The Kitchen Floor FINISHED.
Laying VCT tile.

Are you hungry?  I’m hungry.  Specifically for a hamburger for some reason.  A big one.  My wish for a hamburger has nothing to do with VCT tiles by the way.  I just thought I’d mention it since you’re here and we’re talking and all.

My floor is finished.  Done.  Complete.  I love my VCT (vinyl composition tile).  Here’s why …



The biggest pain about laying the tiled floor is figuring out the line you’re going to lay the tile on.

This is going to get a bit confusing so pay attention.

You need to figure out the centre width of your room, and the centre length of your room.  Where these two lines dissect is the centre point of your floor.  The centre point in the photo below is where the two blue chalk lines cross.


So that’s pretty easy actually.  And that’s all you need to do if you’re laying a “checkerboard” floor.  Just snap your chalk lines and start working.

VCT- Tile 1


If you’re laying the floor in a diagonal pattern like I did, you need to do a little more measuring.  You have to get your two diagonal lines.  To do that, measure from your centre point to the nearest wall.  In my case that measurement is 3 feet.  Then make a mark that’s 1/3rd the length of that measurement.  In my case, that’s 1 foot.

Cut a piece of string that measures longer than 1′ and less than the remaining 2′.

Your measurements will be different, but the principal will be the same.  10′ from centre point means a mark point of 3’3″ and a string length of around 4′-5′.


String Line


You’re going to tie a pencil on the end of this string and use it to mark your arcs by holding the end of the string on your “x” mark and running the pencil into an arc.  Do this on all of the “x” points and where the arcs intersect will be where your diagonal lines are.

String Me


I fear I’m not explaining myself well.

VCT- Tile 4


Once you’ve figured out your lines, the hard part is done.  Now you have the fun part of laying the tile to look forward to.

The first thing you should do is dry lay some tiles along your straight line.  I’m referring to the row of black tiles in the centre of the room.  You’ll have two choices.  Lay your first tile so it is centred over the centre point, or lay your first tile so the tip touches the centre point (like I did).  If you’ve  got your centre points right then you’ll have the exact same distance between the walls and the ends of your final full tiles.

VCT- Tile 5


Once you’ve determined your straight lines are good, it’s time to grab your glue and start laying tiles!  Buy the glue when you buy your tile and ask for help to make sure you’re getting the right glue for the tile you’re using.  Also read the bucket of glue to see what type of trowel you need.  All trowels are not created equal.  The distance between and depth of the notches make a difference. Only use the trowel size that’s specified on the back of the bucket of glue.
VCT- Tile 6
VCT- Tile 7



Open up your glue and pour a big glug on the floor.
VCT- Tile 8



Trowel it out.
VCT- Tile 9
VCT- Tile 11
VCT- Tile 12


It’ll take an hour or two for your glue to get tacky enough to lay your tiles so go take a walk.  Or taunt your cats. Or learn a new language.

Once your glue is tacky, it’ll stay that way for dayssss.  So you literally have a work time with this glue of 2-3 days.


Carefully, carefully lay your first tile. Make sure it is *perfect*.
VCT- Tile 13
VCT- Tile 14


Midway through laying my floor I looked down and saw this, exactly as you see it now.  A black cleaver on a white tile.  I saw it as a sign.  I’m not at all sure what it was a sign of, but it was definitely a sign.  It either has something to do with cooking or killing.  I haven’t decided yet.
Cleaver Tile

The laying of all the centre (full) tiles will go fairly quickly.

You will eventually get to the point where all of your full tiles are laid and you now need to lay the edge tiles which need to be cut.  Some cuts are as easy as cutting a straight line, others that have to go around corners or curved baseboards will be more elaborate cuts.
VCT- Tile 15


There are at least 3 ways to cut the tile, but I found the easiest way was to heat it up a bit with a hairdryer and then just cut it with scissors.  Next week I’ll be doing a short video post on how to cut the edge tiles of a diagonally laid floor.  There’s a little trick that makes it really easy.
Cutting Vct Tile


You may find the odd time you’ve laid a tile that doesn’t butt right up to the tile beside it.  Sometimes the tiles move while you’re kneeling on them, or maybe you just made a mistake.
VCT- Tile 16


No problem. It’s easy to fix.
Lifting VCT- Tile


Wondering how one would deal with tiling under a  cast iron bathtub?

