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Replace old brick kitchen floor?

colleen stanton
4 months ago

We are buying an old home (1800’s but was fully renovated in 1980s) and will be completely redoing kitchen and bathrooms of the house. The kitchen has an old ( dark) brick kitchen floor (Also brick on the walls as well). We don’t find the look of the brick floor warm, but dark and dirty looking. More importanly, husband and I are 65 and both have some back and knee issues. We are thinking of taking out the brick floor and replacing with a wood one. For those of you who have actually lived with brick kitchen floors, do you agree? i’m told they would need to be jack hammered up,


Comments (45)

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    4 months ago

    I am all for a softer floor as for removal it will be a big job but I think a huge improvement . I am 75 and have bad knees and so a tile floor is a no go always

    colleen stanton thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • Anna Devane
    4 months ago

    Some floors just don’t want to be removed easily. Saltillo and brick are hard to take up. i personally think the brick is beautiful and would give it a lot of thought before undertaking the removal. Rugs and runners can add softness underfoot if needed.

    colleen stanton thanked Anna Devane
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  • pkpk23
    4 months ago

    Cover brick on walls which will lighten look of kitchen before you decide on removing brick floors. If you have floors removed, count on expense and a big mess.

    Agree that rugs, runners, and cushion mat in front of high use area like sink will add softness if needed.


  • colleen stanton
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    A friend also suggested a big rug in the kitchen and another by the fireplace. This This would definitely help with the how cold the brick is and how hard it is on our back & legs...but then you won‘t see the brick floor?

  • apple_pie_order
    4 months ago

    There's no point in tolerating risk to yourselves just because someone else made a mistake a long time ago. Uneven bricks and rugs on top of them are trip hazards. Now is your chance to get the floor that will be comfortable, safe, and easy to clean. The bricks would make a nice garden wall if you want to keep them for historical reasons.


    For good results in cleaning bricks, you need to remove excess water from the mortar lines. This can be done with either a special vacuum that sucks up water after washing or with old towels. If you don't do it, your bricks' mortar will get dirtier and dirtier. Some homeowners have brick floors stripped, cleaned and sealed professionally every year or so.

  • Timi M
    4 months ago

    I love the look of the brick, but you don’t and that’s what matters. I would have a flooring contractor take a look and see if it would be possible to lay vinyl or another material on top. Removing will be a major undertaking and a loss if it’s historic to the original home. A future homeowner might cherish its history. Do you have other photos of the space to share?

    colleen stanton thanked Timi M
  • Shannon_WI
    4 months ago

    Everything that @apple_pie_order said is what I was going to say. I am younger than you and my knees could not handle it, and plus the cleaning challenges. And I don't want to mess with rugs - for one to be effective against brick it will have to be thick. So now you have an additional chore of cleaning rugs and making sure not to trip on them. Life is too short. Get a wood floor. The switch will be hard in the way of difficulty and cost, but it will only be hard once, then you'll have a wood floor for years and years.

    colleen stanton thanked Shannon_WI
  • Shannon_WI
    4 months ago

    "A future homeowner might cherish its history."

    @Timi M - the OP said the home was fully renovated in the 1980s. That ship has sailed. I vote for the comfort and safety of the current homeowners, not some vague future homeowner 25 years from now who may or may not "cherish" the brick floors which we do not know are original in any case.

    colleen stanton thanked Shannon_WI
  • inabunker
    4 months ago

    I would lighten up the brick walls first. Pulling up the brick floors is expensive and time consuming. I personally like the look, but I hate dark rooms, especially kitchens and I do understand your concern. I am just thinking that you may like them better when you lighten up the rest of the space. They would add a beautiful contract to a light walled kitchen. You can always put rugs down with a secure tape to soften the hard surface.

    colleen stanton thanked inabunker
  • Timi M
    4 months ago

    Another possibility if you can stand the feel of the brick is to paint or whitewash it. Lots of ideas on Pinterest.

    colleen stanton thanked Timi M
  • colleen stanton
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Update, We will not be living in the house until all the renovations are complete. We do have a large budget for the kitchen and are putting in light cream cabinets and countertops. we will also put in a light gray backsplash over some of the wall bricks between the cabinets and counter We may paint white or leave as is - other parts of the kitchen walls that are brick.


