Floored (And Eager And Excited)

January 13, 2012   //  Posted in: Flooring, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

I’m not allowing myself to tear up the kitchen floor before the bathroom is done, but updating it is hot on my list, and hopefully something that I can finish before springtime. I’m squirelly with excitement over how it’ll look when I’m done.

I already mentioned once before that I wanted to replace the existing laminant floor with tiles, but before I could get down to business I owed it to myself to sleuth around to see what the situation was beneath the floor in the kitchen, because after all, what if it there were original hardwoods beneath it? We did find them in the bathroom when we gutted it a few weeks ago, albeit in it rough, rough shape, but after that, I was hopeful to find some in the kitchen too.

The current laminant is in good condition, but it’s fair finish really doesn’t flow well with the rest of the house’s original hardwoods. To be honest, if the whole first floor was finished evenly in this birch color, it’d probably look pretty, but because it’s considerably different in color, texture width, and length, the kitchen floor looks exactly like what I suspect it was meant to be: A cheapity-cheap update.

Real hardwoods compared to laminate hardwoods.

If tiling ends up being the way to go, the ideal situation would be to match the kitchen floor to the new groutable vinyl cement-styed tiles that will be installed in the bathroom; at 12″x24″, they seem like they’d be a good scale for the large kitchen, neutral enough to go with the black and gray countertop, yet still complement the original hardwoods. It does look close-up like it has flecks of golden brown in the finish, very pretty. And even though they were a special order item from our Home Depot, they’re still very affordable at $1.69/sq. ft.

That's a tile for the bathroom. Think it'll work in the kitchen too?

The whole kitchen floor itself could probably be sold or repurposed pretty easily. Pete already has ideas in mind for it if it comes out smoothly. The oak cabinets and un-matchy appliances are another issue all together (I’m ignoring them for the moment, but they’ll be addressed at a later time).

Faux hardwoods. Time to get rid of this laminate.

To prod and pry beneath the floor, I started by removing the threshold in one of the doorways. It happily unscrewed (tacks or nails would have made this more troublesome, if you’re trying it at home). I should probably remove it more often than I do considering how filthy it gets under there. Don’t scoff at this picture. Look at your own thresholds, they probably look about the same. I’m clean, but human, so this house isn’t actually the poster child for Lysol or Swiffer. You’ll really believe that if you read this post and this post

Removing the threshold, lots of dirt. Whatever.

To gently lift the laminant and peek beneath, I wedged a small pry bar beneath the moisture barrier (glad to see that’s there, we have spills and a dog with drippy lips). Raising the floor just enough to see inside but not disturb the joints in the laminant (about 2 inches off the ground), I saw sheet vinyl flooring.

Hey, that's vinyl under there. Had no idea.

OK, not hardwood, but that’s acceptable. I didn’t actually expect to find it though. Best case scenario, the vinyl could still be sitting on floorboards.

I popped loose a few staples that were holding the sheet in place, and went another layer deep. Found underlayment. Actually, it’s what looks like really nice underlayment, smooth and primed with a tile primer (the same adhesive I was advised to use when get around to installing my bathroom floor). Hopefully it’s not too hard to remove the vinyl from it. Didn’t seem to be much of a problem during my little investigation.

I spy underlayment.

The presence of underlayment that’s at the same level as the original hardwoods tells me that there are no floorboards extending into the kitchen. Sad face.

But happily, this could mean that the floor could be installed directly on the old underlayment if it’s in as good condition once the other layers have been removed. We’ll see how this goes.

Keep an eye out for my progress in the coming weeks.

  • Erin B. Inspired
    6 years ago - Reply

    You probably already know this story but I’ll tell it again. When we were remodeling our home, I called my dad to see how expensive it would be to put hardwood floors throughout the house. With three dogs, I knew hardwood was the way to go. He told me to life up the carpet in the living room. Bam! Hardwood floors that just needed refinishing. I was so excited. I kind of wish certain rooms had carpet but I love the ease of cleaning the hardwood. Especially since I got my steamer! :)

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      It pains me that people cover them up. I agree that a nice wall-to-wall carpet is nice underfoot, but I’d much rather have area rugs and natural wood floors. Were your hardwoods totally throughout, only covered in the living room?

  • Kara
    6 years ago - Reply

    Just “discovered” your blog thanks to the Apartment Therapy feature – thanks for sharing your house! Lots of cool projects and looks. I plan to add it to my bookmarks!

    It sounds like you’re planning on removing the vinyl flooring. This past August I started removing two layers of vinyl flooring in my kitchen… only to find out that the oldest layer contained 30% asbestos backing. I wish someone had told me to have it checked before I had started. Perhaps you already knew this, and maybe your vinyl is newer and doesn’t contain asbestos, but I wouldn’t have felt right not suggesting that you bring a small sample to have it tested before ripping it out. Feel free to e-mail if you have any questions and I can share what I’ve learned.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Hi Kara! Great idea, I’d always rather be safe than sorry. The underlayment beneath it seems much newer than what I’d expect in an old-old installation, but it could still be 30-40 years old I suppose. How much the test cost?

    • Kara
      6 years ago -

      I found that most price estimates for testing were between $25 and $75 per sample. I’m in MN and our Department of Health had a listing on their web-site of companies that are licensed to test. You just cut off a small bit of the vinyl (make sure you get the backing too) and drop it off at a company that does the testing. My house was built in 1973 and it was the original flooring that had the asbestos. I’ve now had a number of other things tested in my house after learning that it can also be found in joint compound, mastics, insulation, and popcorn ceilings, to name a few.

      An aside, during my attempt to hepa vac and wipe down everything after the asbestos whoops I bought a plastic purple face mask with replaceable filters at Menards (a big box hardware store). It was very reasonably priced, much easier to breath through than a regular white face mask, and filters many more small particles than the white painters masks. I now use it for any home project that creates dust or other potential particles I create and don’t want to breath in. Seeing all the work you do I’d highly recommend adding one to your tool box.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      I’ll check around – thank you! Totally agree about investing in a good mask (and using it in dusty situations). Asbestos is horrifying, it’s enough to make me want to build new and know exactly what’s being put into my home.

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