Armstrong VCT- Tile Bath


A car jack. After you’ve trowelled glue underneath and let it set,  lift the tub *just* enough to slip your tile underneath the feet.



Done! This is not the final reveal picture of the kitchen, it’s just a quick look at the completed floor

Armstrong VCT- Tile Classic Black


This completes my Big Spring Project 2013.  I had planned to finish redecorating the mudroom and get new fixtures for the bathroom … but I’ve run out of time.  It is now summer and I don’t want to be doing indoor construction projects. I want to be doing OUTDOOR construction projects.  The first of which, will be constructing a rather large hamburger.


  1. Carla Barnes says:

    Beautiful, beautiful!

  2. Marti says:

    Wow! That looks great! Makes me want to go to my kitchen and get another big bowl of Szechuan Carrot Soup! Mmmmm!

  3. Robbin says:

    WOW!!!!! That floor looks amazing! Totally goes with the character of your house.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Robbin – It *must* look like it’s always been there because people have come over and not even NOTICED the floor, LOL. When I tell them I just laid it they say Really? I thought this was always here. ~ karen!

      • Audrey says:

        Hi Karen,
        I’ve been reading your wonderful blog for a few months now, but have never posted. Thank you for all you do!
        I have the same claw foot tub as you with a shower attachment. I really need to replace our ugly, yellow linoleum that has been in the bathroom since 1950. How did you deal with the issue of the pipes that are attached to the tub when you jacked it up?
        Thanks for any help.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Audrey. Well we did have to remove the tub from the room entirely in order for me to be able get the ceramic tile out. That was the hard part. I hooked it back up again then when the time came to tile under the tub (and the pipes were all hooked up again) I just lifted with the jack a TINY little bit. Just enough to slip the thin tile under the foot. There was enough play in the pipes to allow for the slight movement. – karen!

  4. Cathy says:

    You are A-mazing! Hope that burger tastes as great as your floor looks.

  5. Cathy says:

    Oh, and the cleaver thing? Really, it just appeared? That is one fine sign my friend. I thought you were going to incorporate it into your design as it IS your kitchen logo and all.

  6. Sue Hawkings says:

    What a fine job!! You made it look quite easy right from levelling to laying the tile – pictures made it easy to follow along. Enjoy that we’ll deserved burger!

  7. Elle says:

    Boy, I envy you for being so able, gifted, crafty, ingenious.
    Wish I knew how to renovate my house by myself – I would probably do a better job than the guys who worked here when we bought it… (it looks like you sure did!)

  8. Kim says:

    you are my HERO!

  9. Shana says:

    I love this flooring and want to use it when we redo our kitchen next year – do you need to seal it with anything?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shana – You don’t seal it per say, but you do wax it. The first time you wax it you have to put on 4-6 coats of wax. Then you just wax every 6 months – year or so. I’ll probably wax once every month or two because I like the shine. ~ karen!

  10. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    Is there anything you can’t do, Karen? (don’t answer that question). Just when I think you can’t surprise me more, you do. Beautiful job!! Great explanation (but not enough for me to ever tackle such a project). Can I just hire you?

  11. Pati Gulat says:

    Beautiful, as usual, Karen ! Is there NOTHING you can’t do ?????? Or is that isn’t there ANYTHING you can’t do ??? How’s about, can you do EVERYTHING ??? ;o)

  12. Maggie V says:

    Like I said to my Sista Marilyn, “That Karen amazes me”. Good job girl!

  13. Robyn says:

    I’m so glad to see you went against the ‘norm” by not choosing ceramic/stone flooring! I honestly don’t see the attraction. It’s always cold (unless you pay more to heat it) if you drop anything~it’s done for, and it kills your back after standing on it for any length of time!
    Your floor looks perfect…and comfortable!

  14. I love it!! What a lot of work you have done Karen. I am excited for you this winter when your feet will be toasty and your head will be cool.

