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Flooring Suggestions?

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Joined: Apr 13 2005

I am the new owner of an Eichler in San Jose, and am trying to decide on new flooring options for the kitchen, living, and dining areas. The home has the original mahogany panels, in good shape. I have seen some people installing laminated wood floor, as well as bamboo flooring. Both of these feel a little too glossy, and I think they would not work well with the mahogany walls.

The house currently has some larger (12" square) rust colored tiles, as well as light carpet in these areas. They look alright, but I would prefer something a little more traditionally Eichler. I have seen a darker black tiled floor, but it seems too heavy.

Any thoughts on cork flooring? Other options that you have used or seen that work well? I am also considering running this same material down the hallway - keeping the bedrooms carpeted.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Welcome to the neighborhood! We are on Fairlawn.

Cork is lovely flooring, but it will fade. We know of several folks who spent a great deal of $$ to install cork flooring, only to experience fading--not only near windows, but to a lesser extent just due to indoor lighting. Other than that, it is a wonderful flooring material. Natural, modern looking, and soft underfoot.

For us, the flooring decision was the most difficult of all the remodeling dilemmas we faced after moving in 10 years ago. We ended up with light 12x12 ceramic tile and we did the ENTIRE house, including the bedrooms.

You are wise to take your time and in fact, had we rushed into the flooring decision, we might have made some mistakes. The best thing we ever did was to live in the house for a couple of years before beginning the many projects we have under taken.

As an aside, we too, found it very difficult to locate something that would look good with the wood walls. This goes for flooring and furniture. We finally gave up and painted them (OK. Shoot me now.) Several in our area, including Loni Nagwani, have used slate and though it is dark, it looks really nice against the wood walls, IMHO, plus it does not show dirt like our light tile does.

Best advice I can give is to take your time, go to lots of open houses and look at as many Eichler photos as you can, until you see a look that you like. Then do your research on the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Cathye

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Joined: Mar 25 2003

Look at Armstrong's Excelon line of VCT tiles. It's about as close as you'll get to the original and they look clean and modern. I recommend putting them all down in the same direction (grain with the beams) rather than the alternating pattern favored in commercial settings. The only downside is that you have to wax them once every 1-3 years. This is more than made up by the fact that you can do the whole house for $4k.

I have them in the whole house in my current Eichler. In my last one, I put them just in the kitchen, dining room, living room and family room and they looked great.

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Joined: Mar 16 2005

I agree with Cathye - - live in it for a while before doing something as drastic and expensive as flooring (my wife constantly "updates" and we end up with wasted savings, a list of things on ebay and Craig's List and very tense conversations.
On this website, there are many postings on flooring; I think only doorknobs :) exceed flooring in numbers. You will get a variety of comments, and I think most people have strong opinions on their choice. Each choice seems to have benefits and drawbacks, and each owner seems to live well by the flooring they selected.
As for myself, we have what the previous owners did about 4 years ago - -tile (mostly) and Pergo (3 BR's other than MBR). They made great choices and while I would advocate them, I'll try to be objective.
The tiles are about 12 x 12 (maybe even larger); Italian-made that look like slate rather than tile; low luster, and high roughness (there's a word beginning with D that means rough w/ peaks & valleys); dark in color (various shades of mostly olive, dark green & gray specks). The tile layer did a magnificant job, and the flooring is one reason why my wife wanted the house. The dark tiles hide dirt well, wear very well (except for radiant heat repair, it should last a very, very long time - - perhaps the only such thing that can said about Eichlers). The drawbacks are that the roughness requires scrubbing to get rid of all the dirt; very, very hard on the feet; and kiss anything goodbye if you drop it from a distance, including a child's head or body. Some also like tile because it retains radiant heat well, but my Eichler leaks so much that the flooring never gets that warm. Pergo in the BR's is nice, but I have nicks and scratches for a move-out and move-in; probably would not consider it for entire house with all the crap and metal furniture feet we have, and constant re-arranging that my wife does, that would increase wear.
The main thing about Eichlers is that it is architecture that brings the outdoors in and done in the cheapest way possible. No other design can duplicate the airiness of Eichlers, and no other construction method is more aggravating (its seems Eichler's methods would be considered defects in other houses, but are considered to have character in Eichlers).
Thus, bad taste is bad taste, and other than that, in my view, you should should not rule out any current materials or arrangements for Eichlers (afterall, I like ABS barkes and stability control in my sedan even though they are not "classical.").
Another point is that there is an annual Eichler Tour in the Willow Glen section, and you can visit 8-10 houses in one afternoon to see a variety of layouts and decorating schemes for ideas and proofing. A case in point is ourselves - - we were set to spend about $10K for a new Ipe wood fence and courtyard/frontyard landscaping until we visited a neighbor who just completed an addition. I was wowed by it and now am attempting to do a light version of it.
Again, if you search through the site, you should be able to find some interesting and strong comments on a variety of flooring.

