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January 6, 2008 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Vinyl flooring that is either NOT ugly or hideously ugly in a way we like: does it exist?

We are not pleased with having to do this, but we are going to have to put vinyl flooring into our kitchen. This is due to the fact that our old house's floor is too...squishy for stone/ceramic tiles to be laid without breaking, we don't want hardwood in a water-prone area, and carpet is out of the question in a house with two dogs and six cats.

So vinyl it is. Unfortunately, most vinyl apparently gets sold by pretending to be something it's not: I could, with ease, find vinyl masquerading as ugly stone, vinyl masquerading as ugly ceramic, or vinyl masquerading as ugly wood, and slightly more effort can even find vinyl masquerading as steel. What we cannot find, and are at a total loss about, is vinyl that is striking and awesome on its own.

We like whimsy. We want our flooring to look absolutely absurd. We aren't intending to sell the house any time soon. For instance, if we could find sheet vinyl that looked like this, we would buy it in a heartbeat. Yes, I know we're crazy. No, I don't care what you think about my taste level. My house is awesome. La la la I'm not listening. Anyway, we're about 3 hours from a decent flooring store and I'm trying to find awesome vinyl online. Does anyone have some sort of amazing resource for vinyl floors that do not suck and would look pleasing to a group of four twentysomethings who have very little patience for staid tile designs and antique florals?
posted by InnocentBystander to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Vintage linoleum
posted by hortense at 6:13 PM on January 6, 2008

Response by poster: hortense: I love love love the look of those, but the person on that site mentions that the linoleum rugs are "complete works of art" that cannot be cut to fit. Sadness!
posted by InnocentBystander at 6:17 PM on January 6, 2008

Have you considered cork or linoleum? They're both fine for water-prone areas, soft on the feet and on the environment. And you can do this with linoleum.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:22 PM on January 6, 2008

posted by hortense at 6:25 PM on January 6, 2008

I feel your pain. I'm doing some preliminary investigation into flooring for our kitchen too. I spend a lot of time cooking and tile floors are too hard. Hardwood is not practical. Vinyl is... vinyl. I would consider laminate flooring, but it seems to have the same issue as vinyl in terms of the fake-looking stone, wood, etc.

Don't know much about these products, other than they are true linoleum and you can do some pretty neat things with them in terms of pattern and color, but check out ">Marmoleum and linoleum by Armstrong (sorry link won't embed) for starters.

I have to admit though, that I am slightly enchanted by the Crocodile pattern vinyl flooring by Armstrong -- it's unusual, and almost kind of repulsive when you think about it. Two things I look for in a floor! ;)

Hope this helps!
posted by missuswayne at 6:36 PM on January 6, 2008

I hope you find what you're looking for, but if a hardwood floor is sealed properly and spills are mopped up after they occur, there's no reason you can't put hardwood flooring in the kitchen.
posted by cooker girl at 6:36 PM on January 6, 2008

Our local Home Depot carries something similar to this but I can't find the actual product name. It's these tile-like things that fit together like a jigsaw and are tough enough to go in your garage, but there is also a certain kind of it that is used for commercial installations for flooring. It's solid with tractiony circles on it. I think it's pretty cool, but is not movie theatre carpeting. I suppose you could make it look like that one photo, the black and white check (kitcheny and easy to clean, I would imagine). Also, conversation starter.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:39 PM on January 6, 2008

Response by poster: Marmoleum costs something demented like $7/sqft. I don't think I mentioned the "we are all college students" part of this. eeeek. We've put real hardwood in the rest of the house for less than $2.50/sqft installed (we got a deal and installed it ourselves, but... I hate to think of spending three times as much on LINOLEUM).
posted by InnocentBystander at 6:39 PM on January 6, 2008

Oh, crap -- like I said, I didn't know much about it.

I'll be crossing Marmoleum off my list too. Perhaps I'll price the crocodile vinyl...
posted by missuswayne at 6:44 PM on January 6, 2008

I second the recommendation for laminate flooring. I don't know how expensive it is, though. Pergo has some decent-looking fake hardwood flooring.
posted by the cake is a pie at 6:47 PM on January 6, 2008

Maybe this person can help. I'm not a fan of the three last designs, but you have the admit the samurai out of linoleum is pretty cool! Sounds like he does custom work, so if he can do something as cool as the samurai he can probably do something as cool for you.

Not sure of his pricing or your budget. He's based out of the UK.

At any rate, at least this proves that you CAN do something kinda cool with linoleum.
posted by modernsquid at 6:52 PM on January 6, 2008

Looks like you can get linoleum/marmoleum for a bit less then $7.50/sqft. This site it's listed at around $3.50/sqft, and I didn't shop around that hard. If you have an old house it would probably go with it better then vinyl, and the squares are nice and bold, and you can either be really graphic laying down contrasting colors or just do solid colors.
posted by voidcontext at 7:31 PM on January 6, 2008

Laminate cheap 0.89 sqf
posted by hortense at 7:53 PM on January 6, 2008

I just did my kitchen in commercial vinyl tiles. Better quality and cheaper than the other vinyl I looked at. Lots of color choices, so you could get very creative. You could do large-scale pixel art on your floor.

Voidcontext, that linoleum link is good. thx.
posted by theora55 at 8:11 PM on January 6, 2008

Google "painted floor cloth" (sample link); it looks cheap to DIY, can be as whimsical as you like, and even if it isn't the perfect long-term solution, it will work for the present. A lot of the sample designs on the links I looked at are pretty awful, but if you are doing it yourself the artwork could be as funky or ironic as you like.

