3 ideas to create a gingham plaid laundry room floor

boomerang formica kitchen countertopI recently asked readers if they could help find a plaid floor for Bernadette’s laundry room similar to the one in the photo at the right. In my online searching, I had come up empty handed, and I offered a bounty — a prize from my secret treasure chest — to the reader with the best idea. Lots of readers contributed ideas, and in the end, I decided it was a three-way tie. Here are the two ideas that, I think, would mimic the look of that 1990’s vinyl sheet tile in the photo.

1. Create a plaid design using floor tile:  The first comment ka-boom was from Sarah, and she is the first co-winner. She suggested:

I don’t know of anything contemporary, but there is a bathroom floor in my mom’s house exactly like this! It’s achieved with 3 sizes of ceramic tile. (The house was built in 1937 but it may have been fixed up about 10 years later). I’m not sure how pleasant that would be in a kitchen, though (although I have seen tiles that small in kitchens before).

Sarah, I agree that a gingham tile floor in a kitchen might be a bit much — unless the kitchen were “small and sweet.” And also: What a lot of grout to try and keep clean. But in a laundry room — it could be just fine, I think.  I created the design shown up top on Dal-tile’s Mosaic Tile Design Tool using colors available in their 1″ tiles. You could also create a plaid mosaic design with a single field tile in the center — such as 4″ center circled by 2x4s at the side and 2x2s in the corner. The trick would be to find the colors you want in the sizes you want…

2. Paint a plaid floor: Over the Retro Facebook fan page, Della pointed to this link from Martha Stewart, in which:  painting expert Eve Ashcraft explains how to paint a gingham floor. Ummm, she makes it sound and look easier than I bet it would be… but if you’re handy, it would be a budget solution, to be sure.

3. Hunt for remnants at stores that have been around a while. Lynne makes it a hat trick (hey: sports lingo! hockey, even! can you believe it!) with my general favorite response to any “where can I find old stuff?” question. That is: Go to old timey flooring stores (or wallpaper stores / or plumbing supply stores / or electrical supply stores / or “fill in the blank” stores — and ask where their old stuff is. In the back? In the basement? In a storage shed? Tell ’em you’ll go rifle through everything… Look what Lynne found, which she pointed to in her answer:

My suggestion would be for Bernadette to try the back corners of the remnant rooms at the small flooring stores. They can keep some pretty old stuff. I recently got a length of aqua and pink speckled inlaid vinyl for my laundry room for .50 a square foot. Six feet wide, and they had a huge roll of it, even in a few other colorways. I’m not sure where Bernadette lives, or how big of an area she is wanting to cover, but I can drive over and take a look-see what “Ralph’s Flooring Fashions” has to offer!

“Aqua and pink speckled inlaid vinyl?” Yeehaw! (Have a pro check the backing for asbestos, though, so’s you know what you have.) So get out there, Retro Renovators! There’s still a lot of great NOS stuff out there to be had!

Sarah, Della & Lynne: I’ll send you an email or direct message to get in touch so’s I can send you your treasure. Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions!

  1. Beth H. says:

    Hi guys,
    I have been researching floors myself lately, so I had to comment on this post. I would skip vinyl and go strait for linoleum. Real linoleum is an all natural, sustainable flooring that does not leech out chemicals into the air the way vinyl can. Linoleum is made from flaxseeds and tree resin. Vinyl is made from heavily processed oil with added plasticizers and stabilizers. Linoleum will last about three times as long as a vinyl floor will and is truly keeping with kitchens of old. Many mid-mod kitchens had real linoleum as vinyl floors had not been invented yet. Depending on where you shop, linoleum is priced comparatively with vinyl.
    Check out Forbo.com and see all the amazing colors they have. They have flat colors, glossy, and marble looking prints. All you have to do is cut out your pattern and glue it down. You could easily do a gingham pattern using varying shades of any colors you wanted. Forbo linoleum comes prefinished so you don’t have to seal it like old linoleum (at least not for years and years) but you can put more sealant over it after you finish your pattern if you are worried about the seams not being completely watertight. If you are unsure of using this material, have a professional install it, but it is apparently very easy to do.
    If you choose to, you can even get what Forbo calls “hotrods” which you basically melt onto the floor if you want to seam two parts together. You can get hotrods in matching colors to blend in or contrasting colors for outlines. Outlining with a hotrod would really give you the true plaid or gingham look!
    Linoleum also takes to painting very well, if you choose to paint your floor. I hope this gives you some great ideas! Please remember, when taking up old flooring that many products used asbestos backing or in the adhesives used to lay the floor. Some asbestos even found its way into flooring up until 1982 even though it was banned in the 70’s! My floor guy recommended that if the existing vinyl was in good condition with no bumps or tears, to lay the new floor directly over top of it to avoid any chemicals that might be hiding under there. Good luck, happy renovating!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Thank you, Beth, for your comments. Re: Asbestos — I mention this issue often — I would not take ANYONE’s advice on cut-off dates: If you have an old home, consult with a pro regarding what is in the materials so that you can make an informed decision.

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