• Kim

How I Saved $1000’s By Fixing My Vinyl Plank Floor

First, Some History

Let me tell you, if you don’t already know, that our home was built sometime before 1850.  I have an article written about our homestead, that says the buildings were all in disrepair by the 1860’s, so we assume the house or at least part of the house, is close to 200 years old. 

The floors in our house are pine boards, and we have painted the downstairs floors a gray-green color that is just right, in my opinion. Every year or so, I go along and touch up the paint that may have worn off or been scratched, and it looks like new. The other thing about the floors in an old house is that they are rarely even, or for that matter, level. There are ridges and dips and thresholds - some of the things that give character and charm to old houses. 

Our Kitchen Floor Saga

Several years ago we removed all of the (layers upon layers of) old linoleum from our kitchen floor, hoping to be able to paint those floors also. But for some reason, the kitchen floor was in terrible shape. There were worn places where the surface dipped drastically, and even some places that had holes which had been patched with flattened tin cans. Goodness! We are pretty experienced DIY-ers, so my very handy husband was barely phased and cut new boards that he inserted into the places where the holes were and we went ahead with painting the floor. It was fabulous...until it wasn’t.  The painted surface was hard to keep clean with little kitchen spills and the hair of 2 dogs. The cracks were especially troublesome, and I always felt like I couldn’t keep the floor feeling fresh and clean no matter how hard I tried. In the end, we shopped around and decided to install a vinyl plank floating floor. I love, love, love my pine-look vinyl floor. We laid down a subfloor first, installed the flooring in a weekend, and we thought we were set for years to come. 

What Happened?

A little over a year ago I started noticing some white places on my floor that were located over an uneven spot or where an old nailhead had started rearing its head up underneath the subfloor. My floor was wearing through and obviously the color did not go all the way through the material (contrary to what I had been led to believe). I started researching to see if there was any way to fix the floor but came up with nothing. So I put down some throw rugs in places where that was possible and thought... And thought some more. 

My Unsuccessful Attempts At Fixing The Floor

Early on I tried to color the white places with a wood repair marker, but the color came right off. One day I discovered there was such a thing as a vinyl floor patch kit, and I ordered it for $40. By this time, there were a lot more white scratches and patches and I was just sick. You see, we didn’t just have this floor in the kitchen (although the uneven kitchen is the only place that has given us this trouble). We had placed it in the adjoining laundry room and also in an entryway in the living room. I did not want a bunch of different wood floors and I was upset and embarrassed that we had been such poor shoppers and floor-installers that this would happen. I bought the patch kit and it was unbelievably difficult and just plain horrid to use. It was actually white putty that you had to mix with just the right amount of drops to match the formula for multiple different brown floor colors. Guess what? There didn’t seem to be a color combination for any of the shades of our floor. And furthermore, applying it was a nightmare, and afterward it looked exactly like dried mud had been smeared onto my precious floor. I threw down my throw rugs and tried to ignore it for a while longer. And lived with it for about 9 more months. 

What finally worked

I finally called a highly recommended flooring store and was told that generally vinyl plank flooring won’t work over old uneven floors and that we would likely be happier with sheet linoleum. I do believe she was right because we do have sheet flooring in one other place in the house that has been down for well over 20 years and is in perfect condition, even though the same ridge runs across that room. So I started thinking about replacing all 3 floors with something that I would like and that would wear much better.

But I still wasn’t happy about spending thousands of dollars just a few years after installing this flooring that was steadily getting worse. So I decided to make a new attempt at applying color. I first tried a permanent marker, but I couldn't get one in quite the right shade. I FINALLY found (on Amazon) some special markers for wood-look vinyl floors and I sent for one in"maple" and the other in "walnut", for a total of $20. When they came I got busy scrubbing off the mud-looking paint with a magic sponge and applying the new markers...

...and it was a miracle!

My floors look SO much better. The shades are perfect and even the one worst and biggest area is nearly undetectable. Look below at the before and after photos. I am so thrilled that I just had to write and post these pictures.

It is true. For $20 I fixed my floor and saved us thousands of dollars! Happy Day!

The whole area with defects marked

My wonderful floor after fixing (light areas are camera glare)