Let me start this post by saying we haven’t done laundry in over a month.
Because ever since we finished the laminate wood floors, our laundry room has looked like this.
Yep, remember that icky white cracked tile we had throughout so much of the house? When the guys demo’d it out of the kitchen and entry way, we asked if they could remove it from the laundry room too. (Oh yeah and that hulk of a freezer that used to sit in there? Sold that beast!)
After the tile removal, our washer and dryer were covered in a nasty layer of dust that somehow got inside the things too. They needed a major cleaning before we could actually use them, but since we were planning on moving them to the garage while we installed new tile flooring, there wasn’t much point in cleaning them until it was time to bring them back in.
But installing your own tile is intimidating. Especially when your floor is currently a hot mess.
So we mayyyyyy have put it off a while. But finally last weekend, we went to Home Depot, showed them pictures of the floor, and asked what we needed to do to prep it for tile. They suggested using a patching compound, which is similar to the self-leveling compound (aka float) the floor guys used to level our floors for the laminate. Here’s what we got:
It’s sort of like concrete. You get a bucket, pour in this bag of dusty stuff, add a certain amount of water, and then attach a giant egg beater to your drill and whip it up like batter. Then you have about eight minutes to spread it perfectly level before it sets. Sounded
fun challenging really scary! But we were excited nonetheless. Perhaps it was the fact that we didn’t want to go buy more underwear (yet again), or perhaps it was the fact that dust from the laundry room had made it to our brains… but we decided to give it a go.
Before we could get to mixin’ and patchin’, we had to remove our washer and dryer. First we turned off the gas valve leading into the dryer and detached it from the dryer itself. Next we detached the lint vent thingy (like my technical terms?) from the wall. Then it was heave ho and out the door!
The washing machine was a little more difficult. Before doing anything, unplug it from the outlet and then turn off the water valve (usually located in a little recessed area of the wall with two tubes coming out of it). Then unscrew the hot and cold water tubes from the back. Water is guaranteed to leak out where the tubes connect to the back of your washer even after the water is turned off, so have a bucket and a towel handy. It’s not a ton of water (unless you’re like us and turn your water valve the wrong way on your first try), but still you don’t want to make a mess.
We got our washer and dryer into the garage and our laundry room was left looking quite barren. And look at our floors. Ewwwwww. You can see where our water spilled from the washer. To make things easier to clean, we tied up all the tubes coming out of the walls so that they didn’t get in the way.
We then had to give our floor a big sweep. You have to get it as clean as possible before applying the patching compound. Evan used a big broom for the bulk of the room and I got the perimeters with a vacuum. (That entire sentence kinda rhymes).
Even though the inside of our laundry room was a little cleaner, our garage had seen better days…
To finish up our floor prep, we used a straight board to find all the low areas to mark for patching, and we taped up the padding that was under our laminate floors where it ran into the laundry room.
At that point, we had prepped all we could prep and it was time to hold our breath and mix the patching compound. First use a yardstick or measuring tape to mark inches up the inside of your bucket. This will help you know how much water to add. Then you pour the bag of compound into a large bucket (be careful, if you pour it from too high up it will just puff dust into the air).
Follow the instructions on the bag to see how much water to add. Ours was one part water to three parts powder. This is where your measurement marks come in handy… just see how far up your compound is in the bucket and do the math to figure out how much water to add. It’s not as hard as Evan’s expression makes it seem, promise.
Then you pop your mixing attachment (sort of like a giant egg beater) onto your drill and mix the compound. It starts out liquidy and bubbly.
Just keep mixing until it is fully blended. It should be like thick gray pancake batter.
Next we just kinda poured the whole bucket out on the left half of the laundry room where the floor was lower and rougher. This method worked out ok but I’m not sure it was the best way to go about it.
Once you pour it, grab your flat-edged trowel and work quickly! You only have about eight minutes til it’s too thick to spread, and that time goes by really fast. I tried to get a picture while we were spreading it but I was rushed so it’s not the best photo.
We tried to get it as smooth as we could but it’s not easy! After it was too dry to spread any more, we posed for a couple fake pictures to show what our system for spreading was. Evan used a board to spread the compound over the large area, and I went around the edge of the room to smooth it out along the wall.
This is how it looked when we were done with this side.
The other areas we needed to patch were around the perimeter of the room and a couple random spots. Since another full bucket of patching compound would have been too much, we decided to just mix a little at a time in plastic cups. We also cut one of the cups to use as a measuring cup so that it was easier to get one part water and three parts compound. We eyeballed the water, then scooped the compound.
Then we mixed it with a wire hanger until it was the same consistency we got it to in the bucket (sorry for the blurry picture).
It was MUCH easier to do it this way because we had less compound to spread at once. We used the trowel and a plastic knife to get all around the perimeter of the room.
Here’s how it looked after a few cup-fulls of patching compound.
And by the next day, our floors looked like this!
At first glance we thought we were pretty badass. Then we took a closer look…
And it was not so pretty. We also busted out our yardstick to see how level it was, and what we found is that even though we fixed some areas, we made other areas worse. See how far off the ground the yardstick is? That’s not good for laying tile.
Womp womp. So basically, in order to fix this problem we’d have to rent a cement grinder to grind down the high spots and/or use self-leveling compound (different from patching compound) to fill in the low spots. This meant more money and more things we could potentially mess up. And the floor needed to be perfectly level and smooth for us to lay tile, otherwise the tile would eventually crack.
So briefly we thought maybe we could do vinyl tile instead since those won’t crack, but then we’d still have to add self-leveling compound to raise the height of the floor (since vinyl tile is thinner, it alone wouldn’t raise the floor anywhere near the height of the adjacent laminate flooring). And upon further research we found that the floor still needs to be perfectly smooth for vinyl too, so we’d STILL have to get a grinder and/or self-leveling compound.
So long long story short… we decided to hire out our tile install.
I guess you have some DIY wins and some DIY fails. This one was fun to try on our own, but it ended up being more difficult than expected and we didn’t want to mess up our floors any more than we already had. With such a small room we are hoping it won’t be too expensive! We’ll keep you guys posted on how things go from here.