Kitchen Floor

flyingtim01October 5, 2012

I almost posted this in the flooring forum, but thought I might get some better advice over here.

We're working away on our 1910 'colonial'. In the next year we'd like to spruce up the kitchen, looks like it was done sometime in the late 60's. We're planning on refinishing the cabinets, replacing the sink and countertops, doing a new backsplash, a couple coats of paint and calling it good. Of course, that leaves the floor.

Half of the kitchen is original to the house, half is part of an addition that was added on sometime after 1910 (though not that far after, the foundation under the addition is also stone, like the foundation for the rest of the house). So there is a high spot in the floor (or rather two low spots next to it) where the original kitchen ended, over the original foundation. I don't mind having a bit of a wave in the floor, it matches the rest of the house, and I don't want to go through the trouble of trying to level it out by jacking up floor joists, etc.

So I'm left with trying to pick an appropriate floor for this old kitchen. The original side has hardwood underneath the linoleum (no subfloor) and the new-er side has the diagonal plank subfloor and then a couple layers of ratty linoleum on top of that.

I don't want linoleum, and I want to stay away from tile. Seems like without extensive work to make sure the old floors don't flex, I'd be asking for cracks in short order. I was thinking laminate, but then I don't want springy floors because of the waves.

I was also thinking about stripping the linoleum and having the original hardwood refinished, but I have no idea what to do about the other half of the room, having only the subflooring over there.

I'll take any suggestions or advice. Thanks!

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Much as I hate altering or hiding original features, you do have a problem. :) What comes to mind first is this: remove the linoleum from both sides, then spread some floor leveler in the low spots. This ought to give you a level floor, over which you could then do laminate, or more real wood.

A more complicated solution, might be to remove the linoleum, and see if the high spot where the foundation is can be sanded down even with the rest of the floor...then you could do any flooring you want over the surface.

A still more complicated method would be to remove the lino, the subfloor and part of the original wood floor, and shim the joists to get a level surface, then re-lay the subfloor and the original wood...depending on thickness, you might be able to replace the subfloor part with original wood to match your current hardwood--just have to hunt around salvage shops and re-stores.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Glue-down cork tiles? They're not really 1910, but would give you something that adheres to the wavy floor that isn't vinyl or linoleum. Of course they do best on a level surface -- like any flooring -- but are somewhat forgiving.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Thanks for the suggestions Columbusguy1. I thought about the self-leveling stuff, but I'm hesitant about putting something like that down on the original floors, in case I ever wanted to refinish them for any reason. I just don't like doing things that very difficult to un-do. How hard is that stuff to take up?

I can check and see if the high spot can be touched up at all, but the drop off is probably a full inch, to the 'original' side of the high spot.

I think before I go pulling up the original flooring, I'd sooner pull up the subfloor and replace it with more T&G to match the height of the original wood. I should upload a picture, but if you can imagine, the original wood runs lengthwise in the kitchen, perpendicular to the high spot at the foundation. I was thinking about how difficult it would be to find matching wood, so I wondering if maybe it would be a better idea to just embrace the fact that the wood will be different, and run it in the the opposite direction, parallel to the high spot. What do you think?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 2:33PM
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Rather than run replacement wood perpendicular to the existing, I'd hunt for flooring which has been removed from old buildings--there are places to buy it, and you would be likelier to find a match for what you've got. Then you can weave it into the existing. It might take a while to find, but check online and at local shops (not the big outlets).

Salvage shops, Habitat for Humanity's ReStores and perhaps millwork shops are your first stops. To do it right, don't 'settle' for something new.

I've not used the floor leveler--just seen it. My floors are all within the original structure of the house, and I am content with their slope to one side. There IS a slight hump where the center beam of the house is...but it's consistent through the house, and is generally located where you change from one room to the nice thing you can say about a foursquare. :)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 5:33PM
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Why are you shying away from linoleum? You'd be surprised at what's available these days. I put Marmoleum down in my 1922 kitchen (which was originally done in the old speckled lino), and it's wonderful. Easy to clean, feels good underfoot, available in many colors, both tile and roll. It's a green product (no petroleum products), and the color goes all the way through so there will be no wear patterns. I expect this floor to last much longer than my desire for it; if it comes up, it will be because I'm sick of it, not because there's anything wrong with it. I've seen people do marvelous things with the tiles over on the kitchens forum, making patterns and borders.

You should check it out, in any case. It couldn't hurt and you might be surprised. It's much nicer than the vinyl products that people sometimes think about when they imagine "linoleum."

Here is a link that might be useful: Marmoleum residential

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 6:03PM
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Well Columbusguy1, you should be happy with what I found over the weekend.

Our Harvest Gold dishwasher went last week, so I replaced it on Saturday. I found two things under the old one: a completely preserved mouse skeleton, and being that the dishwasher sits right on the transition from original structure to newer addition I saw that it looks like original looking hardwood extends away from the original foundation, into the newer addition.

There is one strip of wood parallel to the foundation at the division line, and then hardwood continues away from the foundation, perpendicular.

So that's what we're going to do, pull up the linoleum and remove the backing and glue (looks like steam heat is the best for that) and then I think we'll have the floors refinished, instead of tackling that ourselves. But it was a great find nonetheless! Not to mention we now have a new, fully functioning dishwasher, and I found and fixed two water leaks I didn't even know I had!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 8:41AM
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That's great news--you got very lucky with the hardwood!

I need to redo the floor in my kitchen and pantry, which is original, but extends out from the foundation just as the back porch does, so there is a hump there also. When I moved in and tore out the nasty 70s cabinets and fluorescent lighting, I should have done the floor at the same time, but didn't. Instead I put down vinyl tiles, which now are in need of removal...under them is the 70s vinyl? flooring...under that, who knows as it extended under the cabinets.

I'm hoping/knowing there is hardwood under there somewhere, with any luck it's oak to match the rest of the downstairs...but the height difference at the threshhold tells me there is at least one layer of something between the 70s tackiness and original wood. I'd like to find the wood in good shape, or even old linoleum in good shape which I could use.

With any luck at all, it won't be like the abomination I found in the bath upstairs! I bought the house in '87, the bath had nasty greyish-brown carpet, which I pulled discover it had been laid in 1969 over newspaper, then two layers of hardboard, which had been painted--one grey, the other pink...under that, wood, but in bad shape, so I had no choice but to cover it with substrate and black and white checkered vinyl.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 3:44PM
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That does sound like an abomination. Not sure why anyone ever thought carpeting in a bathroom was a good idea. Of course, our upstairs bathroom has ancient linoleum on it as well, so who know what we'll find under that, when we get to that project.

I'm going to have to think about what to do about that hump. It's pretty pronounced.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:25PM
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