Our budget is seriously depleted after splurging on a small lakefront
cabin in NE Washington. We're having the cabin completely renovated
and I'd appreciate suggestions on the best inexpensive flooring. We
were dreaming of hardwood floor but it's just not in the budget so
contractor has suggested laminate. He's allowing $8/square foot
installed (and hubby doesn't want to go over that). Really appreciate
suggestions and opinions. Is this a good way to go?
Also countertops: I've got a "granite taste" on a formica budget. I
was looking at some laminate in Home Depot that looked like granite and
was very shiney. Would that be a good compromise? How does highly
shined laminate wear as opposed to a duller finish?
And siding....contractor proposes vinyl siding. (I was hoping for
cedar and/or shingles but again my taste exceeded our budget). How do
the various types of siding compare?
Any other cost cutting suggestions appreciated.
I would never install laminate in any area that is really lived in.
(really poor abuse factor unless you pay as much as real hardwood would
But if cost is key, and this is in a cabin, why not consider cheap softwoods
like pine boards, covered with a few layers of polyurethane.
The grains can be beautiful, and it has a more "country" look that improves
as it "wears"
Wear is not a factor between shiny and matte finishes.
Shiny shows small scratches spills, and water rings faster, but looks best
(personal preference thing)
Cedar siding looks great but requires constant work over the years to keep
it looking good.
Vinyl is "no maitenance" other than a hosing once a year, and would likely
be less expensive.
Mind you any of these items could always be ripped out and upgraded a few
years down the road when finances allow
If money REALLY is an issue.
Does it really need everything done right away ?
Can some renovations wait a year or two ?
could the existing floor and counter just live with a bit of paint for now ?
a bit of caulking/touchup painting in the existing siding ?
Not doing a job at all is ALWAYS the cheapest way out. <LOL>
For the floors go with Kahrs floating floor. It is a hardwood floor.
Not solid hardwood, but it is hardwood down to the tongue and groove,
so it's as good or better than solid hardwood (since you cannot sand
down below the tongue and groove anyway when refinishing any floor, and
Kahrs can be refinished) Karhs is a Swedish company that invented the
floating floor in 1943. Their woods are all either from Sweden or
Brazilian tropical woods. They are gorgeous, will last 20 years or
more, and you can get the contractor grade styles for ~$4.00 - $5.00.
They are easy to install, never squeak. You might want to hire a pro to
help you with doing one room or so, like I did, and then you can finish
up yourself. If you have a lot of cutting to do, sometimes going under
door molding can be tricky.
I have it throughout my house, and I love it, it is very rich looking.
I have the gunstock oak, got it for $4.00 per sq ft, had a pro help me
put in the first 500 sq ft, and then I have done the rest, even in my
bathroooms. Good floating floors are so much betterr than solid
hardwood, they are warm, soft, no sqeaking, and look great
Go to http://www.kahrs.com and look at their floors. I absolutely
cannot say enough about how beautiful and well made these floors are.
They have the best locking system in the world, finishes, wood quality,
etc, etc. And their technical support is great, they have an 800 number
with good people always available. They will gvie you advice on all
stages of the installation, and they are people who have actually
installed floor, not burger flippers.
The floating floors from Home Depot are total crap. Made in China, they
have one called Universal, crappy locking system, no 800 number, no
If you can afford about $6.00 - $7.00 try to go with Brazilian Cherry.
It's is stunning in a deep red, with gorgeous grain, and it's the
hardest wood Kahrs sells, twice as hard as Oak. But the contractor
styles at $4.00 per ft are great too, especially the Oaks.
Instead of laminate, you may be able to get engineered wood at about that
price. IMO, it looks more natural because it is wood. www.mannington.com
Laminate s very durable though and easily done at that price.
There are many good laminates that will last 20 - 30 years easily. You can
always u pgrade in a few years. Formica, WilsonArt are two of the better
Sure, cedar is nice, but vinyl will last you 30 years or so and be
maintenance free. The good part is you can enjoy the cabin and not have to
spend your vacation time doing as much upkeep.
I favor laminates for counters. If/ when your tastes change you can change
out laminates with less sticker shock than granite. If you're the type who
makes a design decision and is permanently satisfied the granite will last
.... well, do remember the Greek and Roman civilizations? As for the
exterior, T1-11 gives your the rustic 'feel' of cedar but, like cedar, it's
going to require some regular maintenance. If you're after a 'no
maintenance' cabin there are cedar-like designs on vinyl sidings which look
good from a distance - not so good up close but who stands close to admire a
home. Amun's pine floor suggestion would be nice for a cabin since the
floors won't see a lot of wear and what wear it gets will enhance its rustic
Are you handy at all? For $8 a sq. ft, you can get almost any floor
you like, barring fine mables and similar if you install them
yourself. Cork, hardwood, and ceramics or porcelins are all in that
range, and the floating wood floors are easy for just about anyone
with a little patience and a regular circular saw to install.
A shiny top that looks like granite, but is not actually granite is
going to show scraches after a couple of years, and it will look worse
than a duller finish once that happens, IMO. This is the one where
you can't save all that much by installing yourself, unless you happen
to be pretty good at installing ceramic tiles- so formica is probably
where it's at.
What is on there now? Any reason why it can't just be painted?
Otherwise, I think the concrete shingles are pretty competitive with
vinyl siding as far as price goes... they come in pre-primed panels,
so while the materials may be a little more, the labor should be less
expensive, and that's where the real cost is. Or if it can wait, you
may just want to hold off until you can get something better- everyone
has different tastes, of course, but I hate that plastic junk on a
Just figure out what you can do yourself- labor is the biggest expense
by far. You might not want to mess with siding, for instance, but you
can putz around with working on a floor for quite a while, and not
have to worry about weather. Or, you might be able to save a lot of
cash by doing the sink mounting and plumbing yourself after the
counter is installed rather than having the GC subcontract a plumber.
I just did that job recently, and removing a cast iron sink, cutting
off the soldered water lines and installing shut-off valves,
installing new sink, faucet, garbage disposal (and the electrical that
goes with it) undersink water filter and reorganizing the drain pipes
to accomodate all the new junk under the sink took about 5-6 hours
total. Even if you're completely new to it, I couldn't see a project
like that taking more than a couple of days.
Good luck, and congrats on your new cabin!
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