I’ve had a couple of weekends in a row now where I was able to aggressively attack my todo list.

Checkerboard Vinyl Tile Straight Running Pattern PantryTwo weekends ago, I was finally able to install my master bath door (with lockset).  This past weekend, I got on with installing flooring in my pantry.  All this, not without fitting a few smaller projects in between. (Check my Guest Post on Built by Kids >> Transform a Trash Can Into a Recycling Bin  — Just in time for Earth Day.)  Happy and hope you enjoyed.


The room we turned into a pantry was nothing more than a 3.5 by 5.5 foot . . . closet.  It just so happened to be sitting off what is now our kitchen. Hard core readers of this blog know we moved our kitchen from the dark recesses (the back) of the house up into what was a one-time “parlor room.”  The adjacent closet there made for a perfect walk-in pantry.

While I only skimmed over the pantry in the post “A Perpetual State of During”, I do still see a lot of folks visiting for pantry shelving installation instructions. Maybe I do circle back one day, but for now — this floor.


Laying Out All Checkerboard Tile PantryA little ways back, when a go-to source for me was, well, retiring from business, I got my hands on some “un-boxed” vinyl tile.  Some black, some white, for just $1.50 a square foot. I am not sure if it was Armstrong or Congoleum or who the maker is. But I knew it was Vinyl Composition Tile, VCT in most circles.

This tile was thick at a solid 1/8” and rigid. It was much like what I know as Resilient Tile, but lacking much of its signature heavy-fill and graining. It was “dry backed” and would need to be installed using a special thin spread adhesive.

While I have personally recommended it, especially when considering basement flooring options, I have never actually installed it.  Truth — until now.


Prepping the SubFloor

This, as I mentioned, is a pretty small room. A thin-plank oak floor had likely been down for several decades already. It was very sturdy.  (At one point, we did in fact consider just staining this floor; my wife however overruled that because of some water spotting on it.)

While I likely could have just skim-coated with floor leveler or, heck, even gone right down on top of it, I decided instead to install a sheet of lauan as underlayment over top.  In the past, I have glued this down.  But after a brief consultation with an expert panel (I called Barry & Paul Hamtil), I decided that gluing it down would just create another potential point of failure.  No glue, just ring shanks, and I also located joists from below and screwed to them with backerboard screws.


Laying Out the Checkerboard Flooring & Cutting the Tile

Obviously we are drawn to that classic checkerboard flooring pattern; it’s had a strong resurgence in recent years.  Though I had done it in the past (for clients) in ceramic, I know that there still are a number of different ways that you can lay out a checkerboard.  Based on the orientation of the tile too (straight vs diagonal) your starting location for lay out is only then dictated.  So I took some time to figure that out.

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Deciding that a straight run was best for this small room, and because the room was small enough, I decided to layout all the tile out in a dry run.  This was nice because working lines were made simply by tracing tiles as I removed them.  With the straight run, tiles are laid just on either side of a set of reference lines, which themselves are pulled from the center point(s) of opposing walls.


Setting the Tiles

Starter Course of Vinyl Tile + Referene LinesThe biggest things I learned about working with VCT (for the first time) were about the adhesive, and that it (VCT) is in fact fairly easy to install.  The particular adhesive I used – Taylor 2033 actually called for a set up period.  Before installing tile, you must allow the glue to dry long enough that it does not transfer to a finger when touched.  This of course had some disadvantages, but actually provided one big advantage.

As far as disadvantages, time to dry – it took about 5 hours for the glue to be ready.  During that time, my youngest daughter Eva decided she needed to grab a cup out of the pantry.  Doh!

Little Girl's Feet with Glue on ThemAllowing the glue to dry in this fashion, however, was actually a huge practical benefit.  I decided, and since I was going to forgo working with a recommended 75-100 lb. linoleum roller – I could work my way into the space. (Unlike working with ceramic or other tiles set in mortar – and planning for an exit strategy, an escape route.)

Clear drying allowed for the easy identification of working lines.  I improved my odds of success by setting a single tier of tiles at the doorway, a sort of “starter course,” first.  Subsequent tiles were then just butted tightly together and installed across the balance of the floor.


Due next in the pantry, I need to install baseboard (which I will likely profile myself) and we need to declutter.  Maybe I provide support to the long shelf runs.  Oooo! maybe some paint for the wainscot as well. We’ll see.  Thanks for reading and happy day all. ~jb