Today Monique H. writes:

I bought a house that was built in the sixties. I have one and a half bathrooms which have the painted ceramic floor tile. They were obviously not done correctly because they are impossible to clean and dirt literally sticks to them. I can only clean them with Clorox wipes and a towel. I am trying to figure out my best option for refinishing my floors and cost is a factor.

I was thinking about stripping them and repainting them myself, but I have no idea what color would work? I would love to replace the tile myself but I have no idea what the subfloor is like? I thought about using vinyl squares, but I am worried about the moisture (and my seven year old son). Please help, this is stressing me out!  Thanks, Monique H.

Monique, you definitely need to know what your subfloor is before undertaking putting new tile down.  Since there is existing tile already down, you may luck out and have a great subfloor that can withstand the weight and thinset already in place.  Then again, you may not.

Painted Ceramic Floor Tile Removal

Another thing to consider is that removing the old tile will take a lot of work and muscle. Not that it can’t be done, just that if the tile was installed correctly you will be chiseling it out by hand….each tile. Make sure you look online and watch a couple of videos on how to remove old tile before you get started.  A lot of people fizzle out before it comes to installing the new tile because they weren’t prepared for how labor intensive it is. To say that it’s hard work, is putting it mildly.

Stripping the paint and repainting the flooring is definitely one way to go. Just be aware that you may have some of the same problems in the future. So it would certainly be the most cost-effective way to go, you should still expect a fair amount of labor involved in the process. Also, make sure if you do go the painting route, that you give the new paint a good coat or two of sealer. This may help stop the dirt from being attracted to the new paint in the future.

As for putting down vinyl tiles, it may entail a fair amount of work as well.  Yes, bathrooms are rarely easy. Because you will have to prep your subfloor, you will need to fill in the grout joints to ensure you get a good surface for the vinyl tiles to stick to. Then I would also use a vinyl seam sealer to go around ever single tile, as well as using caulking around the bathtub, vanity and toilet. It may seem overkill, but this will make sure the tiles can live up the water abuse a seven year old can dish out.

Have you considered going with a floating vinyl plank flooring? It would cause you to be less concerned with water being thrown around the bathroom because most brands are water-resistant and considered to be perfect for wet areas. In addition to being able to be installed over your existing flooring without any prep to your subfloor at all, it is more expensive than other alternatives at around $1.75 a square foot and up. Then again, it could be less work in the long run.

Remember that floating vinyl plank flooring is not fool-proof though. It must be installed exactly to the manufacturers instructions to do well over time. If you can follow the directions to the letter it is a great flooring, then this may be a match for you.  Is it a good product overall? Most of the reviews you’ll find on the internet give the product a bad name. But in my experience they are caused by being installed improperly. So the poor reviews are done according to user error. If you are methodical, then this is the floor for you regardless of those who “screwed it up” and then reviewed it poorly.

Things to be aware of? First of all, you don’t get a second chance to match the planks up. The glue on the edges of each plank is sensitive and you have to take your time and carefully place each plank together. Not doing this will cause the edges to lift over time, especially as the weather changes and the planks expand and contract.

Another reason vinyl plank floors fail is because people fail to give the boxes adequate time to acclimate to the new climate. You must have the boxes in the room to be installed for a minimum of 48hours prior to installation. In this respect, aspects of floating vinyl plank flooring is exactly like laminate flooring.

No matter what option you go with you don’t have to be stuck with a floors that are so difficult to clean you can find awhile around it. Whether you go with stripping and repainting, vinyl tiles or floating vinyl plank flooring you do have options. They just depend on your budget and how much work you are willing to do. Cost vs convenience will be your guide.

Do you have questions about the selecting or the installation of: tile, carpet or wall treatments (window blinds, etc)? Then email me your tale of woe(diva(at)homemakeoverdiva.com) and perhaps I will be able to answer your questions right here at the Home Makeover Diva Blog.

Written by Amanda Hartley