The Biggest Mistake I Made During My Budget Kitchen Renovation

updated May 3, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Diana Liang)

Anyone who’s ever done a renovation on a budget knows that you have to find places to cut costs. Everything can’t be a splurge, after all. When my husband and I redid our home’s third floor to make it a full-time Airbnb, we were starting from scratch, so expensive things like HVAC systems ripped huge chunks out of our budget. I knew we had to restore the gorgeous original wood floors, and that meant another big expense.

Despite pinching pennies and getting creative with things like a bathroom door that we made from a $20 vintage office door at Habitat ReStore, a cabinet from an architectural salvage shop, and going the IKEA way with the kitchen sink, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel when it came to the kitchen floor.

But that was okay, because I’d always liked the idea of a simple black and white checkerboard floor, and that happened to be among the cheapest options. Literally pennies per square foot at Menards, the tile was a much-needed reprieve from all the other costly things adding up. Bonus: The tiles were light enough to not be a big deal to carry up to the third floor!

When it was done I was in love. So retro, fun, and perfect with our vintage stove (another ReStore score)—so clean, so cheap!

The honeymoon lasted maybe a week.

We have hardwood floors or tile throughout the first two floors, and had the same in our last house. So maybe we went in a bit naive. But I was still a little surprised to find that the cheap vinyl floor immediately started to look janky. It scuffs and scratches at the slightest provocation—not great when you have dogs and run an enthusiastically dog-friendly Airbnb. And I have no idea how, but it seems there are pebbles (?) or something that have worked their way under the surface that have become these big knot-like imperfections. Okay, maybe not big, exactly, but certainly weird and noticeable.

It shows dirt like mad on both the white and the black tiles — which I guess may be a positive because we work harder to make sure it’s clean. Some tiles won’t come clean no matter how much we scrub, though. And in the sections where it had to be cut to fit along the walls and door, the pieces have simply just come off the sub-floor. I actually bought some black Gorilla tape to tape the pieces down at the threshold where they were continually coming up. Keeping it classy, right there.

We’ve had the vinyl tiles in full-time use for a little more than a year now and I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I’ve had success with painting vinyl floors, so am considering that. Or I could throw a big IKEA rug on it. I definitely don’t want to pay for porcelain tile, but if I could go back and do it again, that’s what I’d have done. The few hundred bucks we saved going the budget route was definitely not worth it in this case. I’ll chalk it up to the never-ended learning process in renovations.

Do you have experience with vinyl tiles in your kitchen? What did/do you think about them?

This post original ran on Kitchn. Read it here: The Biggest Mistake I Made During My Budget Kitchen Renovation