After talking some about paying to replace it ourselves and doing research into cost, I ran the idea of painting the floor by my roommate, and though tentative, he was interested. He shares my disappointment in the floor and has been living with it for longer, so he gave me the all clear with the only request being that it be gray paint. And so we scheduled a weekend where we could both deal with having minimum to no access to the kitchen and I started to gather supplies.
In all my research into painting old floors, especially old linoleum tile or tile look floors like mine, everyone had used floor and porch paint (designed for being outdoor and being walked on) and some had used a sealant of some kind but most just let the paint stand up to wear and tear itself.
Luckily my local hardware store had floor paint, and was able to mix it in any color I wanted, so I picked a lighter gray on the paint chip with deep space, the dark dark gray on the kitchen wall, figuring I should keep my grays in the same family. I also got an extender pole for the paint roller and a new short handled angled brush (mine has finally started looking funky after two years of painting all the rooms so I decided it was time) and pulled together inspiration online.
I have always wanted a checkerboard floor but was struggling with it being gray and black or gray and white instead of black and white. That just didn't seem right but as gray was Charlie's only request and he goes along with my whims so much without complaint or comment I figured it needed to be kept as the base.
It was actually my papa who made the lightbulb inducing suggestion. He said what about a pattern with a stencil. And then I looked back through my pinterest and realized of course, I've been pinning images of patterned floors for years. I love to look of elaborate tiles but just figured they were always a dream as they are pricy and also, you know, I'm in a rental, but what a great opportunity for experimenting. Besides if it didn't work out I could just paint over and keep the floor solid gray.
So I played around a bit with designs and did some tests on the old floor with spray paint, and I looked forward to the first scheduled day of floor painting with excitement and trepidation.
I started by moving everything but the fridge and stove out of the room and cleaning the floor twice. Then I painted around the edge. With the first few strokes of paint I knew that this was going to work out okay because the coverage was amazing, and the edges and corners already look a million times cleaner and nicer. The freshly painted white cabinets looked better next to the gray floor as well.
The next step was the most fun. I got to pour a bucket of paint onto my floor. The first coat was definitely the most impactful as I could see the grimy funky floor disappearing under clean fresh paint, and also using the long roller is very fun. The whole thing including edging took about twenty minutes.
And then I settled in to wait four hours before going in for coat number two. Honestly one coat could have been fine but I wanted to make sure all the awfulness was well and truly covered so I figured two coats to be safe. It looked amazing and I was finished just before midnight. In the morning I found myself walking by over and over just to peek and see how transformed the room looked.
I left it to keep drying all day while I was at work and when I got home that night it was time for the stencil. I was very scared about this part because it seemed to have the most chance of failing and or just looking sloppy or amateur or like a bad craft-plosion. So I was sceptical of the outcome and very much leaning towards just keeping it gray. I actually changed the stencil pattern at the last minute as well. And then ruined the first one when it turned out that spray paint started getting really messy after four tiles (the amount I'd done as a tester up at the top) and I had to re-cut the stencil again and then paint over the spray paint portion and try doing the stencil old school with a brush.
When I got through these three and paused to consider and do some math as to how long this might take me. I was also concerned that the brush created a more textured pattern, and you could see minor flaws in each and I started to hyperventilate a bit. But then I took a deep breath and stood up to look at them and reminded myself that no one was going to be crouching on my floor examining my handywork as up close as I was when I was working. And it was true that from standing height it looked much better. I was still not convinced about the final product but decided to continue.
After a few more hours and some snack and stretching breaks, it was looking more like it might work. I was following the 'tile' pattern of the underlying linoleum which is unfortunately not centered in the room, or starting with a whole unbroken tile on either side so there was some odd sized uneven ones all around the perimeter but the first night I was focused on filling in the bulk of the space. Since the stencil was on the floor instead of the wall I found that two tiny pieces of blue tape was all I needed to hold it in place and it was easy to lift it cleanly away after with minimal mess. I did keep a little jar of the floor paint with me and a tiny brush to touch up the most grievous of smudges but found I needed to do that less and less as I went.
It was very late when I finished and my back was sore but I went to bed with the floor looking like this, feeling pretty good about my project.
The next morning I decided to augment my plan yet again, as I liked the boarder of solid gray around the edge, but I wanted it to be even and much smaller, so I put down a line of blue tape, and painted up over it for the remaining area. I had to cut down my stencil as I went, starting with the biggest tiles and slowly removing more and more as I went, like a suicide print, until I was left with a little three inch strip at the very end which looked much the worse for wear.
This is what I spent the morning doing. Not the most comfortable or flattering position but I made good progress and the stenciling was all done before lunchtime.
I was over the moon excited by how this looked and couldn't wait to move the furniture back in and see it all finished. But I had just spent more than twelve hours on my hands and knees painting the floor and I knew that I would be heartbroken if it got chipped or scuffed after all that hard work, so I went back to the hardware store to see what sort of options there were to seal and protect my work. I was directed to an oil based poly which smelled awful and brushed on disturbingly yellow but dried clear. I did two coats that day and left it to dry for 24 hours after the second coat before walking on it (very difficult as at this point we had both gone four days without cooking and were antsy to get back in there) but the following day at eight pm I walked in carefully with socks and tested it out and it seemed to be holding up well, not at all tacky to the touch and wonderfully mirror-bright shiny. With the solid gray paint and the clear coat the texture of the 'tiles' which previously were magnets for dirt and grime, now looked clean and added interest to the pattern, making it look even more like it was tiles as opposed to paint.
I have lived with the painted floor now for over a month and it has held up outstanding. There is a tiny dent where my roommate dropped a frying pan on the first night but it's easy to fix and no one has noticed it but me. It wasn't the easiest project, mostly because it was physically uncomfortable work and time consuming and a bit tedious, but it was also fun, and totally 110% worth it for the outcome. I figure this can easily make it a few years with our normal heavy use and if it needs to be redone then I see that as just an opportunity to try out a new different color and pattern combination. But for now, I am the proud new owner of a custom patterned kitchen floor, and an entirely redone (budget and rental style) kitchen. And I have never been more excited to cook in my life. Or even to sweep the floor!