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The Pattern: Ombre
These days, a great-looking floor is within everyone's reach, thanks to three types of easy-to-install tiles: cork, linoleum, and carpet. With just a few basic tools and minimal cutting, you can use these tiles to create a variety of flooring motifs, from bold stripes to abstract houndstooth.
Each pattern can be created with linoleum, cork, or carpet tiles.
To re-create this tonal parquet-style floor, use Flors Modern Mix kit, which includes carpet tiles in four shades of the same color. Cut each tile into four equal strips, and reattach the strips -- one of each shade, from light to dark -- to form a square ombre tile. Alternate the positioning of the tiles so the stripes run horizontally, then vertically. Modern Mix in Blue, flor.com.
Grove storage cabinet, roomandboard.com. Martha Stewart Living paint in Sandpiper (wall) and Tailor's Chalk (trim), homedepot.com/marthastewart. Poly-Terrazzo planter (shown with agave plant), jamaligarden.com.
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The Pattern: Basket Weave
Similar to the designs often found on ceramic tile floors, this pattern is made of full-size carpet tiles surrounded by quarter-tile pieces. To make it more dynamic, mix different colors and textures; for example, try a more plush pile on the accent square. Martha Stewart Floor Designs with Flor Velvet Twist in Sunflower, Acorn, and Bisque; flor.com.
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The Pattern: Modern Stripe
Staggered stripes of varying widths and colors look graphic and playful. Create bands in different sizes by cutting some carpet tiles into halves, some into thirds, and others into quarter strips. Don't feel as if you need to stick to a set pattern; random intervals give the floor a contemporary look. Feelin' Groovy in Truffle, Cream, Sangria, and Lagoon; flor.com.
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The Pattern: Zigzag
To form these jagged stripes, start by cutting two square tiles in different colors right down the middle. Position them to create one square, and then alternate the orientation of the squares (vertical, then horizontal) to produce a step pattern. The pattern is strong; use pale hues for a softer impact and contrasting colors to play up the drama. Marmoleum Dual tile in Dove Grey and Rosato, 13 inches square; forboflooringna.com.
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The Pattern: Quilt
A geometric quilt print inspired this pattern, in which squares are mixed randomly with triangular pieces (created by cutting tiles on the diagonal). When coming up with the pattern, there are no rules -- just go with what looks good to you. To play it safe, make a mock-up of the design with paper cutouts before cutting or gluing down tiles. Cork tile in Marigold, Slate Gray, Cement Gray, and Mahogany, 12 inches square; corkfloor.com
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The Pattern: Diagonal Stripe
Cork comes in a multitude of sizes. This design showcases planks in three widths (6, 9, and 12 inches) and three colors, positioned at a 45-degree angle. Pay attention to where the seams fall between planks; they'll look more interesting if they don't line up. Cork rectangles in Maple, Alabaster, and Dusty Lilac; various lengths and widths, corkfloor.com.
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The Pattern: Staggered Stipe
This pattern requires no crafting prowess. Simply gather four shades of 12-by-36-inch planks, and click them together to form an off-kilter pattern. Don't try to line up each color perfectly in relation to the colors next to it -- play around with the placement of every row. Marmoleum Click in Sky Blue, Red Copper, Walnut, and Barbados, 12 inches by 36 inches; forboflooringna.com.
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The Pattern: Houndstooth
This pattern uses eight uncut 6-inch tiles to create each component of the oversize houndstooth. There's no need for cutting, except at the perimeter of the room, but it is important to draw out the pattern on paper first so you have a map as you glue down the tiles. Cork tiles in Ebony and Snow, 6 inches; corkfloor.com.
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The Pattern: Argyle
For this traditional pattern, cut tiles into triangular wedges and piece them back together to form an interlocking diamond. In this case, we varied the textures -- the light gray has a loopy pile, the dark gray is ribbed, and the orange is flatter. Feelin' Groovy in Orange, Metadoodle in Sassy Silver, and Sweet Dreams in Glaze; flor.com.
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The Materials: Linoleum
Linoleum squares and planks (we like Marmoleum brand) have a slick, matte finish. They're durable, low maintenance (just wipe clean), naturally antibacterial, and fade resistant. Marmoleum Dual tiles in Dove Grey and Rosato, and Click tile in Sky Blue; forboflooringna.com.
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The Materials: Carpet
Flor's nearly 20-inch-square tiles come in a variety of colors, textures, and prints. The tiles are easy to clean in the sink, but if one gets stained beyond salvation, you can order a new one. Some are made of renewable materials, and all can be recycled. Feelin' Groovy in Lagoon and Martha Stewart Floor Designs with Flor Velvet Twist in Sunflower, flor.com.
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The Materials: Cork
Incredibly resilient, cork provides cushioning, insulates a room, and repels bugs. Cork tiles come in many sizes and shapes, and can be stained custom colors. Plus, since cork is a renewable resource, it's eco-friendly. Cork tiles, from top, in Maple, Marigold, Ebony, Dusty Lilac, and Alabaster; corkfloor.com. Similar tiles available at homedepot.com.
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The Process: Cutting Any Tile
Place the tile right side down. Use a sharp utility knife with a changeable blade, and swap it out when it dulls and starts dragging. A metal straightedge, ideally a T square, will help ensure a straight line. To label measurements, use a white china marker, which shows up well even on a dark background and wipes off easily.
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The Process: Adhering Carpet Tiles
All Flor tiles come with stickers that attach the tiles to one another. The super-sticky adhesives are marked with notches to guide you as you line up the edges of each tile. The more intricate the pattern, the more dots you'll need; you can buy extras (flor.com). The tiles do not adhere directly to the floor but have nonskid backings to help them stay in place.
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The Process: Installing Linoleum
No adhesive is required for click-style linoleum tiles. Simply fit the pieces together at an angle (the edges are grooved for this purpose), and then press them flat until you hear them click and lock into place. You'll likely need to cut through the tiles where they meet the wall to get a perfect fit. To do so, use a small jigsaw or circular saw.
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The Process: Adhering Cork Tiles
Use a chalk line to divide your room into small sections. Pour a small amount of latex adhesive into a paint-roller tray. Working in one section, apply a layer of adhesive around the border with a 3-inch brush. Use a paint roller to fill in the rest of the section. Let the adhesive sit until tacky. Position your tiles on the floor; repeat with the remaining sections. Tiles and glue can be removed with a putty knife.