Porch Floor Fixup

Even if math isn't your strongest subject, you can still design and install this geometric-pattern floor in just a weekend. Brighten any porch, foyer, or mudroom with this linoleum floor.

+ enlarge image Brighten any porch, foyer, or mudroom with a floor you design.

You don't need a degree in math -- or even a background in art -- to create this eye-popping floor. It's a matter of simple geometry, careful measurement, and a steady hand when cutting the linoleum to fit. For small areas or your first attempt, choose a pattern like the one shown above and opposite, with simple, straight lines and a symmetrical design. For bigger floors (or a bigger challenge), use a single repeating pattern, such as rectangles, diamonds, or even courageous curves -- they're all easy to cut from linoleum.

What You Need:

+ enlarge image An inlay pattern (like the one shown here) is fairly easy to install and maintain.
  • Utility knife and spare blades
  • Tape measure
  • Metal carpenter's square, straightedge, or ruler
  • Pry bar, cold chisel, or scraper
  • Heat gun
  • 6-inch-wide trowel
  • Notched trowel (1/16-inch square notches or per adhesive manufacturer's recommendation)
  • Masking tape
  • Rolling pin (optional)
  • Linoleum adhesive (one option: Henry No. 356 Multipro, which covers 1618 square yards per gallon)
  • Linoleum flooring as required
  • 1/4-inch underlayment plywood (no voids) or cement
  • Backerboard for subflooring (if needed)
  • Floor patching compound
  • Drywall screws
  • Shoe molding for perimeter of room (if desired)
  • Sandpaper
+ enlarge image Photo 1

1. Measure the floor. Sketch patterns for the floor until you find one you like. Draw your design to scale; mark down all dimensions. (You may find graph paper or computer drawing programs helpful for this step.) You may copy the pattern here, but there are lots of other possibilities. For example, you may simply want a border around the perimeter of your room, or you may choose to inlay randomly spaced geometric shapes into a single background color (see Photo 1).

2. Choose a field or background color (we chose green for the floor shown). Select secondary and accent colors as well.

+ enlarge image Photo 2

3. Calculate how much flooring you will need for each color. Add 10 to 15 percent for waste and mistakes. Then look for a supplier in the Yellow Pages under "linoleum dealers." Chances are the retailer will have to order your linoleum from a distributor (see Photo 2).

4. Determine whether the subfloor is perfectly level and smooth. Linoleum, like vinyl sheet flooring or tile, will show bumps, holes, and other imperfections of the floor underneath the finished surface.

1. Measure and mark with pencil the size and shape of pieces directly on the linoleum. Or use cardboard or previously cut linoleum pieces as templates.

2. Cut out the pieces using a utility knife and steel ruler. Change knife blades often so you're always cutting with a sharp blade. Cut perimeter pieces slightly oversize; you can cut them to fit when you lay out the floor. Set the linoleum pieces into position as you cut them out, beginning in the center. Make sure each piece fits precisely.

3. Once the pieces are assembled, tape sections composed of small pieces together. This will make it easier to handle the pieces when it's time to glue them down.

+ enlarge image Photo 1

4. Use a heavy tool, such as a pry bar, cold chisel, or scraper, to remove old flooring and adhesive (see Photo 1). (If necessary, wear gloves, goggles, and long sleeves to protect yourself from debris.) Use a heat gun to soften old bits of flooring and adhesive before scraping; sand smooth.

+ enlarge image Photo 2

5. Clean the subflooring thoroughly and level it with floor patching compound (see Photo 2); let dry according to manufacturer's directions. Uneven floors can be made level by screwing on 1/4-inch-thick plywood or cement backerboard.

+ enlarge image Photo 3

6. Apply flooring adhesive with a notched trowel to one or two pieces or taped-together sections (see Photo 3), beginning with the piece or pieces cut for the center of the room. Position pieces and apply pressure with a rolling pin or by stepping on the section.

+ enlarge image Photo 4

7. Continue applying adhesive and installing pieces (see Photo 4), working toward the room's perimeter. Check that the pieces fit. If necessary, make additional cuts. It's possible to cut very scant slices of linoleum flooring. Smooth the cut edges with a rolling pin, if necessary.

+ enlarge image Photo 5

8. Make final cuts to corner and perimeter pieces in place to ensure a good fit (see Photo 5). You may leave a 1/8-inch gap between the baseboard and flooring if you plan to cover it with shoe molding.

Linoleum, sold by the yard from 6-1/2-foot-wide rolls, is made of natural materials, including linseed oil, rosin (tapped from pine trees), finely ground limestone, wood flour, organic pigments, and jute backing.

As a bonus, gradual oxidation of the linseed oil in linoleum acts as a natural bactericide. Linoleum is also antistatic, making it less apt to collect dust and easier to clean than many flooring products. Typically sold at specialty flooring retailers -- not large home centers -- linoleum costs $25 to $30 per square yard.

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