Synthetic Surfaces under Foot - Page 2

Designer, homeowners delight in a plethora of evolving non-natural options for flooring
Fridays on the Homefront
DYI VCT tile installation. Photo: Art of Doing Stuff
Fridays on the Homefront
Simple black-and-white VCT tile in a modern setting. Photo: Joe Barthlow
Fridays on the Homefront
This laminate sheeting gives off a wood floor look. Photo: Djenan Kozic

Karen Nepacena and John Shum are Eichler owners who didn't hesitate to go synthetic for much of their home. They bought an Eichler fixer-upper in Walnut Creek's Rancho San Miguel neighborhood in 2013, and re-flooring was one of the challenges they faced. The couple are not only skilled do-it-yourselfers, but also proud enough of their work to share it in a blog at

"The more we researched about Eichlers…[the more] we personally wanted to go more authentic," recalled Nepacena of the rationale for several decisions during their remodel, including flooring. The couple decided to mix surfaces in their home, but went synthetic in numerous areas.

"We chose vinyl composite tile for a bunch of reasons. One was that it was an original flooring that Eichler used," she explained. Including the kitchen, dining room, and living room, she said, "we have VCT in our main living spaces."

"Cost-wise, it was one of the more economical choices we looked at," she said of vinyl tile. Add that to its sturdiness, and you understand why, Nepacena said, "you see VCT in lots of hospitals and schools."

Though VCT is cheaper by the square foot than many materials, the Walnut Creek ownner said preparing a concrete slab for VCT is painstaking work.

"Your preparation on the floor before you get to the VCT can cost you….You have to have a perfect floor; otherwise you're going to have bumps and cracks," she said. "Actually getting it to be visual, usable, and smooth, it costs."

Karen said she and John decided to mix natural and synthetic surfaces in their home, adding, "We have cork in our private spaces, bedrooms. We really like how cork feels on our feet."

Secret shares their fondness for cork floors in Eichlers, but is cautious about the prospect of mixing several surfaces in a house.

"Chopping it up, dividing spaces—sometimes [it] doesn't work for the house," said Secret. Nonetheless, she concedes that new synthetics provide many more options than what was available in the past.

"There are so many options nowadays," she said happily. "I go to trade shows, and it's like, 'Whoa!'"

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