Throwing it down-VCT installation
Well, NOT throwing it down, not even close! This project will take time and patience to get it right.
First things first: When doing any flooring project, use knee pads. I learned my lesson when I laid this plywood mosaic floor in my living room- knee pads are a must to preserve those oh-so necessary and much-used joints! (The plywood floors were inspired by Vintagerevivals.com)
To refresh, I had dry-laid the VCT tile and liked how the random "pattern" looked. To ensure that all tiles aligned correctly, the floor had to be completed prior to installing the island. Soooo, I had to take up all the tile and vacuum the subfloor again to remove any debris. I Put the tiles in piles so I could recreate this exact look but I messed that up early into the actual installation and had to just wing it! (Spoiler alert, it all worked out in the end.)
I had already purchased the correct adhesive (and trowel!) for VCT installation so I took a deep breath and went to work, one area at a time. The adhesive has to cure for a time before you can lay tile giving my anxiety more time to build. I was nervous about getting the first line of tile down correctly- I had already decided to do a diagonal layout (nothing like making things difficult for myself, right?) so getting the first row down included a row of cut tile along a large wall in the kitchen. If this went well, I figured the rest of the kitchen would be a breeze. Not quite, but my confidence rose as I worked.
I managed to take some photos as I went along, documenting my progress and the alignment of the tile. It wasn't always perfect and I had to pull a few up and reset them to be sure they all fit together correctly. The variation in the blue and grey tiles was created by flipping the tiles over- I noticed that one side was slightly different and liked the dimension it gave to the design. The willow green tiles are used sparingly for variation and subtle pop of color. Me like-y!
Here's a shot of the floor MOSTLY done and at least two days into this project-the stove and the fridge will have to be pulled out to tile underneath but these tiles will have to set first for several days. I tried to be tidy and clean as I went, you can see a pile of small cut pieces and the tools used for partial tiles- heat gun, box cutter and straight-edge. I would recommend wearing heat gloves when working with the heat gun and box cutter- keep your finger tips safe! Warming the tile makes it infinitely easier to trim the tile or make detailed cuts. I tried to undercut the wood newell so that I could simply slide a tile underneath it but couldn't cut all the way back so that tile fit bothers me.... harrumph! It's very important to use a tile roller after the tile is laid- it has 3 canisters that weigh 100 pounds and as you roll it across the floor, it ensures good adhesion and squeezes out any air pockets or bubbles. (I rented that tool three times from Home Depot.)
About a week later, the tile was completely cured (including under the appliances) and I rented a floor buffer/polisher from Home Depot. If you don't have the proper tools for a job you would like to do, instead of purchasing the tool, check to see if you can rent it! Sometimes the cost of renting a tool for a long-term project isn't as cost-effective as buying it but since I'm only using this for a day, renting is best. When renting this tool, you have to purchase the buffing/polishing pads but after use, clean and store them for future use. I figure that I'll want to do a deep buff/polish once a year so I'm set! I also purchased the recommended Armstrong cleaner (Once 'N Done) and polish to finish this job- here's the first pass buffing the floor using the red pad. Next, use the finer white pad to smoooooth the tiles and remove any remaining rough spots.
Using a floor buffer/polisher is tricky at first- if you try to man-handle it, it will simply swing to your left, swing to your left, swing to your left. Yes, I wrote that 3 times because it happened to me- my first few attempts had me so frustrated, I was ready to cry! Trust me on this- stubborn genes run strong in my family (I prefer to call it independence) so I tried again and lo and behold, I figured it out! The trick is to ensure that the rotating pad is completely flat on the floor and then you can easily move it back and forth across the tiles. When I (finally) let the machine do the work, buffing and polishing was a breeze. When the floor is dry you can apply the top shine coat and this is when magic happens. : )
Follow the directions on the Armstrong Polish (Shine Keeper) and and voila! Here's how the floor looks- SO pretty and shiny! The tile is retro and modern at the same time- the material has history but the "pattern" design keeps it from looking dated.
I love it and think it was worth the time and effort it took. I also love all the open space but I must move on to installing the island... maybe in a day or two.... I want to enjoy this lovely floor for a while. *Sigh*
All told, this floor cost me about $2.25/square foot- nice! The breakdown: tile $120, adhesive $15, tools $9, tile roller rental $50 (rented it 3 times), floor buffer rental $55, buffer pads $12 and floor cleaner & polish $15. The time and effort I put into this project is, naturally, priceless but the satisfaction of seeing the finished product is worth it!!! VCT may not be the best choice for everyone but it suits me and my kitchen perfectly : )