March 24, 2015
That title isn’t a typo – I meant floors, as in more than one.
There haven’t been any updates lately because, well… we haven’t really been doing anything around the house. Side projects have taken up time (me: learning to sew, Alex: learning … Playstation?), and we don’t have the money to tackle the project that we want to do most: the kitchen.
Here was the kitchen when we moved in:
It hasn’t looked that clean since, FYI.
There are many MANY things we can’t wait to change about this kitchen. But, without question, my biggest gripe is that floor.
It’s perpetually dirty and sticky. I have no idea why. Admittedly, we’re not clean freaks – we have a toddler and two dogs, after all – but we mop it DAILY, and it remains grimy. It’s ugly. It’s obviously fake (not that cork is the most attractive floor to begin with). There is literally nothing I like about it.
Which is why, one day, as I was sweeping the stairs to the basement, I caught a side glimpse of the kitchen floors, and decided “why not just rip it out?” (This photo below was after a little prying – for all of its faults, the floor wasn’t warped or delaminating like the photo might suggest).
Based on the height difference between the kitchen to the dining room, I had always guessed there were probably at least two floors in the kitchen. The side view (from the basement stairs) seemed to confirm that, plus maybe another layer for good measure. I’ll admit that we had considered other short-term measures to update the floor, like laying YET ANOTHER floor on top of it (some cheap vinyl tile). So what convinced me we should rip it all out instead? That tongue-and-groove wood, which I hadn’t paid attention to before. That would make a good floor, right? Plus it’s FREE and already there, which a cheap interim solution can’t beat.
We pulled out all three floors – two layers of linoleum, plus the faux cork (you can see a peek of each layer, above) – and got down to the wood. I’m almost positive this is the subfloor. The only thing that doesn’t seem quite right is that it’s running perpendicular to the joists, rather than at an angle. But that’s not a requirement. So, subfloor.
Sidebar: that gate? We built that to keep the toddler from falling down the stairs to the garage. The latch is on the other side (Jack hasn’t figured it out yet, and isn’t tall enough, anyway), and it has been an awesome crowd-control device for the dogs, too. We never finished or painted it because 1) we’re lazy, and 2) we knew we’d be repainting the kitchen eventually, so we’d probably match this to the trim or wall paint at that time.
In this test patch, we hit it with the sander to see if we could get to useable wood, and – success! – we can! It took some elbow grease & 60-grit sandpaper, but we made it.
Also, a disclaimer – proper ventilation, sealing off from the rest of the house, and face mask is recommended while sanding. The black stuff is the adhesive used on the original linoleum, and it’s possible it contains asbestos. I’m not going to test it because plausible deniability and all that. But just FYI.
The wood is probably fir, and it definitely won’t be our long term floor in the kitchen. One, because it’s soft wood, and the kitchen is a high-traffic area, and two, I really hate when two mismatched wood floors butt up against each other, like the kitchen does with the dining room. I like wood flooring in a kitchen, but I like continuous wood flooring better.
The current plan is to remove all of the “cork” tile & linoleum layers, and sand down the wooden subfloor. We’ve kicked around the idea of painting it (it’s certainly not stain-grade wood), or just sealing it with a matte finish to preserve the raw wood look. Either way, the idea that the floor is going to look nicer in the near future? Makes me happy.
The faux cork tiles are really easy to pop up – they weren’t adhered at all, just floating over the last linoleum. It took about 20 minutes to pull all of this up. The only reason we stopped is because removing the rest will involve moving the refrigerator, stove, and all of the shit along the back wall of the kitchen. Also: we are obviously in DIRE need of a better system for using that space right now, because it’s inching its way toward hoarder territory back there. Yikes. Embarrassing.
While this top linoleum is pretty dirty and not necessarily good looking, I truly prefer it to the faux cork. I honestly cannot fathom why someone thought this was a good choice – surely there were better cheap flooring options available? If you’re going to go the ol’ “just cover it up with something cheap to make it look ok” route, at least pick something that tries to look good.
We’ve got some other small short-term updates for the kitchen in mind, and hopefully this floor will be done sooner rather than later. Either way, Pandora’s Box has been opened, so we can’t turn back….