Re: Common House
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2011 10:16:15 -0800 (PST)
On 3 Mar 2011, at 4:21 PM, Holly McNutt wrote:

> On the subject of Common House design, I am curious to know what type of 
> FLOORING your Common Houses 

I just managed a project to refinish the floors in our CH and have some 
information on this:

1. We have wood floors in the main use parts of the CH — dining room, sun room, 
and living room. It is warm in feeling, attractive, relatively easy to 
maintain, and noisy. We have had area rugs in the sun and living room but these 
are hard to maintain.

The wood floors need to be frequently recoated. We didn't do ours soon enough 
and they had to be sanded three times to clean out the grain. 10 years was too 
long to let them go. The new eco-friendly water-based urethane sealers are also 
not as strong and do not give the same luster and honey color as the old stuff. 
They look pretty white now — not as warm. So you might want to use a stain of 
some sort.

2. We have cork tile in a long L-shaped corridor that runs from the front 
entrance, the side rooms, around the dining room to the back entrance and 
mailboxes. When we had these sanded (they call it screening because they use a 
soft screen) the top surface was rubbed off in the high spots and the corners 
where the tile had raised. Probably the glue had accumulated at the corners or 
moisture had raised the subfloor.

All looked fine before the urethane, Traffic by Bona, was applied. Then the 
light tan floor turned very dark on those spots. It looked awful. What we had 
them do was come back and screen off the whole surface and re-coat it. We now 
have a very dark brown floor that is very elegant. A color we wouldn't have 
chosen because it does show more dust and we would have been afraid it would be 
too dark. It actually accents the wood floors and tables beautifully.

But the surface is now like bare cork because the smooth surface has been 
removed. The cork is ¼ inch thick, however, so it should last a long time. We 
just need to coat it  a few more times to make the surface more even —the three 
coats on it now have been absorbed unevenly. 

It is quiet and soft underfoot. But the subfloor has to be very flat because 
otherwise the cork will be lumpy. The pictures people post are new floors — no 
running feet or wheeled vehicles like strollers, roller blades, UPS carts, 
motorized chairs, etc.

3. We had to replace the linoleum in the kitchen and in areas where it got 
water or the subfloor deteriorated. Linoleum is a wood product and does not do 
well with water. it has to be sealed — and looks better sealed. The 10 year old 
areas that we had professionally cleaned and sealed look almost exactly like 
the brand new sections right next to it. Unlike cork flooring, linoleum is the 
same color all the way through thus it will not look worn in spots. The quality 
of the surface on the 10 year old stuff with a good cleaning and a polish 
applied is amazing.

The installer just shrugged when I asked how long it would last. He said if you 
keep polish on it, you are wearing out the polish, not the surface and since it 
is the same color all the way through, you have to wear down a lot of surface 
to destroy it. Then you can replace strips. 

Weld the seams. Do not listen to people who say you don't need it. It looks 
much more finished and is required to keep moisture from deteriorating the glue 
and the jute backing. DAMP mop only which means a wrung out mop. No water 
puddling. YouTube actually has good demo videos on damp mopping.

In the kitchen we had linoleum click planks. BAD idea. The moisture from 
mopping, etc, destroyed it. Complete replacement with a solid sheet of 
Marmoleum. It looks beautiful and is very quiet.

According to our flooring installers, Marmoleum is a better product than other 
linoleums. Linoleum used to be very popular but then vinyls came out. Most 
companies stopped making it but the Marmoleum people continued to develop the 
technology. There are new colors and designs. One brochure of designs from 
Dutch artists is beautiful. I'm considering it for my own kitchen and hallway 
where I now have wood. The new designs are fun and elegant.


I would say definitely consider Marmoleum for heavy use areas. If you can 
afford it, you can do some of the cutout designs combining several colors and 
patterns. With a satin polish it is beautiful. 

Cork is very nice and many people here have put it in their homes but I don't 
find the surface that different from Marmoleum.

That is all I can remember at the moment,

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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