  15. Reg says:

    It looks fabulous. Great job. Now off to the great outdoors. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  16. Tigersmom says:

    Congratulations on a beautiful job. The floor looks great.
    I have a question as I am trying to figure out the cost of retiling my bathroom after the contractor failed to level my floor before the current tile went in. (Grrrrrrrrrrr.)
    I know you used self-leveling concrete to level your floor, but what are the white patches I see? Are they something to do with the radiant heat you put in?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tigersmom – The white patches are just bits of Durabond 90, a compound filler. A few areas of the self leveller needed a bit of help after it was dried, so I just sanded and/or filled them. ~ karen!

      • Tigersmom says:

        Thanks. I would never have thought to check and see if the leveler did it ‘s job correctly and then I would have a wonky floor again. : /

  17. Laura says:

    Looks charmingly nostalgic! I put the exact same stuff down, in the same pattern, in my former family room and it wore like iron. It will ‘settle’ around any surface imperfections, revealing lumps and bumps, so it’s definitely worth all that extra prep work to create a perfectly smooth subfloor.

  18. marilyn says:

    love it! great job usual

  19. Alice says:

    Karen, looks great! And you make it seem so easy…my husband and I laid sheet linoleum in our kitchen many, many years ago, and it was a real test of our marriage!

    (Just a couple of typos, though…I think it must cost 0.85 dollars, or 85 cents a square foot, not 0.85 cents. Also, your piece of string should be longer than 1′, not 1″. Well, it should be longer than 1″, of course, but you know what I mean…)

  20. Deb J. says:

    Very nice! Have always loved a black and white checkerboard floor and am a diagonal fan myself – even if it does complicate pretty much everything. However, when you started with wanting a hamburger, I expected a comment (rant) on smeat:)
    One question – would these tiles work on an unheated plywood floor that flexes a lot? I have a cottage floor that needs a solution. It’s currently carpet. Ick. Carpets and cottages DO NOT go together!

    • Karen says:

      Deb J – These tiles work perfectly just about anywhere. But you do have to have a perfectly flat surface. That means no bumps or bubbles and no cracks. Even a small speck of dirt will end up looking like a mountain under the tile after it’s laid. So long as your plywood is in good shape and not splintering or anything you’ll be good. ~ karen!

  21. Mary Werner says:

    Diagonal sure makes it look larger. Love it!

  22. Susan says:

    It looks amazing! Thank you for telling us about VCT tiles, as well as showing the entire process of prepping and laying this floor. You make it look so simple, and it really is if you don’t let the thought of doing it overwhelm you. It’s all manageable, actually, isn’t it!

  23. Kat says:

    Yup, it’s a thing of beauty! Have you stood there and stared at it for hours on end and made excuses just to go to the rooms to stare at it some more LOL? I would have!

  24. karol says:

    “pour a big glug on the floor”
    I love onomatopoeic words. Even though I had never heard that before, GLUG was the perfect word for pouring glue.
    and I love how you work bare footed. Great job.

  25. DavidW. says:

    WOW! That looks really lovely. I bet that tile is more forgiving than ceramic tile if glassware should happen to roll off the counter (don’t ask). I wish I had the courage to take up the builder’s generic beige ceramic tile (which is in perfect condition and does not need to be replaced.. just that I hate it) that came with the house and replace it with more colourful VCT. When I mention it to my wife she just looks at me like I am crazy. Thanks for the inspiration and tutorial :).

  26. says:

    LOVE it.
    and whoda thunk….a car jack

  27. toekneetoni says:

    very impressive! 😀

  28. ruth says:

    It is amazing! But I almost go into the fetal position at the thought of such a project. You are courage personified!

  29. joanna says:

    Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!!!!!!!

  30. Leslie says:

    Congratulations! It looks great.

  31. Call Me Patty says:

    Eeeps! You forgot to mention to lay the white tiles with the pattern all going the same way, and then the black tiles all going the opposite direction. We did pink and white tile YEARS ago in our kitchen. Got SO sick of the pink. If I had known that I could have maybe removed the pink with black, by just heating it up. I would have tried that instead of remove it all. Love the durability of the vinyl tile.

    • Karen says:

      That’s true. I did forget to mention that. However, now that you mention it, some people prefer to have a completely random laying of them. ~ karen!

