I am redecorating my sunroom-style family room. It is 35 by 15. It has old ceramic tile flooring that I want to cover with carpet or wood without tearing up the tile. I have one 35-foot wall that has vertical, oak-colored wood in various widths, from 3 inches to six inches. What is my best bet for the floor? — Chris B., Thornwood
“Well, you can carpet pretty much anything, but my first question would be why not lift up the tile?” asks interior designer Lara Michelle, whose company, Lara Michelle Beautiful Interiors, is based in Rye Brook (laramichelle.com). “Perhaps it’s an expense issue, but the consensus is that it’s better to do things properly than try to work around them.”
Doing it “properly” is particularly important if you decide on a wood floor, she notes. To add hardwood, you’d need to first install a plywood or WonderBoard subfloor, and on top of tile, the finished result will be a floor that’s quite a bit higher than that in adjoining rooms. “There would be a problem of closing the doors,” the designer notes. “There’s usually only about a quarter of an inch between the bottom of the door and the floor, so you’d have to shave the bottom of the door.” Even thinner, engineered-wood flooring, which could be glued directly to the tile, would add height.
From a design standpoint, she notes, more wood in a room that already has a 35-foot wall lined with wood might be an overly wood-y look.
OK, now for the pitfalls of laying carpet over tiles. The tackless — strips with little teeth that hold carpeting in place — can be glued directly onto the tile. “But there’s always a chance that the grout lines and any design in the tile will eventually shadow through the carpeting,” Lara Michelle says. If you use padding, which is recommended, because it makes the carpet last longer and is softer underfoot, you’d run into the height problem again. Lara Michelle recommends bringing home samples of flooring you’re considering to see if your doors will clear it.
“I’d say commercial carpeting would be the smart way to go for a family room,” she says. “It’s durable, and easy to clean. And choose something on the thicker side, perhaps with a pattern, so you’re less likely to see any shadowing. Darker colors and patterns are always good for families and pets. Forest green looks beautiful with paneling, or if you like a modern look, deep taupe could look gorgeous.” You may want to get solar shades to keep the sunlight from fading whatever you decide on, she suggests. Or you could install window film.
Finally, she reiterates: “As a designer, I’d recommend taking out the tile to avoid potential problems. Putting either flooring or carpet down is an investment, and you want your investment to last.”