Flooring in any renovation makes such a bold statement! It really sets the tone for the rest of the renovation, and I couldn’t wait to get started. Well, it turns out that installing the kitchen flooring was going to be one heck of a rollercoaster ride. Ready to hear how it all went down??
My Kitchen Flooring: The Before
When we first bought this house, I actually kind of liked the kitchen floors. They seemed to be in good shape, and the style meshed with the original hardwood in other areas.
But, as time went on, that opinion changed. A lot. The quality of the floors was pretty low, and they started to show some wear and tear. There were several dings and old stains that wouldn’t go away.
Plus, as my style started to evolve, they were quickly left behind and I no longer cared for the look. While I was upgrading the rest of my kitchen, I figured this was a definite to-do!
Demoing the Kitchen Flooring and Finding a Surprise
I was really nervous to start demo-ing the kitchen floors. My house is 80+ years old, and you just never know what you’re going to find. I wore protective gear, including gloves and a facemask, then started carefully peeling up the floors, starting in the hallway that leads to the kitchen.
Luckily, they came up REALLY easy, so that was a win. As I started to pull up the hallway floors though, I noticed what looked like original hardwood peaking through. I didn’t want to get too excited, but of course, I was. Who doesn’t love finding original hardwood?!
Bracing myself, I then slowly started to lift the underlayment to find some black and grey material all over the floors. I had no idea what it was, but I assumed it was an old underlayment that disintegrated into the flooring. I let it be and continued demoing the floors, knowing I’d come back to it.
Next, I moved on to the main part of the kitchen and again wasn’t sure what I was going to uncover. It ended up being a glued-down funky linoleum. Luckily you can install vinyl planks over top of linoleum, so I didn’t need to also remove that.
The next difficult spot was removing the flooring around the cabinets I built. I obviously wasn’t going to remove the cabinets, so I had to cut the flooring around the bases using my multitool. It was pretty tough haha. But, eventually, I got it out.
As I continued to demo, I found more of the “melted” grey and black stuff in my entryway. This of course had me questioning what it really was because there wasn’t hardwood under this section. After quite a bit of googling, I found that it was most likely black mastic and/or felt. There are ways to remove this. However, given the year of my house, there was a very high likelihood that it contained…ASBESTOS!
You can imagine my panic and sadness at this realization. I decided not to get it tested because it can take weeks and I didn’t want to wait or pay the cost to have it tested. Because it’s a small area, I did try to see how difficult it would be to remove it on my own. The danger of asbestos comes when the particles become airborne, so if you can keep it wet and scrape it, you can contain it. I tried a small section, and while some of it came off easily, it was embedded in the wood grain. There was no way to safely remove it without having to also sand it.
So, I decided it would need to be covered up. I was heartbroken. But, I wanted to be safe, and I know it’s not safe for my husband or myself, our cats, or any future children crawling or playing in the hallway.
You’d think this was the end of the rollercoaster ride. But, we’re just getting started.
Installing – Take 1
When I decided I was re-doing my kitchen floors, it seemed that the obvious choice would be to use the same flooring I used in my bathroom. I mean, it’s gorgeous flooring, and the two rooms are connected by the hallway I just mentioned. So, it would flow perfectly.
Unfortunately, the price went up quite a bit (nearly a dollar a square foot), but I figured it would be worth it, so I ordered my boxes. Plus, I still had some leftovers from the bathroom which would save me a little.
Five days after I placed my order, the floors arrived, and I started installing them. I started with the leftover pieces, then started working my way into the new boxes. Because of the weight of the boxes (nearly 70 lbs each), I only opened one box at a time. As I got to my second box, I started to notice that a lot of them were damaged. Unfortunately, when you’re installing click-and-lock flooring, any little ding in the locking system means the flooring likely won’t install properly. I attempted to install three pieces, and none of them would work.
This had me concerned about the state of the rest of the boxes. I opened the remaining four, and guess what. Every single piece was damaged. That means 75% of my order was unusable. I was crushed. I had been working on these floors little by little for three days and was finally at the final day of the installation and was ready to knock it out. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.
So, I contacted the manufacturer (Cali) and asked them if I should work through them or through Lowes since that’s who I bought them from. They indicated that I could work with them and that all I needed to do was send photos and they’d send a reshipment right away. I assumed I’d have my floors within a week tops.
A full week passed, and I still didn’t have confirmation that my shipment was coming despite numerous attempts to get answers. In the end, I decided to return the floors directly to Lowes and place a new order. This was not ideal. First, Lowes is 25 mins away. The boxes are heavy as I stated. And, I didn’t love the idea of sending them back knowing they’d likely just end in a landfill. I was hoping I could find some way to repurpose them to be less wasteful. But, this is where I was.
Throughout this entire process, my kitchen was a disaster, and I still had some exposed asbestos which is never comforting. I was beyond frustrated, but I didn’t know what else to do. So I patiently waited for my floors to be delivered the following week.
Then came delivery day, and still no floors. I spoke to both Cali and Lowes and neither was very helpful. They both blamed each other and no one knew where my order was or when it was coming. This went on for another few days. As you can imagine, I was kind of done with the whole thing.
My mind started wandering to in-stock flooring that was available at Home Depot. Home Depot has never failed me like this, it’s much closer, and the flooring I was interested in was much cheaper. As in, cheaper to also buy enough to eventually re-do the bathroom too so that they didn’t clash.
I slept on it, and by morning I woke up to an email with a new tracking number. The floors would be delivered in 8 days. That would be a total of 28 days after my original complaint. I was also going to be out of town for a few days, which would mean I couldn’t even install them until the following week.
So, that night after work I drove straight to Home Depot. I decided to buy a box of two colors I was interested in, take them home, and try them out. Before I made a drastic decision, I wanted to see how they’d look in the space. I tested both Dusk Cherry and Fresh Oak. Fresh Oak was very similar in color to the Cali floors, but it was coming off really pink and a bit too rustic. Dusk Cherry looked very much like white oak and looked stunning against the blue cabinets.
So what did I decide?
Lifeproof Kitchen Floors
Yep. I removed the Cali flooring. Do I regret it? Not for a second. The Dusk Cherry floors are absolutely stunning. And they installed SO much easier.
I think in the end, this all happened for a reason because I like these floors so much better and I feel much more confident in my decision to go with them.
Yes, this does mean that down the road I’m going to have to re-install the bathroom floors. But, a couple of months ago, I started noticing an issue at the seam in front the vanity. It feels like the locking mechanism is starting to become damaged and it isn’t as flat as it should be. So, maybe it’s for the best in the long run!
Either way, I’m just happy I have kitchen floors that I love!