Rehabing or replacing a kitchen floor on the cheap
June 10, 2010 10:23 AM   Subscribe

How can I rehab or replace my gross kitchen floor for under $500? (Manhattan specific)

I have an eat-in kitchen with some sort of 12" linoleum/vinyl tiles. They are about 20 years old and glued down. They are terracotta in color, and look like 6" tiles with dark gray grout. The finish is fairly matte, and whatever they are made of is pretty sturdy. Currently, the floor looks horrible.

The bad:
- The finish has worn off unevenly in the most heavily traveled areas, leaving a much lighter area through the center of the kitchen. This makes the darker areas look permanently dirty (and makes me crazy). I've attacked this with various solvents, scrubbers, and magic erasers... no luck.
- The kitchen was recently painted, and the painters dripped and tracked paint all over the floor. It's white latex interior paint and/or primer, and I have also tried to scrub this off without much luck.
-We live in a rent controlled unit, and our landlords will do only what is legally necessary as far as renovations go. Without going into much detail, we don't really want to get into a battle with them over this, even though the painters they hired made the situation much worse.

The good:
-The floor is in good repair over all. The tile is secure, even, and there are no major gouges or scratches.
-Once we leave the apartment, it will be gut renovated, so it doesn't matter what we do to the floor as far as the landlords are concerned.
-The floor solution only needs to look good for the next 2-3 years.

The specs:
-L-shaped, roughly 200 square ft, but with large number of cut-out and irregular spaces (counters, sink, stove, fridge, washer, dryer, nooks and crannies)
-My budget is $500. I am willing to do some labor myself, but I am not up for moving major appliances, or doing meticulous tile cutting.
- We are somewhat messy people with animals, so the floor must be easy to clean.

My first instinct was to just have some cheap sheet linoleum put down, but I just got an estimate and the labor alone was $450. Maybe this is a gouge... so if you have recs in Manhattan (UWS) please let me know.

My partner refuses to even think about rugs (even synthetics, which we have in other areas of the apt) with the exception of something that could be easily mopped. Does such a thing exist?

My other thought was some sort of paint... but I'm not sure what would work. I've painted wood floors in the past, but did not use the correct paint, so they looked horrible after a year. Has anyone had a good outcome painting vinyl flooring?

Open to any other ideas (although resources must be available in NYC area). Thanks!
posted by kimdog to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How about a work mat specifically designed for kitchens? Not sure how it'd fit in, and whether it would just make things worse, but at least your feet would be comfortable!
posted by supercres at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

on eHow. I figure it would be a matter of properly priming before and sealing after. Paint's what I would do. Maybe make it look like distressed concrete?
posted by cross_impact at 10:36 AM on June 10, 2010

IKEA click-lock laminate flooring? I've never done it myself (but have been eyeing it for a guest bedroom and a tool room). They're always advertising it for $.70/sq foot. That's pretty labor intensive, though.

I put down self-stick cheap black & white linoleum tiles down when i had a similar issue, but they weren't meant for the heavy traffic of my kitchen and scratched easily and got dirt in the scratches after a year (i'm pretty hardcore into making a mess in the kitchen, though). Did the whole kitchen in a weekend for $250 and it looked better than the terribly stained dirty tile that was down before.
posted by kpht at 10:40 AM on June 10, 2010

maybe cover everything with ikea flooring? seems to be pretty affordable, given your budget and requirements.
posted by lia at 10:40 AM on June 10, 2010

posted by lia at 10:41 AM on June 10, 2010

I know this is a completely "out-there" suggestion, but what about vinyl wallpaper? Get the stuff for bathrooms, and stick it to the floor. Cuts easily to fit in wierd-shaped spots, is waterproof and easily cleaned. If you get sick of it, stick down another pattern. If it gets scuffed or cut, stick down another pattern. If you get sick of the colour, stick down another pattern. In three years, move out, and it's someone else's mess to clean up.
posted by LN at 10:49 AM on June 10, 2010

Response by poster: supercres- work mats are a great idea! especially since the worse-looking area is the galley style kitchen work space. I'd completely forgotten those existed.

cross-impact- thanks for the basic how to. Painting my first instinct, too, and I'm hoping someone with first-hand experience will chime in

re: ikea flooring... I love the look of that, but I think all of the irregularities of the space, combined with lots of heavy appliances (that I don't want to move) will make this impractical. There is a riser pipe, two soffits, and other "charming" details of a 100 year old apartment that would require lots of special cut work, which is a type of task that I find particularly oppressive.
posted by kimdog at 10:55 AM on June 10, 2010

