Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making a Kitchen, Part 9 - The Floors

I finished the floors in the kitchen and dining room way back in November. I kept meaning to write up the post about it, but it wasn't a high priority and just didn't get done. But the nice thing is, I can include an update on the floors in this same post, since we've lived with them for a couple months now.

I first found the idea of paper bag flooring on Pinterest. It was the most intriguing thing I've ever seen. The look was unique and organic, and the price just couldn't be beat. So for me it was a natural jump from "Oh, that's cool!" to "I'm going to glue paper to my kitchen floor, stain it, and seal it with polyurethane, and it will be the bestest and most awesomest kitchen floor ever!"

It was a lot of work. Like, a LOT of work. And the whole time I was working on this floor, I had a super mega cold. My muscles ached and my head felt like it was going to explode. Lots of fun there!

There was a lot of prep work to do first. I used wood filler on all the seams between the pieces of plywood subfloor, and over all the little dents and divots and screw holes. Then we rented a floor sander and smoothed the floor really well. I gotta tell ya, it was very fun to work that huge power tool!

You might notice some already-done flooring under the fridge and dishwasher. I did that part earlier, so we could get the appliances in place sooner. It worked nicely.

Then came the gluing. Following these instructions, I tore up the brown paper into stone-sized chunks, and mixed glue and water in a 1:3 ratio. Then I glued. And glued. And glued. And glued. And... you get the idea. It was a lot of gluing.

So yeah, that took a long time. I was working off and on all day just tearing and gluing. I let it dry overnight, and the next day I stained the paper, using Minwax oil-based stain in Provincial. It's the same stain I used on the counters. I really love how the color came out, very rich.


Then came the hard part - keeping the kids and the cat off the floor while it dried for a full day! I was unsuccessful in this particular venture. I had to stain over several small sets of paw prints and shoe prints. It was so incredibly frustrating, but now that it's been a couple of months I can say I'm mostly over now. Mostly. Grr....

The entire next day was spent mopping coat after coat of polyurethane onto the floor. The first coat took the longest. I could only mop as far as I could reach, then I had to let that small area dry so I could stand on it to mop out into the next section. The stain never fully stopped being tacky, and stepping on it without the coat of poly left very visible footprints (hence my intense frustration the previous day). But the remaining coats went on quickly and easily. Mop on a coat, let it dry an hour or two, mop on another coat.

All that work was worth it! So beautiful!

At least, it was worth it for the first couple of weeks. Here comes the update. The how-has-it-been-holding-up part. This is the part that makes me want to just heave a big sad sigh.

All the tutorials and stuff online said that this is a great flooring option for low-traffic areas, and that it might not be the best choice for a kitchen. In my I-know-better-than-you arrogance/naivete, I made the decision to put it in my high-traffic kitchen anyway. I loved the look, and I wanted it. So I did it. And I really did love it at first. But to be perfectly honest, it has not held up well at all.

The shine has dulled. Some areas, like around the edges, are peeling up. And every time something gets dropped on the floor, it leaves a dent and scratches the polyurethane. So most of the floor is now looking like this:

Scratches along the wood grain of the subfloor

Dings and dents where the baby constantly drops his bowl or plate

Scratches where chairs slide, even with protective felt pads on the feet
Seeing the floor like this seriously makes my heart hurt. After all the work and the love that I put into this floor, it just makes me so sad that everyone was right - it's best for low-traffic areas and won't hold up well in a kitchen. But man, it was beautiful while it lasted! I won't discount the idea of doing this elsewhere in the house, like in a bedroom with area rugs or something.

Anyway, Jeff and I have pretty much agreed that we'll be redoing the floor, probably with laminate, sometime in the near future. This is a good temporary floor, it's definitely better than the plain subfloor. But man, after all that work! Sigh.

In Case You Missed It:
Part 2: A Day in the Life
Part 3: What Next? 
Part 4: "Before" Pictures
Part 5: Demolition and Prep Work
Part 6: Cabinet Installation 
Part 7: Counters 
Part 8: Prettying Up the Cabinets 

"Think Tank Thursday" at Joyful Homemaking 
Wowza Weekend Link Party at My Love 2 Create 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters' Stuff
Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello 


brandon said...

I am cringing seeing this! SO heartbreaking! I am so sorry that happened! I look forward to seeing what your new and improved floor looks like once you decide to redo it!
(This is Rachel, not Brandon)

Michelle said...

You'll love the laminate flooring. Easy to install, easy on the wallet (compared to real wood or tile) and easy to take care of. Breaks my heart though... :(

Patricia Miller said...

That looks great. I never heard of this flooring, At least your subfloor is sort of protected from spills. Don't feel two bad about the dings. I put down self stick tiles that had a 20 year rating and they did what your paperbag floor did. I now have laminate.

Carrie said...

Thanks for the honest review of this type of floor. It has intrigued me for some time.
How sad that it is not so durable after all that work!!!