Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Uncle's basement gets a new floor

After I picked up these barstools to mate up with the bar I found last winter, I finally had an idea for a color scheme for the basement floor.  I've been planning to re-do the floor since we moved in, but I needed time to come up with the right inspiration for colors and pattern.  The original old brown tiles have seen better days and they make the room look too dark.  So I decided to put down new 12-inch tiles in a combination of red, black, and gray (the white tiles show too much dirt, as I've learned in our kitchen).

I got the black and gray tiles at the local big box hardware store, but the lipstick red tiles were special ordered.  Here's a shot of the new tiles in progress. 

I used some graph paper to play around with patterns and finally decided on this approach.  The  gray will dominate, with equal parts red and black.  I like the zig-zag pattern for this room.

I've gotten pretty far, but there are still a couple corners to finish in the big room, and then I need to nail in new quarter-round baseboard trim to give it a finished look.  These are Armstrong tiles, and if you try carrying a box of them, you'll appreciate the name "arm strong."  The glue comes in a five-gallon bucket, and you use a trowel with teeth to create a grooved base of glue.  And the glue sticks like crazy!  

I'm gluing right on top of the old floor, which may have asbestos in the tiles, so that's another reason why I want the old floor covered up.  Once I finish this room I have a hallway, another bedroom, and an area in the unfinished part of the basement devoted to the dryer/man cave.

It's not too hard to get started on a project like this.  I like to find the center of the room and strike a chalk line to split the room lengthwise.  Then you start laying the first row along that line, with the edges of the tiles butted up to the chalk line, and go from there.  I'm somewhat spatially challenged in that I have to really study the drawing and double check that I'm laying the right color down to keep the pattern going.  I didn't stick entirely with my drawing - if you study the photo below you'll see that the red/black pattern is reversed in one diagonal.  I like the variation.

You really have to be careful not to get too much glue under a tile or it will squirt up through the cracks between the tiles, and then you have to wipe up the excess glue and try to avoid stepping in it. If you walk on the tiles before the glue has dried, they will slide around so you either lay them so you have an escape pathway, or you walk very gingerly.  I still end up pushing tiles together, and that leads to more clean up of excess glue.  I'm wearing a pair of old shoes I intend to throw out when I done laying the tiles. 


  1. Your new floor looks AMAZING!!! Great job! I completely know what you are talking about with these tile boxes being SO heavy, as we just had my Mom's floor done in these type of tiles. I wish we would have had the time to lay the floor ourselves because it really is pretty easy once you get the pattern decided on. Next time we will totally lay this floor on our own though!

  2. This is a REALLY nice look to your floor! Would you mind divulging the pattern name please? I went over to the Armstrong site and got totally confused... I have a lot of the Brookpark Arrowhead plates from the Fifties in red, chartreuse, gray and dark green that it would be fun to work into a kitchen floor...maybe all would have to be custom? Thanks and this is my first comment even though I've been following your blog for many months bad! 8-)

  3. Glad you like it Sara, and you definitely can do this yourself. I use an old wetted rag to wipe off the excess glue and if I miss some I'll get it later with either a razor blade or some mineral spirits and a rag.

    Bandita, thanks! and welcome to the blog

    Crystal, welcome! It's great to have comments and I appreciate yours. As far as I know I made this pattern up, but it's probably not original, very little is. I like your idea of mimicking the dish pattern for your kitchen floor. All you really need to get started are some colored pens and some blank graph paper, or just draw a bunch of squares on blank paper with a ruler. I started by doing the red on a stair step angle, then followed by adding in black beside it, and let the blanks represent the gray. This was the fifth or sixth pattern I tried making. If you look carefully, you can see my graph paper "map" at the bottom of the fourth photo above. I figured with three colors I could afford to freestyle it - if I made a mistake I'll just call it artistic license!

  4. It looks great! We have the same faux cork tiles in our basement. We are going to go with carpet squares in a stripe pattern to give a retro feel, but keep it warm. Your choice looks so good!

  5. I hope that will work well for you Beth. I thought about those carpet squares, but we've had heavy rains here twice the last three years and got water in the basement. And we have pets, who think any carpet equals the great outdoors.

  6. Nice color scheme! It is clean and crisp. It makes your man cave look so vintage!

  7. Thanks Amber, I can't wait to have it done

  8. Love it! Can't wait to see it finished.

  9. Thanks 59 - I've done most of the easy work, now I'm on the real time consuming part, cutting and fitting all the edge and doorway pieces of tile. I hate that part, it takes a lot of time and energy, but it's slowly coming together.