Patchwork floor- the process

About quilting and life:  Beauty can shine through imperfections….Thank goodness!

The process is simple, but time consuming.  I prepared the floor, cut the fabric, glued it down, let it dry, and then put on 16 coats of polyurethane.  It took every bit of 5 long days.  If I’d had more time I think it would have helped to let the glue set for at least another day.  And, I’d rather not have had to work all through the night gluing it down.  That was my fault for taking so long to decide on fabric.

I think you need as smooth a floor as you can get.  Here’s the floor I had to work with.  I did not have either the equipment, the time or the expertise to really sand this totally smooth.  I patched as best I could and sanded the whole thing twice, once with a 100 or so, and then with 220 grade.  It is an old floor and there are a few places where one board is slightly higher than the one next to it.  As time would tell, this is a problem.  But, given my equipment and my time, I did the best I could.  And, it’s been good enough.

Cutting the fabric
I used my basic cutting mat and a rotary cutter to cut all the fabric into 3″ squares and 1/2 square triangles.  It took me about 8 hours of cutting.  I needed to be as precise as possible so that they would rest evenly together.  Here’s my stack: (you can see the old Formica counter under the trays.  It looked sad and old in the kitchen before painting and doing the floor.  Afterwards, it had a surprisingly new fresh look about it.)


An all-nighter gluing
My fault for taking way too much time deciding on fabric.  It took me a full day to cut the fabric—longer than I expected.   I couldn’t wait until the next day to glue, so I had to work through the night.  I have a fun set of pictures.  I stopped and took one every hour so I’d have a record of how long it took—about 16 hours.  You can see the sun set and then come back up again as the floor slowly turns to patchwork.  I’d recommend having enough days to spread this part of the job into smaller chunks.  It’s hard on the rear and back.

I used a medium sized paint brush to apply a small section of glue (about 6 fabric tiles worth).  Then placed the fabric.  I used the brayer to smooth out the fabric on the glue.  In hindsight, it would have been best to come back with a bigger brayer and re-smooth the floor when the glue was mostly dry.  There were some places where the fabric popped up in little bubbles that didn’t show up until I’d put on the first coat of polyurethane.  With the time, I might have seen them and I could have reglued them.


On the edges, I used one of my quilting rulers and my rotary cutter to trim off excess fabric.  I could do that on the wood floor without doing much damage and it made for nice sharp edges.


When I finished with the gluing, I had that part-of-the-creative-process moment, OMG!, what have I done? It’s so bright! Am I going to really like this? I had real doubts, but no choice but to keep on.


Thankfully, a day of rest
I gave the glue 24 hours to dry because that is all I had.  It seemed to be plenty.  The floor felt dry.

The Verathane fast drying formula can be re-coated between 2-6 hours.  I put 5-6 coats on each of 3 days for a total of 16 coats.  After 8 hours, you have to sand it, so each morning I used the 220 sandpaper and lightly sanded before putting on the day’s first coat.  I used a large paint brush, although one of the spreaders would have probably worked as well.  I wouldn’t recommend a roller because it can cause bubbles.  The first coat takes the longest to dry as the fabric soaks up more of the polyurethane.  Even with a brush by hand, it never took more than about 20 minutes to put each coat on.

Even though the Verathane is clear, it darkens the fabrics.  Color-wise, they look like they would look if they were wet.  The fabrics varied to different degrees between their dry and their polyurethaned state.  In the following picture, the verathane is on the darker blues top left.  The bright lime batik with the little branches (lower right) turned quite a bit darker with the polyurethane on it.  More moments of doubt.  But, overall, darkening the whole floor a bit made it easier on the eyes.


I’m quite happy with my floor.  I feel like I have a whole new kitchen.  The paint, of course, makes a world of difference.  But, the floor is fun.  There are some imperfections in the finish, some little bumps that are visible from an angle, but they don’t shout out at you.  It’s quite a change!



Patchwork Kitchen Floor:  The StorySampler & Supplies, Technique/process,  2-Year Maintenance

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One Response to Patchwork floor- the process

  1. Hilde November 20, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

    Virginia, what you did is Fabulous! What a beautiful and original kitchen!!! It definitely shows your color scheme…congratulations and thank you for sharing your process in your new blog, I’ll be following you!

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