Our kitchen floor tiles were once something that brought us a lot of joy and happiness, but quickly turned to something that we were annoyed with (sing it, joooyyy, and pain).
I’ve received a lot of emails over the last year inquiring about how we like them, how they’re holding up, etc., and for all the times that I’ve always been able to enthusiastically share that the vinyl resilient tiles themselves are holding up really well (are easy to clean, nice to look at, nice to walk on, add a lot to the room with their 12″x24″ span), I’ve had to disclose that the grout has been another issue.
The vinyl resilient special order tiles that we bought at The Home Depot were actually first used (tested, if you will) during our bathroom remodel. During that effort, we had done a lot of prep work to the bathroom floor in the way of installing subfloor in spots and underlayment all over. With it stapled within an inch of its life, we had a nice, solid even surface to be tiling on. While we’re having problems of mammoth proportions in the downstairs kitchen, the bathroom tiles and the grout have held up nearly flawlessly, which is kind of amazing considering that as our only bathroom, it gets a lot of foot traffic, and because it’s more inclined to get wet post-shower.
The main difference between the bathroom and the kitchen has to do with the condition of the floor, and more specifically, the bounciness of the floor. The kitchen, a wider span, has a definite case of the squeaks caused by gaps where the floor joists and the subfloor no longer sit together. The same can actually be said for the whole first floor of our home, and the bedrooms too. Squeaky place. Every little flex in the subfloor has had an impact on the condition of the grout in our tiles, because unlike the tiles themselves, the grout can’t flex without crumbling. And once it crumbles, it’s swept up and away, leaving me with… nothing except un-sweepable dirt in the gaps.
The damage is mostly in the areas that experience the most foot traffic, so it hasn’t been as bad in areas along the wall or near appliances. This is about as OK as it gets in our kitchen. When you aren’t so macro on it, it doesn’t look bad at all.
We’ve thought a lot about how to correct this. Our first mission (last fall, actually) was to do serious floor repair on the floorboards that we could access in the basement. Pete would stand in the kitchen and squeak the floors (he weighs more than I do and can make the squeaks happen more effectively) while I would stand in the basement with a piece of chalk and mark exactly where the squeaks were happening. I could usually see some bounce in the subfloor even if there wasn’t an audible sound. By making shims and installing them into the problem areas, we helped our squeak-and-bounce situation a lot, well enough to get through the winter without feeling so much compelled to repair our damaged grout, and probably well enough to keep the rest of the grout from loosening so easily, but not well enough to cure the problem entirely. And anyways, we had already lost a lot of grout by this point.
We talked about removing all of the grout and applying new, hopeful that the reduced bounce would serve us well and keep the floor in a better state, but that was before we were seriously talking about moving and hopefully renting the house.
Funny how something can change your course of action so easily, because now we’re talking about ripping the floor out entirely and replacing it with something that won’t be subject to grout crackage. Something cork, or something vinyl resilient that isn’t groutable.
Anyone else with groutable vinyl resilient tiles experiencing the same breakage that we are? Any tips for fixing that we haven’t thought of?