Installing Peel and Stick Vinyl Tile (for Realists)

That’s right, I’m still milking our kitchen makeover for every last blog post I can squeeze out of it! Today I’m ruminating on vinyl tile installation, and its pros and cons. To get up to speed on what we’ve done since we moved in, check out this post. Here’s a quick and dirty comparison of the old and the new floors:

floors before and after

Installing peel and stick tile sounds really easy to do, and looks really easy on home reno shows. I mean, it only has two steps: 1) Rip up old floors and 2) stick on tiles! Well friends, I’m here to burst your bubble and will not sugar coat this for you.

We went with peel and stick tile because we thought that it would be a quicker and cheaper option than ceramic tiles. One of our future plans is to do a complete kitchen reno, and we didn’t want to spend a lot of time and money on ceramic tile only to rip it up once we change the layout of the kitchen. I naively thought that using vinyl tile meant this could be done in a day, or a weekend tops; this turned out to be a huge underestimation. Between all of the steps involved (yes, I was lying when I said this only had two steps), we spent a week on this. We weren’t super efficient about it, but still, it took a lot more time than I was expecting. As my husband put it, using peel and stick makes the easiest part of installing tiles- the placement of the tiles- even easier; you still have to do almost the same amount of prep work before you can apply the tile. But getting to a level, smooth, clean surface takes a lot of time. So buckle up and let me take you through what this project actually involves!

Step 1A): Remove Old Flooring

If the original floors had come up easily then this would have taken a lot less time and I would be less bitter about it, but the linoleum was an absolute nightmare to remove. At first we could only get it off in 1 inch or so chunks that chipped off when we tried to peel it, leaving a paper and adhesive layer behind. I had a friend helping me with this step (Thanks MT!!) and after about an hour of making almost no progress, she suggested we look online for help. We found a few YouTube videos that recommended using a heat source to soften the glue first, which ended up being a lifesaver. We found the best method was using a heat gun to first soften the glue and a flat edge trowel to lift up the flooring- this left the least amount of paper/adhesive behind. Other variations we tried were an iron and a metal cake lifter, and a hair dryer and a putty knife. During this step, we wore half face masks with P100 cartridges for vapours and particulates- we had no idea what was under the floors and heating the linoleum gave off a pretty nasty plastic smell. We also kept all the windows open for ventilation, so this is not a Canadian winter friendly project.

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Using a heat gun and putty knife to lift the old linoleum

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I gave this step got a major thumbs down

Step 1B): Patch Uneven Areas & Repair Damaged Subfloor

Once the old flooring was up and the remaining adhesive and paper had been scraped off, we patched the surface with a product that Home Depot recommended, SimplePrep Pre-Mixed Floor Patch. My husband did this step and he didn’t like this product at all. Next time (haha, next time) we would use the stuff you mix yourself, because he found the consistency too thick. The product says it takes 4 hours to dry which was not the case for us; we found it took at least a day and some areas needed more than one coat. But we did have some pretty substantial areas to patch. Once the patch dried, we went over the floors with a scraper to even out any remaining bits of adhesive or raised edges from the patch and made sure to clean it really well. Some of the areas were still raised after this step so we drilled floor screws in to try and flatten these spots.

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Close-up of our super damaged subfloor before scraping off excess adhesive and paper

IMG_4720Subfloor after scraping off adhesive and applying patch compound

Step 1C): Prime Surface

When the surface was as smooth as we could get it, we cleaned it really well and then primed the subfloor with special vinyl tile primer. They didn’t sell this at Home Depot and we were actually advised by someone there to just use paint primer (like what you would use for walls) on the floor to prime it before laying the tile. This didn’t sound right to my husband because the paint primer wouldn’t have had good adhesion to the patched spots, which is similar surface to cement; so we kept looking online until we found a multipurpose surface primer by TEC, which Lowe’s sold. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if the patched spots were minimal, but we had large sections that were patched.

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Action shot of my husband painting on primer

Step 2A): Apply Tiles

After the primer dried we were finally ready for the easy part- sticking on the tiles. This was pretty straightforward and there are lots of resources online to help with this. Basically you measure the room to find the midway point in either direction, then snap two chalk lines at these points that intersect at the centre of the floor. You put down the first tile at the centre point (without removing the backing) and do a dry run first so you can move the center tile towards either wall if necessary- like if it will make the last tile on either side of the room an awkward length. We ended up snapping an additional chalk line 12 inches off the centre line so that we could line up the offset tile for the next row as well (our tiles were 24×12 inches). Most people recommend laying the tile in sections, not in rows- this helps to keep everything lined up and squared nicely. Since the tiles were vinyl, we were able to use a heat gun and a utility knife to cut them when required. We pretty much worked outward from the centre in sections in a sort of stepwise fashion, and periodically ran over the surface with a floor roller to make sure they were really stuck on.

