Giving Vinyl Flooring a Second Look

A big thanks to The Home Depot for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

I have to admit that I’ve always had a bit of a prejudice against vinyl flooring.

Part of it might be due to the fact that the vinyl I’ve encountered has mostly been either the circa-1985 white with cornflower-blue accent design, or the early-model, thin-as-paper peel-and-stick tiles. (When we moved into our current home, the floor was covered with several layers of both

But while I prefer natural flooring when possible – I love hardwoods, and swoon over real linoleum – sometimes cost and practicality have to come first. So while we were trying to decide what kind of flooring to lay in our entryway,  we kept returning to the idea of vinyl tiles again and again, for several reasons:

1. The floor in the adjacent living room is carpet and it seemed kind of like overkill to buy hardwood to lay in one tiny room.

2. While ceramic and porcelain tile are natural, inexpensive, and durable materials, they’re hard, and entryways tend to get wet. If my kid is going to fall down and hit his head on the floor, I want his head to win.

3. We love to start projects, but aren’t always the best at finishing them. Knowing that laying vinyl tile floor is an easy, do-in-an-afternoon project definitely helped convince us to go that route.

4. Vinyl is really inexpensive, and budget is always a concern.

5. Vinyl is known to be extremely durable, easy to clean, and long-lasting. Since we don’t want to be replacing the floors again any time soon, that was a big selling point.

So when I was asked to do a home renovation project sponsored by Home Depot, I decided to go ahead and give vinyl a second look. Babble gave me a $150 gift certificate to Home Depot to help fund my project, but I really didn’t want to go over that amount and was even hoping I might have some left over to start a second project.

Of course, that didn’t mean I wanted the floors to look cheap. So I went to Home Depot fully expecting to possibly pony up extra cash for a different choice.

I have to say, though, that I was blown away by the higher-end vinyl tiles available. The Trafficmaster Ceramica line of resilient vinyl tiles are thick and textured, and really look like ceramic, even up close. Check out the “cool grey” color we bought: it’s got just a hint of blue in the streaks which looks great against the new blue walls:

And when I say “higher-end”, don’t get me wrong: this stuff is still super-affordable. We paid around $1.20/square foot for the type we chose, and I didn’t see a resilient tile option for more than $1.40 per square foot. (We spent about $40 for the tiles to complete this entryway.)

 The really cool thing about the higher-end vinyl is that it’s thick enough that you can install it with grout, which definitely gives it a much more realistic ceramic look. You can also choose to just lay it edge to edge and skip the grout, but if you’ve got an extra afternoon and a little bit of handiness, I’d definitely recommend the grout. We laid the tiles with a 1/4 inch grout line and used a gray grout to match the “cool grey” tiles.
Here’s a side-by-side shot where you can really see the difference between the old flooring and the new resilient vinyl tiles:

Overall, I’m thrilled with the way the floors look and perform. They’re super easy to clean, which is a boon now that the kids are starting to come in with wet shoes. They feel soft and warm, but hefty, underfoot. And they feel like a “real” building material instead of the plasticky, sticky vinyl you might remember.

In fact, since we had a few tiles left over from our project, we’ve decided to buy another box and tackle our back entryway, too.

I might just be a vinyl convert.

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