Our walk-in pantry game was strong. But the linoleum flooring? Not so much. We found an easy fix with groutable vinyl tile.
Our pantry wears many hats. In lieu of a mudroom dropzone, kitchen closet, or laundry room, he serves as a sort of multi-purpose oasis — a spacious (yet oddly-shaped) closet tucked behind the kitchen to serve as a treasure trove of snacks and clean socks and (inevitably) lost car keys.
Since the pantry has so many important jobs, it was crucial that he looked really cool. Luckily, we were pretty much starting with a blank canvas. There was just one small problem…
The linoleum floor.
Let’s take a moment to admire that awesome seam. (Mesmerizing, isn’t it?)
Now, this room was a total wild card for us — it was the only linoleum flooring in the house, and it was a small enough space that we could have affordably replaced it with tile or hardwood (but come on now, hardwood in a laundry room? really?)
To be honest though, I didn’t really weigh any alternative options — I knew from the start that I wanted to try peel and stick tile. I was happy with the look and feel, and I was excited that our first flooring DIY was challenging and new, but still reasonably within our skill-level.
R was horrified at first, but I couldn’t be swayed. I just really thought it’d be a good idea (and I also figured that, worst case scenario, it was literally the cheapest and least-catastrophic flooring disaster we could attempt to DIY).
So we went to Home Depot and got the supplies. Here’s what we used:
- Trafficmaster 12 x 24″ Carrara Marble Groutable Vinyl Tile
- Rubber grout float
- 1/8″ Tile spacers
- Simple Grout pre-mixed sanded grout in ‘Bright White’
A lot of tutorials tell you to start in the center of the room… to measure, to make chalk lines. We did the exact opposite — we started at the edge of the hardwood floors and worked our way into the room.
We did this for a few reasons: for one, we didn’t have that much floor to tile in the first place, and we thought that the placement of the tiles at the entrance of the room were most important — if they were fucked, the whole room would look off. We also wanted a specific pattern, and we found it was easier to arrange (and utilize full-size tiles!) by starting at the entrance, rather than the room’s center.
We did a practice run, arranging and re-arranging the tiles around the room until we were happy with the pattern. Then it was time to get started.
Now, I have to say something a little controversial: instead of removing our linoleum, we decided to just tile right over it. We cleaned the snot out of it, got the Google seal of approval, and went for it.
And let me just say: it was absolutely glorious to stick these tiles over the existing linoleum. It was already clean and smooth and ready to go… why bother fussing with subfloor?
I know what you’re thinking…
But it actually went off without a hitch!
True to their name, the installation is simple: peel back the film and stick the tile down. (Optional third step: reinforce the tile’s bond to your floor by stomping up and down on it to the beat of ‘Bille Jean’).
We did face a few unavoidable challenges… namely trying to revisit 10th grade geometry lessons to figure out the exact angle that we’d need to cut tile for the pieces that went along the slanted wall.
Cutting the tiles was easy (use a sharp blade and a straight edge to score the tile a few times, then gently bend until it snaps in two). Figuring out where to cut them? Probably the leading cause of divorce in homeowners.
Somehow, we managed:
Even without grout, the room was already 1000 times better!
Before grouting, I scoured YouTube for tips and tricks on grouting vinyl tile. The advice seemed pretty unanimous: slap a fat blob of grout onto the floor, then use the grout float to spread it around in dramatic sweeping and swooping motions. Clean up excess with a wet sponge.
My swooping motions ended up being far less dramatic, but smushing the grout into the gaps between the tiles was actually quite fun.
Here’s an action shot (the pros call this ‘packin the joints’):
After grouting, I misted the tiles with a spray bottle of water, then used the sponge to swipe away the excess grout that had accumulated. I had seen a few different variations of this technique in my studies, and I was a bit apprehensive about introducing water while the grout was still fresh… but miraculously the grout didn’t budge from the joints!
As I wiped away the mess and got a look at the clean new white grout lines, I was amazed…
The grout makes such a huge difference! I’m not sure I would have been as happy with the results if we had skipped grouting and just stuck the tiles edge-to-edge. The tiles are nice enough, but adding grout really takes them out of ‘cheap plastic floor’ territory.