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Lining up the first tiles with the chalk lines

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Making sure the tiles are good and stuck with a floor roller

Step 2B): Grout Tiles (Optional)

Although you can place the tiles right next to each other without grout, we decided to use the grout because I thought that the slightly beveled edge would collect dirt if we didn’t, and also I wanted this to look as much like ceramic tile as possible. The grout was applied differently to grout you would use for ceramic tile; we used a piping bag and a grout float to get it in the cracks and wiped the excess off the tile immediately with a wet sponge so it didn’t dry.

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In Conclusion…

The end result does look pretty fabulous, but honestly it was so much more work than I had planned on, I am feeling a bit jaded about it. I should have been more realistic about how long it would take to get the old floors up and the surface prepared. This will vary from floor to floor, and it’s the kind of thing you can’t know until you start. Also, the kitchen is kind of an important room. Not having a kitchen for a few days is really inconvenient, especially if your kitchen is in the middle of the house and prevents you from going in the basement. We ended up eating a lot of take out and microwave meals while this was in progress, so if you don’t love Beefaroni like my husband does, you may want to reconsider the impact that not having an oven or stove will have on your diet.

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On the whole I would say in the future, flooring is something I would consider hiring out, and I’m not buying the perception that vinyl tile is so much easier to install than ceramic (coming from someone who has never installed ceramic…). This was also our very first flooring project, so on the flip side, maybe it was a good way to learn? It was definitely cheaper to go with vinyl tile over ceramic; we spent about $400 on the tile and the rest of the supplies, including renting a floor roller.

Do you have any stories to share of projects that seem so easy and then snowball into a horrible nightmare that won’t end? Can you assure me that the floors look awesome and this was totally worth doing? I’d love to answer any questions you have about this project!

-C

Spring/Summer To-Do List

This worked so well for the winter that I thought I’d do it again! I love making lists, and the satisfaction I get from crossing stuff off of it motivates me just enough to keep going. Our summer is going to be mostly taken up by digging up and water proofing our foundation, which is pretty much the least exciting thing ever to blog about. So I might be kind of quiet here in the coming weeks, and will mostly be busy digging, moving plants, and making sandwiches for the horde of people helping us.

Here’s what I’m hoping to get done, in between resting my sore back. I reserve the right to add, subtract, or modify at will.

  1. Put the finishing touches on the kitchen. Do you recall from my One Room Challenge reveal post that our flooring didn’t come in on time? It actually came in the day after the ORC deadline. *shakes fist* Just imagine how good this will look with charcoal grey rectangular tiles!One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIYWe also need to install the last light fixture and order our new fridge, which we are super stoked about. A new fridge was not in our reno budget this year but my parents offered to foot the bill because they’re awesome (and would like somewhere to put a champagne bottle that dispenses ice when they come over).
  2. Finish our master bedroom. Now that our carpets are installed, our room just needs some pictures on the walls and the closet doors back up. Bonus points if we manage to find a new bed frame- I’m on the lookout for something with straight lines, but we haven’t decided yet if we will buy or DIY.
  3. Hem the curtains in the guest room and set it up for actual guests (not just my cat). No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu, this just never got done on my Winter list. It’s even worse now since we got the carpets installed, because everything had to come out of there and we had to take apart the bed to get it out the door, so that is currently in pieces in the middle of the floor with the mattress leaned up against the wall. Not an ideal sleeping position! I’d actually really like to have some sort of a desk station inside the closet where I can store all my sewing stuff. My mom always had her sewing desk inside a closet and it worked really well, for both organization and hiding the mess when you need to!
    closet sewing station

