DIY Tips: Flooring
By Lea Rose Allbaugh
So you’ve gotten your RhinoCrashPod™ and can’t wait to get started on turning it into your dream home. We’ve taken care of the hard part—shipping container cutouts, framing, and insulation.
If you’ve ever remodeled a room or tried your hand at some basic home improvement projects, you probably already have the skills to bring your RhinoCrashPod to completion.
This week, we wanted to give you some DIY tips starting from the ground up—literally. You can’t start the process of building the inside of your home without flooring. Deciding between carpet, wood, tile, or other options can seem like a big decision, but we hope our tips can help make that process easier. Below, you’ll find each type of flooring broken down, so you can get a feel for what type of flooring will work best for your new home.
If you’re looking to add that extra touch of comfort to your shipping container home, carpet may be a good option. Even though this type of flooring does tend to involve more maintenance than wood and tile flooring, there are a plethora of options to choose from depending on your budget, personal style, and lifestyle. Here are some things to consider:
1. Carpet Padding
No matter the type of carpet, you’re going to want some padding to be installed underneath your carpet. This helps smooth out the surface of the foundation flooring and also serves as additional insulation, not to mention it will make your carpet feel softer and more luxurious to walk on. Typically made from materials such as rubber or foam, this padding also helps to soundproof your space, especially if your shipping container home will be in a high-noise area like a city. Something else to keep in mind—you’ll need extra padding in high-traffic areas like living rooms.
Don’t be afraid to shop around and ask for comparison pricing or information on carpet maintenance. It never hurts to have all the facts together before you make a decision. Most places should offer samples, too, so be sure to ask for some so you can get a feel for different options inside your shipping container.
Carpets can come in a variety of textures and colors, and each one is going to give you a different look and maintenance level. For instance, some carpets may feel soft and plush but require more upkeep, while other carpets may be textured but sturdier and better for high traffic areas. Keep in mind where you want to put carpet, too, because you may want to invest in something stain proof for high-traffic areas such as living rooms.
4. Health and Environmental Factors
Take into account some health and environmental factors. All carpeting may seem similar at first glance, but that doesn’t mean it’s all made equal. When certain carpeting is installed, it may give off VOCs which are chemicals that can be harmful to humans. Consider investing in carpet made from natural materials such as wool; even though it may come with a higher price tag, the benefits and quality could be worth it in the long run. Also note, if you or your family have asthma or are allergy-sensitive, carpet may not be the best option altogether.
Wood flooring is a great option if you’re looking for something that checks off style and durability. Although it’s not a great choice for bathrooms because of moisture, it’s a versatile material that can definitely work throughout the rest of your shipping container home. There’s a reason why this flooring option is considered a classic and never goes out of style.
1. Type of Wood
One of the most important decisions to make when choosing wood flooring is choosing the type of wood you want. Different species of wood offer different options for functionality, and the grain and appearance of a wood flooring can have a big impact on the look and feel of a space. Throughout the United States, oak is a popular option. It can be easily stained to suit different shades and also has a nice, natural grain that can work for a variety of styles; not to mention that it’s durable overall. Within oak flooring, red and white oaks offer different undertones. Another popular option is walnut. Although it’s slightly softer than oak, it provides a warm, rich, and natural appearance which is especially great for darker spaces.
If neither of these options suit you, talk to someone at your local home improvement store to look at options like ash, cherry, hickory, mahogany, or bamboo. Another tip if you’re on a budget—check out a nearby lumber yard for salvaged pieces of reclaimed wood. It might be a bit of a dig, but you could come out with some really unique pieces.
2. Hardwood vs. Engineered Wood Planks
Wood planks come in two options: hardwood planks and engineered wood planks. Hardwood planks are solid and made of longer planks and thicker pieces of wood. They are typically assembled like puzzle pieces with a tongue and groove on each end. Because they are thicker, they are able to be sanded down and re-stained multiple times. The only downside? They may naturally move or warp over time. On the other hand, engineered wood planks give the appearance of hardwood planks, but are structurally more durable because the planks are created using multiple layers. They are less likely to move over time and can also be installed more easily. If properly taken care of, though, both types of wood flooring can last a lifetime.
With wood floors, the possibilities are endless. You can go for traditional horizontal planks, install planks of varying widths, or even mix it up with fun patterns like herringbone or chevron—it’s all up to you and what kind of look you’re trying to achieve in your space. Just make sure to consult a skilled craftsman, especially if you’re going for something more complex. When it comes to color, the options don’t stop. Wood floors can be painted or stained in virtually any shade. Because it’s easy to customize paint and stain shades, you can find one that’s just right. Be sure to test it out on some spare pieces of flooring, though, so you don’t end up painting or staining your flooring in a color you don’t like. Lastly, you’ll need to choose a wood finish to seal everything in. There are tons of options out there for durability and sheen, so be sure to ask your local craftsman.
Tile is a great flooring option for a lot of reasons—it’s environmentally friendly, affordable, and low-maintenance. A bonus? It's the perfect way to add character to your shipping container home since they come in so many colors, shapes, and designs. They may not be the best option for families with small kids because of the slight slip factor, but they are perfect for those wanting to be a little extra sustainable and budget-friendly. There are two main types of tile flooring to consider:
Ceramic is particularly affordable and easy to cut to shape. The clay for ceramic is fired at lower temperatures than porcelain, so the result is a tile that is softer and less dense. This may feel more comfortable to walk on barefoot. Do note that because it’s a softer type of tile, it is also more porous and shouldn’t be used in wet areas of the home. It is, however, less slick than porcelain. To prevent chipping and moisture, make sure your ceramic tiles are well glazed.
Porcelain is a great tile option all around. Because of how porcelain is manufactured compared to ceramic, it has a higher durability and density. With these tiles, clay is tightly packed and fired at higher temperatures, resulting in sturdier pieces of tile that are highly water resistant—perfect for bathrooms. This tile is more difficult to cut to shape and comes with a higher price tag, but this has to be factored into how long porcelain is likely to last. Porcelain may be left unglazed, but experts recommend glazing in order to reduce slippage and extend its lifespan.
Carpet, wood, and tile flooring are all great options for your shipping container home. But if none of these choices seem to spark interest for you, don’t worry, there are plenty more options to choose from like vinyl, linoleum, and epoxy-coated flooring. Be sure to check in with local flooring experts for more information.