Our kitchen floor will have two surfaces – hardwood floor (extending from our dining room) and tile. The mix of flooring is to address the problem that the door in our kitchen acts as our main entrance. With three kids in our future, it was important to make sure we had something durable that could withstand harsh Canadian winters.
The tricky thing about our tile and hardwood combo is that the two flooring materials aren’t the same thickness, but we obviously want everything to be flush when we’re done.
The way to make this happen was to have different subfloor thickness depending on the material. When our contractor installed the subfloor, we made sure that it was installed exactly where the material changed, which is harder than it sounds because it had to be square and follow the drawings exactly.
Since the hardwood was extending from the dining room, the first step was to take out boards so we could make the transition into the kitchen seamless. We started by marking the boards so we could easily see where to cut them. We then made two long cuts in each board so we could take them out.
We did the same thing around each of the vent holes so we could also fill those in – after we supported the holes, of course!
Because we still weren’t done sanding the kitchen walls, we opted to fill in the vents first. They were not fun, and it turns out that our wood is just a hair wider than the old boards, so we also had to rip some of them so the floor didn’t buckle.
Three vent holes and a lot more sanding later, we were ready to install the hardwood in the kitchen.
First, we put down our trusty Aquabar.
The first step was to create a straight line. Our contractor had marked a straight line for us, so we simply has to measure from that line and install a piece of plywood that we could then install the floor against.
Once we had the first couple of rows in, we were able to remove the plywood and make our way across the floor. The hardest part was that ever few rows we had to rip the boards to make them slightly narrower because of the slightly wider boards.
By the end of the weekend, we had installed 13 rows, or about 2 1/2 feet. I’m hoping we can get the rest done in a weekend and a couple of weeknights.
During the week we managed to make our way towards the wall, changing directions (so we had to add a tongue to connect two groove ends) and not having to worry about ripping the boards (since they didn’t tie into the old wood). In two nights, or about 3 hours, we made it all the way!
The following weekend we went to work again, with the goal of finishing the entire floor. We tackled the hardest parts on Saturday, where the boards had to connect to the existing flooring.
The most challenging was replacing the section in the dining room where our wall used to be.
On Sunday we worked on the easier bits that didn’t tie into the old flooring. It still took us most of the day, but mostly because we were running out of flooring and had to be strategic about which boards were placed and where. We had some flexibility because a lot of the flooring was under the cabinets (or completely under the cabinets against the party wall). The hardest part was making sure the edge of the flooring was perfectly square since it needs to line up perfectly with the island.
We also had to make a straight line between the kitchen and dining room. Since the boards ended at the kitchen, we didn’t want to try to cut to the right length and instead used a router to cut a straight line after all the wood was installed.
We left the worst boards for the party wall since it will be completely covered by our cabinets. We even ran out of the new wood and had to use some old pieces from our old batch.
With the hardwood flooring installed, it’s really starting to look great!
Once the floor was installed, we had to completely clear out the first floor so Rick and his brother could come and sand and finish the floors. Alex was a trooper and brought everything either upstairs or in the basement. We had been storing the contents of our kitchen and some other large furniture on the first floor, so it wasn’t an easy feat.
There were only two things we couldn’t remove from the floor: the piano and the fridge. We moved these onto the future tile space in the kitchen and hoped that Rick could maneuver around them.
Rick came 2 weeks after the flooring was installed and took his usual 4 days to complete the sanding and finishing. It was a bit awkward trying to avoid the floors – especially with a toddler who doesn’t follow rules very well – but we managed.
When they were finished, they looked fantastic. You couldn’t even see where the old floor met the new floor! I’m so happy we went through the trouble of patching those vent holes!
Once the floors cured, we moved our living room and dining room back to their normal place. I had previously wanted to wait until everything was finished before setting up our furniture again, but given how late our project was running, we needed to compromise a bit so there would be less to do later. Also, moving furniture back onto the first floor meant that our spare room was no longer for storage and we could finally start to set up Adam’s new room!
The final flooring work required help from our contractor. I wanted to make sure that the floor was extremely strong (since any flex could result in cracked tile) and that the height of the tile was exactly the same height as the wood flooring.
In true contractor style, it took several days to install the subfloor and then the tile. We opted for concrete board as a subfloor (because of its strength).
Once the subfloor was installed, we could finally install the tile. Our contractor used a light-coloured mortar (since our tile is light and would show through) and made sure the tile cuts we optimized (so we didn’t have any little random pieces in the visible areas).
Once the tiles were installed, I carefully taped around the edges so that none of the sealant got on the hardwood or trim. I then applied a sealant to the tiles with a sponge brush. After waiting 10 minutes to let the sealant soak in, I buffed with a rag.
Next came grouting. Luckily I had grouted before, so I had some idea what I was supposed to do, but I’ve never grouted such a large area. The most annoying part was that I had to work in smaller sections and had 30-60 minutes for each area (to allow the grout to set enough to stay in the grooves). What I thought would take me a couple of hours actually took the entire day. And of course I ran out of grout right at the end, so Alex had to run to Lowe’s at 9pm to grab another bag of grout (which they luckily had in stock!).
Once the grout had dried for a couple of days, I reapplied the sealant to the entire area.
With the kitchen floor now totally done, the room is really starting to come together!