The Corner Cottage Journal: DIY Kitchen Flooring
Welcome Guest Blogger: Nila D.
We’re proud to present guest blogger, Nila D. She’s a talented homemaker & DIY enthusiast living in Tacoma, Wash. In the Corner Cottage Journal, Nila takes us along as she remodels and remakes the 1940 city cottage she owns with her husband. Nila has a wonderful eye for detail and the fine, finishing touches that elevate even simple home projects. We hope you enjoy her posts!
Welcome back to The Corner Cottage Journal, where Nila and Henryk, two Pacific Northwest transplants, remodel their 1940s home into an adorable little cottage full of charm while staying on-budget! Neither are professional designers or builders, but with some inspiration, creativity and elbow grease they’ve managed to tackle just about every DIY you could think of while restoring a house.
In this edition of The Corner Cottage Journal, Nila and Henryk replace their kitchen flooring with luxury vinyl tile—yes, luxurious vinyl flooring! Beautifully realistic, tough-wearing and warm underfoot, it’s definitely not your mama’s sheet-vinyl flooring.
When we moved in four years ago, the kitchen was clean but terribly outdated. Brown cabinets, mustard countertops and a push-button range were probably all the rave back in the day, but now it looked dingy.
So we remodeled our kitchen, saving the floors for last. We chose to do our floors as the final step so any dripping paint or damage would be on the old, existing linoleum. We’d purchased beautiful, real slate tiles for our new kitchen floor.
The flooring project started with removing the old linoleum. We were pretty lucky that it wasn’t hard to remove. After lifting its edges, we were able to chip away at the old stuff and rip it out, little by little, as it cracked off.
Our original plan was to install the slate tiles—but the plan changed. As we pulled away the linoleum, we realized we hit the jackpot—we found wood flooring underneath! That’s when we decided to refinish the kitchen’s Douglas fir floors to their original state … or so we thought.
DIY dream turned disaster
I can’t even begin to tell you the work that went into sanding and refinishing the floors. We were so happy that Henryk’s hard work paid off! Just look at the flooring—no more glue and as smooth as a baby’s bottom!
However, Douglas fir is a soft wood. We found this out quickly as the floor became scratched and dented.
With eight paws running through the kitchen several times a day to be let outside and our daily rain, we saw why it had been covered with linoleum. Oh, the scratches and water marks from wet paws!
If something as simple as a fork would drop, the floor would be dented. Before you know it, the kitchen floor became so damaged that it was embarrassing and I could no longer cover it up with a throw rug.
After such a DIY tragedy and all of Henryk’s hard work going to waste, I really needed to come up with a plan. That’s when we decided to go back to the slate tiles we’d originally purchased for the kitchen.
To get an idea of what it would look like, we laid the slate over the wood.
The slate was so cold underfoot. We thought about a heated floor, like we’d installed in our tiny bathroom. That was expensive enough, so there was no way we would be able to invest money like that for a larger space.
In addition, the slate was very thick. We realized we’d have to take out the Doug fir otherwise the transition between the kitchen and the next room would be way off.
LVT samples help you choose
After much research I found the perfect solution to our flooring problems: Luxury vinyl tile.
Wait, hang on and don’t close the blog just yet! Fake flooring has come a looooong way, baby! Let me explain a little bit about the product.
Luxury vinyl tiles are just that, they are luxurious floors!
LVT is made of calcium carbonate limestone, polyvinyl chloride and pigments. There are two PVC backing layers and a 3D photographic image with an embossed protective polyurethane layer for durability. It looks like the real deal!
Make sure you look at LVT brands that have been around a while and are reputable—and it never hurts to read reviews.
Don't feel shy about calling the company themselves. I called companies and asked for plenty of samples so that I could touch and feel the LVT. You'd be surprised to know they come in all textures and thicknesses.
There are so many new options, it actually is a super fun and pretty simple process. We ended up purchasing mock-stone pattered 12”x18” luxury vinyl tiles. The texture is smooth, and the tiles are thin enough to be level with our existing floors. Plus, it’s warm underfoot, doesn’t scratch or stain, and it’s waterproof!
LVT pre-installation floor prep
Before installing our LVT, we prepped the wood floors with a good washing, a good sanding, and another good washing so the adhesive would bond well.
Then we used painter’s tape to mark the kitchen’s center, which we’d reference when installing each tile. When installing LVT, the center line and first few rows are critical for professional-looking results, so take your time getting everything ready. This includes pre-cutting any tiles.
Next, we prepared the tiles for layout. We decided on a brick-style pattern to make our galley kitchen look wider. For even staggering, I marked the center of each tile with painter’s tape.
Then it was time to apply the glue. I started spreading the glue in small areas at a time so that it would be easier to work with. You need to give the glue time to tack, anywhere from 15 minutes to a half hour (or longer, in cold weather).
The glue is ready when you can place your index finger gently on top the glue and it will not cling to your finger. As soon as you have that special consistency, start laying tiles outward from the center, row by row.
Clean as you go! Glue can be messy. You don't want glue going all over your new floors and having a sticky mess to deal with. Always use LVT cleaners, strippers and refinishing products to care for your LVT.
Working with Luxury Vinyl Tile
The timeframe to lay the floors was two days, start to finish.
The nice thing is that only the edges needed to be trimmed and this is much easier than working with tile. A simple measurement, slice of razor blade and fold of the tile will break it quickly and evenly. All the grout strips we cut with scissors as we went along.
One thing you’ll need to do is rent a 100-pound roller to really make the LVT adhere to the surface it’s glued to. A rental will set you back around $16 for four hours or $25 for 24 hours. Not bad at all!
To finish the project, we nailed up some new white trim to go along the baseboards picked up wooden transition strips for the doorway leading to the hallway and dining room.
Do they still like the LVT?
We couldn’t be happier with our choice of LVT. It looks fantastic! Everyone who visits thinks we placed down real stone. They actually have to bend over and touch it to believe me! It is much warmer underfoot than real tile and Henryk was so pleased with the installation process! It was a win-win situation.
I hope that this blog brings more awareness to the possibility of using Luxury Vinyl Tile for your next project. It comes in so many patterns like natural or distressed wood, stone, slate, marble, parquet, pebbles, ceramic tiles and more.
If you decide to purchase LVT and try this as your own DIY, I would love to hear back from you in the comments below. Best of luck!
Your friends Nila and Henryk and Corner Cottage!
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