A Little Sole Searching

parer3weeksOne benefit of being overworked is that I’ve had to live with my kitchen floor in its current state of less-than-grace. I simply haven’t had time to do much of anything in my kitchen over the last few weeks other than make coffee.

I was, of course, wearing proper(ish) footwear when I tore out the tile and underlayment, and taped butcher paper atop the pine underneath. But walking around in my soft-soled slippers has revealed to me a surprising number of staples that my eyes missed – sometimes by stepping on them (good thing they’re not too pointy), sometimes by stepping alongside them close enough to poke them through the paper.

stapleSo, I keep the fencing pliers handy, and have found myself pulling a staple or two at least every couple of days. You’d think I’d have found them all by now…but I doubt it. I don’t make a habit of sidling around the walls; I should do that to reveal the outliers. (At night, with the lights off, so my neighbor doesn’t think I’ve gone all “Yellow Wallpaper” on him.)

My soft soles have also, I’m sad to report, revealed what my eyes tried to deny: The gaps between some of the boards are just too large to live with, and there are a couple of soft spots in the wood. It would, I’ve concluded, be a fool’s errand to attempt to sand and refinish the floor, and expect potential buyers (or me) to be pleased with the results.

I’ve decided on cork. It’s hip and eco-friendly, and should appeal to the late 20-somethings and early 30-somethings who are the typical Northside homebuyer. Oh – and I like it, too (though I’m a bit overwhelmed with the choices).

I’ve been reading (a lot) about the product and talking with experts. After much deliberation, I’ve decided on the glue-down rather than the floating variety. There are – of course – competing theories as to which is appropriate in a kitchen. But what everyone seems to agree on is that the cork should not run under the cabinets. Bonus! Less of it to buy. And no grouting.

So the next step (after pulling the base cabinets and removing the remaining underlayment) is to nail down new 1/4″ ply, then install the new base cabinets. I guess I’d best finish those, post haste.

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About fitz

Editor & content director for Popular Woodworking, ABD PhD focused on early modern drama, freelance content and copy editor/writer, ailurophile
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9 Responses to A Little Sole Searching

  1. Tom Dickey says:

    Good luck with the staples they seem to reproduce! If you are not going to lay cork under the cabinets, be sure to build up the sub floor under them so floors are flush.

  2. Remember that putty knife I recommended as part of the pulling the staples process? I also used it to find the odd staple my eyes would miss. Dragging it across the floor in an orderly fashion, it will snag on and reveal all the staple that protrude higher than you will want to leave for the underlayment.

    • rondennis303 says:

      Megan – I think she is on the right track, but I would use a 10-12 inch drywall knife. The thin blade will make a louder sound when you drag it across a staple and the added width will expedite the process.

      Grid the floor like a search grid, get yourself a cushy pair of knee pads, and go grid by grid to find all of them.

      You will need to remove the rosin paper, but that is a lot easier to replace than a piece of flooring later on.

  3. steveschafer says:

    Take a good whiff of the particular cork tiles that you’ve selected. Some brands, and some styles within a brand, have a strong, somewhat “burnt” odor that can permeate the room and last a very long time. Others have almost no smell whatsoever.

    • fitz says:

      Interesting – I’ve not come across that particular consideration. So…I should go for the burnt odor to cover up the cat smells, yes? ;)

  4. psanow says:

    We put in cork a few years ago and while I think we generally like it, there are some drawbacks: 1) the first major party we had we found out that it does not withstand spike heels very well. We were cleaning up from our 30+ guests and noted to our horror that the cork didn’t fare well; little divots everywhere. In fairness I think there was a broken heel, but it wasn’t good. Even the red oak floor in other areas was damaged. 2) you will note things like the fridge will leave divots as well. On the good side it stays put in it’s place but it did leave some dents when I need to get behind it. Ours is doing better than my friend’s, but our dog is smaller (and less doggie claw damage). Good luck.

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