Vinyl tile flooring is an extremely popular choice for do-it-yourselfers. It can be inexpensive, easy to install, durable, and attractive. After some careful preparation, installation is as simple as peeling and sticking.
How Many Tiles Do You Need?
To determine how many tiles you will need to purchase for your new floor, you first need to calculate the area (square footage) of the surface you will be covering. Measure the length and width of the room, then multiply to calculate the square footage. For example, if a room measures 12 by 10 then the area of the room is 120 square feet (12 x 10 = 120). Most rooms have an irregular shape. Divide the room into rectangles, find the area of each section, then add the areas together to calculate the total area.
Divide the total square footage of your floor by the total square footage in one box of the tile you have chosen. For example, if there are 15 square feet of tile in one box and you need to cover 120 square feet of floor, you will need 8 boxes of tile (120/15 = 8). It is always a good idea to purchase 10-20% extra tile to compensate for mistakes and to have a few left over for future repairs.
Preparing the Underlayment
The quality and durability of your new floor depends greatly on the underlayment. Vinyl tiles can be installed over plywood, existing vinyl, or concrete if it is completely secure, in good basic condition, and free of dirt, wax, and paint. Do not install vinyl tiles over chip board or particle board.
If the existing vinyl contains gouges, dips, or a rough texture, apply a coat of embossing leveler to create a smooth finish and ensure that the new floor does not take on the texture of the old floor. Severely damaged or loose vinyl flooring should be removed prior to the new installation. Be aware that older vinyl flooring may contain asbestos and require professional removal. It is recommended that you have a piece of the old flooring tested before attempting to remove it yourself.
Vinyl tile can be installed directly on clean, smooth, dry concrete. Fill any holes, cracks, and low spots. You might be able to grind or sand minor high spots and bumps. Imperfections in the concrete may show through the floor and affect the strength of the tile adhesive.
If the original floor is damaged and removal is too difficult, you can apply a new underlayment directly over the original floor. Check the building codes in your area for the proper material. Plywood (1/4) is usually recommended. Be sure to stagger seams in the underlayment, and fill nail holes to maintain a smooth surface. When installing a new underlayment, the thickness of the floor will raise. Doorways may require new transition moldings and trim modifications.
Preparing for Installation
Remove all baseboards and trim pieces affecting the installation of the floor. If you plan to reuse the pieces, take care to avoid splitting and cracking. Store your new vinyl tiles for at least 24 hours in the room where they will be installed. The tiles must be acclimated to the temperature and humidity to avoid swelling or shrinkage in your finished floor.
Laying Out the Tile
To find your starting point, you must first find the center of the room. Measure two opposing walls, and snap a chalk line between their center points. This should draw a line across the center of the room. Repeat this procedure with the other two opposing walls, creating a line perpendicular to the first line. Use a carpenter’s square to ensure the lines are square where they intersect.
Place a tile on the L of the line intersection in the center of the room (so that the bottom of the tile is on one line and the left side of the tile is on the other line). Lay a row of tiles up and to the right to form an L. DO NOT PEEL OFF THE BACKING OF THE TILES. Adjust your lines so that you end up with at least a half tile at the end of each row. Finish laying out each complete row, and adjust the lines again if necessary. If there is a large doorway or window in your room, you may want to adjust your floor layout to center tiles at these prominent points.
Installing the Tile
Remove the backing of your rial run tiles and press them firmly on the floor. Begin filling in each row with whole tiles, leaving open perimeter areas that require partial tiles. After each row is laid, use a tile roller or a kitchen rolling pin to apply pressure to each tile.
After all the whole tiles are adhered to the floor, you can begin on the perimeter tiles. To cut a straight tile to fit against the wall at the end of a row, place the tile you want to cut on top of the last whole tile in the row. Place another tile against the wall, overlapping the tile you are going to cut.
Mark the tile you are going to cut where the other tile overlaps it. Use a razor knife and a straight edge to cut the tile. For irregular cuts (for example, around cabinets and corners), make templates out of cardboard and trace the shape on the tile.