Flooring options for Eichler renovations


We've received a few inquiries about our VCT installation and folks often ask us what other flooring materials would work well in Eichler homes, so we thought it might be handy to put together a flooring roundup. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing flooring.

1. Budget is often top of the list, including per square foot cost, demolition of old floors, and installation fees.

2. Durability and maintenance also need to be considered (Do you have kids or pets?).

3. Style -- how true to midcentury do you want to go? Original Eichler homes were built with both tile (original was Asbestos Tile, now it is Vinyl Composite Tile) and cork flooring.

4. Current flooring and the impact/cost of removing it or prep work needed to lay new flooring over it.

5. Radiant Heating: Does your radiant still work and if not, would you want to have new radiant put in before installation of new floors? We found this post on another site that goes into greater detail with material types and radiant flooring.

Here are a few materials we've seen in Eichler homes:

1. Vinyl Composite Tile or VCT Flooring

Armstrong's VCT in Cool White from one of our past clients (and the tile we installed in our house):


The cost for VCT can't be beat, at less than a $1/square foot (Home Depot/Lowes), not including installation. The tile needs to be properly sealed and coated with a few layers of polish on top and you should be good for several years. Depending on the wear and tear of your floors, the polish can be stripped and re-applied. You can have VCT professionally installed or this project can be doable as a DIY project. Watch out for presence of Asbestos on original tile; ensure testing of presence of Asbestos and if present, Asbestos removal might be necessary, or some tile over their original tile.

Our concrete sub-floor was a mess after removing the old tile and from prior radiant leak damage, so there was extensive prep work and leveling we had to complete before installing the new VCT. This can be an added cost for prep work (Home Depot wanted at least $3K just to prep our floors before installation).

There are a myriad of colors of VCT, from the cool whites to  grays, to deep black, all of which look beautiful in an Eichler.

Here is an example of the dark VCT from a beautiful Concord Eichler that was on the market last summer. Photos via Ken Fox and East Bay Modern and styled by our talented friends at Redux Stage Co.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.35.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.35.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.34.48 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.34.48 PM

2. Solid Vinyl Tile - SVT Flooring

Another great option is also a composite tile, which is close to a terrazzo tile look. (I love (real) Terrazzo tile!)

Our friend Blaine at Modern Restoration (former Eichler owner and now Palm Springs homeowner/renovator extraordinaire) recently installed Cortina Grande Solid Vinyl Tile in his Palm Springs home. It looks amazing, is closer in look to true terrazzo and seems relatively affordable too - under $5/sf installed. SVT is installed the same way as VCT. Isn't this beautiful? These come in larger sizes too - 16" x 16" which really look stunning. Blaine mentioned this tile looks very close to his Eichler's original tile.

Cortina Grande Solid Vinyl Tile

Cortina Grande Solid Vinyl Tile

Cortina Grande Tile Terrazzo

Cortina Grande Tile Terrazzo

3. Polished Concrete Floors

We've seen a number of Eichlers and midcentury homes with polished concrete floors and love the final look. Here are some photos of a Castro Valley Eichler (thank you Debbie!)

2015-11-14 10.08.57

2015-11-14 10.08.57

2015-11-14 10.09.06

2015-11-14 10.09.06

Polished Concrete Floors in Eichler

Polished Concrete Floors in Eichler

Labor cost for polishing concrete is much higher. Any cracks or lines in your concrete could be visible (though that is neat too, as you get to see the floor's history) and there are a number or stains and applications that can be applied that can alter the final look. Our friends are currently going through some radiant leak issues in their Eichler and unfortunately have had cuts made into their recently beautifully polished floors in search of leaks. :(

4. Cork Floors

Cork was also installed in Eichlers back in the day.

Ours is a dark color, which we installed in the bedroom areas of our home:

Cork Flooring Eichler

Cork Flooring Eichler

It's very gentle on the feet, but so gentle that it gets scratched easily (especially by little Matchbox cars). Cost can be in the $3/sf (before installation). Ours is called "dolerite ripple" from icorkfloor.com and came in 12 " x 36" planks.

4. Hardwood Floors

We've seen hardwood in various types/stains installed over the concrete sub-floor, from whitewashed grays to light or dark bamboo. Hardwoods can be very durable and costs vary, depending on wood type. We've installed bamboo floors like the photo below in our past home, for around $6/sf (before install.)

This is a San Mateo Eichler with hardwood floors from the San Mateo Highlands House Tour:


 5. Porcelain or Ceramic Tile Floors

An Eichler from the San Mateo Highlands House Tour with tile:


Porcelain and ceramic tile have a wide range of finishes and sizes, which can work nicely in Eichler homes, whether you are going for a very modern white look, or looking for warmer tones like this gray flooring. Pricing can range anywhere from just a few dollars a square foot, to upwards of $40/sf for high end tile designers.

Our friend's Eichler, with rectangle shaped tile, in a staggered pattern:

Eichler Tile Floors

Eichler Tile Floors

Hope you have enjoyed our flooring roundup! Let us know your thoughts or if we missed other favorites.

Eichler Flooring

Original Eichler Flooring

Original Eichler floors were VAT (vinyl asbestos tile) or cork floors, with radiant heat below. Many Eichlers today no longer have these floors intact, and if it is there and damaged, care must be taken to test for and/or remove asbestos.

Below is some original VAT flooring from http://lauren-eichlerkitchenremodel.blogspot.com/

original eichler flooring

FogModern.com had shared a reveal of some original Eichler cork (below):


We ended up opting for some modern cork flooring to replace carpet that was installed after all the original linoleum was scraped up from a previous owner. It came out great and was very comfortable on the feet for both summer and winter. Its affordable at under $3.00/sq.ft. at icorkfloor.com.