  32. Jeannie B says:

    Your new floor really looks wonderful Karen. Do people still wax floors? I have an old floor polisher in my basement if you want it. Complete with lambswool buffing pads. It hasn’t been used for many years. Did spreading that glue, give you a headache? Sure hope you had lots of ventilation. A lot of work but the completed project looks charming.Well done!

  33. We had ceramic tile installed in the kitchen/front hall/powder room. Biggest mistake of my life.

    I would love to put something like this in my office. Would it stand up to the rolling around on the office chair exercise?

    How would I prep a plywood floor for that product?

    It’s gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Well done.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elen – It would definitely stand up. This flooring is meant for commercial use. Like restaurants or schools. Just make sure the plywood is in good condition. Very smooth. If it isn’t you need to lay new plywood, or pour self levelling concrete over top. ~ karen!

  34. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Love It!!!..But you lost me at the math part..Checkerboard flooring is my favorite and what we are going to do in our kitchen this year..Or rather HE is going to do only because I can’t get down on the floor due to medical issues..well..I can get down..I just can’t get back that burger but I really think you deserve a T-Bone steak!

  35. Lin says:

    As always…an awesome job Karen. It looks very professionally done. Yer the Mike Holmes of doing stuff…making it right! You earned a great big juicy hamburger on this one.

  36. Audrey says:

    I absolutely love your floor, Karen. Maybe because ours is exactly the same. On the diagonal is really the ‘correct’ way to lay the tile. What kind of wax do you use? Would love to know. Adore your blog and the fact that you do so much yourself.

  37. Theresa says:

    Love it!!!

  38. Wendy says:

    It looks great, Karen!

  39. Elisa says:

    I had a thought… Karen what happens next fall when you turn your radiant heat on? Will it heat up your tiles where they will be movable again?

    • Karen says:

      🙂 Excellent question. No. The tiles will be fine. The Warmly Yours Floor is completely compatible with the VCT tiles. ~ karen!

    • Linda S says:

      Oh, I’m so glad Elisa asked you this question. I was wondering the same thing, but didn’t have the balz to ask. I was afraid you might be just a bit testy if you haven’t had time to eat that burger yet! Kudos to you, Karen on a job well done.

  40. Annie Kip says:

    I love black and white tile! Yours looks great and the step by step is really helpful. Thanks!

  41. Ritz says:

    Wow! I’m scared of you!

  42. Stephanie says:

    Completely stunning, and you made it look so easy!

  43. Maria says:

    That is one sexy floor your got there lady.

    In the picture that says start laying? For one tiny second, I thought you were referring to chickens laying eggs. You were in the chicken laying eggs position in the photo too. I think, as we say in the south, my thinking is messed up!

    I like your floor a lot .

  44. Carey says:

    You are amazing! I know you must hear that all the time from the fella, but I thought I’d just let you hear it from me, too. I’m not sure who I’d rather intern with, you or Nichole Curtis (Rehab Addict). Either way, girl power rocks!

  45. ev says:

    Been wondering how the flooring project was going: now I see! Good for you Karen! wonderful. Love the look and the diagonal flow. You are a special women!

  46. KJ says:

    Looks great, but I’m confused about the waxing. Doesn’t wax build-up on the floor, turn yellow and then have to be stripped off? I thought that’s why everyone stopped using flooring materials that require waxing when they came out with polyurethanes, etc… I just assumed that vinyl tile would be no maintenance.

  47. nancy says:

    Dear Karen,
    This entire floor project has knocked it all out of the ball park!
    Beauty and Function meet!
    Warmly yours,

  48. gabrielle says:

    I agree totally with all the positives put forth for this tile! We have three large rooms that we have tiled in this way (kids room, mudroom and bath), and if you are not convinced, you should check out all the different colours available – really cool combos are possible!

    I have to add one other feature: we laid the kids floor and never got around to sealing it for 20 years. It was marked, scuffed up and grungy like you would not believe! But after repainting the room second time (now a conservatory), I got down and did some some scrubbing and soaking with “Bartenders Friend” (Home Hardware in Ontario), and it came out as beautiful as the day it was laid!

