Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Floors - Reclaim, Refurbish, Renew

Reclaimed stone floor using slabs taken from a
local factory

When considering our hall flooring, we thought it would be a simple choice between 2 natural products: Wood or stone...simple?

No!  But it led us down an even better path  - to the reclamation yard!


Looking into the price of stone, I immediately crossed that off the list too. We had a budget to stick to and this would take me way over. I simply could not believe how expensive it was to buy new. I decided it would have to be wood!

However, when looking at the options for a wooden floor, we were face with a minefield of choices - each, seemingly, with a pitfall.

Floorboards V's Engineered flooring

Floorboards are rigid planks of wood secured direct to the floor.  It is therefore advised that a base must be totally level. Our floor was not so we moved on.

A floating engineered floor is an option where the floor base is not entirely flat. Our hall floor falls away at a slight gradient towards the garden door.  By putting down a leveling compound we could level the floor where the engineered tolerance levels were exceeded and lay the engineered floor on top.

It 'floats' as the planks slot together rather than being secured to the floor and they sit on a membrane layer. There is a certain amount of 'give' in the engineering of the wood allowing level variance in the pre-exisiting floor.

There is also the option of a non-floating engineered floor, where the planks are slotted together and stuck to the floor down if you don't like the slight bounce a floating floor gives. The allowances for uneven floor are understandably reduced here although there is still a slight give in the boards so some slight unevenness is acceptable.

The Downside of a Wooden Floor

As ever, I asked a few companies to quote and an independent carpet and wooden floor fitter gave us the best feedback.

He was quick to point out that with three boys and two dogs in the house, he could almost guarantee we would get deep scratches from stones or grit in shoes. As the doors from the hall lead straight to the garden and front drive this was key. Deep scratches would be seen through both a wax finish or the more hard-wearing matt varnish.
A wood floor would therefore create a degree of ongoing care and maintenance. Both day to day care and occasional sanding down and re-varnishing. Engineered flooring only gives so much tolerance for sanding down as the depth of boards are significantly narrower than planks.

Our downstairs loo floor runs on from the hall and we wanted to use the same material for both. We were advised that the wood floor would not cope well with water and would possible warp and stain around the base of the loo and sink.

It is also worth investigating if your floor lets in any damp. Any moisture rising from the floor will cause problems to a wood floor long term (worth considering if you are thinking of a wood kitchen floor).

Low Maintenance Alert!

At this point I was keen to remember that the over-riding factor with our house renovation was to end up with a practical home, not a show home.  We need to be able to live in it with our 3 boys and 2 dogs without worrying!

The prospect of spending a considerable amount of money on a product that would take a lot of maintenance was not for us.

Wood effect laminate is ideal for a games room
as it can take heavy wear and tear without marking

Wood Effect Laminate 

I think laminate flooring is brilliant. It is hard-wearing and practical - indeed we went with a fantastic Oak effect laminate in the boys games room. The amount of furniture moving that goes on in there due to table tennis, table football or console activities meant wood would was a definite no. We wanted something softer under foot than stone but more practical than carpet.

The Sauna Effect

One thing that occurred to me was that as we had an oak front door, oak internal doors an oak beam and oak staircase all in the hall, an oak floor might make the hall begin to look like the inside of a sauna... and so the thought process kick-started again.

Reconstituted Stone Slabs

Husband Jonathan found a great place that sells reconstituted concrete slabs that have been cast in moulds taken from original stone. There are several different patterns, tones and sizes so once laid on the floor it genuinely is difficult to tell that they are not real.

It is difficult to tell that these reconstituted stones are not original farmhouse slabs
I went to visit the factory and was really impressed. You can then further enhance the floor by staining before sealing it to give each stone its own character.  This seemed like a great alternative to buying the real thing at a fraction of the cost. Visit their website: www.farmhouseflagstones.co.uk for further info. If the budget is proving a challenge I highly recommend taking a look.  We ended up getting reconstituted stones for our patio which will be featured soon!

The Reclamation Yard

When discussing my flooring frustration with our builder Ken Shirley, he suggested visiting a reclamation yard to look at the stone available there.  I visited a few different yards locally. I have to say that the prices varied wildly.

With reclaimed products there are often new items coming in to a yard so each visit can offer something different. Do phone to check before you make the journey to make sure they have what you are looking for. If you find it secure it with a deposit as things go quickly and they are one-offs!

When I visited Coventry Reclamation Yard (link www.coventry-demolition.co.uk) was thrilled.

Viewing stones at Coventry Reclamation

They had crates and crates of stones in all shapes, sizes and colours within what we considered a reasonable budget. They also have a vast range of other reclaimed items which can be used in the build or as finishing touches - well worth a potter!

Original kitchen floor in charming
 olde worlde layout
The hall tiles were laid in a uniform style rather than
attempting to cut down the large tiles and copy the kitchen

The kitchen already has a beautiful stone floor (one of the first things I fell in love with on entering the house) so I decided to try and be as sympathetic as possible with colour but lay the stone differently, rather than trying to match the random pattern and infills.

The finished floor
My good relationship with the builder saved our potential falling out when he and his mate came to help me load the slabs. They were a good way through the back-breaking work of stacking the heavy stone when I spotted another stone I preferred...  The up side was they were already loaded on crates ready to go and could be fitted onto the yard's rounds - phew!

Consider sinking matt well into the floor 
when laying. Coir matt can be cut to size
A little negotiation later and the stones would be delivered in a couple of days saving everyone's backs from anymore toil.

I bought enough tiles to put in the hall, the front porch and in a corridor leading from the kitchen to the breakfast room.

We got there in the end! The stones are big, heavy thick slabs from a Birmingham factory.  I'm thrilled to have sourced something local with a history of its very own while weaving more of ourselves into the fabric of the house.

Even more lovely that the reclaimed floor slabs ended up being less than half the price of new stone floor tiles!

I hope you have found this post useful.  Do let me have any comments or feedback! 

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Thank you!
email: englishcountryhomeblog@gmail.com

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Thank you for visiting my home renovation blog. Please like and share with your friends to spread the word. I would love to hear your comments and feedback. Hope to see you back here soon! Lucinda