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karenmoranuk

Help with visualizing Oak floors with reducer

Karenmo
2 years ago

We wanted to add oak flooring to our kitchen to continue the 2 1/4 inch white oak plank flooring in the two adjacent rooms, so the flooring guy was here yesterday to check things out. He proposes adding oak flooring on top of the existing flooring, which can't be removed safely unless we demo the entire kitchen. This new surface would make the kitchen floor about 5/8 inch higher than the floor surface in the two adjoining rooms. From the kitchen to one room, the opening is 55 inches wide, and to the other it is a 30 inch doorway. For both openings, he would craft a reducer strip from oak hardwood, so he can make it fit precisely for the height differential of the two floor areas. I have faith in his craftsmanship, as he's been doing this a long time and is highly regarded in many neighborhoods.

But....what I had in mind was the flow of the same floor surface from room to room, one continuous surface of white oak boards -- not gonna happen! Now I am wondering how much the height change will interrupt "the flow," and if it even makes sense to do this. I'm having a hard time visualizing the end result with the reducer for the height difference, so I wonder if anyone has any photos to share that would show this kind of situation with a height difference as large as 5/8 inch.

Comments (26)

  • A Foster
    2 years ago

    What type of floor is in kitchen. I just removed tile backer board old vinyl and luon to get to plywood subfloor. I cut around the cabinets. It’s messy and will add a day to the job depending on room size but it’s not hard just using a couple of power tools You need to find someone to do the job right.

    Karenmo thanked A Foster
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  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Get a floor guy, who isn't lazy. You may need a GC to do the proper demo ( as above, earn 44 )) , prior to the lazy floor guy.: )

    Karenmo thanked JAN MOYER
  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    This isn't about laziness, it's about safety....


    We are pretty sure that the original flooring in the kitchen (still in place under a later layer of Duraceramic tiles) was a vinyl asbestos tile, installed with asbestos containing adhesive. A few months back, I had lab testing done for the original flooring and adhesive in the nearby laundry -- asbestos in both.

    I'd bet money that the original builder used the same floor adhesive in both spaces.

    So -- to make a wood finished kitchen floor nicely level with the adjacent oak floors, the asbestos containing floor materials and the wood they are attached to would have to be removed. While asbestos abatement procedures are is reasonably manageable when a kitchen is gutted, the process is fraught with difficulties when working around existing cabinetry, with limitations in the use of water to contain emissions, and asbestos containing adhesive here and there on the plywood subflooring that must be cut (and cutting creates dust, makes the asbestos containing materials friable, etc.)....so it is therefore riskier.


    It's not an exposure I want in my home with my family! Since we aren't going to gut the kitchen for proper floor removal with more reliable asbestos abatement, the Bottom Line is we need to keep the asbestos encapsulated as it is now. Sigh. Sadly that makes it impossible for the kitchen floor to be level with the adjacent rooms IF we want to use oak flooring. Currently the floors are all basically on the same level, so adding the wood flooring in the kitchen would elevate it 5/8 inch requiring the reducer at both ends of the space.

    I just don't know if I want to live with the look of the "reducer"; I kinda want to visualize it. Any room photos would be appreciated!

  • eam44
    2 years ago

    Well, Google "uneven floor reducer" and look at the images. They are awful. I'd rather have a step down from one room to another.


    Karenmo thanked eam44
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    So the new floor still has to go under your appliances and 5/8 of an inch will affect how your DW stove and fridge fit after not to mention the kicks will need trimming so please think about all of that before moving forward.It will look something like this


    Karenmo thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Yeah, I think I need to give up on oak floors in this kitchen and maybe slap some sheet marmoleum on it.....something thin would work better.

  • PRO
    Brickwood Builders, Inc.
    2 years ago

    There should be lots of photos out there by doing some searching. Patricia is correct that the addition of one floor over another will prevent appliances from fitting correctly and it becomes a bigger deal than one might think. 5/8" differential is not insurmountable, but it will be obvious. I would probably lean toward not doing anything until the time arises that you can afford a full gut which would include the removal of the asbestos by a qualified abatement firm.


