What kind of flooring can stand up to dogs, meet my budget, and fill 900 square feet in my geodesic dome?

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Rebecca, of the geodesic home tour,

My living room is huge — maybe 900 square feet? The carpet needs to go. My parents had it installed in 1985. I don’t really want to do more carpet.

I’m up for ideas. Do-it-yourself ideas. Back in the ’80s, I guess plywood was still inexpensive because there is actual plywood on the floor underneath, not particle board. I’ve had people tell me to paint it and cover it with three coats of polyurethane, but it feels like the whole inside of the dome would be very echo-y. More carpet and hardwood are out of the question.

Do the Homies have an idea of an inexpensive, green-ish, dog-friendly flooring I can put in my dome?

Comments on What kind of flooring can stand up to dogs, meet my budget, and fill 900 square feet in my geodesic dome?

  1. When I was living in Japan, the latest “cutting edge” flooring was this kind of spongy but not really material that you stapled down in squares like laminate tiles. Honestly it reminded me of that stuff they use for playground surfaces these days. I have no idea what it’s called in English but it was about the same price as laminate flooring and came in all sorts of colors. Hopefully someone knows what I’m talking about!

    • I think you might be thinking of cork. Cork flooring made it big a couple of years ago, because it was on the same price point as laminate, was eco-friendly, looked nicer than most hardwoords and laminate flooring out there, was durable and didn’t echo.

      • I don’t want to seem rude or anything, but cork being eco-friendly reminds me of the skepticism I felt when I first read this article. I’ve been meaning to look into cork ever since to find out what the deal really is and whether it is actually eco-friendly.

        The article was on a humor website that is in no way meant to be at the highest standards of research or anything, but it is what sparked my curiosity and skepticism. The relevant section was also about cork as used in wine bottles, not as flooring. So here’s that:

        “Cork is also expensive, partly because it takes more than 40 years for an oak tree to mature enough to produce good natural cork, which usually has to be harvested by hand (and the first harvest can’t be used for wine corks). Sure, some of the cheapest corks are competitive with synthetic alternatives, but those are the corks most likely to cause taint and break into floaty pieces in your crappy Riesling. More often, a cork costs 75 cents, or even a few dollars for the high-end ones.”

        Read more: 5 Bad Ideas Humanity Is Sticking With Out of Habit | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/article_19151_5-bad-ideas-humanity-sticking-with-out-habit_p2.html#ixzz1QnrdyJST

  2. I can’t think of anything other than carpet that would keep it from being echo-y. Your furniture will definitely help that however. What about painting the floor as suggested and then using area rugs to soften the floor and reduce echoes. You can even get washable ones (fairly cheap) that you can just pick up and throw in the washer to take care of dog hair and dirt. You don’t even really need the poly. A few coats of good quality floor paint will last for years without any poly and will be easier to touch up when it start wearing too (that’s what we have on our stairs).

    • Fabric really helps absorb sound, whether is cloth draped on the ceiling or curtains.

      Also, if you do install a floor of some type (wood, bamboo, cork, laminate, etc), make sure you have a thick enough pad underneath the material. A thicker high quality pad makes a difference in sound absorbance!

  3. I love rubber flooring with pets. There’s two different kinds – one is the squishy foam stuff that they have in gyms, and the other comes in rolls. Both come in cool colors and are sweepable/moppable. Throw some area rugs on it to deaden the sound and add some color.

  4. I second the vote for rubber flooring; it’s durable, comes in lots of colors and patterns, and will help cut down on the echos a bit. You can even get recycled floor coverings, for a more eco friendly approach. I suggest embracing the rubber, whatever sort you get, instead of trying to pretend it’s NOT rubber.

    I’m not entirely sure if this company sells non-commercially, but it’s definitely eye candy worth looking at for inspiration.


    • Cork! We had this (in tiles, then sealed) in our home growing up and it’s soft and lovely, but also stood up to two small children who liked to ride their tricyles inside. One of our dogs managed to chew a corner of it when she was a puppy, but I think that was when it was 15 years old so coming up in some parts anyway (the floor), it was replaced a few years later and when it’s brand new I don’t think a dog could do much to it. It’s easy to clean (brush, mop or vacuum). It does bleach in the sun which my mum doesn’t like, but I think looks fine! Plus I’m pretty sure it’s available in all sorts of colours and stuff now.
      Did you see the painted plywood floor on UnderTheSycamore? http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2011/01/24/diy-stencil-painted-subflooring/

      • I’m a commercial interior designer, we deal a lot with acoustics. I was definitely going to say cork. It also comes in a few colors, so maybe it can be something that contrasts the dome, rather than matches.

      • Anna is right — I love cork, but it bleaches in the sun BIG TIME. Like… in a year or two, you will see *exactly* where the sun hits your flooring. If you select a light color, it’s less noticeable, but it happens.

