|Boston Cherry laminate from Robina|
We walked in the store and I saw a large sample floor on the ground behind a display near the door. "Oooh, I like that one!" I proclaimed...and then kicked the floor when I realized it was the Boston Cherry laminate...that's in China. S and I discussed laminate, tile, everything flooring with a few different associates. Two people pointed us toward engineered hardwood, an option we definitely hadn't considered. And then one guy pointed us toward an engineered hardwood on clearance that looked exactly like our oak floors upstairs.
|Engineered Hardwood Oak|
We left the store with yet another option to consider. And while we ate a dinner of crabcakes overlooking Baltimore's Inner Harbor, we buried our noses in our iPhones and researched engineered hardwood floors and read the specs and installation instructions for this particular floor. It's a wood floor that's apparently more structurally stable because it's several layers of wood veneer on top of layered wood and composite backing. And there's no glue in the installation (this particular floor is a floating engineered hardwood) to be affected by the moisture inherent in concrete that would dry out and cause a regular wood floor to un-glue and buckle. So the box says, "installation: below grade," the floor looks exactly like the floor upstairs and it's wood, not something that looks plastic-y in certain lights. What's not to like?
On the way home we stopped at S's parents summer house to look at their newly finished basement (which S's dad worked on himself over the winter), where they installed tiles in the basement. It looks amazing and I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture. We were in awe of the work S's dad has done and just how beautiful everything looked. The tile is absolutely perfect for the house, a summer house on the water. It will be cool and dry and a great hide-out when it's 102 with 98% humidity outside. Plus it's the perfect choice for their particular basement that had moisture problems remedied by french drains installed two years ago. But one hurricane without power would probably ruin laminate or engineered floors or carpet in their basement. Tile made 100% sense for them. And it looks great.
On the ride home S was fixated on the fact that tile is perfect for a wet basement (which we haven't had) and was ready to do the hard-sell until the light bulb went off. This isn't a $25k decision. It's only 450 square feet. That's ~$900 in flooring, $1000 with supplies. Not short change, but not so much that it's worth what-if'ing to death over. What if the basement floods? What if wood or laminate floor is ruined? What if?! Oh well, if it's ruined and we've made a horrible decision, we change it. It's not like we're not capable of laying any floor ourselves; in a catastrophe we'd be upset, but we'd be out the cost of materials for a very small area.
As safe an option as tile may be for a basement and as beautiful as it looked at S's parents house, it just does not work with our house. I'd love to live on the water, I'd love to worry about tracking beach sand inside, but we live in the city, in a neighborhood of brick colonials and personally, tile outside of the bath or kitchen just doesn't say colonial to me. Plus, if we ever decided we didn't like the tile, it would be a heck of a lot harder to remove and replace than a floating laminate or engineered floor (or we'd have to cut all the doors down and re-do thresholds so that we could float a floor on top of the tile).
I think I'd rather take the gamble and go for the floor that looks the same as upstairs. Maybe it will look horrible in 5 years, but it maybe it would be fab; that's what a gamble is all about, right? It's a small area, we may as well give it a shot, no?