The Finish Line: Floors and Paint

By Andrea Julian, AAA Countertops – May 5, 2020

When it’s time to install the floors and paint the walls, you know you’ve reached the finish line of your kitchen remodel.  At this point, your old floors should have already been removed and prepped. If not, go back to our article “Getting Dirty: Tear Out and Demo”.  As for the walls, they should be prepped and ready to go as discussed in part 4 of our series, “Tackling the Vertical: Walls, Doors and Windows”.  We recommend painting before putting in the floors, so you won’t have to worry about covering your fresh floors with drop cloths. However, you will have to be careful when you are putting in your floors not to damage the walls. Check out this article for details on the pros and cons of painting the walls before installing the floors.

Painting the Walls

Not all interior paints are equal. Choosing the right paint for your kitchen depends on several factors.  You’ll want to consider the type of finish you’d prefer – flat, satin (also called eggshell), semi-gloss or gloss.  This article by Consumer Reports can help you decide which paint will provide you with a smooth, stain resistant finish that works with your lifestyle and budget.  

If you’re unsure about what color paint you want, we recommend buying samples of several colors and painting small swatches on the wall. This will help you visualize the color in your space and compare the shades and tones. You can purchase small samples of the colors you like at the paint store for just a few dollars.

Once you’ve decided on a paint, you’ll need to purchase an amount sufficient to paint your kitchen. Check out this helpful tool from The Spruce that can help you calculate exactly how much paint you’ll need to for your space. We recommend buying a little extra to account for touch ups. Now, you’re ready to start painting.

  1. Start by preparing the space and applying primer. Make sure all the outlet covers are removed. Cover your countertops and tape up the edges of your cabinets.  If you are painting on fresh drywall, we recommend using a primer. Primer is optional but using primer ensures a better adhesion of paint to the surface, increased paint durability and an added level of protection to the surface being painted.  To apply the primer, use a large roller for the walls, and use a smaller brush to fill in the areas where the roller won’t fit.
  2. Once the primer is dry, start painting the walls. On the larger areas (i.e. open walls), apply paint with a roller in a “W” pattern, covering sections of about 4’x4’. Bring the roller to about an inch or two of your taped off areas. Use a smaller brush to manually paint the areas where your roller won’t reach.
  3. You’ll want to apply at least 2 coats of paint. Paint colors will deepen and reach their full potential when applied in 2 or 3 even coats. Make sure you let each coat dry for a minimum of an hour between coats.

Installing New Floors

There are some various thoughts concerning whether you should install floors before or after your cabinets. The issue with installing them prior to your cabinets is that you will end up installing expensive flooring where it will never be seen – under cabinets. When you install the cabinets first, you will have to cut the floor covering to butt up against the cabinets. Once the floors are in you will cover the gap with a baseboard or shoe molding nailed to the bottom of the base cabinets.

Types of Flooring Material

There are several types of flooring material to choose for a kitchen. Here is a rundown of your options:

  • Timber (Wood) – Wood floors come in two basic styles – hardwood and engineered. Hardwood floors are traditional, solid wood planks. Engineered wood flooring has a thin plank of hardwood set on top of engineered plywood. Engineered wood has the advantage of being thinner and the ability to be glued directly on top of cement. It also tends to be less expensive than hardwood. Due to their thin profile, engineered wood planks can usually only be sanded down and refinished once, unlike traditional hardwood.
  • Laminate/Vinyl – Laminate and vinyl flooring give the look of hardwood with a discount price tag.  Vinyl is a 100% synthetic, created with a fiberglass base layer coated in a PVC vinyl, a plasticizer and layers of a no-wax polyurethane. Laminate is also a synthetic product but has a core made of wood byproducts and resins. Both materials are incredibly durable, scratch and stain resistant. One critical difference is that laminate is not waterproof, only water resistant, so is not recommended for bathrooms. 
  • Bamboo – Bamboo is a fast-growing grass producing an exceptionally hard stalk that can be used similarly to wood. It has been hailed as a “green” alternative to hardwood, but in general the two are very similar. Both are durable, and pricewise bamboo can be slightly less expensive than hardwood. Most bamboo flooring is imported from overseas, so the carbon footprint tends to be similar between the two. Not all bamboo flooring is the same, and low-quality bamboo can be susceptible to scratches and water damage.
  • Cork – Cork flooring is made from the bark of cork oak, which is harvested from living cork oak trees. The cork is ground up and combined with resins, compressed and formed into sheets. This eco-friendly, renewable resource has been popular recently with homeowners but does has its shortfalls. Cork is not as durable as hardwood or bamboo and is susceptible to damage.  Regular sealing with a waterproof sealer will help prevent water damage and stains.
  • Tile – Tile is a popular flooring material because of its durability and economical price. There are many types of tile – porcelain, ceramic and natural stone are the most popular. Many types of finish are also available, from glossy to matte. Check out this article for a detailed information on the different types of tile.

Installing Flooring

The installation process will vary depending on the material choice you choose. In general, you’ll need to prep the space before installing the flooring material. Here are some tips.

  • Make sure your floor is level. If you removed old flooring to prepare for the new, you might have noticed that the floor underneath was not exactly level. Use a level to look for any high spots and grind down with a chisel and hammer. Apply leveling compound to fill in any low spots.
  • Lay down the underlayment. An underlayment is essential if you are using laminate flooring, and some laminate will even come with a pre-attached underlayment. In general, this step will help prevent moisture from getting under your floors and ruining them.
  • If you will be installing planks, decide which direction you want the planks to go. Traditionally the planks are laid longwise down the longest side of the room. This will make the room appear to be larger since you’ll have longer runs of material.
  • Always start laying your tiles or plans at the far end of the room. When you come to the end of the first row, cut the tile or plank to lie tight against the wall or cabinet.
  • After your flooring material is installed you can install any baseboards you might have removed during demo or base cabinet shoe moldings.

Once your floors are in and your walls are painted, its time to clean up and start putting your kitchen back together again and start enjoying all your hard work. Home remodel projects can be challenging but the reward is a space that you and your family will love being together in for many years to come.  If you have any questions about your kitchen remodel please contact us!