    We have looked into whitewashing the floor and we understand the floor specialist must strip the bricks, wash and treat them and then white wash and then seal them.


    Our main concern is living long term with brick kitchen floors (that are not heated) for the next 25 (I hope!) years when we are in our 70’s and 80’s.


    Anyone who has lived with kitchen floors that are brick that can let us know how hard they are on the knees and back to live with, drop a glass on, clean up a spill on your knees, stand on for a few hours a day, I’d love to hear from.

  • Shannon_WI
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    "for the next 25 (I hope!) years when we are in our 70’s and 80’s."

    Unfortunately, falls are more of a risk in our 70s and 80s. If you fall on a brick floor, you will break something, even if you are younger, and you hope it's not a broken hip. Also, given the nooks and crannies and unevenness of a brick floor, there is more opportunity to trip. If you fall on a wood floor, you could perhaps break something, but wood is more forgiving, and you may not. But a brick floor you surely will.

    colleen stanton thanked Shannon_WI
  • Timi M
    4 months ago

    Shannon_WI - We don’t know that all other historic elements were removed during the previous renovation. If they were, then I’d say remove the brick and add the desired wood flooring. Although they are beautiful, I’m not a fan of wood floors in kitchens as I would spend so much time wiping up any spilled liquids, which happens everyday in my house with dogs :). Maybe several coats of polyurethane helps.

  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    4 months ago

    Yea...I do love the brick but understand it's a fall risk with age. If you can afford it, probably best to remove and go with a flat surface. I'm ambivalent about wood in a kitchen. If you don't want to go with tile, have you considered vinyl/linoleum/marmoleum?

    colleen stanton thanked mxk3 z5b_MI
  • Shannon_WI
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    @Timi M - I have oak floors in my kitchen that are 30 years old. They look great. We do not wear shoes in the house, but I do have dogs and cats. I would wipe up spills anyway, whether I had tile floors or wood floors. I do have a large mat under the water bowls. If spills are on brick, whether it's food spills or dogs slobbering or cat barf, I would not want to clean that off of the rough surface of brick.

  • bmorepanic
    4 months ago

    I would use a commercial style floor cleaner and floor machine on the brick floor before deciding - in that space where it's after you've destroyed the existing kitchen but before doing construction on the new. Your floor looks like it has about 100 years of dirt on it to me. Once it's clean, you might feel differently about it and it can be sealed against future dirt.


    The thing about jackhammering the brick out? You'll want to explore that notion before committing to it all the way and being surprised. Back in the day, they didn't lay brick over concrete. Brick may be the only surface or you might have two feet of mortar.


    Area rugs and mats definitely help with the cold and hardness. You can put a floating floor over it, but be aware of two things. You'd have transition moldings (little wee ramps) at every entrance\exit to deal with the height change. Doors that open over the kitchen floor are trimmed. Stairs will end up with that first step being a bit shorter or longer in height.


    Thing two is that your appliances should always be ON the new flooring but your cabinets would need to be up on "legs" if they are also on the flooring. We did this really successfully and even had a granite counter on top. The toe kick clipped onto the legs. "Legs" could also be as simple as having stainless steel gliders attached to the bottom.


    You can set the cabinets directly on the brick and still have a floating floor by adding some quarter round molding at the base of the cabinet. Your appliances should still be ON the floating floor and not set lower down on the brick. You could try some sort of spacer under the cabinets, but cause of the brick, gliders or shims would be better.


    Cabinet math gets a little tricky if their is a height difference of the floating floor level and the base of the cabinets. Lot's of stuff might get measured from the brick when it should have been measured from the surface of the floating floor. It just ups the chances of mistakes.