    If you want to move forward, there is an engineered hardwood option that is 3/8" glue down unfinished 2 1/4" oak product. It can be sanded and finished along with the adjoining flooring to the same color. It is not a perfect solution and won't fully address the issue you will most likely have at appliances. It does reduce the height differential to become less of a trip hazard. It is cheaper so that you are not investing in something that you would hate to tear out later down the road.

    Karenmo thanked Brickwood Builders, Inc.
  • cawaps
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I think awful is an overstatement. You do what you gotta do.

    One thing that you could do that is pretty common in older homes is to change the direction of the flooring at the transition, either for the whole kitchen or as a border.

    Karenmo thanked cawaps
  • PRO
    Johnson Flooring Co Inc
    2 years ago

    I was raised in the day when it was normal to have carpet or wood in one room and vinyl in an adjacent room. I figure that difference is about 3/4", so yours would be less than that. The divider and height difference would certainly interrupt the flow, but the alternative to put in linoleum or something would absolutely destroy the flow.

    Karenmo thanked Johnson Flooring Co Inc
  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Brickwood, the installer mentioned that 3/8" product but says the way the oak is cut for it makes the grain very unattractive, and unlike what we have, whereas the oak portion of the 5/8" product is cut the way the boards are so would it would be more compatible.


    Cawaps, changing the direction is something to consider and it might mask the elevation change enough to make it OK. I will check with the installer about feasibility! We would still have that height difference....


    Johnson, right now the flow is already interrupted; we currently have what is essentially a chipped white vinyl floor, so covering/replacing it with something is essential before we sell in a couple of years!


    I just thought it would be pleasureable to have the wood floor. We have no height issues with the fridge and the stove but the DW is another matter, although the installer thought he could cope with that.

  • eam44
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I think Marmoleum would be a great idea.



    Karenmo thanked eam44
  • scottie mom
    2 years ago

    I like the idea of marmoleum also. But I’d do sheet, not the click-pieces. Good luck!

    Karenmo thanked scottie mom
  • SJ McCarthy
    2 years ago

    At this point, with two 'stick down' floors already in place, you will lose any warranty with any floor you choose. A decent, middle priced sheet vinyl (lino is fantastic but its price range is quite high which would be a shame to waste that amount of money on an install that isn't worth more than a few $$ per square foot).


    There is no floor in the world that is allowed over two layers of existing flooring. It doesn't mean it is done, it just means it SHOULDN'T be done. That being said, your choice not to add in the asbestos abatement means you are stuck with something 'cheap and cheerful'.


    Don't spend any more money on this kitchen more than you have to. It isn't worth it with the number of floors already in play. Pick a 'good enough' sheet vinyl. Sign the waiver that says you KNOW you should not lay down another floor over top of the two you already have, and have it installed.


    It will be 'good enough' for the resale in a few years time. But remember: you will be doing the same thing everyone else has done - which is cover up a floor that really should be taken out.


    And once you know you have asbestos containing products in the home, you must reveal that when it comes time to sell.

    Karenmo thanked SJ McCarthy
  • eam44
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Vinyl didn't occur to me -

    (actually I'd move out for a few days and have them do the abatement, and install a proper wood floor; what's under the cabinets is under the cabinets, and there probably isn't flooring under the cabinets anyway. But this isn't me, it's you)

    - but it's a great idea. There are a lot of wood-look vinyl sheet flooring options. They look great in images, haven't seen any in real life.

    We still haven't seen an image of your space. Please post one.

    Karenmo thanked eam44
  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Yesterday, I looked at marmoleum, and there are some lovely colors that would make me very happy. But I realized that most purchasers would not agree with me, and that the oak flooring is the most universally appealing option. So today, I think that's the way to go, even if we have the annoying height transition.

    Eam44, the problem with cutting the old floor out now, cutting around cabinets in the process, is that the cuts would surely go through many small areas where asbestos containing adhesive overlapped beyond the original tiles. There is no dust containment for that which I trust in my home.

    Yes, in hindsight, we probably should have removed the old floor when we redid the kitchen years ago and had the cabinets out so it could have been done neatly with less risk and more reliable containment. If our contractor had understood the asbestos floor situation better, he probably would have insisted on it. But that was many years ago and I bet he knows better now just like I do!!