  4. Bring my style board to life in the living room and install window treatments- yup, this got bumped from the Winter list, too! One of my neighbors “casually” mentioned that she noticed we don’t have curtains up yet- welcome to small town Ontario! I love all the natural light that comes in since tearing down the old curtains but I’d like to put something up that will give us a bit of privacy without compromising the light too much. I really love the look of a natural woven fiber blind with white panels and will probably go that route.
  5. Restain the solid maple dresser I scored off Kijiji last year. My husband has been using a horrible small MDF dresser since I have known him (2007). His boxers and undershirts have to be folded in a specific way to fit inside it and it drives be bananas! I’m going to stain it with leftover Special Walnut stain from my dresser makeover.DSC_1622_
  6. This will probably get bumped off the priority list and might only get done next summer… but I’d love to do something with our sunroom. Right now it’s full of stuff that we moved out of the bedrooms during the carpet installation, but we’ve got our old sectional sofa in there along with a cute little table that I found at the ReStore and it has the potential to be awesome. It would be a great space to enjoy an afternoon nap or a cold drink- I can imagine euchre tournaments and board games happening here with friends.sunroom_bright

The one great thing about having a long list of stuff to do is that I can pick and choose what I want to work on, depending on my mood and productivity level! It really is amazing how much work there is to do around the house- any house, not just ours. I’m grateful that we only have 1100 square feet of space because we already spend so much time just cleaning and maintaining it, let along the time it takes to do all the projects we want to do!

Hope you come along for the ride,

-C

One Room Challenge: Kitchen Reveal (ish)

Well well well, time has flown! Thanks to Calling it Home for hosting this super fun linking event for bloggers, not to mention the serious design awesomeness coming from the designers. I’ve been so inspired! And jealous. But mostly inspired. I had a bit of a breakdown last night when I realized I wasn’t going to be completely finished, but such is life. I had to stay late at work a few times this week and I seem to have come down with a cold to boot. Excuses, excuses right?

To get caught up, make sure you check out my previous posts from Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 5 (I was in Mexico for Week 4 so I didn’t post). The Cole’s notes: I didn’t like my kitchen and I wanted to stop not liking it. It’s come a LONG way since we moved in, but there are still a few loose ends to tie up; most notably the flooring, which did not come in on time (Home Depot, I’m looking at you). We also have one more light fixture to install. Enough of my drivel though, here it is!

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

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I love the new colour scheme in here! It’s hard to tell from the pictures but the walls are a light celery green, and it looks great with the bold black of the frames and valence, as well as the turquoise accents, like my new favourite linen tea towel. I discovered that Fabricland sells “tea toweling” by the yard/metre so that was pretty life-altering. I have also been looking for the perfect wooden serving tray for ages so I am super excited about that in particular! The patterned bowls, hand soap (on clearance!) and bread basket from Home Sense were also lucky finds, and who doesn’t love fresh basil?

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

One Room Challenge 2015 Kitchen

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

For the time being, I have made my peace with the faux bois counters. I would still really like a new range hood and a new fridge (you’ll notice I strategically took the photos to avoid it), but I am flat broke after my trip and paying taxes! I think once the floors are done, I can totally live with this kitchen until we renovate it in a few years time.

I’m really happy with how the prints that I made turned out, too. I wasn’t sure what I wanted on the walls here and I like the simple square frames.

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

I’m also SO happy to have the mini shelves gone off the island! It seems like such a small thing but it really makes a huge difference, in the overall aesthetic and making the passage to the dining room feel and look more open.

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

The valence was a massive pain but I’m happy with how it looks. I unpicked it 3 times and it still isn’t perfect but I’m filing it under “learning experiences”. It was definitely tough making it symmetrical, even, straight, and fit in the window with that bold pattern and the knife pleats. On the bright side, it felt really good to get my sewing machine back out, and I sewed this entire thing on one bobbin, about which I kept yelling to my husband “It’s still going! How has it not run out yet?! It’s the Little Bobbin That Could!” It symbolically gave out just as I finished the last hem.

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY

Thanks for reading, and to everyone else who has commented, liked, or otherwise supported me here and on Instagram @cathyatdeardiy. Definitely check out the other linking participants and the designers for some serious eye candy!

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[Side note- sorry for all the theme changes recently. I can’t seem to decide on one. I just installed the Genesis framework and I’m determined to learn more about CSS, coding, and other fun web design stuff. So please bear with me!]

