Behold! Look upon my floor in awe! (And reassure me that the surprisingly strong pain in my legs was worth it.)
I would highly recommend these tiles to someone on a budget who wants the look of a brand new floor but doesn’t have the mathematical skills (or saintly patience) to deal with sheet vinyl. It’s cheap, plentiful, comes in easy-to-handle 12″ x 12″ tiles, is self-adhesive, and cuts easily. (If you can cut drywall you can cut this stuff. Score and snap. You don’t have to cut deep, just straight.) I installed it right over my existing sheet vinyl floor.
(But Jesus Christ will your legs hurt. Not your knees so much – contrary to logical expectations – no, the problem is not that you’ve been on your knees for the better part of a day, but that you have done approximately 1,000 squats in a day.)
Every project has its challenges. This project had its share: 1) The high spot/screw holes, 2) the loose cabinet face between the fridge and the dishwasher, and 3) the oblique angles of the infamous three-sided divider wall (the one from which I just removed all those godawful windows).
1) The people who lived here before us, who inspire me daily to invent clever and colorful new expletives, were pretty harsh on the kitchen floor. There was a burn by the stove that looks like they dropped a cinder (or a lit cigarette) and ignored it for about half an hour. There were lots of weird slashes, like they let the kids play with a box cutter. Worst of all, though, was the screw holes left over from when they had a bolt-down mini table in the corner where I am trying to put up shelves. (I assume there was a “breakfast nook.” But I suppose it’s equally likely that it was a stripper pole.) When they removed the table (or pole) they just pulled it out and left the holes in the vinyl. The underlayment is MDF, so every time I mopped the water dribbled down those holes and the MDF absorbed it and swelled, resulting in a high spot. (Had I been thinking – or had I known more about flooring 8 years ago – I would have at least caulked the holes when we moved in.)
You have no idea how much it pleases me to have written that whole paragraph in the past tense.
I cut out that section,
pulled out the loose stuff, scraped down the high spots,
and filled the low spots.
(With this stuff, which I actually bought for a different project.)
Then I patched it with a piece of one of the replacement tiles. (Rather artlessly. These were literally my first cuts into the new tiles.)
2) The cabinet side wall between the fridge and the dishwasher, as I discovered when I was back there ripping off the crappy old molding so that I could paint, is only attached to the counter top. Not to the wall or the floor or the little tiny bit of facing on the right side of the dishwasher. In the grand scheme of things this is probably not likely to ever be a real issue. But it bugged me enough to get me to spend $2.00 on a package of teeny weeny L-brackets. I used two of them to reinforce this section. I cut a little piece out of the old floor to accommodate the bottom half of the L and screwed it into the floor and the cabinet wall nice and tight. The bottom of the bracket was level with the old floor so the new tiles went right over without a divot or a bump. The top of the bracket will be hidden by the new molding. I may have to take a little notch out of it to make it lay flat but I think I can Dremel or chisel it easily.
3) I hadn’t actually intended to tile all the way under the shelves against the troublesome wall, but when I was down there on my big fat butt I saw how shallow the area really is. Anyone on their feet – or even their knees – wouldn’t be able to see to the wall, especially when all the jars of dry foodstuffs are put back under there. I fiddled around and discovered that with some origami skills I could do this thing. I tore up the installation instruction booklets that came in each box of tiles and set them against the tiles that were already down just like I was laying a new tile and then folded and creased them where they came up against obstructions – like the oddball walls and the central support for the shelves. Then I set the paper template on a whole tile and simply cut around it. (Sorry I didn’t take pictures. I was on a roll.)
Another point that pleases me no end is my new transitions. Previously there were two different kinds: one that had a nice step to it (apparently called the “seam binder” type) and two that were gnarled, nasty, sharp little things that encased the raw edge of the carpet. They were damn near impossible to pry up without ripping the carpet because they have barbed perforations underneath (like a highly aggressive cheese grater) that bit into the carpet from underneath and the top edge had been pounded (unevenly) deep into the pile. I ended up having to cut the latter two free. My new ones (all three the same kind!) are the nice seam binder type, easy both to sweep and vacuum over.
I had to go back to the hardware store for 8 more tiles on Tuesday (that weird-ass corner ate up a lot of partial tiles and didn’t leave big enough chunks to use anywhere else) so the project cost a little more than I predicted, but it still came in admirably low: 2 six-foot carpet transition bars @ $11.37 each plus 103 vinyl tiles at $0.88 each = $113.38 before tax. Not bad!
I still need to caulk the gaps (there were some tiles that simply couldn’t be convinced to butt up against their neighbors politely or which I couldn’t manage to cut quite straight) and install toe-kick molding (and caulk that, too). But I have a new floor!