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Why We Chose Vinyl Flooring for Our Kitchen (Instead of Wood or Laminate)

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My name is Sarah. After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes I decided to share my story to help other women.

There are several different options for flooring in a kitchen: tile, wood, laminate, vinyl, and even some less common options like cement or bamboo. When you hear vinyl, you may be like me and think of that crap you see in new construction homes. And that is what you would have seen before we redid our floor.

There are really two types of vinyl flooring, though: normal vinyl flooring and luxury vinyl flooring. The normal type is the stuff you see in big rolls like carpeting. The kind that everyone suggests having installed by a professional. That is what we had before. Now we have luxury vinyl. If you saw luxury vinyl in the store, you would assume it was laminate. They stick luxury vinyl on pieces of wood, so it feels like the latter does when you put it down on the floor. But if you saw a "raw" piece, you would see how "flimsy" and flexible it really is.

What Kind of Luxury Vinyl Flooring Did We Choose?

The flooring we went with is only 3 mm thick. It is very light-colored and looks like wood panels. Each panel is 4 feet long and 6 inches wide.

With luxury vinyl, there are three installation types: glue down, click, and quick (which is similar to click). We chose the glue down type, simply because the color we wanted was only available in that installation type. Life would have been easier (or at least cleaner) with one of the other types. However, the price for the product increases based on product thickness and how easy it is to install.

Out of all options, the vinyl is the easiest to take care of and maintain.

Why Did We Choose Luxury Vinyl Instead of Other Options?

Here are the main reasons why we chose luxury vinyl flooring instead of some of the other options (such as wood, tile, or laminate):

  1. We live in Nebraska, and tile flooring does not really work great because of how cold it gets there. Also, the installation would have been a pain in the butt. (Little did we know that we'd basically be doing the same thing with the vinyl.)
  2. Out of all options, vinyl is the easiest to take care of and maintain.
  3. The guy at the local warehouse store—he was a friend of a friend, so I knew I could trust him—said that he would go with wood as his first choice. But he also said that vinyl would be his second choice and that it would hold up better in five years than laminate.
  4. I wanted something that looked like wood without the work that is required to keep wood looking good.

Additionally, after doing all my research, I discovered that the price for the various flooring types—after accounting for materials and other costs—would have ended up being very similar. So in the end, the cost was not really a big factor.

How We Installed Our Vinyl Flooring

Since our house is relatively new construction, the kitchen was made with crappy vinyl, and the attached dining room was carpeted. Talk about annoying. So when we decided to redo the floor, we of course planned to take the carpet out too. Little did we know what we were in for.

Digging Up the Carpet and Finding an Unfortunate Surprise

Anyone who knows anything about houses would know that carpet has to have padding underneath, and this padding would make that layer a lot thicker than a 1 mm cheap vinyl floor.

So what to do? Well, build up a subfloor under the vinyl flooring of course! So when we ripped out the carpet, what did we find? The flooring under the carpet was lower than the vinyl floor. And then, of course, the subfloor under the vinyl was also under the cabinets, and the vinyl flooring had been glued down.

This meant that we had to go back to the store for more materials to build up the floor that had been under the carpet so that it would be the same height.

Putting in the subfloor where the carpet used to be.

Putting in the subfloor where the carpet used to be.

How We Installed the Subfloor

Luckily, they had just the right height of flooring that we needed! Except that it didn't count in the extra height of the vinyl flooring. So we decided to go ahead and install the subfloor under the kitchen, and then use some kind of self-leveling cement to finish the job.

The subfloor went in surprisingly easy. You make sure it is cut right, you glue it down, and then you finish it off with the nail gun. We were all impressed with our work. The self-leveling cement, however, was an entirely different story.

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Why Spreading the Cement Completely Level Is Important

The mixing of the cement was pretty easy. Though I would advise that you get it more liquid-like than you think it should be because it needs to be super thin to spread. As long as you follow the directions, the mixing should be easy—and applying it wasn't that hard. But it turned out to not go quite as smoothly as we planned.

Honestly, I'm not sure what we really did wrong. We spread it out a foot on each side of the level difference. But I guess our flooring was more uneven in places than we initially predicted. If I had to do it all over again, I would have paid someone $100 (or $200) to do the job for us—or maybe even not have done it at all.

The bumpiness is mostly due to light and not our error. You can see the 100-lbs roller on the left there.

The bumpiness is mostly due to light and not our error. You can see the 100-lbs roller on the left there.

How We Laid Down the Vinyl Flooring

After we were done with the cement, it looked and felt pretty fine. So we went ahead with the job. Did I mention how they recommend that once the flooring is delivered to your house—no matter what type of flooring you go with—that you let it sit in the desired room for three days to acclimate to the environment? So after a bit of waiting, we finally got started.

Putting down the flooring took a lot of annoying cuts. It says on the package that you can cut the flooring with a box cutter, but that is a big, fat lie. I mean, you can use just a box cutter if you can bench press your own weight, or you have a $300 box cutter that also cuts diamonds. Eventually, we just ended up taking out the jigsaw instead.

The gluing and placement were not too bad, just a bit messy. We had three people working on the job, so teamwork helped considerably. They recommend that you don't walk on it for 24 hours, so you have to plan accordingly. We also used the 100-lbs roller that they recommended, and I think that was crucial. Not a lot of home stores rent them, though. (So you might need to do some extended searching to find a place that does.)

How We Felt About the Project

So in the end, we have a beautiful, new, "wood-looking" floor that has some bumps due to our uneven laying of the self-leveling cement. The glue was coming up in a few spots, but after a few weeks, it seems to have settled. I am liking it more and more as I get used to the bumps.

I was told by a friend that the bumps would not have been so obvious had we chosen a luxury vinyl that was installed using the click or quick system, since gluing the vinyl down revealed every little imperfection in the subfloor. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, you might want to keep that in mind.

How Much Did All the Materials Cost?

After searching for materials at the big box home stores and some local places, we actually went with a local warehouse, which apparently just serves contractors or big businesses. Fortunately, I work for one of these big businesses, so I got to take advantage of the deal.

Here is a quick breakdown of our materials and their costs:

  • Luxury vinyl flooring: $2.43 per square foot
  • Glue: $35
  • Jigsaw: $40
  • Subflooring materials: $50
  • Floor roller rental: $26
  • Cement leveling: $50
  • Labor: $0 :)

The total cost of the entire project: $801

Again, the wood looks a bit warped, but it is just the lighting.

Again, the wood looks a bit warped, but it is just the lighting.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Sarah


Glen Rix from UK on September 10, 2016:

I recently installed sheet vinyl over floorboards in my kitchen. Luckily it was without the problems that you experienced. I'm amazed that you bought yours so cheaply. Here in the UK I paid £17.99 per sq.m.

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