Check out the Do It Yourself Network site. Has good tips/instructions. Labor is doable with a commitment mentally on your part. (I linked to laminate floor install, but they have lots of other options.)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:02 AM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: There are these vinyl planks which look surprisingly good, and are very easy to install, just need a ruler and a carpet cutter. If the old tiles are pretty flat with not a lot of surface irregularities, these should work well. They come in many different finishes, and some look better than others, with the better ones being difficult to apart from real wood. At the Home Depot price they would be in your price range.
posted by newpotato at 11:03 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I vote for the brown paper bag floor. Sounds funny but they actually come out looking almost like stone or leather.
posted by heatherly at 11:12 AM on June 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Home depot traffic master vinyl plank flooring. It is AWESOME. Durable, waterproof, attractive, available in a range of finishes, only $1.79/ sq ft and a monkey could install it. All you need for tools are a square and a good utility knife.
posted by fshgrl at 11:22 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about just covering the floor with new 12" vinyl tiles? There are some that don't look horrible (parquett flooring, faux marble) and they are cheap and easy to clean. You cut around edges/corners with regular (sharp) scissors. I once covered an entire apartment's sheet vinyl which was in horrible shape and always looked dirty with new 12" vinyl tiles and it looked pretty good.
posted by TishSnave at 11:27 AM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: I painted the linoleum stair treads in our house and have painted the vinyl tiles in our cabin. It can be done and it wears pretty well. The back stair treads are used daily by Mr Jane and myself and our 2 45# dogs - I can go for about 3 years before it starts to look like I need to paint again.

The cabin, while is only used sporadically as a vacation house, has the same dog traffic and the floor is in the kitchen/dining room. A lot of sand gets tracked in on the floor, despite my best efforts at matting, so I think I can safely say that both floors see pretty hard wear.

- Scrub/wash the floor with TSP (tri soduim phosphate) and rinse first.
- Use "porch and floor" paint. I got mine at my local hardware store and they will tint it to your color requirements. In both instances, I was trying to mimic old linoleum, so I used a sponging technique with a 2-3 colors to replicate the mottled effect. The bonus to the mottled look is that it hides dirt like a champ.
- Seal the floor (I don't seal the back stairs) with 2-3 coats of a water-based polyurethane. I used this one. I just poured the sealer on the floor and then spread it around with a paint roller on a stick. I saved the roller for each subsequent coat of sealer, but then tossed the roller cover when I was done.

I should also mention that when I mottled the colors together, one of the paint colors happened to be the color of the floor that I was painting over. I think this helps a lot in terms of hiding any wear.

Good luck!
posted by sarajane at 11:30 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

TishSnave has it! It is very easy to lay new peel and stick 12" vinyl over the old floor. You can do it yourself.
posted by lee at 11:33 AM on June 10, 2010

The top layer of no-wax flooring peels off with age, causing this horrid mess. If you paint a non-smooth surface, it will not be smooth, and the remaining no-wax layer may not accept paint well. You can get peel-n-stick cork or vinyl tiles in that budget. Or make painted floor cloths and take them with you when you go.

Vinyl is a really toxic material, so I discourage you from adding more of it for a short time. Cork is pretty green, nice underfoot, etc.
posted by theora55 at 11:33 AM on June 10, 2010

Either the peel and stick tile, or the trafficmaster allure plank flooring mentioned above. We've done almost our entire house in the trafficmaster stuff. It holds up better than the peel and stick, even with our (2 large and 1 giant) dogs. It's also waterproof, unlike laminate, and cleans up very easily. It's easy to install and you can just cut it with a utility knife.
posted by thejanna at 12:18 PM on June 10, 2010

Response by poster: Such fabulous ideas... most all of these are winners, but the ones I picked best are the ones that will be easiest and less crazy-making for me. In particular, I'm loving the paper-bag floor idea... it's the kind of menial labor I like to do (having decoupaged before), seems forgiving, and easily solves my cutting-to-fit issues. And is super duper cheap. Yeah... it's sort of a half-ass solution that I would never do in a place I owned, but it seems perfect for my current situation!
posted by kimdog at 12:27 PM on June 10, 2010

We just had our 15+ yo VCT (vinyl composite tile) floor fully refinished for $175 and it looks brand new. We had the same wear patterns and matte finish issues and just hated the floor but it was in good shape so replacing it wasn't at the top of our list. Then a contractor gouged it moving the fridge and paid for 4 replacement tiles and refinishing... The floor guy came and polished down the whole floor, replaced the damaged tiles and put 4 layers of high gloss finish on it and in a matter of hours and for less than $200 it looks like we have a brand new floor. If you can live with a high gloss version of your existing tiles (vinyl or linoleum) I'd go this route. Low cost, takes only a few hours (plus a few more to cure) and no new materials needed and no disposal costs for ripping out old stuff. Call up some local floor refinishing folks and get an estimate.
posted by rosebengal at 1:51 PM on June 10, 2010

Workmats are also available at Costco. Not that brand, but pretty much the same thing but Costco prices!
posted by spec80 at 8:14 PM on June 10, 2010

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