Studio Flooring Options


This may well be a topic which has been discussed; if so, please
forgive my redundancy and point me toward said references. I did a
search but may have failed to word it properly.

I find myself in the wonderful position of building a new studio, a
12 x 16 wooden structure situated up on posts overlooking a gorgeous
wooded hillside. (This will seem HUGE after my present 8 X 8 space!
The paneling is in and ceiling mostly up, but I haven’t decided what
to do yet about flooring, beyond the OSB decking that forms the
underlayment. I’m a fabricator, and will have separate dedicated
areas for my bench, soldering table, buffing and raising and
forming. My finances are limited, as we’re also building a house
near by.

What to do for flooring? A concrete pad or carpet are right out.
(I’ve had carpet before and that was dreadful – bits of metal and
broken saw blades snagged everywhere.) I’m considering vinyl
composite tile (the hard streaky stuff you see in cafeterias,
laboratories and church fellowship halls.) It lasts forever and
comes in wonderful colors, but is pricey and has to be
professionally installed. Our flooring contractor keeps telling us
that vinyl sheet flooring has to be installed over special
engineered underlayment and won’t hold up. Is this just a way to
jack up the bill?

So, you dear creative people, what flooring do you have in your
studios? What works well?

Walk in Beauty,
Susannah Ravenswing
Jewels of the Spirit
Winston-Salem NC

considering vinyl composite tile (the hard streaky stuff you see in
cafeterias, laboratories and church fellowship halls.) It lasts
forever and comes in wonderful colors

instead of looking at general flooring try looking for vinyl tiles
designed for workspaces or labs where people stand all day. The
place where I work has the vinyl tiles on the floor but they are sort
of rubbery. nothing seems to affect them and they are comfortable to
stand on all day. when I finally get to a space in my life where I
can set up a permanent shop in my home then I will use these tiles.


I will be reconfiguring my studio in the near future - right now it
is concrete - not appropriate for working with precious metals - I
drop things!

I am considering a rubber floor - it is often used in weight rooms.
It is very resilient, long wearing, good for leg fatigue when
standing for long periods, and it resists burning. But its not cheap

  • apx. $3.00/sq ft. (CND).

Donna Hiebert


Listen to your flooring contractor. Several years ago we installed
about 300 sq ft of vinyl flooring in one of my shops. In a few
years the top layers of the vinyl had worn off in walking areas
and it was a mess. I installed composite tile in our current shop
about 6 years ago and it still looks great.

Jimmy Eriksson
J. Eriksson Jewelers

Vinyl sheet does need a stabilizing underlay. It will not last long
laid on plain OSB subflooring.

VCT is dirt cheap! It generally retails for less than a
dollar/square foot ($35 for a box of 45 pieces), and anyone who can
assemble a jigsaw puzzle could lay the flooring in a 12 X 16 space
in a long afternoon. I’d have a layer of plywood laid to firm up
the floor a bit and provide a smoother surface for the adhesive, but
it’s a pretty good choice.

    So, you dear creative people, what flooring do you have in
your studios? What works well? 

I’ve got a concrete floor, but I work in a dried in carport…

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR

 Our flooring contractor keeps telling us that vinyl sheet
flooring has to be installed over special engineered underlayment
and won't hold up. Is this just a way to jack up the bill? 

susannah -

boy are you intuitive! either a) he does not understand that there
will not be a herd of 50 customers, 6 adults, 14 kids under the age
of 11, 5 dogs, & 7 teenagers tromping through it on a daily basis;
or b) he has no experience in the flooring field so he’s just
winging it at the high end. i go with a) & b). if i were to redo the
floor in my work room (& right now i am redoing everything else from
the carpet up!) i would go with a commercial grade carpeting (the
flat kind that doesn’t require padding & looks like fuzzy corduroy)
& put a ‘chair pad’ at every work station. a chair pad is one of
those plastic thingys offices use to let chairs roll around over
carpet. why? i have them over regular carpeting - one under my
drafting stool at the work bench so the stool rolls & turns easily
&, best of all, i hear when something drops (i use a lot of smaller
stones & melee) & i can tell just where the carpet catches it; in
front of the soldering station for the odd suicidal piece of hot
solder that jumps off of the block to land on; under the trim saws &
the cabmates & the genii. a hard floor all the time will kill your
feet - (another reason for the large rug in my show booth on
pavement + on grass at other shows it keeps dropped items from
getting lost in grass) the pads would probably keep your detritus at
a minimum since you can vacuum them up from the plastic. well, back
to the saw, hammer, screw gun, electrical outlets, fume fan, light
fixtures, dust collector, paint stuff & layout plans - it didn’t
seem to be this time consuming when i drew them up!

good luck -

There has to be a floor.