        As for what’s *green,* there are benefits and drawbacks to EVERY flooring you could possibly pick. Go with something local if you can, but your best bet is just to pick something you love that will last.

        Here are some other ideas:
        Mulberry or Coconut Palm Strand
        Wood Mosaic Tile Flooring

        For anyone in the Philly/NYC area, I LOVE these resources:


  5. Ooo… look at all the great ideas! I really love the idea of rubber flooring, especially recycled rubber flooring! Thanks for all the ideas! 🙂

    I just checked with the Ecosurfaces people… get this, there is a sales rep at Lake Panorama, not 5 minutes from my house. 🙂

  6. We have linoleum tile over concrete throughout and area rugs… very cost effective and our living room is cavernous and not echo-y at all. It stands up to our american bulldog, staffie, boston and new-ish baby and the only upkeep is to vacuum the rugs once a.week and dust mop the rest.. . Plus if something happens to a part of it you just peel up a tile and replace it!

  7. I recommend cork or bamboo. I think bamboo is a bit more expensive than cork. You can get cork at decent prices, and a wide variety of colours.

    Both are eco friendly and durable. I think cork absorbes sound better than bamboo. though.

  8. I’m a fan of Marmoleum, which is a brand name for what I think people are talking about up above. It comes in rolls or squares, and can be cut easily to adapt to your rounded edges. We created a “rug” out of ours by gluing it to plywood and edging it with brass strips. But it is endlessly adaptable. Unlike linoleum, the pattern goes all the way through, so with wear you don’t scratch out the pattern. http://www.forboflooringna.com/Residential-Flooring/Products/Marmoleum-sheet-tile/
    Here is a link to my kitchen fake rug created out of a roll in the middle and edged with squares that we cut in half to create the border. http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=87234400@N00&q=marmoleum

  9. I know you said no to hardwood but you’re probably thinking because it’s not dog friendly. We have the original hardwood from the 50’s in our house and have refinished it with an industrial wax (Zep brand in our case)- you could even use it on your plywood if you like the look. You use the Zep sealer on the wood then put down about 4 coats of wax. This way when the dogs scratch the floor they just take off some of the wax. About 4 times a year I put down 2 more coats of wax, just to keep the coating there. We even got an industrial floor polisher at our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (like a thrift store) so we can keep a nice high shine polish on the floor (this is optional).

  10. I don’t know how green it is, but we used Allure tile in our kitchen and bathroom. It’s a super thick linoleum kind of stuff that doesn’t require a separate underlay underneath it. They come in 1×3 ft pieces with an adhesive tongue and groove system. My husband described it as similar to installing siding, just on the floor, not on the wall. It went up pretty fast and is stupid durable. The adhesive seal is water tight (why we picked it for the bathroom and kitchen) and relatively low drama. He used a pair of heavy-duty snips to cut any odd corners or pieces and they did the job just fine. Budget-wise it’s not the cheapest option, but it was an easy one and didn’t require any other equipment or materials purchases. We picked it up at Home Depot and I think it ran us about $400 for the kitchen (~300 sq ft, with a lot of scrap waste because of our weirdly shaped kitchen).

    Plus, the surface is so tough that the three cats can’t grip it with their claws when they go tearing through there, so they skitter and scatter around providing much entertainment for all, thus making up for the cost of the flooring. 🙂

  11. Cork has a wonderful organic feel to it.

    Another option would be unglazed (if it’s unglazed, make sure you get stoneware, or it will be porous!) or matte-glazed tile. It is cool to the touch, which some people don’t like, but it’s VERY durable and easy to clean.

  12. Flor is not exactly the cheapest option, but they have a variety of textures and you can replace tiles as they get damaged. Also, you can use different colors to make patterns. They also have a recycle and return program.


  13. We just did our kitchen in snap-down laminate from Lumber Liquidators. It comes in wood-like finishes or stone finish. Ours is travertine-esque. So far it’s actually very quiet and quite “soft” on the feet, since it has a foam backing, and has held up very well to our toddler. You will need two or more people to install it, however, because you have to lay down a whole row at once, but it does install easily DIY.

    Otherwise, what about peel and stick? I think you can get cork, or pretty much anything you want. Look at discount flooring stores, but do spend the extra money to primer your subfloor and get the additional adhesive to assist with the stick.

  14. I just emailed Cat about alternative flooring, so this post was extremely timely. I was looking for insight regarding acid etched/stained/polished concrete, but since you have wooden flooring instead of a slab, this wouldn’t really work for you.

  15. Awesome dome, whatever you do don’t install vinyl flooring! I have been doing alot of research on autisim and it has been strongly linked with vinyl flooring – believe it or not!

  16. Ceramic tiles are one of the best solutions in any home or in a commercial property. They are hard enough to not be prone to scratches and chipping. At the same time, the ceramic tiles offer enough friction to allow your pet a firm footing. Besides, ceramic tiles do not cost much. They are actually cheaper than some hardwood flooring choices.

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