I asked her once to describe her granite counter-top buying experience for the blog, and now I’ve asked her to describe how she chose and installed her kitchen flooring material. As with her counter top tale, I will periodically interject in this lovely green italic font, but here, in her words, is the saga of the flooring:
Flooring is a touchy subject. You touch it every day around your house so it needs to meet certain needs.
Our needs (in no particular order):
Easy to install because we don’t want to pay someone more than what the tile is worth to install it
Not a temperature shock when you transition from different floor styles
Now might be a good time for me to give my quick spiel on kitchen flooring. Wood and laminate are great flooring materials because they’re warm, soft, smooth, and beautiful. Unfortunately, they are both (yes, laminate too) susceptible to warping if exposed to water for long periods of time. Since kitchens can have a considerable amount of water running through them (dishwasher, faucet, refrigerator, etc.), be warned that you’re taking a risk. Tile, however, is much “safer” when it comes to water. The drawback with tile is that it’s incredibly hard (this can be rough on your feet and back if you’re standing on it for long periods of time, not to mention the fact that you can kiss any dishes you drop good-bye).
Lucky for you (but too late for me), Alaina seems to have found the perfect kitchen flooring solution.
Considering all of these requirements of our floor, you might think it’s amazing that we actually picked one. But we did, and we liked it so much that we purchased it twice! We recently renovated our converted garage because it still looked, smelled, and leaked like a garage. Yes, yes it did. After discovering the source of the leak and fixing that, we gutted the room and fixed it up! (I really hope to highlight this room renovation at a later date. It is a fantastic garage conversion – perfect entertaining space, game room, movie theater.)
Through that project, we did a lot of research on flooring and found Congoleum DuraCeramic Tile. (Sounds like something you’d contract in a trip to the Amazon.)
This “tile” is a limestone composite that comes in two patterns per color choice to offer variance in the floor. It’s important to note that this is not a typical tile. It’s softer than ceramic or porcelain tile, and warm to the touch. Also, the installation process is quite a bit different than a traditional tile floor.
With our dark cabinets and granite with a lot of movement, we wanted to pick a simple-patterned, light-colored tile. I returned to my favorite flooring guy, Chad, at CarpetOne here in Durham, NC. He provided me with every light color tile sample they had in the DuraCeramic, and from those, we picked 3 we liked best.
He even let us take those tile samples with us to look at granite so that once I picked my Atlantis granite slabs, I could pick my tile and order it. We ended up selecting the “Sunny Clay” because it picked up the gold flecks in the granite we purchased.
Before they could install the new flooring, Alaina and Dirk had to pull up the old flooring. Let’s stare at Dirk in complete awe for a moment, because ripping up FIVE layers of multi-flavored linoleum is NOT EASY!
Step 1: Vigorous enthusiasm.
Step 2: Quirky delirium.
Step 3: Sheer exhaustion with a hint of annoyance directed at the person standing around taking the pictures.
Okay, back to Alaina.
We prepped our subfloor by cleaning it as well as we possibly could and actually ended up replacing some of it – due to rot from unnoticed small leaks. It happens in an older home.
Then, in order to tie down some of the dust generated from the drywall, we primed the floor using a latex (not lamb skin?) primer.
Typically for a more square room, instructions recommend that you chalk-line the center of the room, but because our kitchen involved several doorways and paths, I did 3 chalk lines:
From the back door to the doorway at the bottom of the stairs
From the center of the main kitchen area
From the center of the doorway into the butler’s pantry
Here’s the nifty little chalk line tool, and uh… the chalk?
Then I plotted out all of the tiles so that I would know that the end of a row wouldn’t leave me with a tiny sliver of a tile. This is a VERY important step, my friends! As a seasoned tiler myself, you do not want to skip this dry-run, or you could find yourself making some very awkward (and visually unappealing) cuts at the end of a row.
Because I had worked with this product before, and I had some more difficult cuts to make around the door trims, I “dry fit” every tile alone my initial path into place. I made all of the cuts I needed and though it took me a bit longer than I expected, I am definitely happy that I did. Trim sucks.
Bonus!! Because these aren’t hard like porcelain or ceramic tiles, you do NOT need a tile saw or nippers to cut these. A sharp knife will do the trick.
Then I FINALLY got started with the glue! Another big difference between this and traditional tiles – instead of dealing with messy mastic in small sections, Alaina applied special glue to the entire floor before beginning the install. I glued my way over to the back door and from the butler’s pantry out to the kitchen. Then I waited for the glue to tack up. The 45 minute drying time is apparently just a suggestion, because it took more like 2 hours for it to tack up. It was also raining that day so that might have had something to do with it.
Then, the first tile was laid into place, and the rest followed shortly after. I separated my tiles out into the two patterns so that I could ensure I staggered them and turned them so they would look more like a ceramic tile. (Way to finally make it look like you did some work, A.)
Dirk was a big help not only laying tile, but keeping me motivated to keep going until we had finished the project! Oh did Dirk help? I thought he just stood around taking pictures while you did all the work…
Grouting occurs within 48 hours of setting the tiles. To do this, get your pre-mixed Congoleum grout, a grout float, a large bucket of water, a sturdy sponge and LOTS of patience.
Grouting took almost as long to do as the tile installation, but when it was done, I had a very happy husband.
One final step was to remove the grout haze by taking an ammonia based window cleaner and scrubbing each tile, removing the cleaner with plain water. And brute strength.
One more step big step complete!
You can see this is a bit of a tedious DIY process, but the end results are well worth it. All the beauty and durability of a tile floor, but a much more comfortable standing surface. Nice work, guys! We can’t wait to see how everything comes together!
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[…] that their longevity — and therefore value — is highly questionable. Even my friend Alaina’s higher-end Congoleum floors, which require a much more rigorous application process than peel-and-stick vinyl, aren’t […]