    Another floor guy came for an estimate today. He had an interesting comment on that 'which way should the boards go' question: consider the way the light falls in the space, along with considering the longways orientation of the room and the board direction in adjoining spaces.

    As requested, eam44 here is a photo for you, looking into the kitchen from the adjoining family room. Behind the photographer is a sliding glass door to a deck, so the light definately falls along the long axis of this room.

    (This pic is sure to generate snarky anti-clutter comments ....but let me just add that we'll soon replace this fridge with a stainless one, which I am told has a non-magnetic front. So the magnets and memos will soon migrate!)



  • eam44
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    It's a much more open space than I imagined. I really do think sheet vinyl or marmoleum would be great - and hardwood is going to darken the space, but if you've decided on hardwood, well, making the decision is more than half the battle. Let us know how it works out.

    Karenmo thanked eam44
  • SJ McCarthy
    2 years ago

    That dishwasher sits TIGHT to the counter top. It is possible you will not get a wood floor underneath. Get on your hands and knees and check to see how much space you have between the bottom of the dishwasher and the floor. Now measure the TOP of the dishwasher to the underside of the counter top. The two measurements COMBINED are your clearance.


    Now that you know your EXISTING clearance, you will have to research the DISHWASHER'S manual to find out the MINIMUM clearance (both at floor level and at counter top level). You CANNOT push past those minimums. It gets REALLY ugly if you do.


    Even with the feet full RETRACTED you MUST leave the minimum clearance to the floor AND the counter top. And look at your oven/stove top. It is sitting BEAUTIFULLY FLUSH with the counters. Oh. Dear. Imagine throwing in another 5/8" of height UNDERNEATH the oven.


    The ONE saving grace: the fridge is free standing with NOTHING sitting above it. You could put it on a 3ft pedestal and no one would have issues with it.


    I really do think a sheet product is the way to go here. I know you want wood but you are adding a great floor on top of a bad floor. It's like throwing good money after bad.


    And how does your installer PROPOSE to install the wood? Floating? Glue down? Nail? Staple? Cleat???? And how level is the floor right now?

    Karenmo thanked SJ McCarthy
  • katinparadise
    2 years ago

    following

    Karenmo thanked katinparadise
  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Last night when I was obsessing about this floor situation, I checked the DW installation instructions and made some measurements of ours. While I didn't pull the under panel off (yet) to verify, from what I read coupled with the measurements, it appears that the feet were extended so the top of the DW would sit flush with the underside of the counter. Based on what I read, there should be some leeway, enough to accommodate the 5/8 inch floor but I will need to talk to the installer about how he will do the edge of the floor there. I worry that it will be tricky since the front corner of the DW is right next to the place where the largest transition/reducer strip will go.

    And as for the range, yes, I am really happy with its current height and wouldn't be too crazy about elevating it a full 5/8 inch....so I'll need to add that to the conversation.

    And for the fridge -- isn't is nice to have three children with one of them giving you no problems at all??!! Minor detail is that the fridge died and we are awaiting the replacement...

    The installer proposes to use an UNFINISHED engineered wood product from Maxwell called Townsend Additions in 2.25 inch wide tongue and groove boards with a quarter inch of oak that is nicely cut ( select or better). He will glue it down (probably after abrading the current floor surface which shouldn't be hard since it chipped easily with average kitchen use!), sand it as needed (and he says this product is so smooth to begin with that it needs little sanding), and then seal & finish it in place.

    http://www.maxwellhardwoodflooring.com/products/


    Because this product is not prefinished, it doesn't have those annoying microbevels at the edges of the boards that make so many kitchen floors look so bad and probably make them hard to keep clean.


    Today the installer left me a piece of one of the Townsend boards leftover from another job so we could visualize it in place. It's red oak and we have white oak, but this is just for elevation size. I have attached photos showing that board at the two openings from the kitchen, first to the family room, and second to the dining room.






