Cushy playroom flooring on a shoestring budget, please!
June 26, 2008 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Need creative ideas for inexpensive flooring in a playroom/rec room. Our budget is next to nothing.

We just enclosed our screen porch to create a big (250 square feet) playroom/rec room for the kids and their toys, and we need to put down some kind of cushy floor over the existing ceramic tile to prevent head injuries.

I'm going to investigate carpet remnants today, but I'm also interested in creative ideas for soft flooring on the cheap - I mean, really cheap. I looked at those 2'x2' interlocking foam mats online and at around $500 they are too pricey, and pretty ugly to boot. Bonus points for attractiveness, as this room is visible from the kitchen and dining room.
posted by missuswayne to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not cheaper than a piece of carpet, but you could check out cork flooring, which is available in all kinds of shades and patterns, from around $3 per foot and up, but realistically $5-6 installed. But for under $500, a nice piece of carpet is probably your best bet.
posted by beagle at 8:12 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


It really depends on what you mean by "next to nothing." You can get used carpet for free, for example, if you are willing to deal with it being used carpet (may be dirty, may smell, will be worn, etc). You can buy area rugs very cheap, especially if you don't mind loud or imperfectly beautiful patterns -- will they provide enough padding? Your local big box store (and no doubt your local independent flooring store, too) sells that green indoor/outdoor carpet very cheap -- I saw it on sale for well under a dollar a square foot recently.

(Also, I don't want to be all "well, back in my day..." but in fact many, many children grow up in houses with cement or tile floors without head injuries -- are you completely sure that a soft floor is necessary? Toys with wheels, and block towers, and lego houses, work better on hard floors, and square tiles make a great "street grid" for building pretend cities. So you could skip this project entirely and have happier kids as a result.)
posted by Forktine at 8:12 AM on June 26, 2008


Great idea on a giant playpen.

You can buy thin foam in rolls (six or eight feet wide) that's used as insulation around pipes and such. It's a springy coated foam a lot like those interlocking mats -- it might even be the same thing, I don't know -- but much much much cheaper. You can get it at a Lowe's or other home building store.

There's also cork flooring, which looks very nice and works the same way. Again, you can get tiles (expensive) or big rolls.
posted by rokusan at 8:13 AM on June 26, 2008


(On preview, beagle nailed the cork.)
posted by rokusan at 8:13 AM on June 26, 2008


Tuesday Morning, Marshall's, Big Lots and other "discount" stores have area rugs for great prices. My neighbor had the same challenge and made a very attractive room by using several smaller area rugs together. They were all similar colors, (reds and beige's) but the patterns were different and the over-all effect was very nice. Maybe you could do the same thing with some kids rugs, colors, letters, etc. I think with a little shopping around, you could easily cover for under $500. Good luck!!
posted by pearlybob at 8:33 AM on June 26, 2008


Yeah, I've contemplated keeping the existing floor uncovered, but my kids are young (14 mos and 4 years) and my older one has decided he enjoys tackling and wrestling with my younger one. So, I figure I can at least give them a soft floor to fall on. Also the floor isn't insulated, so we want some kind of barrier for that reason. And the sound-muffling qualities of a soft floor would be nice too.

I loooove cork, but I think it's just out of my range right now.

I've been scanning Craigslist for inexpensive, new-ish carpets. Definitely not interested in anything dirty/stinky, free or not.
posted by missuswayne at 8:34 AM on June 26, 2008


Old gym mats? Or really puffy carpet padding (without a carpet above it)?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:38 AM on June 26, 2008


Most carpeting isn't going to provide that much safety for a serious roughhousing fall - I vote for gym mats or foam, covered by some old carpeting or a cheap rug for appearances' sake.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:42 AM on June 26, 2008


We wanted to designate a play area in our finshed basement and used brightly colored iterlocking foam mats we got at Sams Club

it looks very playful, the kids love it, and it cost next-to-nothing ( 250 sq ft will run you about $150)
posted by Mr_Chips at 8:58 AM on June 26, 2008


Oh, yea. I should also add tat it installs like a jig saw puzzle, can be cut easily with scissors if you need to shape it, and provides a nice cushion for falls and tumbles. cleans easily with soap and water

My little ones love it
posted by Mr_Chips at 9:02 AM on June 26, 2008


Mr_Chips - That might work nicely for us. The price is definitely right. Thanks for posting!
posted by missuswayne at 9:06 AM on June 26, 2008


You can get rubber matting for about 1.50 per sq ft.
posted by Mitheral at 9:12 AM on June 26, 2008


Carpet is usually priced per square yard. You've got roughly 28 square yards to fill. You can get cheap, cheap institutional quality carpet for like $3-5 per square yard. Easy.

FYI on the foam mats - we got some from my sister-in-law when she discovered deep teeth marks in them from her son. She was worried that he would bite off a chunk and aspirate it. My in-laws tend to be far more asphyxiation-phobic than my family, but even that gave me pause.
posted by plinth at 9:21 AM on June 26, 2008


I've got to agree with Mr_Chips about the colorful interlocking foam mats that you can buy for cheap at Sam's or BJ's. They're durable, easy-to-clean, and they'll provide a lot of protection from injuries. If you think they're ugly, then why not put some cheap thin carpeting on top of them?

I've got gray ones in my workshop because they make standing for long periods of time more comfortable. I think I paid about $10-12 a couple of years ago for a package of four 2x2 foot mats (16 sq ft).

Another idea is to duct tape large pieces of cardboard together and maybe put carpet on top of that. Of course it would trap moisture for awhile if it ever got wet.
posted by 14580 at 9:24 AM on June 26, 2008


This website seems to have a bunch of kid-themed rugs with maps, roads, etc on them. Depending on the size you need, you could get by cheaply here -- This car rug is 3x6.5 and $50. It might be an option for something to go over the foam boards if you want something soft for them to play on.
posted by sararah at 11:00 AM on June 26, 2008


FYI on the foam mats - we got some from my sister-in-law when she discovered deep teeth marks in them from her son. She was worried that he would bite off a chunk and aspirate it. My in-laws tend to be far more asphyxiation-phobic than my family, but even that gave me pause.

I'm sure you could bite a chunk off if you tried hard enough, but it would probably be easier to simply take a sock off your foot and stick that in your mouth

Another idea is to duct tape large pieces of cardboard together and maybe put carpet on top of that. Of course it would trap moisture for awhile if it ever got wet.

Be careful, if there is one critter that loves wet cardboard, it's roaches....
posted by Mr_Chips at 11:01 AM on June 26, 2008


I'm not worried about anyone eating the foam - we have a very small foam ABC mat presently and nobody's choked on it yet.
posted by missuswayne at 11:48 AM on June 26, 2008


Nobody has suggested ye ol' dorm room standby, the "carpet sample" patchwork floor? Used to you could get discontinued samples dirt cheap. Add a roll or two of double-sided tape and all was golden...
posted by deCadmus at 8:03 PM on June 26, 2008


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