Vinyl Flooring Removal

The little house on Sunnybrook Lane was built as a rental home, and so all components were chosen to be durable and serviceable, appealing to a wide variety of potential residents, and fairly easy to care for.  The flooring was no exception.  When installing the original carpets and vinyl floors in 1993, Jeff had no idea the resident renter would live there for decades; this renter was perfectly content with the original flooring, which had held up incredibly well, but this remodel is about updating the space to create a modern, chic home that will hold us well as a new couple.  Out with the old, in with the new–including the materials underfoot!  

While we’re not going for a house that looks like a ballroom, we want it to be as multifunctional as possible, becoming a dance hall when we want to Lindy Hop, a yoga studio or massage retreat for relaxing self-care, and a great place to cook and entertain always.

The flooring we choose for Sunnybrook Lane will have to serve a variety of needs.  It should be durable enough to withstand dancing and entertaining, comfortable enough to practice yoga on, pretty enough to feel “homey,”  yet modern enough to go with the look we are creating.  It must be resistant to water, to hold up to kitchen and bathroom use. Our floors ideally will complement the existing cathedral ceiling woodwork and the cabinets we’ve chosen. Because we like to travel and entertain, we want floors that are low-maintenance to keep us focused on our priorities. As with our painting, we’d like a consistent look in our flooring throughout the house, so will utilize just one floor choice.  Price is also a consideration, as we want to keep this entire remodel (inside and out) to $50k–without sacrificing quality.

Though we both like the cozy feel of good carpet underfoot, especially on cooler days or when doing yoga or floor massages, neither of us is keen on carpet maintenance.  We based our decision on a single flooring for Sunnybrook Lane on how much we liked the concept at a rental apartment we had in Fargo North Dakota, a modern unit with a laminate that mimicked a gray wood floor.  If we decide we need plush carpets, we can always add area rugs, but for now, we are more concerned with continuity, ease of use–and having our own personal dance floor, wherever in the little house we choose to dance!

Old vinyl flooring in kitchen and baths.

The first job in this part of the project was removing all the vinyl flooring, an arduous task to say the least. Jeff bore the brunt of the grunt work on this one, while Lisa acted as chief garbage hauler and dumpster-loader. The vinyl was attached to a 1/4-inch underlayment then nailed to the subfloor; both those layers needed to go, to give us a smooth surface to lay our new flooring.

Utilizing the tools we had on hand, the easiest method we came up with for removing this layer was to use a mallet to pound the end of a scraper. Working as a team, Jeff got the scraper under the old flooring, lifted, while Lisa tugged, pulled, and broke off pieces as they were freed.

Before taking out the vinyl in the kitchen, we needed to remove the metal strips holding down the adjoining carpeting. Everything in the way had to go, including some molding in the closets we had tried to save, and the old kitchen island which we shuffled into a corner to use as a tool station. Once we had cleared the way, the real work could begin, ripping through the largest patch of vinyl. In total, we ripped out about 500 square, which took us a solid three hours.

A sweaty, messy job!

As we pulled out the flooring in kitchen and master bath, some remnants of water damage were revealed on the sub-floor. To counteract any possible mold growth, we soaked the affected wood with a bleach solution, let it dry completely, then sealed it with a layer of Kilz mold-blocking paint for good measure.

Warding off possible mold growth where water had leaked under kitchen sink

We met dancing; our “happy place” is wherever we can dance to great blues music; might as well make our home the happiest place of all! We’ll incorporate our love of dance into our home design by putting larger items such as the kitchen island on casters (to roll outta the way for dance nights!), avoiding “over-furnishing” the main living spaces (less to waltz around), and building a whole-house music system over time. Since dancing is great fun with a crowd, we also must choose a durable floor which can withstand some traffic without too much maintenance.

Dancing on the beach at Costa Rica Blues Festival

We thought through how our home would accommodate our other passions in the same way, considering how layout and materials would contribute or detract from our enjoyment of yoga, massage, cooking and entertaining. We determined through our research that, for our goal budget range, a vinyl laminate flooring designed for DIY’ers is a great option.

After we completely rid our little Sunnybrook home of vintage 90’s vinyl, we went to work on the carpet-removal, which we’ll cover in a separate post. We’ll update as we go along, sharing any hiccups, hints, or tricks we pick up along our way to pretty new floors at Sunnybrook Lane!  Stay tuned…

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