When I invited the health inspector over last fall for a pre-inspection (basically to tell me what he would require I do, to convert my garage into a kitchen), the list was pretty sparse. NSF (commercial) rated appliances, sealed walls/floors, nothing out of the ordinary. Get rid of the overhead door (gahhhh not loving that requirement, but he was concerned about overhead doors dropping leaves and who knows what kind of creepy crawlies. Fair enough, just gahhhhhhh all the same though.). But about those floors….. after considering a few different options, I decided to DIY a vinyl tile floor.
Considering that the pastry kitchen is in our garage, and has a solid sealed-concrete floor, it didn’t come as a big surprise that my health inspector wanted to see something done with the floor. Mainly because as it, it was a huge slipping hazard (sealed concrete, when wet, is like a skating rink!), plus there were a few hairline cracks, typical of building foundations.
Originally, I was going to just paint/re-seal the floor and call it a day. Seems easiest, but once I started reading about it, this easy&cheap solution had its’ drawbacks. Lots of drawbacks. Most painted surfaces needed several days to cure before moving furniture back on, and given the time of year that it is (April shower season!), I have to keep everything inside under cover. So moving half the stuff outside to paint to do the floor, then waiting, then sealing, then waiting, then repeat on the second half. So much time. Coupled with the fact that standing on solid concrete for hours on end is so hard on backs and knees…. Not to mention, painting must be done about 10 degrees celsius and when first thinking about this, it was still far below freezing outside, so the floors were also pretty chilly. I went on to look at other options.
When bouncing ideas off my dad over backyard-patio beers on our Arizona trip a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he once installed vinyl tiles in a guest house he built, and how that just might be the perfect solution. Easy to install, lightweight, cheap, waterproof….I was intrigued. Day 2 after talking about them, I ordered about 800sq ft of tiles, to have them ready for me when we arrived home.
The process to install them was actually pretty quick – and it was satisfying. Big changes in a short time. Here’s how it went down:
- Measure width of room. Mark the centre. Do this on both ends, and snap a chalk line connecting marked centre point and the matching one across the room. Then do this with the other two walls.
2. Once having the two lines snapped, you have an X at the very centre of the room.
Choose which quadrant you are going to start with, and clean it well. Reallllllllly really well. I swept, then vacuumed, then Swiffer wet-jetted. Then before I did each line of tile, I would scrub it well with hot soapy paper towel, rinse off, and let dry. Super tedious but important, as you need the tiles to stick to the concrete, not to the dirt.
Lay your tiles out on the border of quadrant #1. If any of the pieces that are going to be cut at the edges are too skinny, now is the time to move the whole thing over a bit. Mine were fine (my cut pieces were about 5″).
Time to commit! Stick down tile #1, right on that centre chalk line. (Since I was cleaning the floor really well, I went along with my sharpie and drew little dots marking along my chalk line.)
The tiles all have arrows on the back. Choose one wall and make sure all arrows point in the same directions. I had everything point to the big wall at the back. I’m not sure why this is important, but when I read and read (and read some more) about how to lay this floor, this is important.
Once that first L shape is carefully adhered, adding the rest is easy. Choose a tile, check which way the arrow points, then remove the paper and pull it tight into the corner between the two tiles already placed. Once it is down, use a rolling pin and really put some weight onto that tile.
As for the recommended pattern, it is suggested online to do it in steps, slowly closing in on the open corner. So my first ‘row’ had two tiles, my next had three, and so on.
About those edges… they are easy to cut to size. Here is the edge gap I had at the far wall.
Simply slide a tile over the gap (paper in place), and then use another tile (also with paper in place) to match the two corners up. This is your straight edge.
Like this! Draw along the line several times, and then the cut tile will snap easily along the scored line. This is easiest if no baseboards are up yet, but I made it work for places with existing baseboards too (and just caulk along the seam after).
Quadrant #1 is finished!
To start on quadrant #2, just lay the tiles extending from the room’s centre point. After those are done, then start the stepping pattern all over.
Behind the scenes shot: All my equipment and work benches stayed inside, out of cover. I just had to move things around as I made it to each quadrant.
Finishing up quadrant #2
Quadrants #3 and #4 were done quite late at night, the night before my visiting inlaws left to head home. Had to take advantage of the childcare while we had it! The next day, in the daylight, here is the final floor with everything moved back into place. So much cleaner and nice for the kids to be able to hang out in there with my while I work.
The finished product, from one wall to the other! (It is still very much a construction zone, so final reveal won’t be for a few weeks still. But hey, at least there is a floor now!)