Published at Tuesday, January 29th 2019. by Gerda Andersen in Kitchen Floors.
Using your chalk lines for reference, line up the first or starter tile. Then lay down just enough adhesive to accommodate four tiles. If you have chosen variegated tiles in contrasting colors, lay them so that the pattern in the lighter tiles are at right angles to the pattern in the darker tiles. This is called quarter-turning.
Use a professional floor filler, such as Dependable, to fill and smooth out joints in the plywood before installing the new floor. If there is not at least ½" of clearance between the existing floor and the bottom of your cabinets, you may be a candidate for a floating floor. Once the subfloor is smooth, level, and dry, you are ready to plan the layout. If you envision a more ambitious floor—using tile in historically correct 9" x 9" squares or with an inlay design, for instance—you may want to opt for sheet goods to minimize waste.
Colonial-era homeowners created beautifully inventive floors when they had the means and materials. While painted styles range from a single color to grained designs that rival complex inlaid tile floors, most treatments in kitchens were simple: a deep yet cheerful solid earth color like dark red, ochre, or green, or a checkerboard.
Homeowners were at first content to varnish their beadboard or other wooden walls, but as concerns with sanitation grew at the turn of the century they covered kitchen walls with glazed white tiles, usually 3" x 6" subway tiles. White tile was frequently used behind coal-burning ranges, where it made the wall easier to clean, so it was logical to extend the tile to the sink area. Painted or sculpted tiles played an important decorative role early in the 20th century, primarily around the fireplace, but weren't common in the kitchen until the late 1920s.
You can trace the use of brick in the kitchen to colonial times, when locally made, hand-molded pavers were typical in above-ground basements or detached summer kitchens. Brick is an unusual choice today, but at least one company has gotten around that with thin brick look-alike tiles that express an early American feel. Patterns include basketweave, running bond, herringbone, and a number of variations.
To protect a linoleum or cork floor, apply a good quality floor wax. The wax helps prevent water from entering the seams and weakening the adhesive. Clean with a vinegar and water solution. Damp-mop only to prevent water from penetrating into the seams. Since floor wax yellows over time, use a wax stripper occasionally and recoat with new wax.
Installing new vinyl, cork, or linoleum flooring in an old house usually means laying it over an existing floor. If that is the case, do not rip out the old floor if there is any chance that it contains asbestos. Instead, lay down new 3⁄8" smooth-face plywood before tackling the tiles or sheet goods (remove the kickboards from lower cabinets and scribe shallow cuts as necessary around door frames).
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