U-G-L-Y Floor: be gone!

Oh roll vinyl. Why they continue to sell this crap I haven't the foggiest idea, but this house was the worst roll vinyl offender ever. First, the stairs. The upstairs bathroom has the same stuff- but it's in fair enough shape that we decided not to mess with it at the moment. So now that the stairs are redone and the bathroom has new baseboards the biggest mess is our kitchen and front entrance.

TL; DR: TrafficMaster Ceramica is the BOMB.

Let's start with the front entrance:
This, admittedly, isn't all THAT bad in the grand scheme of things. The issue here is mainly that it IS roll vinyl, and that it's 12 years old. And yellow. It doesn't look that yellow in that picture, but believe me- it is. The pattern was also way to busy- even if those were tiles, tiles that small have one spot: the bathroom. The sheen had worn off it (cause of course nobody ever waxed it) and it generally just looked dingy. And if something is NEVER going to look clean, I have a hard time motivating myself to clean it. The same vinyl is in the kitchen/ back entrance/ pantry/ half bathroom- but in MUCH worse shape.

Hubs and I have hemmed and hawed over what to do about this floor for the last year. I've had several contractors come in and give me quotes on tile installation- and even with relatively cheap porcelain or ceramic we were looking at about four grand to have both this little front space and the kitchen space redone. OUCH. I know that doesn't sound like a ton- but for the market we're in, it is. I looked into poured concrete- and that was even worse. After consulting with our realtor, she agreed that putting that kind of money into the floor was unlikely to get us a return on our investment, although she also agreed that something really needed to be done about the ugly floor. In the event that we got unexpectedly posted out of here (always a possibility) our house really couldn't afford to be "awesome, except for that old flooring..." Remember the point of this house has always been to improve it's aesthetics, receive a big return on our investment, and be able to buy our dream house at our next posting. Could we attempt the ceramic installation ourselves? Possibly, but we weren't confident enough in our abilities to make the tricky cuts. And to get half decent tile it was still going to be close to two grand. More roll vinyl was not an option.

So long story short, around Christmas Hubs was in Home Depot and stumbled upon a display for TrafficMaster Ceramica resilient vinyl tile. Yes, that's just a fancy name for peel and stick vinyl tiles. But this stuff had something the others don't: it's groutable. That's right. Peel, stick, GROUT, and all done. He spent some time feeling the samples in the store, and then came home and made his pitch: It looks like ceramic tile when installed with grout. Even if you FEEL it it's hard to say it's not ceramic because it has actual grout lines, not printed ones. It comes in a bunch of different colours. It's able to be installed without a tile saw- just cut with scissors and utility knives. No mastic.

I went with my Mom the next day to look and sure enough- this looked like the answer to our dilemma. It's also CHEAP. Like- it'd only cost us 600$ to do the whole kitchen and front cheap. So that was our new plan: peel and stick vinyl. When I got my tax return this past year we went straight to Home Depot (which is the exclusive retailer of this stuff) and looked at colours. We decided to order the "Natural Concrete" colour (it was between this and the "Dark concrete"...but with our kitchen we thought the lighter would be better.) We chose 12x24 tiles with the intention of doing an offset brick pattern. It took six weeks to arrive.

So back to the front entrance. This was Hub's baby. He sat and measured out the space and laid it all out. He washed the floor, sanded it with high grit sandpaper (just to rough it up and make sure the sheen was REALLY off that gross old lino) and he washed it again. Yes, this stuff can be installed right over top of the old lino! Then once it was all dry the moment of truth came- and he began to peel and stick.

Peel and stick. Peel and stick. Measure, peel, and stick. There were some interesting cuts in there around the door frame (which he did with his trusty utility knife and some kitchen scissors), but for the most part all he had to do to cut them was to score and snap. So every once and a while throw a measure, score, snap, peel and stick in there. We made the executive decision to not remove the baseboards in this area because we'd just installed them last summer (with my Mom!) and there is a tricky area around the step into the living room that didn't look like it was going to come out easily. Instead we used a spacer and put a grout line around the trim and figured since we're using white grout it wouldn't be a big deal.

Here's what it looked like once it was all laid, but before we grouted. Big improvement right?! The back of the box suggests using TrafficMaster Stain Proof grout, but it's not kept in stock at Home Depot in Canada. We could order it, but we felt that was unnecessary when there was a whole aisle of grout sitting two feet away. After weighing the options we settled on Fusion Pro grout in Bright White. Fusion Pro is like the best of both worlds- it's premixed and has the working time of cement grout, but the stain, mould, and mildew resistance of epoxy grout- no part A&B to mix with only 90 mins of working time though! We felt it was the best option because it's low maintenance- no need to seal it and reseal it every two years. And in an entry way and kitchen with white grout you'd have to stay on top of the sealing or else risk lots of staining! It is a bit pricey- about twice the price of normal premixed SimpleGrout...but once we factored in the cost of the sealant and the fact that we'd have that cost (and have to remember to do it) until we sold the house, that cost quickly evaporated. Fusion Pro it was!

 And here it is grouted with the closet doors back on! Doesn't it look fantastic? It looks just like normal tile- but it cost SO MUCH LESS. And the installation took only a few hours- Hubs started at 9:30am and was done four hours later with everything cleaned up and the doors back on! And he was kind of feeling this out since it was his first time- I know the kitchen will go faster seeing as he's got the hang of it. I am so thrilled with it. I can't believe this morning it was ugly yellowed lino full of pock marks! I can't wait for the kitchen to get started since that's where the real mess is. As big a change as this is, it's going to be tenfold in the kitchen.

If you've made it to the end of this post- congratulations! You deserve a medal. Are you considering using groutable vinyl tile for your floor project? I'd love to hear about it! I'll make sure to update you all with the kitchen progress once we get that under way!

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