End grain wood floors are my favorite floors. I fell in love with the floors at The Frist Art Museum. I have coveted them for as long as I can remember. The minute I entered the building BEFORE there was a museum there, I was taken by the floors.
You see, before "The Frist" was "The Frist", it was the Nashville Main Downtown Post Office. The majority of the Art Deco building has these incredible end grain wood floors. Of course, the lobby of the building where the public was allowed during the days of being a post office has spectacular terrazzo floors. Those are lovely, but I preferred the wood floors that were built to withstand heavy industrial abuse. And they survived very well all these 85 years later. The building was constructed between 1933 - 1934 financed by money from the Hoover administration. Let's just say, they don't build them like that anymore. When The Frist foundation turned this lovely building into our main art museum, all the floors were refinished lovingly. They are a wonder to behold.
Here are a couple of pictures of the end grain wood floors at The Frist Art Museum during a Nick Cave Art Exhibit in 2018 as they are now:
Just by these two pictures, what's not to love? Inspiration at its finest.
When we decided to downsize and buy my mother-in-law's house, we knew there was going to be a total gut and remodel. One of the things that was first to go was the kitchen floor. Obviously, we were not keeping the linoleum. My MIL loved it, but I did not. No offense to her, but it was time to retire it. Besides, in my mind, at least part of my kitchen floor would be end grain wood......IF I could talk my contractor into it. It was a fight with my husband, as most all of the remodel was, but it was a fight I was willing to take on. Everyone, including Ken, was and is thrilled with the end result.
KITCHEN FLOORS BEFORE:
Now, before I go straight to the During and After pictures, I need to make sure everyone out on the interwebs understands just how much work went into these floors. If necessity is the mother of invention, then tedious manual labor with a splash of creativity is the mother of Marla's "I have an idea!"mantra. Lucky for me I had a contractor who was game and a sister who was also game and is strong as an ox (the need for her strength detailed below). Because these floors were a labor or love, a labor of creativity and just plain A BUTT LOAD OF MANUAL LABOR. I love the result, but this project may not be for everyone.
Our house was built in 1967. We knocked out a wall upstairs between the master bedroom and an adjacent bedroom to make a nice sized master bedroom. We knocked down a wall between the dining room and kitchen. We knocked down a wall between the dining room and living room. We partially knocked down one of the living room walls to a half wall to create another eating or bar area. And we knocked down an opening in the laundry room to make space for larger washer and dryer. Do you know what you get when you knock down all those walls? Piles of 1967 2"x 4"'s in various states of disrepair. The good news was, all of these 2x4's were well seasoned since they had been in the house since 1967. The bad news was, they were filled with old nails, screws and various fasteners used to construct the house. Since I had the idea of the end grain wood floors (#endgrainwoodfloors), I hadn't settled on just where the material would come from. Then one day, looking at piles of old wood studs, it hit me......there are my kitchen floors. The trick is, getting the wood from the form of demo waste into the form of wood tiles. If we pull it off, it will be recycling at its best.
My sister either volunteered to pull nails, or I asked her if she would....I'm not sure which way that went down. But what I do know is that she accepted the challenge and graced me with her strength, positive attitude about the hard work IN THE SUMMER HEAT AND HUMIDITY, and she made the process of creating the tiles fun. Glenda used brute force, leverage, and more elbow grease than a normal puny human possess to remove nails from the boards. There were several tools that bit the dust from all the stress put upon them. See the evidence below....
Our workshop was the carport and as she removed the nails, I was sawing 1/2" tiles......for days and days and days. The process of cutting these tiles started on 5/8/15 until the first tiles went down on the floor on 6/3/15. I would love to tell you that I cut enough, but when the guys got to the end during installation, they were quickly cutting more!
Sean Thornton and Jason Shepherd installed the #endgrainwoodtiles on the entire floor including the space designated as hidden under all the appliances and cabinets.
After the floor went down, I counted the tiles on the floor. I'm writing this over 4 years later, but I believe there were 4,867 #woodtiles that covered the entire kitchen and dining room floor from end to end. I repeated that number so many times to so many people that it should be etched on my brain. It was for several years. I'm being honest when I say, I may be off a few tiles since I've slept a few times since then.
This whole project took just under a month. I really lost track of time. In addition to all the running around required for the remodel and the den wall project, I was a sawing machine. I sawed so many tiles that at several points in the process, I became hypnotized by the patterns in the grain. I would see faces, body parts, genitalia, even wood grain flipping me the bird....you name it, I saw it. It became a joke that I shared with Jason, Sean, and Glenda. It was amusing, and a little worrisome. But I did not quit. And I still have all of my fingers, so YAY, ME!
Oh, and I forgot to mention one little detail of this process.....as I sawed the tiles, I collected the sawdust. Why? Because one of the few Pinterest articles I could find suggested I do this so that the sawdust could be mixed with what turned out to be very smelly possibly toxic product that would create a sort of grout for the tiles. We abandoned that idea pretty quickly. See details below.
