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You never know why a previous homeowner made the decorating decisions they did, but sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder why in the world they chose a particular paint color, wallpaper, or floor covering.
Our entry hallways perfectly illustrate this point. For some inexplicable reason, both the front and side entryways to our house were carpeted—and the carpet was always a mess.
Related: Subway Tiles: The New Classics
We experimented with a variety of doormats, both inside and outside the doors. And over the years, we’ve enjoyed a fair number of attractive and whimsical looks, including my favorite, a coir mat that said, “Go Away!”
But even the best doormats can’t keep up with the combined effects of rainwater, snow, ice, dirt, grass and grit.
The final straw came when a section of carpet actually ripped. We decided the time had come to remove the carpet and find an easier-care alternative. The first step was removing the carpet and determining the condition of the floor. Surprisingly, the concrete slab under the carpeting was in very good shape—smooth and level—so we turned our attention to floor coverings.
We considered hardwood flooring and laminate options but decided we wanted something that would stand up better to moisture and dirt. Then we looked at both self-adhesive vinyl tiles and sheet vinyl. Both would have been easy to install, inexpensive, and fairly durable.
But even though there are a wide variety of fashionable designs and colors available in vinyl, we were concerned about the long-term durability of these options, so we decided to go with a harder surface.
Next, we looked into natural stone tiles, which are extremely durable and stand up well to foot traffic. The natural stone, which offered appealing color variations and a lovely appearance, was also pretty pricey. Also, due to the fact that we were dealing with a small area, the natural stone seemed to overwhelm the space. Ultimately we decided against it.
For a lower price, we were able to achieve a similar natural look with ceramic tile. Ceramic tile boasts superior durability and a sophisticated look. At the same time, maintenance is a breeze. A quick sweep gets rid of the surface dirt and dust, while an occasional damp mop will eliminate tracked-in mud.
We chose ceramic tile with a faux marble design in a neutral grayish hue to simulate the look of natural stone.
Installation was fairly simple, since we were installing the ceramic tile over a concrete floor. We thoroughly cleaned the concrete and then put down a layer of leveling compound. Once that dried, we measured to find the center of the floor and snapped chalk lines.
Next we did a rough layout on the tiles and shifted the center line slightly to minimize cutting along the edges. We re-did our chalk lines and started placing the tile (working from the center out to the walls). Between the tiles, we placed small plastic spacers to make sure the lines were straight and the tiles were evenly placed.
Once the tile had set and cured, we accented it with a pearly gray grout. As an added indulgence, we selected a real marble “saddle” to separate the entryway from the adjoining room, putting a final, fashionable finish on the project.
We now have a much more attractive, durable and easy-care floor covering in our entry hall—and we no longer have to buy stock in a doormat company.
For more on flooring, consider: