John’s kitchen before-and-after: Linoleum tile flooring transforms the room

From this:

checkerboard floor prep

To this:

checkerboard floorAtomicHipster John has been updating (well: backdating) his ranch house in Western Mass. for a while. His latest project: Installing Marmoleum linoleum tiles in his kitchen, using a pattern he devised himself to make the most of the design of the kitchen and his desire for a red, black, and light gray palette. Party on for more photos and information about this impressive kitchen transformation.

checkerboard floor

John writes:

Hi Pam, My kitchen floor is all finished now and furniture has been moved in. It was installed last Monday and Tuesday by Manny from Summerlin Flooring in Amherst, Ma.

checkerboard floor

New subfloor for the linoleum

Manny was great, he was very professional, cleaned up after himself and made several suggestions I never would have thought of that really helped with the finished look. Paul, Manny and the rest of the gang at Summerlin were so helpful and made my dream floor become a reality with no hassles to speak of. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

checkerboard floor


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  1. Pat M says

    This is a fantastic job, well done! I do love the design, too. It looks great from every angle. John, You have a right to be proud!

  2. Annie B. says

    Congratulations, AH John, on a brilliant design. Dynamic is right. The light gray is a perfect complement to the red and black. Great kitchen. Love the “Big Boy” on your serving cart.

  3. Meredith R. says

    I love your floor John and I love Amherst MA (used to live there, now in CT). I am leaning toward Marmoleum for our kitchen. I’m assuming these are the regular tiles…did you consider using the Click tiles? [discussion of potential ways to deal with asbestos — edited/removed by Pam. People: Consult with licensed professionals to make your own informed decision. I DO NOT allow advice to be given on this site — consult with professionals!]

    • Karen says

      You know, in my experience, the Click tiles were a real game changer (though they are sitting right now in boxes in my kitchen, so I cannot attest yet to the DIY installation or finished floor…).

      I HAD to have colored, checkered flooring for our kitchen, so I priced Armstrong, Marmoleum, and Marmoleum Click at several locations (online, big store, small local store). Marmoleum is pricey. Armstrong VCT, SUPER affordable –right? Well, because we needed a new subfloor with glue-in anything (as did John, I see), and with glue-in, I wanted professional install, it turned out that Marmoleum Click (with DIY installation, and from the neighborhood shop) was actually quite a bit more affordable than Armstrong VCT (with professional install) — about HALF the cost, in fact. This thrilled and surprised me! When I asked about Marmoleum, and then asked about Armstrong VCT, the flooring guy looked stunned, and said to me, “Well, you wanted the BMW, but now you’re asking about the Hyundai.” (I know nothing about cars, nor if his analogy was valid, but his tone said it all).

      • pam kueber says

        I would not call Armstrong a Hyundai. It is a perfectly respectable tile — will last forever. It’s a different look than linoleum…

        • Karen says

          As soon as I submitted the comment, I regretted relating the anecdote, simply because I know they are different products that both work perfectly well in different situations! Mostly, I was shocked that pricey Marmoleum could be a cost-effective alternative to pocket-friendly Armstrong — no disparagement intended — I’ve seen beautiful Armstrong floors featured on this site! Thanks Pam!

          • pam kueber says

            No problem, thanks for the clarification, Karen. There are solutions for everyone. I really appreciate your sharing the info you have about the cost of Marmo click vs. vinyl tile that may require a new subfloor. My experience also is that labor to get stuff done can vary quite significantly location to location so… do the homework! Which it sure sounds like you and John both did!

    • Meredith R. says

      Hi Pam – I really was not intending to offer or solicit advice so I’m sorry it came across that way. My intention was to get at some of the questions J D Log asks below.

      Karen – your info on Click is extremely helpful. Thanks! Would love to know how the install goes.

  4. JKaye says

    This floor is really impressive. It’s a bold design but doesn’t overpower the rest of the kitchen. Also, I like how this kitchen has a lot of retro touches, yet doesn’t look like it is just for show. It looks like everything in it is there for a reason as well as to be enjoyed for its appearance. Good job!

