Remodeling Kitchens: Flooring
New flooring could actually be installed at any point in a remodeling project, but it should be held off as long as possible to prevent construction wear and tear.
That usually means putting the flooring in after the countertops and cabinets so they have to be shimmed up the height of the new floor to maintain a comfortable countertop height.
Dealing With Old Flooring
You can usually put a new floor over an old one if it's solid and stable. Yet, adding a new floor over an old one creates continuity problems with adjoining rooms and height problems with doors, door casing and cabinets.
Old wood floors are usually ripped out, especially if the new flooring is also wood. But old resilient floors are usually left in place.
If you're putting a new resilient floor over an old resilient floor that has an embossed surface or other surface irregularities, a new underlayment is usually required—generally a layer of 1/4" lauan plywood.
The seams and nail heads should then be covered with latex underlayment or some other non-shrinking filler and sanded smooth after it dries. Otherwise, the irregularities will transfer to the new surface and weaken the adhesive.
Installing Sheet Vinyl
Sheet vinyl installation is fairly basic, but types of adhesives are different so be sure to use whatever the manufacturer recommends.
Start the installation by making a paper template of the floor's perimeter which you can then use to cut the vinyl sheets before installation.
Heavier papers that come in fairly wide rolls like resin paper or butcher's paper work the best. Roll the paper out along the edges of the room, taping the pieces together wherever you have to turn a corner or make a seam.
TIP: Cut triangular holes in the paper with a utility knife and apply a piece of tape over the hole to hold the paper in place while making the template.
Sheet vinyl usually comes in rolls 6' wide, so there's often at least one seam in most kitchens. Cut two pieces a bit longer than the required length and overlap them a couple inches at the seam, matching any pattern exactly. Tape them together, then tape the template down over them and cut the perimeter with a utility knife.
Many types of sheet vinyl require a fully-bonded adhesive that's spread on the entire floor to secure them, and here's how to do that:
After test-fitting the pieces, fold the first one back to half it's length and spread enough adhesive to bond half of it.
Lay that part back down and embed it in the adhesive.
Fold the loose end back over the glued end, spread adhesive for that half and lay it down.
Do the same with the second sheet, allowing it to overlap the first one at the seam.
Lay a straight-edge down along the overlap, line it up with a seam in the pattern and cut down through both pieces from one end to the other.
Remove the scrap pieces, relay the edges in the adhesive and use a roller to fully bond the seam and the rest of the material.
Some vinyl only require a perimeter bonding at the edges and seams. For those vinyls, lay the sheet down so it fits well in the corners and along the edges.
Cut the seam, spread a band of adhesive under the seam and then press the edges into the seam one at a time, rolling each one thoroughly to seal the bond.
At the edges you can either use the adhesive to secure them or a staple gun along with a base molding thick enough to cover the staples.
Setting Vinyl Tile
Vinyl tile installation usually begins in the exact center of the room. Snap a chalkline between the midpoint of two parallel walls. Find the midpoint of that line and use a framing square to mark off perpendicular lines running to the other two walls.
Test fit the tiles along the lines to see if that produces an eye-pleasing layout and adjust as needed. Start in the center laying the tiles out in one of the four sections made by the layout lines, working your way toward the corner and building equally along each line and the middle of the section.
Vinyl tiles are usually sold with a self-stick backing, which is protected by paper till you're ready to go. Then you pull that off, lay the tile down and stick it to the floor.
But some tiles require a separate adhesive. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for that, spreading only enough adhesive for small sections at a time, keeping your layout lines visible and wiping the tile surface clean of any adhesive that squeezes out.
You'll likely have to cut some tiles to fit along the edges. Use a utility knife and a straight edge, but allow a gap of about a 1/4" at the walls for expansion.
Installing Wood Flooring
Wood flooring is available in both pre-finished and unfinished forms. Pre-finished products are literally done once they're installed, which is a remarkable time saver when you consider that unfinished flooring still requires sanding, sealing, staining and finish coating after it's installed.
Whether it's pre-finished or unfinished, it's typically milled in tongue and groove joints that stay relatively solid despite the expansion and contraction caused by changing weather. And most of it's designed to be nailed down to the sub-floor through the tongues with a special flooring nailer.
It can also be glued down with special flooring adhesive, which is troweled out in small sections.
But nailing is inappopriate in many cases—like if you have radiant floor heating tubes embedded in a gypsum mortar bed. That's where a "floating" wood floor works best.
The tongue and groove pieces are glued to hold together, but they're not secured to the floor. That not only protects the sub-floor (and heating tubes) from nails but allows the flooring to expand and contract unhindered during weather changes.
This method prevents buckling or shrinking at the joints. The planks are set over a plastic moisture barrier and a layer of heavy paper, although on non-radiant floors they're set over a layer of foam.
Whether it's glued or nailed, wood flooring should be laid out with straight seams because they're fairly prominent in the floor's appearance, and any problems will be apparent.
The main cause of problem seams is startingt along a wall that isn't straight. The cure for that is to measure out 30" at each end of the kitchen's longest wall and snap a chalkline between those points. That gives you a straight reference line to guide your layout.