And somewhere recently (maybe in Dwell?) I saw a photo of an amazing painted floor, with very striking geometric patterns that were reminiscent of really funky 1970s textile patterns. So another option would be to just paint the existing floor, again as an interim measure until you can find and/or afford the flooring you want.
posted by Forktine at 8:17 PM on January 6, 2008

No such thing as too squishy, just maybe more work than you want to do and/or more money than you want to spend. Besides, as someone who manages a hardware store---you don't want to tile the floor of your kitchen unless you do it with something like slate. However, to my previous point...

AdvanTech subfloor over whatever you have will fix your flex problem. If it doesn't, your problems extend way beyond what floor covering to use. However, this potential inch of subfloor plus mortar float layer may cause some drama with things like doors and entrances.

If you want to be truly absurd, you could pick several styles/colors of peel and stick and make your own mosaic. Alternatively, you can use asphalt tiles.
posted by TomMelee at 9:05 PM on January 6, 2008

You could always get whatever vinyl is the cheapest and paint it to be as whimsical as you like. The house I'm renovating had ugly vinyl floors, so I painted them, and I've had zero problems... I put about three coats of polyurethane on after the paint, and it's held up amazingly well. I just used ordinary wall paint.

Decoupage could be another fun option...
posted by Gianna at 10:01 PM on January 6, 2008

If you want cheap, use floor paint. You can get as absurd as you like, and add new absurd elements at whim. If you don't want to do a particular design, paint the floor a solid color and drop random spatters of other colors.

Fabulous carpet design in the link.
posted by yohko at 10:10 PM on January 6, 2008

if you want a simpler look, or more variety, go with a vinyl composite tile (vct). that'll give you some color variation, and pattern variation. it's not sheet vinyl, but a lot of the properties are the same.
posted by lester at 4:46 AM on January 7, 2008

You might consider a commercial vinyl flooring. We redid a kitchen a few years ago and the guy at the flooring store made some side comment like, "of course there are commercial floors we don't normally feature in the showroom." That led us to buy something call Azrock Random Size Flooring. In short it was vinyl strips in a variety if width and lengths that had an extra thick layer of protection on top because it was made for restaurants. In the end, we had a floor that looked like a really nice hardwood floor but you could drop a hammer on it and it would bounce without leaving a mark. We absolutely loved it and ended up doing half a playroom in it as well. Of course, then we moved ... but that's a different story.
posted by lpsguy at 5:51 AM on January 7, 2008

VCT, mentioned above by lester, is ludicrously durable and the color goes all the way through (unlike many sheet vinyls). A guillotine-style tile cutter (just a blade that drops down, not a motorized saw) goes right through it, so it's easy to chop the large tiles into smaller pieces for mosaic effects. Adhering it is equally easy, and there's no need to mess with grout unless you get wonky with your joints.

I've used it with great success, but then again I was specifically looking for bright solid colors, not prints, patterns, or faux-finishes. The mosaic edging I made (with the cutter mentioned above) looks especially nice.

Also, at least in my area, it's very inexpensive. Weighs a metric ass-ton per box, however.
posted by aramaic at 7:15 AM on January 7, 2008

Best answer: no
posted by wfc123 at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2008

If you're planning on using the internet only for this, I probably don't have to tell you that you're going to have to contend with a lot of badly designed sites. The flooring industry is very slow to make use of communication technology and a lot of flooring sites are infuriatingly unhelpful. Here are some of the big ones in case you haven't seen them:

I work at a flooring store that does several million dollars per year, and we sell as much Balta/IVC PVC flooring as traditional resilient sheet vinyl at this point, but their site doesn't include resilient flooring of any kind for some reason.

Armstrong has a few styles there that you may find more appealing than average, under Highland Park and Urban Settings in particular. When Urban Settings was introduced a few years ago, they had one style that looked like randomly-shaped hunks of rusted metal riveted together, and another that was a cloudy field of pink peppered with golden stars and comets. Crocodile tile there is part of this line, and back then it came in several colors, including swamp rot green and blood red. They were awesome. They were also roundly hooted at and are no longer made.

Some of those sites make browsing (and seeing entire lines) so difficult that you may find it easier to look at styles on a buying group's website instead. This page has a good list of them, and links to their sites if you click through. Some of them, like Carpet One and Flooring America, will let you look at samples online. But I'm not sure you'll see anything you don't expect to see already.

If I were you, and dedicated to finding wacky yet legit flooring for cheap, I would call flooring stores in nearby cities and ask if they have remnants or stock. If they say yes, ask them if they could see if they have anything really crazy-looking, and to give you a call back if they do. It's a long shot, because stock vinyl is typically...typical and remnants tend to go fast, but it's something you could do that wouldn't cost anything. I've seen stock sit in our warehouse for years because it was "weird" when I considered it superior. 3 hours is a long drive. But if it ended up saving you several hundred dollars to go pick something up, then...hey!
posted by zebra3 at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2008


with this stuff you can take a photo of forest leaf litter and make it into your bathroom floor... for example...
posted by ohdeanna at 12:48 PM on January 8, 2008

old q, but if you're still reading, industrial grade linoleum tiles are cheap. Even Home Depot has them for only $1 a sq. foot. You can do a classic black and white or black and red checkerboard.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:56 AM on January 12, 2008

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