Yes,Vinyl should go over the underlayment or the vinyl doesn’t wear
well. I don’t think your contractor is trying to jack up his bill.
Having done that sort of work myself I would refuse to put down vinyl
without underlayment bcz I’d be uncomfortable doing a job in a way
that would ultimately hurt my reputation, if not my conscience. It’d
just be a bad job and it would show and you’d resent it and you’d
tell people who did it etcetc.

But look at it this way - It is only a small studio and how much
floor is actually exposed once you allow for cabinets etc? Maybe it
isn’t such a big job? And how much traffic will it get? Kids? Dogs?
Cocktail parties? Disco dancing?

My metalwork studio is just plywood floor - unpainted. At some point
(when I get around to it) I’ll paint the floor with a uniform color
as I have (sometimes) done in other studios before because it is a
good way to make a clean appearance & makes it easier to see dropped
objects. Since I don’t look at the floor all that much (I bet you
don’t either) the exact shade of color is not generally a critical
matter. Painting a small floor is a good job to do when you just need
a break. Paint stores and other such places often have huge
quantities and selections of mis-tinted paints (their screw-ups)
which can be had for very little money. When the floor gets too
messed up just wash it and paint again. People don’t expect a
workshop to have a floor like a ballroom - though I have seen some
like that - daunting!

My wife’s painting studio has a nice wooden floor which we wish to
preserve in original condition so I covered it with masonite - also
known as “hardboard” here in Canada. Double-faced tape under the
seams keeps it stuck to the floor and keeps paint and such from
getting through the seams to damage the floor underneath and is
removeable eventually should we wish to restore that particular room
to its original “heritage” status. The main thing - masonite is very
smooth - smoother than plywood- and lots cheaper than vinyl - also
easily paintable. Relatively resistant to water and other such
disturbances IF you use the “oil-tempered” variety and if you paint
it and (finally) if you don’t leave wet things or puddles on the
floor for extended periods. You can wash it, mop it etc.

I suppose you could also look for roll-ends or rejects or oddlots of
vinyl and just tack it down around the dges and resign yrself to
replacing it sometime -

Marty in Victoria


I have the composite tile that you mentioned in my present shop. You
might consider putting it down yourself. We did ours. It isn’t rocket
science and is quite easy. If you’re not sure about doing it, go to
your public library and get a video on laying the floor or buy a
video from a home center. You’ll see it’s not that hard to do. Good

James S. Cantrell CMBJ

I use stall mats. I have a room that is a sun room off the back of
the house with metal walls, long glass sliding windows and a pitched
roof. It’s 12x12. It had nasty indoor outdoor carpeting when I moved
here, and I laid down 6 mats (4’x6’). You can usually find them on
sale at the local Farm store like Agway or TSC for about $26.00
each. They are 3/4" thick, have a nubby surface with channels
underneath. They weigh about 100 lbs each, believe me they stay in
place (I have them in the stalls and they never move-they are a pain
if you have to move them for some reason). They are wonderful to
stand and walk on though-that’s why they are good for horses who are
basically standing all the time :O)


Hi Susannah,

I have VCT in my studio (vinyl composite tile). It was installed by
our remodelers springtime of last year. It went down very fast. I
have been very pleased with it. I did a lot of research when we did
this project. I was originally interested in the linoleum products
that they are making today just like they were made 50-60 years ago.
The natural stuff that came before vinyl. Beautiful stuff that you
can do amazing things with. But our budget was so tight, VCT was our
best solution. It is dirt cheap. If you haven’t already, go to the
Armstrong site and read up on the product. It is in the commercial
product section and there are some photos in the “solutions” drop
down button. I liked it because it was inexpensive, the
pattern/color goes all the way through the tile, I drop things and it
is not as hard as some other materials, you can make fun patterns
with different colors. I looked at a lot of public spaces where this
product was used. One thing I noticed with some of the lighter color
used, over time dirt can start to show in the joints where the tiles
meet. Doesn’t seem to matter how tightly they were laid our how
polished they are. So we opted for a black and white checker design
(on the diagonal so it is more dynamic). This way our lighter
colored tiles are always butting up to a dark tile. So if dirt starts
to show in any joints, it will be less apparent. It also fit our
retro theme nicely. Our VCT is not polished at this point so it is
more matte finish. I mop occassionally. Our space is too small to
bring in a buffer. Armstrong sells a gloss finish product, available
at the grocery store with other floor cleaner products. I might try
that at some point. But it might just make any imperfections more
visable. It is still a pretty floor matte. I put a few scratches in
it when painting in here moving a ladder around. So you do have to be
a little careful. I put felt on the feet of the furniture in here
and we have rolling chairs. You do want a very smooth surface
underneath. Over time if there is any lump or bump underneath the
tile, you will see a tile with a lump. They are brittle too, so a
smooth and level underlayment is best.

That is about all I can tell you about VCT. Great stuff! Contact me
if you would like to see a photo of our studio floor. -Carrie Nunes

I agree, the VCT is a good and cheap option. It’s also very easy to
put down. I’ve done it myself. It went quickly and is wearing very

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992