It is probably safe to say that carpet used to be the flooring of choice on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as elsewhere. But with widespread flooding from Katrina leaving tens of thousands of homeowners with piles of soggy, stinky carpet to rip out and put on the curb, a lot of people are opting to replace their carpet with tile.
“We have sold more ceramic tile than ever before because people are tired of dealing with the carpets,” said Steven B. Sullenburger, a flooring specialist with Home Depot in Gulfport. “Everybody is going to ceramic tile because of all the flooding. Carpet is hard to keep clean. Ceramic tile is easy to keep clean as long as you seal it. People are tired of the upkeep with carpet. The only problem you might run into with ceramic tile is if you drop something and crack it. But you can always replace that one tile.”
Sullenburger said most of his customers are hiring professionals to install the tile rather than doing it themselves. He recommends finding a good installer because there can be problems if tile isn’t installed properly.
‘Going for price’
Ceramic tile averages in price from $1 to $4 per square foot, with the less expensive tile being in greatest demand.
“Everyone is going with the clearance tile,” he said. “There is not a lot of difference except for price. They are all going for price.”
Sullenburger estimated their sales of ceramic tile are up about 125% since Katrina.
Jeanie Walker, a flooring specialist with Lowe’s in D’Iberville, said the hurricane experience definitely has made an impression on the flooring of choice following the storm.
“All the ceramic tile that was down stayed down, and people just had to just go in and mop it,” Walker said, who estimated sales of tile flooring at Lowe’s in D’Iberville have increased 100% since the storm. “That has encouraged people to buy tile and stay with tile. We have seen an increase in it because people don’t have to tear it up and replace it after flooding. It is absolutely more popular than carpet. Tile is just all the way around the best way to go after something like this.”
People are looking for something durable and resilient for the long term, said Glenn Miller, owner of Glenn Miller Floor Covering in Gautier.
“What I’m doing mostly now are ceramic tile and hardwood floors,” he said. “You have to worry about hardwood getting wet, but if you have ceramic tile, you don’t have to worry about replacing carpet.”
Miller particularly recommends ceramic tile to people who have rental housing. Ceramic tile isn’t that much more expensive and lasts much longer.
“If you move a refrigerator, you aren’t going to tear ceramic tile,” Miller said. “The price of ceramic tile right now is so economical. Long term, it is so much better.”
Vinyl floors also can’t handle flooding, and usually come up when the glue gets wet.
Although hardwood floors can warp if a home floods, Miller said they are very popular now.
“People are tending to put the hardwood laminate flooring more in main areas or living rooms and in kitchens,” Miller said, who has been in the flooring business for 28 years. “It is very popular. We usually put the snap lock, wood laminate floor over a quarter inch of foam. You have the look of a hardwood floor and comfort of walking on a soft surface. It is easy on the feet. The laminate has been pretty popular the past five years. Economy wise, you can’t beat the price.”
‘Big increase in concrete design’
Another hardy option is concrete floors that can be painted to look like tile or marble.
“People don’t want to have to go through dragging all the carpet out again,” said Elliot Davis, owner of Decorative Concrete Design in Ocean Springs. “They would rather have concrete they can rinse out, put another finish on it, and be done. We have seen a big increase in concrete design.”
Davis said if floors are damaged, he puts a concrete polymer overlay on the floor, and then stains it. Different effects make it look like natural stone.
“It won’t look painted, but it is an elegant floor and at a fraction of the cost of real stone,” Davis said. “A majority of people accent it with floor rugs, and it is very low maintenance. A lot of houses we had done before storm got flooded. We went in and refinished the floors at a very low cost.”
Davis said his costs average about $3.50 per square foot for new homes that have concrete in good condition. If there is carpet or paint already on the floor, the cost of overlaying it runs about $7.50 per square foot.
The concrete design floors are popular in houses in a broad price range. In addition to economy homes, Davis said you also see decorative concrete floors in high-end homes.“We also do in on homes that are $500,000 and up,” he said. “People like the earth tone stain because any colors on the wall go with it.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at email@example.com.
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