Rehabbing the Kitchen Floor – Removing Vinyl Tile and Adhesive

I’ve started another project! As this crazy heat wave continued to roll, I switched from my exterior projects to an interior one. And we chose the kitchen floor, a particular eyesore and bane of my existence. I’ve decided to name this project a “rehab” since in my opinion this floor is just so sad. This poor floor just looks sick and tired. It could be a great floor, but it needs rehabilitation. This post details how I pulled up this ugly vinyl tile and took the floor back to concrete. We are considering keeping the floor concrete for the time being, this is my DIY concrete floor journey.

Original Kitchen Floor

Some pattern, right?? Honestly, I’m stymied by this floor. This house was built in 1986, so if this floor is original, it was dated when it went in. But since I’ve already pulled it up, I found carpet tack strips in the dining area, so I’m pretty sure it’s not original. Who was putting down such ugly 70’s tile in the 90’s? Where did this tile come from??

Moving beyond the mystery of the ugly tile, pulling it up was pretty easy. Some areas were already damaged and popped right off, the rest came up relatively quickly with the aid of a $10 Harbor Freight heat gun.

Pulling up vinyl floor tiles with a heat gun
Pulling up vinyl kitchen floor tiles

Getting the tiles up was pretty easy, but removing the old, dried, hard, floor glue was not so easy. We tried scraping, both with hand and floor scrapers, which worked in some areas, but not in others. I applied acetone and Goo Gone, which worked alright, but left lots of residue and about half of the glue. We decided we needed something more powerful.

So we ended up grinding it off with an angle grinder and diamond grinding wheel. There are pros and cons to this approach, but it did work.

Grinding old floor glue from concrete

Then, once all the tiles and glue were removed (besides behind the dishwasher, I haven’t quite felt up to taking that one on yet!) progress stalled. Thing is, we weren’t sure where to go from there! I think this is a very common DIY situation, living in a state of demolition while you think about how you want to proceed.

After grinding off the glue, our floor is left with some marring from while we were getting used to using the machine, some tack strip holes in the dining area, and lots of swirly cuts from the diamond wheel. We figure we have a few options:

  1. Run with it anyway and stain/seal it with all the imperfections and claim we were going for a “rustic industrial” look.
  2. Give the floor a once over with a floor sander to smooth out the majority of the grinder swirls and proceed from there.
  3. Put down a layer of self-leveling concrete or microtopping.

My perspective is that this floor is probably only semi-permanent and will likely get covered with vinyl plank when we run it through all the living areas. Right now our living room and hallway are carpeted with the $.50/sq ft special from Home Depot, so it’s probably got a year of life in it and we’ll have to replace it then. Player 2 loves the idea of a rough, industrial look, so I think we’re leaning towards option 2 as a “happy medium”. Check back and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Demoed kitchen floor, vinyl tile removed, concrete ground
Demoed kitchen floor, vinyl tile removed, concrete ground

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