Monday, February 15, 2016

Flooring Update

As you remember, last time I blathered on and on about the ugly carpeting in our bedrooms and the horrors that likely lie beneath. I thought we maybe had linoleum based on the age of the house but after further research, and talking to someone at Home Depot, I now think I was wrong. It does happen.

1880s-1890s linoleum would actually be super awesome looking, likely highly patterned like in this historic home:
This post suggests sheet linoleum in a marbled or swirled pattern would be authentic, not the checkerboard tiles that most people think of. Sheet lino is that stuff you sometimes think of in schools or hospitals that curls up the wall forming the baseboard. It's cool too. Here's some modern examples. As discussed previously, it's a natural material, made of a canvas backing and linseed oil mixed with powdered cork and other things. That's what makes it kinda squishy and comfortable underfoot. A lot of times when people have cheapo sheet vinyl, like my mom does in her kitchen, they say linoleum, but that is inaccurate. This is the stuff that is like plastic contact paper, and easily gets holes if you drop a knife. You can repair a knife cut in linoleum, it's like a starfish (not really but you can fix).

However, everybody says that if you have 9"x9" tiles that are rigid, it's probably vinyl tile. Vinyl tile has a lot of names, VCT for vinyl composition tile which has more limestone in it, luxury vinyl tile, or LVT, etc. A lot of the cheaper fake stone and wood-look tile I saw at Home Depot are vinyl tile. LVT is totally waterproof, made of polyvinyl choride or PVC, and is pretty new. There's also laminate flooring, which is basically a layer printed to look like wood glued to high density fiberboard. It is similar to IKEA particleboard furniture except high density instead of medium density fiberboard (MDF). At least in MDF there is a concern about formaldehyde, I'm not quite sure about HDF. Laminate is generally cheap and kindof crap.

Anyway, I have 9x9 tile, in a weird off-set grid pattern in black and white streaks. Much like this:
This is straight-up VCT. You can still buy tiles like this, but according to a comment on this post, most 9x9 tile is VAT: vinyl asbestos tile. Asbestos is a naturally-occuring mined substance used to make things stronger, heat-resistant, etc. It's a big business removing it but it's my understanding that it only really causes health problems when it become particulate and is inhaled in large quantities over a long period of time, mostly in an industrial or work setting. However, I'd prefer not to take too many risks, especially for my little cat who never leaves the house and has a small body. So after doing some research on local companies, I decided to take a sample and send it out to a lab to get tested! Wish me luck. If we do have asbestos, I might take the cat to a friend's house during demo and then get the air tested.

As you can see in the top photo, under the tile, and the paper or cloth backing, there's wood!

Angels sing.

AND we pulled up a corner in the bedroom and there's wood floors underneath and no tile! Thank you, floor gods!

This makes me think that the back spare room might have been used as a kitchen, once upon a time. That would explain why you would put vinyl tile (or whatever it is) in a bedroom, and I also learned that it is directly above the upstairs neighbor's kitchen so the plumbing may have been aligned at one point in time. The kitchen we have now looks pretty 90s, so if it was moved out there say, 20 years or more after the kitchen in the back room was built, that makes the likelihood of my tiles being in the asbestos era even higher. But still, there's hope.

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