A kitchen floor is generally judged on two counts: how it looks and how much maintenance it needs. If you’re selling the house, your kitchen floor should look more or less new. As with countertops, old scars and stains on a floor are not only unsightly but can also be unsanitary. If you think it might be time to replace your kitchen floor, consider installing sheet vinyl, vinyl tiles, or laminate planks. These all rank near the bottom of the price scale and are right at the top of the low-maintenance list.
Vinyl Flooring Fixes
Vinyl flooring is the most popular type of resilient flooring (flat-surface flooring that is soft underfoot) thanks to its relatively low cost, superb water and stain resistance, and excellent dutabiliry. It’s also one of the easiest and cheapest types of flooring to install.
There are two types of vinyl flooring: sheet vinyl, which comes in big rolls and is (ideally) laid in one continuous piece, and vinyl tiles or planks-individual pieces laid in a pattern and stuck to the subfloor with glue or self-adhesive backing. Sheet vinyl runs between $.50 and $5 per square foot, depending on thickness, construction, and complexiry of the design. Vinyl tiles and planks range between $.25 and $4.50 per square foot, depending on those same factors.
Linoleum is another well-known resilient flooring. It has been around since the late 1800s and is an all-natural product, made with linseed oil, sawdust, cork, and other organic materials. Real linoleum has the right qualities for the kitchen and is now available in a range of appealing colors and patterns, but installing sheet linoleum is a job for professionals. Plank and tile linoleum are similar in price to vinyl and are DIY-friendly, but vinyl remains the most popular flooring for its all-around excellent characteristics.
Sheet vinyl is more durable and has a higher quality look than most vinyl tiles. This is because the seams in tile can be gathering places for dirt and grime, and can allow water to infiltrate and compromise the adhesive bond between tile and floor. The main advantage, however, is that individual tiles are easy to replace and the initial installation is also easier.
Damaged sheet vinyl can be patched, but not without leaving visible seams. Vinyl tiles can loosen at the edges and curl up, but you can simply replace the affected pieces. Repairs for both conditions are shown on page 25. Ideally, you or the previous owner had the foresight to save extra tiles for this purpose. If not, bring a sample of the flooring with you to local flooring stores to see if they can match it.
How to Replace a Vinyl Tile
Step 1 Heat the damaged tile with a heat gun set on low or medium, or an iron on top of a dishtowel. When the tile and adhesive are soft enough, pry up the tile with a putty knife or a 5-in-l painter’s tool. Let the adhesive cool and harden, then scrape it up so that the underlayment is clean and smooth.
Step 3 Roll the replacement tile with a J-roller, working from the center of the tile toward the seams to avoid trapping air bubbles. Clean up any excess glue that squeezes out at the seams. Let the adhesive cure completely before walking on the tile.
Tip You don’t have to replace a tile that is just curling at one edge. Heat the affected area with a heat gun until tile and adhesive are soft. Carefully pull up the loose edge and scrape out the old adhesive and any accumulated dirt. Use a putty knife to apply vinyl tile adhesive to the back side of the tile, then press the tile back into place. Clean up any excess adhesive from the edges following the manufacturer’s directions. Roll with a J-roller and place a weight on the tile until the adhesive cures completely.