    The best thing about a brick floor is that hides everything. The worst part is that without area rugs, any fall is a break or a smash - for dinnerware, food containers, etc. I would vote to keep it for the feeling and warmth. Best of luck to you which ever way you decide.

    colleen stanton thanked bmorepanic
  • mimimomy
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Hi. Much as I love the look of the brick it doesn't sound like it will work for you. I don't think I'd want it in my kitchen (cleaning nightmare!) but I'd love it on a covered patio. I would suggest talking to a flooring installer to find out if they can pour a level coat over it rather than jackhammering- or might even be a different/better method. Seems like then you could put Vinyl Plank flooring over it, which can have a nice resiliency and it comes in lots of lighter colors as well. Also, it is thin so won't appreciably raise your floor height. Good luck :)

    colleen stanton thanked mimimomy
  • Timi M
    4 months ago

    I will add that my 90 year old mother became dizzy one day and fell straight back smacking her head on the hardwood kitchen floor. She sustained a knot nearly the size of a baseball but was otherwise fine. She refused to see a doctor. Two years later at almost 92, she’s still going strong and reads everyday. I shudder to think how she would have faired if that floor had been brick or tile.

    colleen stanton thanked Timi M
  • mimimomy
    4 months ago

    Wonder if you could have electric radiant heat put under whatever flooring you add. Love the warmth underfoot.

    colleen stanton thanked mimimomy
  • colleen stanton
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    floor was put in in 1960- d think thats considered historic?

  • colleen stanton
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Thank you all your responses have been very helpful! what a wonderful group of responses! I love this community and I promise to post a picture of the finished kitchen… It may take awhile…!

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    colleen, it's not historic. Take it out. If you don't do it now, and you get everything else done and move itn, having to demo that brick will be a complete and utter mess. you'll be cleaning dust for weeks.

    Bite the bullet, remove it. no one wants to walk on hard, cold, uneven brick from the 60's, and have to clean up old grime from those mortar joints!

  • Timi M
    4 months ago

    Time for hardwood! Would love to see your renovated kitchen! Please keep us posted.

  • fatherdowling
    4 months ago

    Not brick but we have saltillo everywhere and im only in my 30s but i do the cooking and they are murder on my back. if it was up to me id never work in a litchen with hard floors like that.

    colleen stanton thanked fatherdowling
  • PRO
    Dragonfly Tile & Stone Works, Inc.
    4 months ago

    I would definitely loose the brick now. Installed in the 60's? Hard to know exactly how it was installed but it MIGHT not be easy to remove. Do it anyway while you are not living there and under construction. It won't be good on your body and it isn't anything "priceless" to keep.

    colleen stanton thanked Dragonfly Tile & Stone Works, Inc.
  • M Miller
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    “It would be criminal to destroy that historic fabric.”

    @Joseph Corlett, LLC - Criminal? Really? Some 1960s brick that is hard, cold, nearly impossible to wipe and keep clean, and dangerous to fall on for homeowners aging in place? Why is 1960s brick so precious? It’s brick. It’s not ”historic fabric” like, say, a 1800s walnut millwork, or stunning marble, or artistic plaster work, or even 1960s MCM. It’s not unique, special or irreplaceable. You can get the same brick today.

    @colleen stanton - I think @Beth H. : made a great point - remove it now while you are having other work done. Also while you aren’t living there as you said. If you keep that brick floor you will regret it in the future, but won’t have such a great opportunity as you have now to remove it.

    colleen stanton thanked M Miller
  • socks
    4 months ago

    @M Miller I agree with you.


    @colleen stanton You might be sorry if you keep it. I don't think you'll be sorry if you replace it. You will love a beautiful, new, flat, easy to clean floor. Get a couple of bids from the best people you can find.


    Having it done while you live there will be inconvenient to your lives, so best to do it now.

    colleen stanton thanked socks
  • PRO
    HALLETT & Co.
    4 months ago

    I can’t speak to living with brick floors but I’m working with two clients right now who are removing brick floors. Luckily in both cases they were dry set so came right out. Even in your case a crew of guys will have it out in no time. Do it now.

    colleen stanton thanked HALLETT & Co.
  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I would strongly recommend removing the floor. It's uneven and NOT a good surface. Some brick floors are flat, this is not. Please do NOT place throw rugs. They are a very common cause of falls as people age. All rugs need to have edges essentially fixed to the floor.

    I'm younger than you and there is no way in hell I would ever stand on brick floors for any length of time.

    colleen stanton thanked Anna (6B/7A in MD)
  • Hillside House
    4 months ago

    I would keep the brick. At this point, its been in the house for over 80 years… it definitely deserves to be considered as part of the house’s history.

  • Shannon_WI
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    "its been in the house for over 80 years… it definitely deserves to be considered as part of the house’s history."

