I have moved into a "crummy" unit that is part of an old warehouse conversion. The concrete floor looks like it hasn't been touched at all - it's covered in stains and imperfections, even after cleaning and it isn't finished/smooth, either.
I'm looking for ideas for floor coverings. I'm a tenant, so no glue or permanent fitting is allowed and resurfacing/fixing the floor is out of the question, too. It has to be a "band-aid" solution. I want a floor covering that is low VOC, which means linoleum or low VOC carpet. Right now I'm thinking carpet tiles would be the best way forward but finding low cost, low VOC carpet tiles is a challenge. I can find the carpet on a roll but wonder if that could be fitted temporarily (almost like a wall-to-wall rug)?
Any thoughts much appreciated!
Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @ShelleyBean. It's fantastic to have you join us and many thanks for your question.
I've contacted one of our vinyl and carpet manufacturers Ideal to discuss the suitability of their products. The carpet tiles you'll find in-store have their backing glued on and would not be considered low VOC. They do supply a range that can be ordered called GOSH which would be more suitable. This range has their backing adhered through a heat welding process and no glues are used. The materials used within the tiles are polypropylene fibres with synthetic latex binder and polyolefin backing materials. This manufacturer, unfortunately, hasn't applied for low VOC certification. It does meet European standards for VOC emissions though.
As you have found low VOC rated carpet is generally a natural material like wool and has a certain price tag attached to it. Linoleum does not emit VOCs and could be the best solution if you can not find a suitable carpet tile.
If you were to use carpet there is Scotch 2 5cm x 1.5m Extreme Double-Sided Mounting Tape which could assist in holding it down at the edges.
Please let me know if you need further information on our range of products or if you had any questions.
Hi Mitchell, thanks for your reply.
I have found that the lowest acceptable standard for low VOC is The Carpet Institute's Environmental Certification Scheme. I'm unsure as to whether a higher level of certification equals lower VOCs but either way, level 1 is still sufficient. Their Green Label Plus certification is the gold standard for indoor air quality. As you say, this does come at a price but there do seem to be bargains to be had, if one is willing to dig around for long enough. The only Green Label Plus adhesive I have found so far is TacTiles by Interface but I'm not sure if they only service commercial projects.
Now the only problem is finding tiles as opposed to rolls. Would that sticky tape be suitable for wall-to-wall carpet, or only for tiles?
As for the Lino option, would it be possible with some sort of underlay, between the unfinished concrete and the lino tiles, to allow a smooth application? Of course, this would again need to be a temporary installation, no glue or nails.
The tape would assist with the wall-to-wall carpet but depending on the type and how rough the floor is it might struggle to hold it down. The best method would be to roll out the carpet and leave it to relax and lay flat before using the tape on it. Some strategically placed furniture around the perimeter of the room would assist in holding the carpet in place.
There are a variety of underlays that could be used beneath lino sheets but finding one with a low VOC accreditation might be difficult. Using tiles might have their own issues as they generally need to be stuck to a solid surface or they will shift and move around.
I have found some low VOC carpet tiles but they all seem to be for commercial use with MOQs, which is no good. I've also been advised that roll carpet without proper installation might fray at the edges. Who knew that furnishing as a tenant could be so complicated?! Don't even get me started on trying to hang curtains without drilling holes in the wall 😑 Luckily, Bunnings "Timeless Command Hooks" and extendable shower curtain pole helped me solve that one last week.
Would carpet tiles adhered to the floor with tape work here? The floor isn't shiny-smooth but it is 95% flat (only minor imperfections). Lino tiles probably won't work without the underlay but how about carpet tiles taped straight onto the concrete? Do they need to be on a completely smooth surface to line up correctly, or is there room for small imperfections in the floor?
As someone that has rented for 19 years, I can understand the frustrations that can go with trying to furnish unfinished dwellings. If you used the Scotch 2 5cm x 1.5m Extreme Double-Sided Mounting Tape there is a good chance that it will stick the carpet tiles down. It does really depend on what the backing is on the tiles as to whether it will adhere correctly. The tiles don't need to be on a completely smooth surface and there can be small imperfections.
It sounds like you have already tried, but have you approached the landlord and explained that some of the things you would like to do would improve their prospects with future tenants?
I did think about asking them. But aside from the curtain rail and the floor covering, there isn't anything else I need to do right now. And because I'm investing in quality low VOC carpet, I might want to take it with me when I move. If it was some cheapo toxic stuff, I would ask to glue it down and leave it behind when I go. Rugs are another temporary option but they are REALLY expensive in quality materials (e.g. $1,500 for wool).