The next project on my kitchen remodel to-do list was putting in new floors. The current floor was a beige linoleum that was actually new when I bought the house. The floor had a matte finish with a little texture in it, which made it look okay for linoleum, but it held dirt so bad! I would scrub and scrub, and it still looked dingey. I was so happy to start ripping it up!
Before we could decide what floor to put down, we had to figure out what was underneath the linoleum. Homes built in the 1950’s often have asbestos in them, so we had to ensure we wouldn’t be disturbing any materials containing it. We knew there were at least 2 layers of linoleum, but were unsure of what was beneath it.
We took off an edging strip in the doorway by my basement stairs to try to start pulling up the layers. The linoleum was glued down, but with a bit of peeling, we found a wood subfloor underneath that. Underneath the wood subfloor appears to be another layer of tile which we assume was the original floor. The wood sealed off the old floor which probably had asbestos tile, but it did us a huge favor not to have to interact with it! If you’re unsure if materials in your home could contain it, you can send pieces in to be tested. With any project, it’s always good to know what you are dealing with and to wear a mask anyways.
Once we started peeling linoleum, we just decided to keep going. Large sections of the floor came up really easily, but the floor had been glued around all of the edges and in 6 foot lines across the floor and it was really difficult to peel up. It actually splintered the wood in some spots!
In order to level the wood sub-floor where it had been damaged, we used a filler product called TEC skimcoat and patch. It’s made for filling in sub floors to make them smooth. At first the product seemed really runny and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but it ended up filling in really well and dried smooth. It only needed one coat!
I also had to make sure the entire floor was smooth and free of any linoleum remnants or bumpy adhesive so that it wouldn’t affect the next floor. Scraping up the little bits was just about the least fun way to spend an afternoon!
The next step was to lay out the new tile. I ended up going with 12″ x 12″ light beige tiles. It felt like it fit with the rest of my house, and would be the most timeless option. Whenever I tile, I spend time laying out where the tiles should start in order to not end up with little slices at the end of a row. My kitchen ended up being pretty complicated to not end up cutting the tiles on both sides, but I decided to start full tiles at the cupboards to achieve the layout I wanted.
This meant that we had to measure out from the cupboards and create a center line, and then work from the doorway inward. If it sounds complicated, that is because it was! We used a 3-4-5 triangle method to make sure the line was square, and thank goodness it was! After everything was measured, the installation went pretty quick. The moldings in my house had been cut higher to accommodate the layers of linoleum flooring, and these tles were able to tuck under, making cutting really easy.
My intention was to go with a gray grout, because I figured this wouldn’t get as dirty as a light color. As I started grouting, I realized it was a lighter gray than I expected. But, I loved how bright and airy it kept the floor, so I ended up sticking with it. I still need to add a sealer to the grout which will hopefully help protect it from getting too dirty and stained.
Part of me wishes I would’ve found a fancier floor option, but I felt a little limited with the wood cupboards and I didn’t want to go with something too trendy that I would want to redo in a few years. This felt like the most democratic choice, and because it’s so neutral, I’m able to add a pop color with a rug that can be easily changed out!