Flooring conundrums

The tiny house is build on a slab … a large piece of concrete poured directly on the ground. If you have any experience with a house on a slab in Michigan, you will quickly realize that the floor is very, very cold all winter. Miserably cold.

The house came with two flooring surfaces on top of the slab: vinyl fake wood, and carpet. The vinyl looked surprisingly decent, but provided zero insulation from the cold concrete. The carpet, while stinky and disgusting, was much more comfy on the feet. 

It was clear the carpet needed to go. But what to replace it with … ?

I looked at DMX 1-Step. Homasote. Cork. DRICore. Electric underfloor heating. Tyroc. COREtec Plus. All sorts of underlayments to try to provide some insulation.

In the end, I was undone by IKEA. A stack of white Tundra flooring, on sale at $0.80 a square foot. Before making a final decision, though, I did do a very unscientific temperature test, comparing the Tunda to Tyroc, a rubber-backed insulating underlayment. We took both over to the cabin on a cold winter day, and set both flooring samples on the bare concrete. Jeff, Jon, and I all agreed that we couldn’t tell a difference between the two. So the simple and cheap Tundra it was.

I of course still needed an underlayment; I ended up using a thin fiber layer from the fine folks at Ann Arbor Carpet (they were very, very nice). Here’s a photo of the floor in progress. You can see my fiber underlayment (plus vapor barrier) in red in the center, the old carpet on the left, and the Tundra in white on the right.

I confess, I was kinda worried about installing the Tundra. I read quite a few online reviews suggesting that it was really difficult to work with. But I don’t know. It wasn’t that hard. Maybe it was a case of low expectations resulting in a pleasant surprise. As an aside, I wonder why IKEA stopped selling Tundra. It’s certainly the best-looking low-cost laminate on the market. Here’s a corner detail shot.  

Another shot of the floor in progress. You can see the existing vinyl (dark brown) in the background.

And the verdict? Well, the floor isn’t exactly WARM. But it’s definitely warmer than the vinyl-on-slab, and feels livable with a nice pair of slippers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but a white floor is definitely a cleaning headache. But considering the whole job only cost a few hundred bucks, I’m willing to keep a Swiffer at the ready. The final result! (And don’t worry, I’ll cover that wood stove in a future post …) 


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