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

Like Tom, we installed vinyl composite tile (VCT) by Armstrong (coincidentally the manufacturer of the original ABT in our home). Tom went with a lighter shade (beige like) while we went with a mid-tone (grey). I think it is fair to say that both of us are pleased with the cost/benefit of our choice.

As he says, the only downside is the re-waxing--but the material is "commercial grade", works well with the radiant heat, and is color consistent through the entire tile (great if you gouge or scratch by accident). After 3 years, I am having my entire home stripped and rewaxed for about $500. A pain to move the furniture but you can't argue with the installation or maintence price.

Good luck.
Jake

BTW, I don't think Tom would mind me mentioning his house on the Willow Glen Eichler home tour this year. Way to go, Tom!

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Tom, Jake,

I know there's been a ton of discussions on pros/cons of removing the original tile before installing new flooring. Just wondering if you had the original VAT removed before you installed your VCT?

Thanks.

Greg

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

I didn't have much of a choice... we removed all the tile.

When I bought my fixer-upper Eichler, it was a hodgepodge of flooring materials. In some places they had removed the original tile and used low quality stick-um black and white vinyl tiles. In other areas, they laid poor grade berber carpet.

We removed the carpet and black/white tile (that stickum tile was the hardest). Where there was still original tile under the carpet, pieces were missing with just black mastic showing through--I recall it reminded me of a set of stained, broken teeth. In addition, around the edges where they had nailed the carpet strip, it was all broken up and crushed.

When we removed the existing materials in stages, we used recommended safety precautions (masked, throwaway clothing, wet rags, etc.) We then had the system leak-checked. Finally, we hired an installer who applied thinset leveling compound and installed VCT tile throughout the house. We did our approx. 1650 sq ft house for about $2500 in materials and $2500 in labor--can't beat that. That was 3 years ago and we're still pleased with our color and material choice.

Good luck.
Jake

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Thanks for the info.

Anyone have any tips/tricks for removing carpeting that has been installed over the VAT in a way that doesn't damage the VAT????

I've done two rooms already and the VATiles are so brittle that when I lift the nails/tackless board, the tiles are crumbling around the perimeter of the room.

Someone even mentioned leaving the existing tackless board and reusing them for new carpet, but they're in such bad shape (stained, rotted, rusted nails, etc) that I didn't want to leave them down.

Unfortunately, this may force us to remove/have removed the VAT before we reinstall carpet or tile.

Thanks.

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Jake or Tom,

Sorry but one more question. Your floor situation sounds very similar to ours - LR/DR/Hall with carpet ~1979, Older carpet in MB, Office, Linoleum OVER the VATiles in guest bedrooms, and linoleum over the slab in K/FR.

Were you successful in removing ALL of the mastic from the slab under these various floorings??????

I've that it may be nearly impossible to remove the mastic without gettting the floor "bead blasted" professionally.

Thanks!

Greg

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Joined: Mar 25 2003

Yes, I had the mastic removed. Note that there is asbestoes in the mastic so you will not want to bead blast it. I had it removed by a company that uses environmentally friendly chemicals inside a zamboni like contraption that removes everything down to bare concrete without throwing up any dust.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Re removing the mastic - this was really tough. It took us the longest time to find a contractor/crew that would agree to remove all of our old flooring, including the vinyl in the kitchen, and the mastic, prior to laying the tile. Most wanted us to do it. After watching them, I can see why. It is a tough job.

They (the crew) removed everything they could w/o sand blasting. Minute amounts remained in a few spots, but were so solid that there was no need to remove them - they just floated over that for leveling compound and placing the tile. They must have known what they were doing, as it has been 5 years and we have zero cracks in either the tile or grout.

Laying linoleum may be tougher (Jake?) since it is thinner and everything will telescope through it - though it is possible that they also have to use leveling compound prior to installation, in which case it should not be a problem

Cathye

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

Hi Cathye,

Would it be possible to get the name of the contractor you used for your floor removal? You can email me at geichlersv@yahoo.com.

Thanks.

Greg

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Joined: Aug 29 2005

Cathye,

Could you pass along the name of the floor removal contractor you used. We want to replace next year. You can reach me at cammarquis@yahoo.com

Thanks!

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Joined: Jul 12 2004

Hi Cathye,

I'm new at posting so I hope I'm doing this correctly.

