Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Should You Floor Your House With Butcher Paper?

There is such a thing as being too cheap.

One problem with our clickbait media is that they like to post astoundingly titled articles in order to get you to click on things.  Thus, for example I'm exhorted to click on videos where someone has made a tiny house out of a Greyhound bus or U-Haul truck or phone company van or school bus or whatever, for some a ridiculously tiny amount of money.  I look at these videos or sites and know they are lying.  Just the cost of the trips to Lowes or Home Depot to buy all the fasteners and fittings would cost more than they claim the conversion cost - not even addressing all the fixtures and furniture!

And I guess people like to click on that sort of nonsense.  But for my money I would just buy a second-hand trailer or motorhome which already has all the stuff in it that you need, such as a stove, a microwave, a refrigerator, and a toilet - probably all in working order, rather than trying to install all these things into some clapped-out end-of-life vehicle.  But no one clicks on that.  No one clicks on practical advice - we all want to hear unorthodox advice because it is more sexy.

I recently saw a video where a perky young couple decide to redo the floors in their house with butcher paper.  Not only did the video show up on my YouTube feed, other people have told me about it - so it must be "trending" or something.  I watched it with vague interest as we just re-did the flooring in one of our bedrooms and plan on redoing the flooring in the other bedrooms in the rest of the house, shortly.  We had researched various flooring types, and of course wall-to-wall carpeting is the cheapest and easiest to do, as they can come in and re-carpet your entire house in a day for not a lot of money, if you shop around and find remnants.

But there are all sorts of other flooring choices, including vinyl flooring, which is becoming very popular.  I used the peel and stick version in my camper trailer and it held up very well.  They also have this very cheap flooring which is basically a photograph of wood grain on some sort of masonite.  Home Depot had this on sale at a regular price of about a dollar a square foot which was reduced to $0.50 on sale.  That's pretty cheap for flooring.

We ended up going with engineered hardwood flooring, which is going to run about $3 a square foot (plus installation) because it matched what we already had and looked good and will wear longer than butcher paper or photographs of wood.  Tile would be even more durable, but probably more expensive (and not match).  I think we found a sweet spot between "too much" and "too cheap".

This couple in the clickbait YouTube video shows how they re-did the floors in their house by sticking down big chunks of butcher paper, and arranging it in sort of a random pattern.  They then covered this with layers of urethane to create a flooring surface.  In other words, they're basically just standing on a thin layer of urethane.

The husband in the video proclaimed what a great bargain this was, as it cost about $0.50 a square foot with all the materials (this was in 2011, however, so factor that in).   However, this is competitive with the fake-wood flooring on sale at Home Depot, which would probably look a lot better and last a lot longer than construction paper.

Not only that, but when it comes time to sell your house you might find it very difficult to sell if the floors are done with butcher paper and urethane. You'll end up having to carpet over this to sell the house, or else take a big dent in the resale price.   And if you're going to go that route, you might as well just install carpeting or wood flooring and enjoy it during your tenure in the home.

Even the least expensive homes are going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, so I don't see the point in going ultra-cheap on something like that.  Sure, you could save money by changing the oil in your car and replacing it with water.  But your engine wouldn't last very long and thus the savings are not at all that great.

Not only that, but I kind of thought it looked like crap. The husband claimed it had the "look of wood" but when the project was completed it was just sort of a brown blob on the floor covered with urethane.  And the amount of labor involved was more than what we spent putting down an engineered hardwood floor in about the same space.  That took us one day to do - whereas this butcher paper deal took days of work and days to dry.   So it seems like an awful lot of work for nothing.

If you really can't afford flooring, might I suggest painting the floor instead?  Our ancestors did this, often creating interesting geometric patterns.  Or you can do as we did in the garage, rolling down a layer of epoxy paint and then throwing that confetti stuff on it, which creates a random pattern.   At least it would be done in a day, instead of two or three.

Sadly, the internet is full of these sort of false-economy type of videos. They claim you can do something-for-nothing or make something out of nothing and that this will result in some sort of fantastic payback for you.  But I just don't see it. 

There is such a thing as being too cheap.