KITCHEN FLOORS DURING CREATION:
Photos L-R, T-B:
1.) Carport with a stack of 1967 lumber, 2.) Another stack of 1967 2x4's when the wall between the master bedroom and an adjacent bedroom came down, 3.) Neat stack of 1967 lumber leaning against a wall, 4.) My carport workshop set-up. Glenda would stack de-nailed wood on the floor to the left of the saw. If there were buried pieces of nail in the wood she couldn't remove, she would mark it with a sharpie. I would saw those boards into smaller chunks to eliminate any possible hidden nails that she had marked, and stacked those boards on the lip of the trash can to the left of the saw. The box with the bag to the right is where the sawed and quickly sanded (to knock off the splinters) tiles would be collected. I would stop every now and then to collect the sawdust from the bag on the back of the saw. LABOR INTENSIVE....PARTY OF 4!, 5.) A stack of wood tiles with the saw. This stack would be quickly sanded by dragging all 4 sides of the tile against the grain of the edge of the plywood base that the saw was sitting on. It worked really well at knocking off the large splinters, 6.) Playing with thickness of tiles. All of the tiles were 1/2". But at one point, we all wanted to see what 3/4" tiles would look like. So I varied a few to play with. As you can see, many of the boards still had the original stamped branding on them, 7.) Glenda at work with a smile on her face, 8.) Glenda taking a break in the hot sun, 9.) A close-up of a board FULL of character after nails were removed, 10.) Stacks of wood tiles before I quickly sanded them to knock all those splinters off of them by dragging them against the edge of the plywood base the saw sat on, 11. and below) Close-up of the "Fuck-It Bucket" (named by Glenda). Thousands of 1967 nails and that Dr. Pepper can...one of the many that fueled Glenda's strength, 12.) One of the wood tiles I pulled out of the stack for a future art project. All of the wood in the house was #madeintheusa. Ahhh...those were the days. This board had an actual brand of the brand (as opposed to a stamp) that said "TETON" with a mountain silhouette in the logo and that beautiful "U.S.A." mark (I tried to Google it and I need to do more research to see what company actually milled the wood marked TETON. This was as close as I came to the site, but this logo looked closer, 13.) Contractor markings on one of the boards, 14.) A good start of bags and a bucket of wood tiles stacked in the tool shed of the carport ready to be installed, 15.) Wood grain...beautiful wood grain.
This is the product that was used at first: Glitsa Wood Flour Cement. You can find it here, but again....I would not recommend it for a project like this if breathing is required in your project. In addition, standard wood putty (in large quantities) works just as well, and is easier to apply. We had NO luck with our gathered sawdust mixing with the Glitsa Wood Flour Cement. This link is strictly so you can locate the manufacturer. I am not getting paid to direct you there which is obvious since I don't like the product.
KITCHEN FLOORS DURING INSTALLATION (June 3 - June 6, 2015) :
Photos L-R, T-B:
1.) Piles of different sizes of end grain wood tiles during installation on the kitchen sub-floor, 2.) Jason Shepherd doing the back and knee breaking work of installing the end grain wood tile kitchen floor, 3.) Jason inspecting his handiwork, 4.) A Look from the den at his handiwork and progress, 5.) Look at Jason applying copious amounts of liquid wood putty as grout on the floor. He is almost complete here, since he is at the carport door, 6.) A worker at FGL Flooring (Floors by Flavio) begins the process of sanding the end grain wood tile floors. You can see that he is sanding off the extra wood putty as well as the tiles themselves. This guy was worried because not all of the wood tiles were level. I reassured him that we knew it wasn't going to be perfect. That was the idea of the floor. I later went through with the palm sander and sanded down the low tiles to remove the putty. It was tiring, but saved me money so that the flooring guys didn't have to do it, 7.) Picture of the end grain kitchen tile floor after wood putty grout and sanding but before polyurethane, 8.) Living room floors after sanding, 9.) Kitchen floors with first coat of polyurethane (yes, it is very wet...just applied). The poly we chose had a SATIN finish, so it was never this shiny again. I am standing in carport at the carport door when I took this shot. It was straight ahead and you can see the den in the distance, 10.) The refinished living room hardwood floors and the new kitchen end grain wood tile floors with very wet polyurethane taken from the carport door.
KITCHEN FLOORS AFTER:
Photos L-R, T-B (all of these were taken shortly after we moved in July & August 2015:
1.) Close-up of the end grain wood tile kitchen floors. This is right at the back door looking at the cabinet toe kick of one of the pantries, 2.) Close-up of the end grain wood tile kitchen floors, looking at the trash and recycling cabinet, 3 & 4) End grain wood tile kitchen floor in the breakfast area, 5.) Transition between the living room (standard 1967 hardwood plank floors) and the end grain wood tile kitchen floor. Small strips of molding were used in the transition areas, 6, 7& 8) Transition between the kitchen floor and the 2 stairs down to the den. This is before Sean installed the transitional molding. There was a challenge here because it required a molding that is wider and very visible. In addition there were steps so we had to use care that people didn't trip on the molding after installation. It took longer to finish this area since I had to search for the perfect molding.
FLOORS AFTER - AS THEY ARE TODAY:
In answer to your possible questions,
Yes....the end grain wood tile floor has held up very well in these 4+ years.
Yes...is is scratched by 2 dogs, but I have to consider that patina.
Yes...some of the wood putty "grout" has shrunk and come out of the grooves. But it hasn't bothered anyone, including me. The dog scratches bother me more, but it is PATINA....PATINA....PATINA! These floors have character...she says, trying to let go her perfection problem.
Yes...the floor is darker than it was when it went in. 1967 pine and ash wood tiles will age even more when you take them out of the walls and put them on the floor.
Yes....the floor is easy to clean and keep clean.
Yes...I would have the end grain wood tiles all over the house if I could.
Yes...the kitchen floor is the first thing people notice when the come into my house for the first time.
Yes...I'm VERY glad I stuck to the original goal, crossed the finish line, and saw this idea come to fruition.
Yes...I am VERY grateful to Sean, Jason, and Glenda for helping me with every step of this process.
Yes...I am VERY glad my husband now loves them.
Yes...I am VERY glad I fought that fight and won.
That is all.