    As someone with a 19th century farmhouse, this serviceable, durable and friendly DIY product is a personal favourite!

    • Karen says:

      Gabrielle – I’m almost SURE I have a container of that somewhere. I bought it then don’t think I ever used it for some reason! ~ karen

  49. kate-v says:

    oh, it is bee-you-tee-full!! (but you had me worried for a while)

  50. Ritz says:

    And you’re funny, too!

  51. Mindy says:

    We put down VCT in our bathroom and kitchen and love it.
    Looks great! Congrats on crossing it off the to-do list. That always feels so good.

  52. Jen says:

    Am I the only one who giggled immaturely at #2 because I thought it said that it is “an easy lay” and then the rest of the sentence just got funnier.

    I may be just me…I have the sense of humor of a junior high boy.

  53. Sara says:

    Karen, you are amazing! You have solved my ongoing flooring dilemma. BTW, I bought some Bogs on your recommendation last fall and just love them. Kept doing all my research for me:)

    • Karen says:

      Great! My neighbours read the blog and are doing the VCT in their basement because of it too! Glad you like the Bogs too. 🙂 ~ k

  54. Barbie says:

    OH Karen ….as I said when you did the video of it…it looks FABULOUS! Good job! I hope you had a nice BIG hamburger!

  55. danni says:

    It does look great. Now. I too, was taken in by the good looks and comfort of this flooring. And maybe in your house, which seems sane-ish, you’ll be fine, but in MY house, within a year, I was having trouble with them. Specifically, the people who live in my house, to whom I am related by blood get water on the floor, and the substrate sort of lifts over time and they come loose. I mean they do it a lot, so maybe not a problem for normal people, but I’d never use it again and never, ever in a bath or kitchen. I have it in a mudroom in the same colors as you, and in the upstairs laundry in cream and a yummy green. And it lifts right up. Professionally installed etc., but I am going to have to address it and I will replace with slate or comething charmless like that.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Danni – You have VCT (vinyl composite tile)? Not regular, residential vinyl tile? You should have that looked at by the company who laid it. There shouldn’t be any problems at all with getting the floor wet. I mean, they use it in hospitals and schools because of its indestructible qualities. Who knows. Maybe they used the wrong glue or … or … I don’t know. Something. ~ karen!

  56. danni says:

    Yup, we have that tile. And I know! that was why we got it bc it looked like the school kind, but I am told that magic ingredient in the old school stuff is asbestos (!) and maybe I didn’t impart the amount of water I am talking about. Like, washing machine overflows kind of water. Around the dog’s water bowl kind of constant dribble of water. And I should have called them back, but given how horrible we are to our house, I felt kind of guilty. Knowing what I know now…. slate in the mud and marble in the laundry. Ah, maybe once we finish the new deck and pergola!

  57. Juliet says:

    Can this be laid down over existing lino or vinyl?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Juliet – Yes it can, but the surface needs to be completely flat. So no noticeable seams or indentations in the linoleum or vinyl. A vinyl floor that’s embossed for example wouldn’t work. But if it’s perfectly smooth and you pay attention to making sure the surface is completely clean and free of dust or bumps you should be good. Alternately, if you have the room and $ you can put a new layer of thin plywood overtop of the old vinyl and use that as your base for the VCT. ~ karen!

  58. jenny says:

    I’m clearly late to the party, but you are my Doing Stuff Hero!

  59. Staci says:

    LOVE this floor and planning on doing the same thing in the kitchen of the house we just bought. Every flooring store I go to I get the same thing: “Really, you want VCT tile?”. Yes, people!! Just sell me what I want already!! 🙂 Can you tell me what colors the Armstrong tiles are? Thanks!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Staci – The colours are classic black and classic white. My Home Depot seems to carry the classic white all the time, but I had to special order in the classic black. ~ karen!

  60. Wonderful job, they look great! It is impressive that you can heat them up and cut them with scissors unlike traditional tiles. I think when tiling with ceramic tiles the most important piece of equipment is the tile cutter, to make sure that they have a professional finish.