-C

One Room Challenge: Week 5

Eep! Only one week left for the One Room Challenge and I still have so much to do on my kitchen! Totally worth it to have a week off in Mexico, though.

mexico

I wish I could say that I’ve made lots of progress since I got back on Sunday, but that would be a lie. While I was gone we got new carpet installed in our bedrooms so we decided it would be worthwhile to install the quarter round in those rooms before doing anything more in the kitchen. I’m glad we did because it really looks fantastic! I never thought I’d be so excited about carpet, but I’ve been living with crappy vinyl tile and subfloor in places for the past 6 months, so it makes a HUGE difference.

carpet before after2

What we have accomplished since my last post is painting where the mini shelves on the island used to be and installing our new ceiling light: the Ampere Moonraker LED flush mount from Costco. My husband installed one at a job he was doing and said it was really good quality and value, plus I liked the look of it- score! It’s not often we tick all of those boxes!

light

[bonus points if you can spot our friendly kitchen spider. Easily identified by the white and green specks. Serves him right for hanging out in the corner where I was trying to paint!]

Painting the spot where the mini shelves used to be was a big job too, and it’s looking like it will take many coats to cover it- I’m at 4 and counting right now!

shelves before after2

I’m hoping that I’ll get a ton of work done this weekend. If not, oh well… the whole point of participating in the ORC was to give myself a kick in the pants to get started, so I’m not going to stress out too much if it’s not 100% done. We also just found out that the flooring we ordered won’t be in until May 16 so that for sure won’t be done in time, which is too bad since it will have the most impact.

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The major thing I want to get done next is the window valence, which I am shamelessly copying from Little & Lovely.

black and white valence

I hope I can find a pattern similar to this, it’s perfect! I think the black will tie in with the random black appliances we have, as well as these prints I made.

i'm sorry but first coffee

Hopefully I will have a lot more significant progress to share next time! Shout out to everyone who posted on my sad whiny Instagram post for motivation, it definitely helped kick me back into gear!

-C

One Room Challenge: Week 3

Stuff is happening in the kitchen! I’m a little behind on the One Room Challenge schedule- week 1 was supposed to be the plan, week 2 was supposed to be progress, etc. But I had my certification exam for work right around the time I decided to be a linking participant so that kind of delayed me. I’m happy to report that I am now a Certified Cytometrist, so my weeknights and weekends are no longer taken up by studying!

Deciding to participate in the ORC has really made me take a hard look at our kitchen. We are planning a full renovation in a few years time, so when we moved into the house our goal for the kitchen was to make it bearable until then. Painting the cabinets white and updating the hardware made a huge difference, but there’s no getting around the non-standard height and overall aesthetic of the angled design. I’m still not sure if I will be able to do the Ardex overlay on the counters… I think it will look really great and make a huge difference, but not having a kitchen for the few days it will take to do it is a big deal. Looking at pictures like this from Little Green Notebook make me think it would be worth it though!

LGN Ardex counters

I’m hesitating because I don’t want to do something just for the sake of having a great “After” shot, and I need to decide if it’s really necessary as a stop-gap until we renovate it. Participating in the ORC has given me a great kick to get started on a project that I have been putting off for months, but it’s also made me a little self conscious about other people looking at my house, and I feel a bit of pressure to make it look as good as possible. We have a ton of stuff on our to-do list over the next few months, like installing carpet in the bedrooms, starting our bathroom reno, and working on the basement, so I have to think carefully about the cost:benefit of refinishing the counter tops before I dive in!

Apart from all this introspection, we have actually gotten some work done. The holes have been patched, including a rather tricky one in the bulkhead above the sink. I also got the ceiling, trim, and 3/4 of the walls painted since my last post, and it’s looking great! I had a last minute change of heart with the wall colour and took it back to HD to get adjusted, and I’m glad I did. Truth be told I wish it was darker still but this was as dark as I could get it without buying a new can. Here’s a sample kitchen from Behr painted with the colour I chose, Pale Celery.

kitchen pale celery

We also ordered in our floor tiles, and I think they are going to make a HUGE difference. Like I said, down the line we will plan a major kitchen reno, so for now we just want a more attractive alternative to the beige and rust linoleum. Peel and stick tiles fit this bill nicely and the ones we ordered are pictured below.

ceramica coastal grey vinyl tile

They are TrafficMaster Ceramica in Coastal Grey and can be used with or without grout. Now that the walls are mostly painted, I’m starting to visualize how it will look and I’m pretty excited to have it come together! If you missed out, check out my Week 1 post to see what our kitchen used to look like, and my Week 2 post for the general plan. You can also follow along in real-time(ish) for my Instagram updates @cathyatdeardiy. Be sure to check out the other week 3 posts too.

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I won’t be posting next week because I’ll be in Mexico with some of my favourite ladies. So I’ll catch up with you on Week 5!

-C