Sheet vinyl colorfully hides wood floors

June 27, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer

Q: We've begun doing some serious work on our aging summer house at the beach. A decision has to be made about the wood floors, which are no longer in very good shape. Can we get away with covering them in wall-to-wall carpeting? If so, please suggest some color choices. Alternately, do you think the costlier option of replacing the floors would make more sense?

A: Nothing better camouflages a beat-up floor that does wall-to-wall carpeting. It's also relatively easy to maintain. But with the exception of sisal or very low-pile carpeting, this is not what I consider a summery look. I also think it's inappropriate for a beach house, for reasons I will soon explain.

You might consider blacking, pickling or just plain painting the floors with a deck paint and several coats of polyurethane. Even such a durable finish, however, will eventually be damaged by tracked-in sand. And, no matter how fastidious you may be about sweeping or vacuuming, there's no way a beach house is going to remain sand-free. Factor that into your thinking about wall-to-wall carpeting.

You're right to be wary of the cost involved in replacing floors. I urge you to retain some professional help if you do take that route, since certain types of flooring may be too heavy for the structure of your aging beach house. For most people, price is also a consideration, especially in the case of hard-surface materials such as ceramic or natural stone tiles.

Applying sheet vinyl on top of your existing floors may thus prove to be a more affordable alternative. The photo shows an example of this colorful and functional material. The aquamarine surfacing seen here is part of Armstrong's Color Passions line of sheet vinyl.

Many shoppers will instinctively shy away from so bright a selection. If you're part of the majority that prefers a neutral color on the floor, the most obvious choice would be sand. Besides being in tempo with your home's location, a sand vinyl will work with almost any color scheme.

Eventually, though, that shade of flooring is going to scream for a colorful area rug. And then you're back to the need for constant vacuuming or sweeping.

Can I persuade you, then, to make a color statement with your flooring material? Choosing a pastel or some thing equally light needn't be a risky proposition -- not as long as you truly like that particular color, which also needs to be of a value compatible with different colors. Turquoise is one such possibility. It can be used successfully with lots of primary and secondary colors, provided that the values and intensities vary.

My final bit of advice is to be consistent in whatever choice you ultimately make. Use the same material on the wooden floors throughout your vacation retreat. Poor transition of these elements from one room to another will badly disrupt the overall interior design of any home.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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