  61. Lori Kubin says:

    You are amazing The floor is so awesome. I just had 300 sq feet laid in my kitchen sunroom. There has been a lot of workers finishing the other renovations. The fiord is so dirty. Can you tell me what was you use and how you apply. I also have ab few scratches antsy suggestions. I live it but I am nitj liking the finish as if today. Can you help me?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lori – Have you waxed it? The floor comes with a pour on wax that’s clear. Before you first use the floor you’re supposed to apply 4-5 layers of wax. You pour the first layer and then buff it with a floor buffer. Then repeat 3-4 times. I don’t own a floor buffer so I used a hand held car wax buffer I own. ~ karen!

  62. Myrna says:

    Almost a year later, somewhere in SW Ontario, I’m looking for ways to work around taking out my clawfoot tub when I put down my VCT. Google finally offered up your site and I am glad I did. I’ve used the tiles in the kitchen, love it but was hesitating about getting started with my bathroom project. I knew in theory that jacking up the tub could be done so when I came across this, I just DID it. I’ve decided I’m not going to remove/loosen the taps unless I absolutely have to. I’ve got some tiles to practice with and am bound and determined to get things just right around the three openings, thanks to the magic of the heat gun. And thanks to your post I am back to my usual try anything once self 😉

    • Karen says:

      Excellent! When I posted about lifting the tub with a jack I was actually hoping it would help someone in the same situation one day. 🙂 ~ karen

  63. Lis says:

    Karen, I’m just in awe of your vision and hard work. Beautiful practical space! I’m clearly backtracking thru earlier posts. Question please: just purchased a prefab garden shed with an insulated plywood floor and I’d love to use part of it as a fair weather study/office ( in New England), and as storage / potting room. Do you think this floor would do fine for such uninsulated place? Or would it buckle in no time?

  64. Kathy says:

    Hi Karen… we are considering putting colorful VCT tiles in the kitchen of a house we are buying for my daughter and son-in-law to rent and I’m wondering how you feel about the upkeep of the floor at this point. I’m worried that they won’t be as interested in the waxing and buffing routine and that if they don’t the floors will be covered with scuff marks from shoes, etc. I’m sure they will take pride in their place but whether or not they will want to spend hours of time waxing and buffing, I’m not so sure. Any thoughts you may have, now that you have lived with the floors for almost two years, would be greatly appreciated!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathy. I actually just rewaxed and buffed my floor. It isn’t that bad to do really especially since you only have to do it once a year. But you do have to do it or it won’t have any shine. The other thing you have to keep in mind is the floor can sometimes yellow if it gets too dirty before washing it because the dirt literally gets ground into the wax. Having said that I’d still say it’s a low maintenance floor that withstands a lot of crap! I don’t notice any scuffing in particular. Maybe if you were to really drag something across it but under normal conditions I don’t notice it. I still love it and find it way more comfortable to stand on than ceramic. I hope that helps. ~ karen!

  65. Erycka says:

    Hello, did you add a wax or seal to the top of the tile?

  66. Sarah says:

    ok, so I know this post is old, but I’m looking to put down new b/w vinyl tiles in my kitchen, just like this. But I want it to be pretty and shinny, like in your finished photos! How did you get yours to do that?? Did you seal the tiles, Wax? Whats the secret? I’m having trouble finding info online…

    • Toni Tosh says:

      Just put down vct, wondering what product(s) to use to seal/wax!? Definitely not enough residential info out there. (100 sq ft kitchen)

  67. Rita Kolycius says:

    Karen, I’ve just discovered your blog and IMMEDIATELY drove to Lowes to buy a few samples as I’m in the middle of a kitchen reno myself. Question: there are two shades of whitish tiles. did you choose the “greyer shade” with the bigger flecks or the warmer shade with very small flecks?

    I love ur style of writing too and your taste is divine! i think we would get along…..

    • Toni Tosh says:

      Just put down vct, wondering what product(s) to use to seal/wax!? Definitely not enough residential info out there. (100 sq ft kitchen)

  68. Karen says:

    Now that your kitchen floor is a few years old, I’m wondering how happy you are with it. I have always wanted a black and white floor in the kitchen, and I am totally remodelling right now. We need a thin floor, so the vinyl would work, but I want it to last and be easy care.

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