Evacuate the Laundry Floor


It’s sad that I see more similarities in our laundry room floor and Ke$ha than I see differences.  Dingy, dirty, needing to be replaced… sorry to all you Ke$ha fans out there!  Don’t get me wrong- I love her dance beats but someone give that girl some shampoo.

[Update: I am saddened to learn that this song is by Cascada, not Ke$ha but I going to be stubborn and leave my title as is.  So there pop world! :)]

But, back to our laundry room saga.

Just catching up?  No biggie.  It’s fairly simple.

We wanted to turn this…


Into something more like this…


For the full part one story if you missed it, read here.

First step: clear the room, starting with our two big lugs- Mr. Washer and Mr. Dryer.  I couldn’t wait to see what treasures awaited us behind the machines.  Turns out that’s where my two missing socks went although I’m still not 100% convinced there’s no sock gremlin living in the dryer.  Oh, and a bookmark Chloe managed to squirrel away from my book.  Oh, and let’s not forget a zillion dust bunnies.  Gross.


With further inspection, we also realized we needed new base boards… we can only assume the dryer gremlin got hungry during a month we skimped on our laundry chores and took to nom-ing on the base boards.  Those look like gremlin teeth, right?


Everything was finally out and we were left with this.


What a mess.  We HAD to fix those floors stat.  One of my main missions is reducing the number of floor types in our house.  When we moved in, there was a total of six different types of floors.  Two and a half years later and we’ve switched out a few of the floors (bedroom carpeting, master bath tile) but we’re still at six types.  I knew introducing an additional type of flooring wasn’t exactly meeting my goal so I wanted to select something similar to what we already had in another room.

As with most of our projects, we got distracted in the middle and ended up at Seconds and Surplus, a discount home improvement store in our city, pricing out door knobs.  And then it happened.  THE sign.  The sign that proved that using a similar floor in the laundry room as the rest of the house wasn’t the craziest idea.

But let me back up a little.  Remember the flooring we chose in our master bath remodel?

Master Bath_After7

This beautiful walnut-look porcelain tile.  That floor was $3.79 per square foot from Floor and Decor.  I had already considered this would likely be our best choice for the laundry room but just hadn’t made it over to the store to buy it.

WELL, good thing I didn’t because look what we discovered at Seconds and Surplus.


What’s that?  Want a close-up of this unbelievable sign?


Yes, that’s right.  That says $1.49 per square foot, and yes, that’s right it’s the EXACT. SAME. FLOOR!

Move aside fellow shoppers, mama needs to buy some heavily discounted tile.

The only problem was that there weren’t any boxes of tile behind this display.  Cue my hyperventilation.  I tracked down (more like hunted) the closest employee to search the back.  A few minutes later he returns.  His face said it all.  They were… SOLD OUT?!  Nooooooo.  So close.

And then my flooring hero arrives.  Another employee checks the system.  The good news is that they had more flooring.  The bad news is that it’s only available at their second location 40 miles away.  Boo.  But, hey, I was ready to hop in the car and head over.  Anything for a good deal.

Then, I heard music to my ears.  “Oh wait, the lady who bought all of this didn’t actually need 5 boxes of it so we have 5 boxes leftover in the back.”  I immediately look at Chris who can do faster math than me (don’t let that go to your head, honey), my wide, yearning eyes saying it all- “will 5 boxes work?”  Chris turns to the cashier saying, “actually, we only need 4.”

HALLELUIA!  The laundry room was saved!!!

And with that, it was time to get down and dirty.  Those old, dingy floors were history.


Again, where do I begin? I wasn’t nearly as unprepared for what an empty laundry room would look like because, unlike Julie, I’m the one who had to drag the washer and dryer in when we moved in. Either way, though, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.

I dragged the washer and dryer out and was suddenly reminded of why I didn’t even bother leveling the machines when we moved in: it was so disgusting back there I just couldn’t wait to get the machines in to cover up all the nastiness. The floor was a vinyl tile that had yellowed to the point that no matter how hard we scrubbed, we were just never convinced they were safe to walk on with bare feet. Oh, and all the baseboards were falling off. At least that part of the demo would be easy.

