Before we bought a house, we were champion renters. We lived in a studio, a one-bedroom, a two-bedroom, and a house —all without taking on the title of owners. During those years, I experimented with lots of ways to customize our home without altering the bland beige, sad shag, and lame laminate inside — not to mention the outside space when we had it. I'm a crafty DIYer, so I was able to work some non-permanent magic. But, man oh man, do I wish some of these temporary outdoor flooring options were available back in my rental days.
Artificial Grass or Astroturf
Forget mowing. Artificial grass carpet is a no-maintenance way to bring a lush look into your backyard. But, there are a few things to consider before you unfurl a roll of greenery to cushion your step in a barren backyard.
Pros: Artificial grass can be a super duper cost-cutter. Without needing to water the lawn, buy and maintain a mower, or stock up on fertilizer and weed-killer, you can be sure that your wallet will stay a little fatter with a faux lawn. You'll also save your time. Instead of spending hours every weekend weeding and seeding, you can actually enjoy those long summer days. After heavy downpours, your artificial lawn will drain and dry much faster than real grass, so you can get back to playing without damaging the turf.
Cons: While the yard won't require weekly maintenance, you will incur a significant upfront cost to have the turf installed, and you may need to refill the soft, rubber cushion beneath the turf occasionally. Unfortunately, artificial grass also gets very hot during gah height of summer, and some toxic chemicals are used to manufacture turf.
Endless patterns and fun color combos make outdoor rugs a no-brainer for outdoor rooms. An endless variety of stripes, solids, and geometrics are well within reach. And, all without violating the terms of your lease. Before you throw your first backyard bash, consider the benefits and bad sides of this temporary flooring option.
Pros: Outdoor rugs are easy to move and remove to fit your style. A small rug can anchor different seating groups, while a larger one works well for large dining tables and chairs. They add a layer of cushion underfoot so guests, kids, and you can walk barefoot on patios, decks, and pavers without risking a stub, scrape, or splinter.
Cons: Be sure to think about your existing outdoor flooring. If you have a wooden deck, a rug can trap moisture against the boards that may cause the stain to wear quicker. Unsealed wood may begin to rot. If you have a concrete or stone patio, the rug may slip and slide. Running children and clumsy adults beware.
Portable Hardwood & Removable Vinyl Tiles
Pre-printed hardwood tile and removable vinyl tiles (from Mirth Studio above) make pattern tiles an option for screened-in patios and 3-season porches. You can choose from a variety of colors, patterns, and accents to create a dynamic, vibrant outdoor space. And, while that seems like a decorator's dream, there are a few things to consider before you take the decorative tile plunge.
Pros: Portable hardwood tiles are a colorful cousin to traditional wood tile and come in mod, classic, geometric, and parquet designs. Originally designed for temporary wedding dance floors, they easily lock into place and even have a reducer strip for a seamless edge. On the other hand, Mirth's thin vinyl tiles are just sticky enough to stay in place, but can be peeled up when you move.
Cons: Because they weren't designed for the outdoors, both of these tiles work only where they are protected from the elements. Cost is also a factor. At $22-25 per square foot and the peel and stick tiles are $112.00 for 16 feet. They aren't the cheapest option for sure, but if you plan to be in one spot for awhile, and can't stand your concrete floors anymore, they are worth a look.
Carpet tiles have come a long way. You can choose the color, fiber, and pile from a variety of manufacturers these days. CB2 currently sells some along with the rest of their outdoor collection. And, while that seems like a decorator's dream, there are a few things to consider before you take the carpet tile plunge.
Pros: Carpet tiles are way easier to DIY than traditional carpet on a roll. There's no need to measure and cut the carpet, and it can quickly go over your existing flooring. The modular tiles can be configured to create endless patterns. When you inevitably spill wine or drip paint, you can simply remove the one tile and toss it in the washing machine.
Cons: Carpet tiles look like, well, tiles. The seams between each piece are usually visible at a casual glance, so you won't have the flawlessly smooth look of traditional carpet. Also, like outdoor rugs, you don't want to get moisture trapped underneath that takes forever to dry and potentially ruin what's underneath. You might have to pick them up occasionally and see what's happening under there.
Break up a drab concrete slab with interlocking wooden tiles. Whether you use a basketweave pattern or a linear style, you'll be able to jazz up your yard in a matter of moments. Picture you, lots of friends, family, and neighbors wining and dining al fresco all summer long. But, don't send out those invites just yet. Check out the ups and downs of owning wood tiles.
Pros: If you can connect Legos, you can probably assemble your own outdoor floor. You can even cut each tile to fit around corners and posts for a custom fit, and cleanup with interlocking wood tiles is a breeze. A warm, soapy water solution is all you need to do away with most spills and splatters. When the season is over, simply disassemble the tiles and store for the next year.
Cons: Wood tiles aren't a "set it and forget it" proposition. You may need to stain (and re-stain) your flooring if you choose unfinished tiles. You'll also need to monitor the surface for color changes or cracks, so you can reglaze it to increase its longevity. The tannic acid found in the wood can leak out over time and stain the sub-floor underneath, so choose your concrete, tile, or wood underlay carefully. If you care about it, don't risk it.
You may already be using foam tiles to soften a basement playroom, but those cushy tiles can also jazz up an outdoor room. Create striped, solid, and geometric patterns for concrete, tile, and wooden floors in enclosed porches and all-season rooms. Before the kids take their first flip, dip, and tumble on these soft pads, consider the benefits and bad sides of this temporary flooring option.
Pros: These movable tiles can fit your style and different room layouts with ease. Whether you like monochromatic looks or vibrant patterns, you can achieve a variety of looks. If you forget to close a window, and a little rain gets in, they'll dry and be good as new before you know it.
Cons: Be sure to do a little research on the brand you buy. Some consumer safety experts and parents have questioned the toxicity levels in foam play mats and tiles. Using them in a well-ventilated outdoor room, like a screened-in porch, should help dissipate gasses. But, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the wee ones.