Wooden overlays or tile are good options for replacing carpet
I have just bought a house which needs upgrading. All the floors are concrete and covered with horrible carpet and tile. What do you suggest I replace them with?
Just Bought a House
Dear Just Bought a House,
Congratulations on your purchase. Many people stay away from carpeting floors, particularly in Bermuda because of the humidity and allergies.
A good option is either a wooden overlay or tile. I met with Carol Outerbridge of Pembroke Tile & Stone to see what products are available and I was amazed at the variety and selection. Carol advised that concrete floors are ideal for tile, although tile can be used over wood if a subfloor is installed to prevent cracking.
Once you pull up the carpets however, any glue remaining has to be removed and the floor has to be scarified in order for the mortar to adhere.
Tile can go over existing tile providing it is well installed and not loose as the new tile will only be as good as the floor beneath; you should also be cognisant of height changes from room to room and whether it might affect doors.
Starting with a clean slate is always best. Scarifying a concrete substrate comes into play when you have removed existing carpet, linoleum or anything which has been glued down to the concrete and, on removal, leaves a sticky residue, usually a black tar-like substance.
Remove as much of the residue as possible or the mortar will not stick to it.
Scarifying “roughs” up the substrate and removes residual glue creating a mechanical bond for the mortar.
A thin layer of mortar is applied to the floor to stick the membrane down.
A membrane is always recommended in any new tile or stone installation for crack isolation, or movement in the underlying substrate.
The membrane absorbs any movement in the floor which prevents the tile cracking.
It also prevents efflorescence which is the process where salt held in water migrates to the surface through a porous substance (in this case grout).
When the water evaporates it leaves a white, powdery residue. This is a common issue in Bermuda where the floor is below grade, ie, below ground level or built into an embankment.
The membranes are quite sophisticated these days and some even come wired with beneath-floor heating, which is lovely in the winter, reasonable to run and can operate on timers.
Others are equipped with soundproofing, which is ideal for a condominium or apartment situation. Your tiler can measure your rooms to see how much tile you will need, or you can.
It is helpful if you can sketch out a floor plan noting cabinetry and doorways in particular, or a wall plan if doing a bathroom noting cabinetry and windows.
Your supplier will then give you a quote which should include the tiles, the membrane and setting materials (grout and mortar). The labour is separate.
Tilers typically charge by the square foot to install tile when doing a large area. Costs range from $6 to $12 per square foot, depending on the complexity of the layout and size of the tile.
Hourly rates are more common for removal, surface preparation and smaller, more delicate, intricate installations. Hourly rates range between $45 and $85. Now it’s time to pick your tile. There are so many choices it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Go online — you can get ideas from Pinterest of the style you want to achieve.
Pembroke Tile & Stone have a huge showroom with lots of selections, so it is helpful if you bring pictures along so that the staff can show you products which will help you achieve the effect that you have in mind.
One of the most popular tiles at the moment is the wood look.
Pembroke Tile & Stone have 40 different types (both interior and exterior) which vary in colour, size, texture and manufacture.
Wood looks have been in for some time, but technology has allowed development of some amazingly realistic products.
They can be as long as 72in, which makes them look just like a real plank of wood.
These tend to be high end, but even if your budget doesn’t stretch to that you will still be able to find something pleasant looking and durable.
Stone looks, like travertine and Carrara marble, are also popular. Tiles follow fashions and at the moment blue is big, especially in kitchens; hexagon shapes are trendy in bathrooms as well as encaustic tiles and glass.
Mosaics have gone from the small square style to lots of different shapes including arabesque. Tile will last a long time and modern-day products are very strong.
They will serve you better if you clean them properly — sweep first, then vacuum, then use fresh water with a little washing up liquid in it, no harsh chemicals.
In a room of about 16ft by 12ft, you may need to change the water as many as three times; otherwise, you are spreading dirt on the dirt and if the tile is at all textured it will turn dark over time. Whatever you do, do not use Clorox, and remember that Lestoil and Pine-Sol leave a residue.
Ask your tile supplier what sealers and cleaners they recommend to keep your floors looking their best for many years to come.
There are many tile companies in Bermuda, if you are thinking of doing some upgrades to your home decor, visit your favourites and see what they have to offer.
• Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for nearly 30 years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Look for Ask Heather Real Estate on Facebook
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