices, like limestone (I LOVE this on a floor), honed, Marble, Tumbled Marble Mosaics, or more interesting porcelain tiles. If the client is concerned about GREEN, there are many choices manufactured in Green facilities, but finding “green” porcelain LEED certified is still difficult, because most factories are not within 500 miles of major metro areas. There are other stards being developed to address this issue.