Rubber Flooring?

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to prolong the life of flooring in my rentals.  Carpet, laminates, sheet vinyl, ceramic and vinyl tiles . . . they get damaged, wear out, and it seems I’m always replacing them.

I’ve settled on berber carpet for living areas.  It doesn’t mat down, and it cleans well.  I don’t buy solids — dirt and stains show too easily.  There are lots of styles with a fleck pattern in mixed shades of taupe and brown that work beautifully.

But I hadn’t found anything I was thrilled about for my kitchens and baths.  That is, until today.  I’d seen rubber tiles in a couple kitchens and baths in a fourplex in the Chatham Arch area of Indianapolis.  A good friend of mine is buying there . . . the area is fantastic, and attracts young professionals.  These tiles gave the kitchen a funky/retro look and were very comfortable.  I thought the floor came in one piece but on further inspection, I noticed it was 20″ tiles.  Very cool … and so durable!  So I set out to research the product.

Here’s what I found:

This is two tiles, locked together.  The trade name is Flexi-Tile.  As you can see, they fit like puzzle pieces, and all you need to install them is a rubber mallet and a utility knife.  The raised circles in this pattern give it a 3-D effect.   You really can’t tell where one tile stops and another begins.

They come in several colors, as you can see in the photo to the right..    So, you ask, what about price?  They’re not cheap . . . to do a 10×15′ room would cost about $350 in materials.  BUT, you don’t need glue, remember, so installation should be inexpensive, and these things hide minor cracks and bumps in older floors . . . you don’t need to worry about laying a sub-floor in most cases, which is great.  And they come with a 25-year guarantee.

I’m definitely going to give these tiles a try on my next rehab project.  I’ve had too many kitchen and bath floors ruined, and these tiles are nearly indestructible.  Other applications are basements, playrooms, garages, laundry areas . . . I’ll let you know how it goes!

Peel and Stick!

I’m often asked about flooring options for rental properties, particularly for kitchens and bathrooms, which take a lot of abuse.  Ceramic, laminates, sheet vinyl, peel and stick vinyl tiles, indoor/outdoor carpet … so many choices!  I’ve used all of them and here’s the scoop, in my opinion:

  • Ceramic tile:  It’s very durable, but you have to start with a very level surface if you want it to last.  If your floor has some dips in it, you may have to put down a new subfloor before the tile is laid.  Also, grout can be an issue … mold and staining can occur unless you use epoxy grout or an additive to prevent problems.  I like ceramic, but it is costly (at least $1,50/sq, ft.) to purchase, and installation is also costly.
  • Laminates:  They’re quite the rage right now, and there are beautiful styles, moderately priced, to choose from.  It’s cheaper to install, but in areas where you can have water issues, i.e. kitchens, bathrooms and laundry areas, it’s a little risky.  Laminates will bubble up and warp if standing water soaks them.  Will your tenants notice a slow, constant leak?
  • Sheet vinyl:  This is an inexpensive option, both to buy and install.  There are some great patterns out there that don’t show dirt or stains.  However, if someone decides to drag something heavy across the floor, even the higher grade vinyls will tear.  Yes, you can glue the tear back down, but it will never look new again.  I’ve had tenants knick, tear and burn sheet vinyl … I buy throw rugs to cover the blemishes for  a while but you can’t do that forever.
  • Peel and stick tiles:  I’ve decided that these are actually the smartest option for rentals.  I’ve installed several rooms of these tiles over the years and they — amazingly — are extremely durable.  And if someone trashes one or two of them, I just pop them up and replace them.  The patterns are nice — stone, slate, wood, or ceramic look-alikes — and you can buy a box of tiles (30 sq. ft.) for about $25-30.   If you want to try this on your own, check out You Tube videos for instructions … it’s not difficult.
  • Indoor/outdoor carpet:  Don’t go there.  Would you put carpet in your kitchen or bath?  Enough said.

So, that’s my humble opinion on flooring options for kitchens and baths.  Beauty, price and durability are my concerns, and for middle-income rentals, the peel and stick tiles win on this one.