My kitchen floor is tiled, DIY-style. Pretty impressive, right? It probably won’t be once you find out the reason why.
When we moved in, our kitchen floor was a lovely laminate. Not the nicest in the world, but certainly not the worst. For the amount of time we planned on being in the house (we’ll get into that another day), it was sufficient. Sturdy enough to handle our family’s traffic yet easy enough to clean. It was also neutral enough that we could pretty much choose any color paint for the walls. A few other cosmetic changes and our kitchen would be exactly what we wanted in our starter house. Simple and easy.
Until the day I melted the floor.
It was totally an accident and it happened in a fit of sheer stupidity. I was cooking dinner (salmon) in a pan on the stove. I turned away for a minute or so (fine, I forgot what I was doing and started on something else) and the next thing I knew, the salmon started to burn. Like really burn. And it stunk. And it was smoking. And I wanted it out of the house before the smoke detector went off and my dog had a coronary.
At this point, I had two choices. Choice one: throw the pan in the sink, fight with the window above the sink and let the smoke and smell dissipate that way. Choice two: put the pan on the deck. Which do you think I chose? That’s right. Not the first choice, which made sense. Nope, my dumb ass went for option 2. Almost.
Our deck, like most decks, is made of wood. In my panicked state I started to think “Ohmygod. If I put the pan on the deck, the deck will catch fire! I can’t put the pan on the deck!” So I didn’t. Instead, I opened the door to the deck (which is off our kitchen) and put the pan on the floor inside so the smoke and smell would blow out the door. Problem solved!
A couple of minutes later, when I went to retrieve the pan, it was unexpectedly stuck to the floor. Why? Because, and let this be a lesson, the hot pan stuck to the high quality linoleum floor (who knew?). The end result was a delightful hole in the floor and a lecture from my husband on how what I did was quite possibly the dumbest thing he had ever seen a person do (this, coming from a man who once wore a strainer on his head, was really hurtful). I was upset, frustrated and really, really angry. I had ruined what was a perfect kitchen floor scenario.
Then it got worse.
In my haste to fix the situation, and the fact that my husband and I had no money to fix the hole, I put a floor mat over it. I figured this was a practical solution since the hole was right in front of a door. But I forgot about the dog. During the day, we kept the dog in the kitchen. During the day, because he was pissed that we left him, the dog figured out how to move the mat and dig at the hole in the floor, making 80 times worse than what I had done. What was easily covered with a simple $10 floor mat had now become a $3000 problem.
We knew it was going to cost about $3000 because when we had replaced our carpets, we got an estimate for the kitchen floor to put in our back pockets as a savings goal (just in case we decided to upgrade the kitchen). The $3000 was just for laminate, too. If we were going to redo the kitchen floor, we were going to do something nicer. But when you’re $50K in debt, $3000 or more on a kitchen floor just isn’t possible. So we did the next best thing. We patched it with peel and stick flooring.
I don’t know if you’ve ever used this abomination of a product but I don’t recommend it. Anything that goes on your floor and can be cut using a regular scissor should be pulled from store shelves. It’s cheap, it’s typically not pretty, it’s impossible to lay straight and after about 2 weeks of use, the tiles start to separate from each other, creating nice, gluey looking gaps in your floor. How’s that for elegance? Unfortunately, it was all we had the money for and we had to do something. The dog kept digging at the hole in the floor and if it got any deeper or wider, he would fall through. Plus, it was not fun having to jump the Grand Canyon of kitchens just to get to the deck.
We managed to survive with the peel and stick floor for about 2 years (I’m not sure how) but it got to the point that I couldn’t look at it anymore. Our kitchen looked awful. I hated having people over because I knew that they were judging my ugly house. It was embarrassing. So, we made the decision to put our debt repayment on hold for a month or two in order to save up the money to tile the floor. We also made the decision that my husband would do it himself because paying someone else was way above our budget.
To make it happen, we spent many hours in Lowe’s and Homey D’s pricing tile and supplies, as well as discussing the most time efficient way to get this done (I cook. A lot. Not having a kitchen hurts me). I spent a ridiculous amount of time making sure that we stuck to our $2000 budget, pouring over receipts and fretting over each dollar that was spent. My husband did a ton of research on what was going to be the most cost effective tile so we didn’t waste those precious dollars. He used the store workers’ knowledge for free assistance. And I did my best to stay the hell out of his way (you know, since it was my fault and all). One thing that helped was having a neighbor who was a contractor and had every tool imaginable; we borrowed tools instead of buying or renting. This saved a fortune!
Deciding to DIY the repair made it more affordable and my husband now has the ability to tile a floor. This unfortunate circumstance also made it glaringly obvious that we needed a household repair budget that was consistently added to rather than ignored, even if we are paying down debt. You never know what can go wrong or how much it’s going to cost to fix.
I don’t want to say that I was surprised that my husband was able to tile the whole floor by himself, and on budget, too but I was. And I don’t want to say that what I did made my kitchen look better but well, it kind of did. It forced us to make an improvement we hadn’t budgeted for or even planned on making. And now, our kitchen looks way nicer. Except for the gaping hole above the stove where the microwave is supposed to be.
But that’s another story.