Laundry Room: Flooring

And so the first overhaul begins! The laundry room is a 8′ 2.5″ deep and 5′ 7.5″ wide. The washer and dryer sit side by side (but are stackable) and there are two free standing cabinets in the room which provide limited storage. The floor has vinyl peel and and stick tile that is popping up in areas; what lies beneath remains to be seen.

What do we want to do to this room? First we want to increase storage space (a problem through out the house) by adding base and wall cabinets. We will stack the washer and dryer, which provides the space for a utility sink. A wall mounted drying rack and shelving will also increase the functionality of the room. From a cosmetic stand point, the floor will be replaced with porcelain tile and the walls will get new paint. The light fixture must also go, but it is challenging selecting a style to go with the log cabin. Check out the link laundryroom for the floor plan, just trade the utility sink and washer/dryer positions (Jess loves graph paper, Dave is not fond of her graph paper creations).

To make this all work, we must start at the base. The floors are first! The peel and stick tiles were pulling up from the old linoleum underneath due to water infiltration. This was never cleaned up properly so there was an interesting combination of hair, lint, and biological growth between the peel and stick tile and the linoleum. The smell was wonderful. The linoleum was then scraped away to reveal particle board! A highly useless material that turns to mush when wet, making it a fantastically superb choice for sub-floor material in baths and laundry rooms.

3/8″ plywood was laid down over the particle board to provide a fresh surface to adhere tile to without having to scrape up 20 year old linoleum paper backing. Ditra, a tile underlayment, was adhered to the plywood with latex portland cement (a type of thinset). The plywood was wetted down with a sponge prior to the application of thinset. The Ditra was left to bond with the plywood overnight and 12″ x 12″ porcelain tiles were set the next day with MAPEI porcelain tile mortar. The mortar was mixed thin and in small batches because the low humidity resulted in a fast drying; the tiles were set in an offset pattern with 1/8″ spacers. The mortar was allowed to harden overnight, and the next morning, the tiles were grouted. Viola! New floor in approximately 48 hours (okay, the area was only about 45 square ft, but it’s new flooring).

Tile: Floridatile coastal sand (purchased at Loveland Design Carpet One Floor and Home)

Why use Ditra? This product has been on the market for some time and in general is raved about. It prevents cracks in tile floors and serves as a water proof membrane.

Why not use cement board instead of plywood? Cement board is fine product for shower walls. It is heavy though and is a challenge to work with. It imparts stiffness which was not needed in this instance, so 3/8″ plywood was an excellent choice for providing a fresh surface to bond to.

Critical tools: Tile saw, notched trowels, mixer attachment for drill

Skill level: High intermediate – Easy peasy if you have laid tile before and have all the tools and knee pads. Dry fit your tiles first. Having the first row of tiles placed properly is critical for the success of this project.

Note: The tiles were not centered on the room. Why not? There will be appliances and cabinets along the edges of the room, so having a full tile on one side and a partial on another (non-symmetrical) will be difficult to notice. For a room that would have been more open, we would have centered the tiles for symmetry.

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