So, I began pulling up tile. Some were glued down so poorly they came right up as if they were just laying there with no glue. Others were glued down so strongly that getting them up was a bit like trying to peel off a price tag that decides to only come off in 1000 pieces. I guess no one showed the floor guy how to spread glue evenly. I didn’t really have the right tools (I’m not even sure an “overly glued crappy tile scraper” exists), so I just used what I had on hand, which was a set of chisels and a putty knife. Fortunately I wasn’t particularly attached to any of these tools because now they all have floor goo on them.

Most of the tiles just had to be started in a corner before I could just peel them up by hand. Others required some, uh, convincing:




Once all the tiles were up, I pulled up the old brass transition. I wasn’t really sure what to use between the tile in the hallway and the new tile in the laundry room, but that was a battle for another time. Papa got work to do!


Finally, all that junk was GONE!


I should also mention that when I pulled back some of the baseboards, I found every homeowner’s worst fear: mold. It didn’t look bad, but it was there, and that was unacceptable. I asked Julie to Google how to get rid of it, but as usual she dragged her feet and Pinterested (I don’t care whether or not that’s a word) for half an hour. In the meantime, I wiped the spots down with a little bit of bleach and painted over them with oil based primer. Eventually Julie stepped back into the real world and it turns out that that’s actually exactly how you get rid of small mold spots. I know, I rock.

Finally, it was time to lay the tile. I really wanted to retain the wood feel so I tried my best to create a “random” offset pattern like you’d see on a real wood floor, but I also wanted to use as many solid pieces on possible, which meant that I actually ended up with a repeating pattern, but in such a small space (and especially when covered by a washer and dryer), it appears random. Yet another victory for my geometry skills!

Anyway, to make life easier, I used a pre-mixed adhesive. It’s a small room and I really hate mixing things like that, so it worked out really well:


Typically when you tile a room, you work from the farthest wall to the door so that you don’t have to walk on freshly-laid tile, but in the case I was dealing with a very small, slightly non-square room in which the back half of the tile would be covered up anyway, so I chose to start at the door and work my way back to make sure everything would look square as you looked in:


Which meant that I was break dancing by the time I was finished:


I should also mention another reason I wanted to use as many full tiles as possible. I was cutting with this:


I may have mentioned this diabolical contraption before. It basically just breaks the tile in a slightly neater fashion than you could by cracking it over your knee, so I made sure all the cut ends were against the wall and could be hidden by trim. I also had this pile of failed cuts:


After letting everything set for 24+ hours, it was time to grout. We had some leftover mix from the bathroom tile job, so I just used that. As I mentioned before, I hate mixing stuff, so by the time I got it right I had about 40 times the amount of grout I actually needed. And again, who needs special grouting tools when you have a 30-cent putty knife?


Once I had all the cracks filled in, I went over the entire floor with a wet sponge several times until the tile was clean.


After letting everything set for a day or two, I sealed the grout. I have no idea if this actually does anything or not, but it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to pretend it does.


Aaaaaaand I’m done. With the floor at least.

Next up… cabinets!

to be continued…



Filed under Laundry Room

10 responses to “Evacuate the Laundry Floor

  1. anna

    Your before pictures show the reason to never use flexible dryer venting. That squashed tube is probably totally full of dryer lint.

    • DO or DIY

      Hi Anna, I installed that vent hose new when we moved in but I kept it as short as possible, so there’s not much opportunity for lint to build up. It’s not “squashed” at all, it just looks that way in the pictures.


  2. So glad I stumbled upon y’all’s blog! I love the his/hers style of writing and you just make it all seem like so much fun (at least writing the blog part…maybe not the DIY part…lol). Keep up the awesome jobs!

    • DO or DIY

      Thanks Rebecca. It may be frustrating and hard work at the time, but reflecting back (and after we get the enjoy the results of the “after”), we can have a good laugh about it all! So glad you found us! Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Oh my goodness! What a steal!!! I’m so jealous. Grr you have all the good discount stores where you are! That’s it, I’m moving! =]

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  6. Great job with finding the bargain tiles! I always think that when tiling the most important tool is a good quality tile cutter, it isn’t fun trying to cut the tiles to a perfect size and it not working, the last thing you want when you have spent ages tiling is them to look badly finished.

    • DO or DIY

      Hi Alice,

      The tile cutter I have is definitely a pain, but for $20 or so it does small, straight-cut jobs well enough. However, once we move on to bigger projects like retiling an entire bathroom, I’ll definitely be borrowing my dad’s high-tech diamond blade system!


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