    We don't have problems with the floor not being level with the horizon, thank goodness. Yesterday when I was checking on the marmoleum floor I learned that the price for that isn't too much less than for the oak, maybe partly because the marmoleum installer (different than the wood floor guy) has a minimum for labor and our job is so small. We put sheet vinyl in our laundry room this summer (dry lay right over the vinyl asbestos tiles there), and while it is very pretty, from Mannington which has a great selection of patterns, something about the surface texture is sort of annoying. It isn't smooth like the old vinyl floors, but sort of grime catching. I couldn't live with that in my kitchen.

  • SJ McCarthy
    2 years ago

    There are very few glues that will grab the Duraceramic tile. He need to CLEAN that floor within an inch of its life. Then abrade it. Then PRIME IT and then use an adhesive that is WONDERFULLY EXPENSIVE (like $100/gallon = 30sf per gallon) AND allowed to be used with wood and vinyl.


    This is one of the MOST EXPENSIVE installs in the world of flooring. And the floor will not have a single stick of warranty. In fact, if your installer thinks this is going to work, I would ask him to REPLACE the natural warranty the two of you are about to void.


    If you must have the hardwood, please float it. It is one of the only ways you will have to make this type of install work - in the long term. Any WOOD FLOORING PROFESSIONAL that I know of, who is an upstanding professional who knows when to walk away, would simply tell you, "No. I'm not gluing down a wood floor over top of two layers of vinyl. If you want me to do that, you will sign the waiver stating that I have stated I have warned you against it and that you insist on this form of install. There is no guarantee this will work and that any failure is to be expected and not covered under my 1 year workmanship guarantee."


    Remember, your DuraCeramic is chipped. That means it is not intact and therefore NOT secured to the subfloor. Again, this is a real 'no-no' with and glue down floor - of ANY material.


    Please sit down and realize how much this is going to cost for this. It is intensely difficult to get things to grab onto the DuraCeramic finish. You could throw $25/sf worth of material/labour at this and have a floor that has failed within a year.

    Karenmo thanked SJ McCarthy
  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    The chips on the Duraceramic are very superficial. Maybe I should have called them scratches, but they seem too wide and too short for that. I think I might have asked the installer about floating the floor and it seems like there was a reason not to do that -- not sure what. I recall that when I asked about nailing, that would not be possible because the Duraceramic is too hard for the nailgun.

  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Well, I have concluded that 5/8" is just too thick. Thank you everyone for your input and especially SJ who really hung in there with me. I don't think I'd be happy with the reducer thing, and I know that disrupting the height of the stove that much is not smart.

    I think we'll have to go with some kind of sheet vinyl since we can do that as a dry lay in this space, unlike Marmoleum which must be glued since it is not wide enough to do this kitchen with no seams.

  • SJ McCarthy
    2 years ago

    So glad we could help you through the issue BEFORE things got too far! It's the easiest way to save money AND get the product that is the most acceptable in the situation.


    Please send photos of the update once everything has been installed (including the new fridge;-)

    Karenmo thanked SJ McCarthy
  • eam44
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    The hardest (should be the easiest!) change to make is to change your own mind. I think things will go smoothly for you with the right product. Don't get a Mannington floor if you don't like the surface texture. There are so many other options! For a refresher on the differences between sheet vinyl and linoleum, take a look at this article from TOH. Linoleum can actually add value to your kitchen.

    Karenmo thanked eam44
  • Karenmo
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I read the article and looked at some of the companies mentioned. Same problem as with Marmoleum; the rolls aren't wide enough to do our kitchen without a seam. The solution would be to glue it down, sticking with a floating floor seems wisest for this project (no pun intended!).


    Vinyl flooring comes as wide as 13 feet! Lots of patterns and colors too! My struggle now is choosing between something bland & inoffensive (since we'll put the house on the market in Spring 2022 to move cross-country) and going with something more exciting.


    I've had a lifelong fascination with geometric patterns and tiles, and in my initial flooring searches was giddy to find that there is currently a market for vinyl flooring printed with patterns of Moroccan tile, encaustic cement tile, etc. Here is my latest crush, from a company in France, so who knows if it's even available here. I expect most would say is too busy for a resale situation: