The Complete Guide to Log Cabin Flooring
Log cabins of long ago simply had dirt floors, but today’s versions have a much wider range of options. You can get many different looks in your home depending on your lifestyle, budget and style preferences. What type of flooring is the best for log homes? Here’s more about various log cabin flooring materials, their pros and cons, and how to determine which option is the best fit for you.
Hardwood is the most popular log cabin flooring choice because it matches the exterior and contributes to the warm and rustic atmosphere many homeowners strive for. These floors are also the most eco-friendly option because they comprise 100% raw, natural materials from a renewable resource.
There are some drawbacks, though. Hardwood is a little on the expensive side, costing $6 to $12 per square foot, depending on the type of wood and the installation costs. The rarer the wood, the more expensive the project will be. High lumber prices have also increased the cost of hardwood flooring in recent years.
Hardwood is historically susceptible to water damage, such as stains, discoloration and warping. However, the improved quality of hardwood finishes has largely mitigated these risks. Scratches and gouges are also minor concerns because you can easily buff them out with a new finish.
Oak and pine (actually softwood) are the two main types of wood used in flooring because they are common, durable, and look impressive with many colors and finishes. You could also choose a less conventional wood species, including hickory, walnut, cherry, mahogany, rosewood and bamboo.
Many new types of hardwood floors have emerged as interior design has evolved. Here are some other options that are growing in popularity.
Cork is a soft, sound-absorbing floor material that closely resembles real hardwood. Its main ingredient is bark from the cork oak tree. This material is highly resistant to mold, mildew and other forms of water damage. Its soft, spongy texture makes it ideal for busy living or family rooms, stifling the noise and providing maximum comfort.
Cork has a wide price range of $2 to $12 per square foot because it has different thicknesses. Most cork floors are between 2 and 3 millimeters thick, but the thickest planks are up to 12 millimeters or ½ inch thick. Be prepared to pay extra if you want maximum thickness and durability.
Reclaimed wood is a great choice if sustainability is your top concern. These hardwood floors consist of lumber rescued from old barns, industrial buildings and other scrap sources. They also have a unique style, showing signs of the wood’s past life and creating a grainy mix of light and dark colors.
Reclaimed wood’s natural ingredients make it highly resilient to scratches and water damage, but this benefit comes with a price. You can expect to pay between $12 and $20 per square foot for reclaimed wooden flooring.
You might have to limit this material to a few locations to conserve installation costs. Small rooms with constant foot traffic, like the kitchen and mudroom, will take advantage of reclaimed wood’s durability, while larger rooms meant for socialization, like the living room, will benefit from the rustic appearance.
Vinyl flooring also called PVC Flooring
Vinyl plank flooring isn’t technically natural wood. It consists of artificial polyvinyl chloride sheets covered by several protective layers and a textured outer layer that mimics the appearance of hardwood. Although it doesn’t have the same shine as real hardwood floors, vinyl brings many other impressive benefits.
For starters, vinyl’s multiple layers make it more resistant to scratches and water damage than real hardwood. Vinyl flooring also provides better underfoot cushioning, which is a huge plus if you have children or pets. These qualities make it a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms, where foot traffic and water exposure are almost constant.
The price of vinyl flooring depends on which variety you choose. Standard sheets cost just $1 or $2 per square foot, while luxury planks can cost up to $10 per square foot. These prices are even more affordable when you consider vinyl flooring’s longevity. It can remain in good condition for more than 20 years with proper maintenance.
The only two maintenance requirements for vinyl floors are vacuuming and cleaning. Do these tasks regularly, and your floors will age gracefully. Just ensure you don’t scrub too rigorously. You only need a damp cloth and a mild cleaning solution, such as apple cider vinegar.
Laminate flooring is similar to vinyl flooring, consisting of multiple protective layers and an exterior hardwood replica. The key difference is the bottom layer. Instead of PVC sheets, laminate’s base is an artificial fiberboard core. Although it has the same look and feel as vinyl, it is slightly less durable because the inner layers can delaminate over time.
Laminate also comes with a special surface coating that resists moisture and stains. However, you must stay proactive and reapply the coating every few years. If not, the laminate will start to fade and discolor. You can’t re-sand or refinish laminate flooring once the damage is done, so preventive maintenance is essential.
The average cost for laminate flooring is $3 to $8 per square foot, including labor and materials. Since laminate is more susceptible to damage than hardwood or vinyl, you must choose your locations wisely. Minimize the damage and maximize its life span by putting it in bedrooms, offices, lounging areas and other rooms with infrequent foot traffic.
Marmoleum is the modern take on linoleum flooring by Forbo Brand, consisting of linseed oil, wood flour, woven jute and trace amounts of pine tree resin. These ingredients are naturally sourced and inhibit bacterial growth, which makes Marmoleum eco-friendly and sanitary. Color and texture are also highly customizable, with hundreds of design options available.
The main downside to Marmoleum is its susceptibility to stains and discoloration. The ingredients don’t handle scratches well, so high-traffic areas will fade over time. However, a simple refinishing project can bring the faded places back to life in no time. Marmoleum is easily repairable, unlike laminate.
