house & home

Flooring Options & Making OSB Work

Flooring update on Squirrel Estate!  Since August, one thing on my mind is “what flooring am I going to put down on the first floor?”  We knew that the three-type flooring of the ceramic tile/hardwood/carpet combo didn’t really work and really chopped up space.  We wanted to use up to 2 types of flooring (debating on whether the entry will be a separate thing or not) so everything has a more cohesive flow.  So we have the following options:

  • Laminate
  • Bamboo
  • Hardwood
  • Engineered hardwood
  • Luxury vinyl plank
  • Wood-look porcelain tile

Immediately, we knew some we just did not want to deal with.  At our last house, we laid down laminate flooring.  Honestly, for the most part, we really enjoy it.  It looks great, and even though we bought the cheapest (at the time) at Home Depot, it’s actually super durable and has not been scratched or dinged by our dog.  The problem with laminate is that it’s not waterproof.  Since we live in a climate where it rains and snows a lot, it’s quite annoying to have to be super careful when coming into the house and wipe up drips.  This is especially challenging after taking Chewie out on a walk, and he comes stumbling in, drenched.

Next to go are bamboo, hardwood, and engineered hardwood.  I honestly love hardwood floors, but in our season of life (dog and all), it’s just not the most durable.  My friends with dogs all have pretty beat-up hardwood/bamboo floors, and I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars just to have my floors get destroyed.

So that leaves us with LVP (luxury vinyl planks) and wood-look porcelain tiles.  LVPs have come such a long way, and they basically install just like laminate or engineered hardwood (click & lock systems).  Some of the higher grade ones look super real, and is made textured to mimic real hardwood.  They’re scratch-resistant and waterproof, another bonus.  The main one that we’re looking at is COREtec, which is honestly in a league of its own.  They seriously look so good.

I also was really interested in wood-look porcelain tiles.  Being tile, they’re basically indestructible, plus we could install radiant flooring, so the floors are always cozy and warm.  For a few months, we were pretty sure this was the way we wanted to go.  Until we found out that our subfloors were OSB.  OSB is a super popular type of subfloor for construction because it’s really strong and can hold a lot of weight.  However, one really bad thing about OSB is that because of its materials (wood strands and adhesive), it is prone to expansion and bubbling if exposed to high moisture.  So when you tile, you have to put down mortar (which is high in moisture), what could end up happening is the OSB will expand or contract, making the tile crack over time.  We thought, maybe we could just swap out our subfloors for plywood subfloors and make it work!  And then, we found out our joists are 20″ off-center.  Typically, floor joists are 16″ off-center, but because ours are 20″ off-center, all the tile installers we talked to warned us that floor joists that are spaced out that far apart have 2 concerns: 1) it might have a hard time supporting the weight of the tile, and 2) the wider distance makes it prone to cracking.

Not going to lie, we were pretty disappointed when we heard this news, but alas, these things happen.  So we are going to forge ahead and install ~luxury vinyl planks~ throughout the house!  We are going to install smaller porcelain tiles in the foyer/entryway so it can take the everyday traffic.  Smaller tiles are less likely to crack, so that’s the main reason why we’re still gung-ho about doing the tile in the entry.  Another reason why we’re installing tile in the entry is that we have this big window in the foyer that lets in so much light (south-facing window y’all!)  While the light is great, it bleached the old hardwood that was there before.  LVPs are prone to bleaching while porcelain tiles are not.  So, we figured this will also solve that issue.

The good thing is, LVPs are a snap to install, so we hope to start on this project after Thanksgiving and wrap up before Christmas, so we can have floors for Christmas.  Fingers crossed!