  5. Bluestocking says

    I plan to put a Marmoleum tile checkerboard (cream and blue) into my bungalow kitchen because the unearthed original tiles are in pretty rough shape. My contractor is against them,I think because he is unfamiliar with the install. The house is summer only and unheated all winter. Does anyone have experience and/or knowledge about Marmoleum in cold climates? I understand that the room must be warm before and after the install.

    • pam kueber says

      Bluestocking, you should call Marmoleum’s customer service and ask their recommendation. What do their specifications and their warranty say about longterm installations in unconditioned spaces — that’s the question.

      • Bluestocking says

        Forbo says it will be fine as long as we use th specified adhesive so I’m going forward with the plan, once the room is warm enough. Thanks.

  6. John aka AtomicHipster says

    I try to use everything I buy rather than it just being for show. I also love diners so I tried to reflec that in my kitchen with menus from area diners and pictures of diners by Dan Sawyer who lives up in NH I believe.

    Thanks for all the nice compliments about my floor. It was a labor of love.

    John aka AtomicHipster

    • Just another Pam says

      Perfect Valentine love, John.

      Beautiful job, beautiful floor….how beautiful? First time I’ve been sorry that I didn’t include red in my back hall and stairs and I really LOVE black and white.

  7. J D Log says

    Hi John,
    it really looks great, your original floor was tile? and you had to lay a subfloor over that or did you rip up the floor tiles?
    Was felt an option instead of the subfloor?
    Is Forbo less slippery then the Armstrong?
    Are you happy with the size of the tiles 13″ x 13″ ?
    Sorry for all these questions but I will have to look at this same sort of job in late April

  8. Nancy L says

    I love the graphic design of this kitchen floor! I’ve been looking for ideas for a small bathroom online and came across the website for modular tiles. They allow you to create a custom design with circles as well as squares. My question is: Have any of you ever used this product and what do you think? Any info. would be greatly appreciated. I’ve read all about the product on their website but I want to hear about personal experiences.

  9. Karen says

    Pam, could you explain the “different look” between linoleum tile and VCT tile? Also, I’ve heard people shy away from linoleum due to the maintenance, but just read on one of your posts that one must strip, polish, and buff VCT “regularly” to maintain it. So which of the two requires more maintenance? Thank you!

    • pam kueber says

      Karen, I am not an expert on maintenance issues — consult with the companies that you are looking at.

      As far as “the look” goes, VCT can be designed to look just like linoleum and vice versa, I think….

      • Karen says

        Pam, I realize you are not an expert on maintenance, but I was reading your post (not this one) about your own kitchen in which you stated you must strip, buff, and polish VCT to keep it looking good. I had never heard of this before, so I wanted to inquire about your own particular experience, now that you have lived with your new floor a while. Perhaps I should have put my question under that particular article and worded it differently and it would have made sense. . . As far as “the look,” my question was trying to clarify what you said above in response to a different Karen (not me) on Feb 14, 2012, that “It’s a different look than linoleum…” I had always thought, like you just responded to me, that “VCT can be designed to look just like linoleum and vice versa,” so when I read the Feb 14 entry, I was a little confused and trying to get clear. Sorry.

        • pam kueber says

          Hi Karen. Sorry this got so tangled.

          As years have gone by and the longer I’ve blogged, I’ve found that there are more and more manufacturers introducing possible-use products. Each or many have different qualities and these can change over time, so my response to check current status reflects that fact. For example, I recall doing a feature a while back on one linoleum maker who said their product was easy-maintenance. Relatedly, there may well be vinyl and vinyl composite floorings that do not need to be polished. And, as time has gone on, I’ve seen some examples of vct that resemble marbleized linoleum, and linoleum that has a bit of the look of vintage VCT. So, it’s hard to answer the question so broadly. Have you taken a dive into our Flooring subcategory? In the very first feature box we have a story on 25 companies to research for vinyl, linoleum and cork that might be suitable for a Retro Renovation. Dive in!

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