Marmoleum’s natural ingredients make it more expensive than most other flooring materials. The price range is between $5 and $12 per square foot, including installation costs. Despite the above-average price, marmoleum is a great option for every room because of its versatility and simple maintenance requirements. You can customize it to meet your specifications and achieve your dream interior design.
Stone is the best option if you want your log cabin flooring to last a lifetime. Nothing is more durable than solid marble, granite, slate and limestone. These varieties will provide a mixture of modernity and traditional design and give your cabin a more sophisticated look.
Although the look of stone when polished is more aesthetically pleasing, building designers recommend a rougher finish. Polished stone is more prone to scratching and chipping. Plus, the slippery surface isn’t ideal. The rough textures of slate and limestone provide better traction and damage resistance. Marble and granite floors are smooth and elegant, but they’re also unsafe.
Here are some other common types of stone flooring you should consider.
Tile flooring combines plastic, glass, asphalt and asbestos cement. This option is highly popular in kitchens and bathrooms because of its unmatched water resistance. Tile floors have also expanded to other parts of the house because they can conduct heat through cables or water pipes. This is a huge advantage for cabin owners since 65%-70% of a cabin’s heat is lost through the floors and roof.
Tile floors tend to be expensive, costing between $13 and $20 per square foot on average. However, its long life span of 30+ years and its energy-saving benefits will help you get a full return on your investment.
The main challenge of maintaining tile floors is keeping the grout lines clean. The lines between each tile are notorious for hard-to-remove stains. However, this maintenance task is a small price to pay for tile’s durability, water resistance and heating properties.
Ceramic flooring will always be in style. It can be molded into various tile shapes and is highly resistant to heat and moisture. You also have the option of using glazed or unglazed ceramic. Glazed ceramic provides a matte, roughly textured finish similar to slate or limestone. Unglazed is more smooth and reflective, like marble.
Since ceramic is a simple concoction of stone, clay and water, it’s one of the cheapest flooring options available. Standard rectangular ceramic tiles cost as low as $2 per square foot, while larger, thicker tiles can reach up to $15.
However, the tiles are also prone to scratching, cracking and chipping. For this reason, ceramic is not ideal for busy living rooms and other social areas. It’s best to keep ceramic tiles in the bathroom, kitchen and mudroom where you can take advantage of their heat- and moisture resistance. Ceramic is also heavier than most other flooring materials, so it’s not ideal for upper stories. Keep it on the ground floor if feasible.
Porcelain is similar to ceramic but consists of more refined clay and is heated at higher temperatures. This factor makes it slightly more dense and durable than ceramic. Porcelain also looks smooth and elegant, making it a popular choice for high-end kitchens and bathrooms.
However, porcelain’s density makes it much harder to cut or drill than other types of stone. That means installation costs will likely be higher than anticipated. Some porcelain floors cost up to $30 per square foot due to their durability and luxury appearance.
Homeowners often save extra porcelain tiles to easily replace broken ones instead of trying to repair them. This money-saving strategy will help you offset the high installation costs and extend your floor’s life span.
Concrete is a simple mixture of portland cement and water. Although it’s usually reserved for outdoor areas, it has become a popular indoor flooring option in warmer climates because of its temperature-regulating properties. Concrete’s high thermal mass lets it absorb, store and slowly release heat, keeping the surrounding area cool and comfortable.
You can also customize your concrete floors with virtually any color, pattern or texture. Ensure it’s sealed and polished properly during installation or it will absorb moisture and start to crack in just a few years.
However, customizations will lead to higher installation costs. Most finished concrete floors cost just $3 to $8 per square foot, but complex designs can increase the costs to $15-plus. Using concrete for functional purposes in the garage, mudroom and other areas where style isn’t a huge factor is more cost-effective.
Carpet flooring is a soft, warm and comfortable option that will always be relevant as long as people live in cold climates. You can’t go wrong with a wool or nylon carpet if you want your cabin to be cozy and welcoming, with the warmth of the rug feeling excellent on your bare feet. It’s also affordable, costing just $2 to $8 per square foot for the materials, padding and labor.
However, as comfortable as carpet floors might be, they have many disadvantages compared to other options. Recent studies have shown that carpet floors contain more dust and allergens than non-carpeted floors. They negatively affect the home’s indoor air quality and can aggravate chronic health issues, especially asthma. Carpets also attract moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew in the long run.
One alternative to carpet floors is to cabin rugs.
The Cabin Shack offers a huge variety of cabin rugs that feature many wildlife and rustic themes. One of the great things about shopping with them is that they will price match any rug and they stand behind their products with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If you stick with hardwood floors and decide to purchase a cabin rug, we recommend an additional purchase of a rug pad to prevent any sliding.
Carpeting is still viable for bedrooms, gaming rooms and other relaxation areas, but due to other important factors, it’s not a great flooring material for your cabin’s busiest spots.
Find the Best Flooring for Your Log Cabin
Log cabins come in many shapes and sizes, just like interior flooring. Wood, stone and carpeting each have pros and cons, but the ultimate deciding factor should be the cabin itself. Which material best fits with your home’s environment and your family’s lifestyle? Answering this question will help you find the best flooring in no time.
Jack Shaw is the senior writer for Modded, a men’s lifestyle publication. An avid outdoorsman, he’ll often find himself taking retreats out into nature to explore his environment and encourages others to do the same.