What's the warmest non-carpet option for replacing all of the flooring in my slab-floored home?


What's the warmest non-carpet option for replacing all of the flooring in my slab-floored home?

Asked by Carol Eickmeyer

I have dogs so the flooring needs to be durable. The floors get cold in my NC home. I also need to replace appliances & counters in kitchen and repair or replace the roof. This massive project means that I'm probably going to need to move out so this is a good time to accomplish several things - be green, energy efficient, sustainable but also not spend so much money that it cannot be recovered in 15 or so years. Is there any synergy that can come from all these projects happening at the same time? Are there more options because so much will be torn up? Can a 1500 sq ft,1947 masonry home be retrofitted to be efficient in a reasonable amount of time - say 3 months and for a reasonable amount of money. Which experts do I need on my team and can I do any of this myself?

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Harold Remlinger, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB's picture


To accomplish your project in a 3 month time period will require as much or more preparation time prior to commencement of construction to ensure that it is completed on time.

To achieve your goals, you will need to assemble a team of experts such as an architect/design and general contractor who have collaborated together on past and current successful projects. Having a strong design and construction team will help in the facilitation of the project, meet your goals and stay within the budget you had set.

Your responsibilities

  • Set a budget which is affordable for you and will allow you to function within your means. Investigate if necessary refinancing for the construction loan which can incorporate you current mortgage if you have one.
  • Develop a list of program requirements for the project to help guide you and your design team as to what is a "must have" to "I would like to have or can live without".
  • If you are moving out, make sure all of your personal belongings are not going to obstruct or require the general contractor to move them to perform his job.
  • Select appliances which are "Energy Star" rated. If you are purchasing them, work with your general contractor so that they are available for installation per his construction schedule.

The most important is to be flexible for suggestions from the design and construction team but stick to your guns to your must have items. Now that does not mean that you shouldn't entertain the idea of incorporating an alternative which is better or equal which they have presented to you.

Design Team's responsibilities

  • Guide in you making proper decisions on materials, practices and design which will meet your goal of being sustainable.
  • Design within your budget and communicate all design decisions to the general contractor to check actual and current construction costs.
  • Properly document and develop construction documents to guide the general contractor and his team of sub-contractors from demolition to completion.
  • Perform construction observation during the project to ensure that the intent of the design is being met and any unforeseen items are addressed in a reasonable time period.

General Contractor's responsibilities

  • Work with both you and the design team during the design phase to ensure that the project can be completed per your budget.
  • Note, on a renovation it is not uncommon to see the project come in approximately 10% higher then the estimated cost. This is due to unforeseen conditions which usually are not visible prior to demolition.
  • Order or secure items and material prior to commencement of construction to allow for a smooth transition from one phase of construction to the next.
  • Assemble a team of sub-contractors . . . plumber, electrician, mechanical, painter, etc. and bring them to the table during the design phase so that everyone understands the importance of the schedule. This will also allow discussion on items which could derail the projects from meeting its completion date.
  • Secure all necessary permits prior to commencement of construction.
  • Take hands on approach to manage the assembled team to meet your goals, budget and schedule.

Choosing a new flooring material

Regarding the material for your floor I suggest you look into a solid 5/16" cork tile.

  • Do not use a laminated or engineered cork click type system.
  • Cork is a natural insulator, radiating the heat from your feet back towards you.

I had a similar condition in Northern Michigan on an un-insulated slab floor which this approach worked best.

The only concern I see is with two dogs. As with hardwood, their nails over time will scratch the surface of the cork floor which will then require them to be refinished. The nice thing of using a natural solid cork floor, they can be refinished similar to that of a hardwood floor.

I wish you much success in your endeavors.

For more information:

Read "Can you recommend healthy flooring for a home with kids and pets?" a Q&A answered by Mari Strain.