Earlier this year we made our annual trek to the National Hardware Show, a good research tool.
We haven't come across a better way to find out what's coming on line for the home -- interlocking flooring, for example. Although interlocking flooring is not new, recently there have been several industry developments.
Interlocking flooring is easier to install than most types, but it does require more installation effort than the advertisements reveal. So, don't be misled. We'll talk about that in a moment.
By the way, these products are made for inside and outside use, but be careful: Products made for the inside should not be used outside, although the reverse is not always the case.
Interlocking rubber tiles have been available for eons. They are most commonly found in commercial kitchens, used in front of entry doors as large mats, and even for entire garage floors -- there's evidence of their durability.
We are thinking of adding them to our kitchen floor, between the sink and the range where we stand the most during meal preparation, because they are so comfortable to stand on for long periods. (By the way, if you have arthritis, adding a thick rubber mat to the work-area floor can save a lot on pain killers.)
Interlocking wood flooring isn't new either. But the patterns, wood species and general appearance of what's available are constantly changing.
One company suggests they can show you how to "bring your old, cracked and worn concrete patio or porch back to life in just a few hours." They can do that.
However, please keep in mind that an interlocking floor can be only as smooth as the surface on which it lies. Also, the claim of ease of installation should not be taken literally. There is more to installation and lasting quality than these companies often say.
Our comments on some of those types of claims:
- "Install your patio in an afternoon -- no tools needed."
This may be true for a limited number of the world's patios, but in most instances tools are required. If the assembled tiles don't perfectly match the dimensions of the patio you will need to at least trim the edge tiles, calling for a hand or power saw, a measuring tape and a pencil, as a minimum.
- "Carpentry skills not necessary."
You may not need to be a full-blown tradesperson to do this work; interlocking tiles are do-it-yourself friendly. But you will need some mechanical aptitude.
- "No surface prep!"
This would be true only if the patio or floor to be covered were in perfect condition. If so, why would you want to cover it? Be prepared for some surface preparations. Smooth in the beginning is smooth at the end.
- "The most cost-effective concrete-floor resurfacing option."
We agree with this claim. Rubber and tile also are good options.
- "Tiles can be disassembled and taken with you if you move."
If you were to move in 6 months, maybe. But what about in 10 years when they are all scarred and scratched? Will you want to take them with you then?
- "Just wash with a garden hose or just sweep clean!"
For a patio this technique makes a lot of sense. Of course, it would be better for the life of the wood if you got down on your hands and knees and did it with a soft cloth and an oil-base cleaner.
So the lesson is to use some common sense when planning this project, just as you would with any other major home improvement.
Interlocking tiles and planks are the rage and they are beautiful and long-lasting, both inside the home and out.
At the hardware show we saw ceramic tile on an interlocking hardboard base, needing no grout and no glue. Installation is much easier, but cutting and trimming are still in the equation.