Many homeowners are eager to renovate or update their kitchens. While trends like stainless steel appliances and granite countertops get a lot of attention, one aspect that is often overlooked is the flooring. If you have an older home with original linoleum flooring in the kitchen, you may be wondering what lies beneath it when you go to replace it. Here’s a look at what you might find under that old linoleum floor, what your options are, and how to approach the project.
Reasons to Replace Old Linoleum Kitchen Floors
There are several good reasons you may want to replace old linoleum kitchen floors:
- Appearance – Old linoleum can become faded, stained, or cracked over time. Replacing it can instantly give your kitchen an updated, fresh look.
- Safety – Old linoleum can become brittle and cracked. This creates trip hazards. New flooring eliminates this danger.
- Hygiene – Cracks and crevices in old linoleum trap dirt, grime, and bacteria. A new floor is much easier to clean.
- Functionality – New flooring comes in more waterproof and durable options. This is better suited for kitchen use.
- Resale value – Updated floors can make your kitchen more attractive to potential buyers. This is especially true if the rest of the home has already been remodeled.
What You May Find Under Old Linoleum Floors
What lies beneath your old linoleum depends on when your home was built and if any work has been done on the flooring since then. Here are some possibilities:
Original Wood Flooring
Many older homes were constructed with solid wood floors, often made of oak or maple. The linoleum may have been installed on top of the original wood floors at some point. If the wood is in good condition, you may be able to refinish and restore it.
In some cases, the linoleum may have been installed over a plywood base. Plywood creates a smooth and stable surface for the linoleum and protects the subfloor underneath.
Conrete Slab Subfloor
Some newer homes have a concrete slab foundation. The linoleum would have been directly installed onto the concrete.
Rotted or Damaged Subfloor
If there has been water damage, mold, or rotting over time, you may need to repair or replace some or all of the subfloor under the linoleum. This is more involved but needs to be done before installing new flooring.
Inspecting under a corner of the linoleum is the best way to determine what kind of subfloor is present. You may also need to look for access panels or vents to see the floor construction.
Options for New Kitchen Flooring
Once you determine what’s under your old linoleum, you can choose the best flooring replacement. Popular kitchen flooring options include:
Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tile is a classic choice for kitchens. It comes in endless options and is waterproof and durable.
Vinyl floors have improved greatly. New luxury vinyl looks like real wood or stone but is affordable and waterproof.
Laminate is made to mimic wood but is affordable and easy to install. It is not as durable with water though.
Real wood adds warmth and value. But solid wood can be susceptible to water damage over time. Engineered wood is more stable.
Stained, polished, or stamped concrete creates an industrial look. It’s extremely durable but can be cold underfoot.
Things to Consider with Different Subfloors
The type of subfloor beneath your linoleum impacts your new flooring options:
Nearly any flooring can be installed over concrete. But moisture issues need to be addressed first to prevent damage.
These are ideal for installing wood, tile, vinyl, and laminate above. Assess wood for any needed repairs first.
Rotted or Damaged Subfloors
These will need repairs or replacement before installing new floors. Match thickness of original subfloor.
Asbestos Tiles or Sheet Vinyl
Special precautions need to be taken if asbestos is suspected. Remediation may be required.
The condition of the subfloor is also important. Level any uneven spots and make repairs as needed.
How to Remove Old Linoleum Flooring
Removing old linoleum takes time and care but isn’t complicated:
- Clear the room of furniture, cabinets, and appliances if possible.
- Use a utility knife to cut the linoleum into manageable sections.
- Start peeling up the linoleum carefully at a corner or seam.
- Once you get an edge lifted, keep pulling slowly. The adhesive underneath should release.
- Use a floor scraper to remove any stubborn adhesive residue.
- Clean the subfloor thoroughly once the old linoleum is removed.
- Make any needed subfloor repairs before the new installation.
- Dispose of the old linoleum properly. Most can go in standard construction waste collection.
Use caution when handling old vinyl floors as they may contain asbestos. Wear a respirator mask and have tested before doing work if concerned.
DIY Installation vs. Hiring a Pro
Installing a new kitchen floor is something a handy homeowner can tackle as a DIY project. But if you uncover any issues with your subfloor or prefer not to take on the physical work of removing flooring yourself, hiring a professional installer is recommended.
Benefits of DIY installation:
- Saves on labor costs
- Allows customization and control of the project
- Satisfaction of completing the project yourself
Benefits of hiring a professional:
- No manual labor required of you
- Experienced installing a variety of kitchen flooring
- Able to address any subfloor issues discovered
- Provides warranty on installation work
Evaluate your specific scenario. Professionals may be the better option for complex jobs, concrete work, or if time is limited. But DIY is great for standard flooring replacement.
Maintaining New Kitchen Floors
Your new kitchen flooring will look beautiful for years to come with proper care and maintenance:
- Place doormats at entrances to minimize dirt.
- Sweep or vacuum frequently to prevent abrasive grit buildup.
- Use cleaning products recommended for your specific flooring type.
- Use furniture leg protectors and chair mats under heavy furniture.
- Don’t let spills sit – wipe up promptly.
- Keep pets’ nails trimmed to avoid excess scratching.
- Consider periodic professional cleaning services for a deep clean.
- Re-seal grout and wood floors as needed over time.
With the right prep work and removal of old linoleum, you can install fresh, contemporary floors that will transform your kitchen. Evaluate your goals, research options, and create a budget to tackle this worthwhile upgrade.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are signs I need to replace my old linoleum floor?
Some clear signs it’s time to replace old linoleum include cracking, bubbling, peeling edges, stains that can’t be removed, consistent sticking when walked on, and trip hazards from lifted sections.
Does old vinyl flooring contain asbestos?
It’s possible. Some vinyl tiles and sheet flooring produced before the 1980s contained asbestos for fire resistance. Have any suspect flooring tested before beginning removal. Special precautions need to be taken if asbestos is present.
What’s the best way to prepare the subfloor before new flooring?
Sweep and mop the subfloor after removing the old linoleum to eliminate dust and debris. Check for any needed repairs like replacing damaged boards or leveling concrete. A clean, flat, and smooth subfloor ensures proper installation of new floors.
Can I install new vinyl over old vinyl flooring?
It depends on the condition of the existing flooring. If it’s fairly smooth and sticks tightly when you test it, a new vinyl floor can potentially be installed over it. But any loose spots, bumps, or subfloor damage need to be addressed first.
How long does it take to install a new kitchen floor?
The time depends on the size of the space and complexity of the project. Removing old flooring takes at least a full day. New floor installation may take 2-5 days for a full kitchen redo. Basic vinyl replacements can be quicker. Include time for subfloor prep and curing of adhesives too.
Should I remove kitchen cabinets or leave them in place?
If possible, cabinets are best removed since it allows you full access to the floors. But for heavy built-ins, a floating floor like vinyl planks that can be installed underneath is a good option. Leaving regular cabinets in place just requires extra cutting around them.
How soon can I walk on a new floor?
It varies based on the adhesive used. Soft set adhesives allow light walking after just a few hours. Epoxy or urethane adhesives take 24-48 hours to fully cure before heavy walking or replacing appliances. Always follow the manufacturer guidelines for cure times.
Replacing worn, outdated linoleum flooring with fresh new floors can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s appearance, function, and resale value. Taking time to properly prepare the subfloor and remove the old flooring carefully is crucial for a successful project. Evaluate your goals, research your options, and look at costs to determine the best flooring solution. With some effort and diligence, you can complete this project and enjoy your revitalized kitchen for years to come.