May I also find out the name of the contractor you used to remove the dreaded VAT? I can be reached at Divasurfbird@yahoo.com

Thank you much.

DSB

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Joined: Jun 28 2003

We too have been looking for the past 2-1/2 years for a flooring solution, which would work well with our San Miguel Eichler, and our various pets.

All of our walls / ceilings have been painted white (prior to us purchasing the house)

We looked at going with an original 12 x 12 vinyl composite tile, bamboo flooring but we keep coming back to a Travertine or Limestone.

The tiles we are looking at are 20" X 20" with a honed finish (no gloss) very smooth to the touch and will be set with almost no grout lines. Our plans are to use this tile throughout the house and accent each room with area rugs.

Tiles are running $4.25 per square foot.

Here is a picture of the tiles; they are lying on top of the carpet so we can get an idea of their appearance.

Has anyone else seen an Eichler with this flooring choice? I’m open to feedback too. ( sorry to jump in your topic here with the same question)

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Joined: Dec 14 2003

There are some fantastic porcelain tiles that look like travertine or limestone and which would probably be easier to care for. My parents retiled a bathroom recently and the first time I saw it I thought it was filled travertine until I noticed the edges of the bullnose tiles which were clearly ceramic. Limestone and travertine are relatively soft stones and will etch when they come in contact with acids (think dog barf, Coca Cola, salad dressing, etc) which porcelain will withstand nicely. I would slop ketchup, lemon juice, red wine, and vegetable oil on my genuine stone tile samples and let it sit over night before I made a choice, if I were you.

We're looking for a floor too and the salesman showed us a really nice polished "limestone" porcelain tile, but I wanted to avoid grout. My parents also had a tiled living/dining/kitchen and they hated it even though my dad is an immaculate housekeeper (Mom golfs) and their children are graying, the grout was a real source of trouble. We've ordered Fritztile, but it was a battle finding someone who would install it.

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Joined: Jun 28 2003

I know of the advantages of the Porcelain Tile. It is also stronger more consistent in color and over all easier to maintain.

We looked at several, then we set one side by side with Travertine and you could tell the difference.

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Joined: Mar 22 2004

(reply to jeffsheldon re: limestone flooring)

after agonizing for years over flooring options, i finally chose honed limestone (beauharnais) for my courtyard model eichler in sunnyvale. i did the entire house (1400 sqft). i used 16 inch square tiles. the larger size looks much better than 12 inch square. but they are also thicker, which means a greater time lag for the radiant heat to reach your feet. i wanted thin grout lines but my installer highly recommended 1/4 inch, felt he couldn't guarantee no clefting across adjacent tiles with super-thin grout lines. anyway, i was disappointed but it doesn't look bad (i chose a grout color to match the tile of course).

i sealed the tile myself. it has held up well, even in the kitchen and bath areas. it's been about 3 years now. there are a few stains but they blend in well with the fossils and grain in the stone. (you will have to accept that your tiles will get "marked" and just live with it). you also will want to take your shoes off before entering the house (of course).

the interior of my house is all paneled so i chose a light colored limestone to brighten up the house. the polished limestone had too much glare so you're right to avoid that. some people fear that a hard floor is hard on the joints. it's not a problem for me. but some friends prefer to wear slippers inside my house. the floors do a great job of reflecting sound so you may discover your house is noisier with limestone floors. also, you may find your counter tops are lower after installation. in my case, the floor rose may 3/4 inches. so take that into account (another issue with choosing bigger tiles over smaller tiles).

sorry, this is a bit rambling. if you have more specific questions, feel free to email me at kevin at hplwkw . hpl . hp . com. it's not a care-free floor like polished concrete. but, i soon got over the fear of spilled wine. i'm very happy with it.

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Joined: Apr 10 2006

Hello Jeff,
Did you decide which to go for? And do you mind me asking how much it costs for your home?

I recently purchased an Eichler and want to replace the ceramic tile of the kitchen, dining and living room with something that is brighter and with a thin grout line. I remember seeing an Eichler in Lucas Valley at last year's AIA Eichler home tour that had something similar, but couldn't remember if it was limestone or travertine. Thanks.

Edgar

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Joined: Sep 13 2004

Hi, Jeff:

I have 12 x 12 (1/4" grout line) honed and filled travertine throughout my Eichler (even the atrium) and I love it. It is "noce" travertine, the darkest of all. I also have drywalled walls but it looks amazing against the mahogany baseboards. You can check it out on the Snapshot Showroom. We decided to go with the 12 x 12 mostly because of the hallway, which I thought would look even narrower with 16 x 16 or 20 x 20 tile. Just a thought.

Good luck,

Ana :)

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