    @Hillside House - the OP said the brick has been there since the 1960s. Mathematics say that is not "over 80 years". Furthermore, read this thread and the many reasons listed in it for not keeping the brick. Weigh them against your reason of "part of the house's history" from the 1960s. If that were a good reason, none of the houses from the 1960s would be renovated or updated.

  • Jean
    4 months ago

    Tripping hazard. Remove it.

  • Hillside House
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Sorry for my quick reading/math error, shannon-wi.

    I did read the thread. I saw others’ opinions. I have a different one, and I gave it to the OP, like they asked. My opinion is valid, as is yours.

    FURTHERMORE, if you don’t like my opinion, feel free to ignore it and move on. Tagging me to argue about it is weird, particularly when this isn’t the first time you’ve done it. Quit being weird.

  • Shannon_WI
    4 months ago

    @Hillside House - people tagging others is an internet standard. It is not weird. People tag someone to indicate that they are responding to that person's comment. If you feel it's weird to tag others on an internet forum, you should mention that to every person who tags another on Houzz or any other social media. It's funny that you find tagging weird.

  • Hillside House
    4 months ago

    I find you repeatedly tagging me - while ignoring others in this thread who also think OP should keep the brick - weird.


  • CarolineK
    3 months ago

    We live in an 18th century house that has wood floors in the kitchen and brick floors in the adjacent breakfast room. Like most people, our lives tend to coalesce in the kitchen and breakfast room. The brick floors are not in as good shape (lots of spalling) as yours are, and we are currently investigating options for refurbishing them, which may not be possible given the extent of the damage, or replacing them. Originally, we thought we would have to replace them with reclaimed wood floors, but have come to the conclusion that we would miss the beauty and the "wow" factor of the bricks, and are investigating high-fired brick veneer (with new radiant floor heating) if refurbishment doesn't work out. Does anyone have experience with finding professionals to refinish brick floors? Personally, I don't find the brick floors particularly hard (brick is not as hard as tile). If I did find them hard, I would probably put down a couple of those heavy industrial cushioned mats with sloped edges in front of work areas to avoid a tripping hazard. My husband and I are both 64, and have lived in the house for 30+ years; perhaps if I didn't have the history with the brick floor, I might feel differently.

    colleen stanton thanked CarolineK
  • nycbluedevil_gw
    3 months ago

    I had 1,000 sf of slate floors removed six months ago when i redid my kitchen and some adjoining areas. I moved into the house and tried to live with those floors but they always looked dirty and the unevenness drove me crazy. My floors had lots of mortar in the joints. Taking them up was not terrible at all. Took a day of jackhammering but they came up easily. Best decision I ever made. I say get rid of them.

    colleen stanton thanked nycbluedevil_gw
  • decoenthusiaste
    3 months ago

    Lovely but dangerous. I'd want heated floors instead, but the best conductor of heat is tile; still not a good option for a future retirement home.

    colleen stanton thanked decoenthusiaste
  • nycbluedevil_gw
    3 months ago

    Yes, yes yes, yes to heated floors. when we pulled up the slate, we did hydronic heating. High recommend it.

    colleen stanton thanked nycbluedevil_gw
  • circonium
    3 months ago

    My parents have what looks like the same brick in their 1970s house. I bet yours is from around the same era. It's ugly and awkward. My parents were told it would be expensive to remove so they have lived with it for 30+ years. I vote to rip it out.

    colleen stanton thanked circonium
  • colleen stanton
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks! the contractor says he’d prefer to rip it up it, it will make it easier to put in gas and water lines! yea!

  • Rho Dodendron
    3 months ago

    When I was 30 we moved into a house that had 11 year old brick for a kitchen floor. It was hard to try and clean it and it never was really clean. I don't remember it being hard on my feet but with 2 under age four I didn't stand still very long in one place. It was ripped out 2.5 years later and I have never ever missed it. Maybe it was jackhammered out--I can't remember and the few days of inconvenience was worth everything. The bit of fireplace shown in your picture looks wonderful.

    colleen stanton thanked Rho Dodendron
  • apple_pie_order
    3 months ago

    Please post an update when you are ready.

  • colleen stanton
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Definately! We just met with all of the subs - demolition of current cabinets - etc starts next week. So we don’t expect the house to be ready to move in until september. I’ll post before and after photos

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