So what can you do with your old solid flooring once you have decided to replace it? We’re talking here about sheet flooring made from lino (linoleum), vinyl and other plastics but it’s important to know the material, or at least to know if it’s lino or plastic based. Some reuse options are only good for lino as it’s made from naturally occurring materials.
Recycling versus Reusing
Recycling, in the sense of re-manufacturing, solid sheet flooring such as lino and vinyl is increasing but it’s not widespread in the United Kingdom yet. The expense of setting up the plants and the currently limited market for the recycled products means that the facilities are thin on the ground. Commercial interest is growing though, and plants now exist that can convert vinyl and lino into new flooring or other items like sleeping policemen and security fence parts.
But until these facilities are more common the best recycling option with sheet flooring for most of us is to reuse it. This is also better for the environment as there’s less energy used in transportation and the recycling process.
Reusing Solid Flooring as Flooring
The first step is to consider reusing sheet flooring as flooring rather than as something else. Although you probably wouldn’t be considering throwing it out unless it was at the end of its life, there may be parts of it that can be reused. One option is to consider cutting it up and putting it down in a smaller room, if the worn parts can be avoided.
Flooring that has been used in a large kitchen, for example, may have enough good areas to allow it to be reused in a bathroom or toilet. If you can’t do this, perhaps you don’t have a suitable room, or you are replacing your flooring as part of an extension project and it simply won’t fit, then consider finding someone else who might use it. Internet groups like freecycle or freegle offer an easy way of finding local people who might be able to use your solid sheet flooring, as well as many other cast-off items.
The final option for reusing solid sheet flooring as flooring is to cut it into tiles. This way you can cut out all the worn parts and reuse all the good bits. You can even mix different patterns and colours if you are creative with the pattern you lay. To make it look good you will need to take great care with cutting straight lines at consistent angles. A heavyweight guillotine might be the best options for this.
Garden and Shed Uses
Once you’ve dismissed the idea of reusing the flooring as flooring it’s time to look at other uses. In the garden lino can be used to cover compost heaps or to keep ground warm through the winter. This is one of those areas where using vinyl-based flooring is not advised as there is considerable evidence that toxins leech out of the flooring, and you don’t want to be putting that into your compost. The same goes for using sheet flooring as pond liner, lino is great but vinyl flooring perhaps not so good.
Other outside uses are in garden sheds and other outbuildings. Old solid flooring makes a great floor in a kids’ playhouse as it can be cleaned very easily. If it gets really mucky, it can even be taken out and hosed down. It can also be used to cover workbenches and shelves in sheds and workshops; it’s a lot easier to get oil and other substances off a sheet of vinyl than a wooden worktop.
Back inside the house off-cuts of lino or vinyl can be handy to place under and around pet food bowls. You will need to take them up and wash them weekly, or at least fortnightly, to prevent a build-up of stains from water and food that work their way under it at the edges. One builder swears by lino off-cuts for all sorts of indoor jobs like placing behind hinges to line them up properly or putting under pieces of furniture to level them up.
Finally the shelf lining idea is a good one to use in the kitchen and perhaps bathroom cupboards too. Solid sheet flooring cut to fit will shrug off spillages from cleaning products and other chemicals used in the kitchen and bathroom in a way that the base off a cupboard probably can’t And if there is a catastrophic spill, then at least a flooring off-cut can simply be replaced with another one.