Installing resilient vinyl tile

MATERIALS: Vinyl floor tile, floor tile adhesive, primer

TOOLS: Chalk line, paintbrush, floor roller, notched trowel, tape measure, framing square, flooring knife

Resilient vinyl tiles are relatively easy to install. Many have self-sticking adhesive backs, perfect for do-it-yourself projects. Others require flooring adhesive but can still be installed by the homeowner. You can lay tile over dry concrete, underlayment, or sheet vinyl (but not vinyl tile). Tiles will eventually sag into any gaps below them, so fill all cracks as recommended by the manufacturer. If you’re laying tile over an embossed tile floor, fill the embossing with embossing leveler. Make sure the floor is spotlessly clean and free of wax and oil first.

Resilient vinyl tiles don’t require an expansion gap where the floor meets the wall. Mount them flush to the vertical surface or the tiles will eventually slide and separate from each other leaving an unsightly gap. If you have molding attached to the baseboard, remove it carefully before pulling up the old flooring so that you can replace it later. Let the tiles adjust to the room temperature by placing them in the room to be floored at least 24 hours before installation. Don’t use adhesive with self-stick tile. It ruins the bond.

Establishing Layout Lines

1 PAINT THE FLOOR WITH A PRIMER MEANT FOR SELF-STICK TILE, IF YOU’RE USING THEM. Then measure opposite sides of the room and mark the center of each wall. Snap a chalk line between the marks.

2 MEASURE AND MARK THE CENTER OF THE CHALK LINE. From this point, use a framing square to lay out a second line perpendicular to the first. Snap the new line across the room.

3 CHECK FOR SQUARENESS USING A CARPENTER’S TRIANGLE, ALSO KNOWN AS A 3-4-5 TRIANGLE. Measure and mark one layout line 3 feet from the center point, then measure and mark the perpendicular layout line 4 feet from the center point.

4 MEASURE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE MARKS. If the layout lines are perpendicular, the distance will be exactly 5 feet. Adjust the lines, if necessary, until they are square with each other.

Installing Vinyl Tile

1 LAY OUT TILES ALONG THE LAYOUT LINES. Check on opposite sides of the room to see if all the tiles against the wall will be the same size. If not, snap new layout lines so that they are. Double-check by laying the tiles along the new lines.

2 BEGIN LAYING TILES WHERE THE LAYOUT LINES CROSS. If the tiles have arrows on the back, make sure they all point the same direction. With self-stick tiles, remove the paper backing and apply the tiles to one quadrant of the floor. Lay the tiles in a stair-step pattern, as shown. Repeat for the remaining quadrants.

Using adhesive - If using tiles that need adhesive (rather than self-stick tiles), apply the adhesive recommended by the manufacturer with a notched trowel. Start with a section about 4x4 feet. When the adhesive is dry enough to touch without sticking to your hands, lay tiles in the same stair-step pattern used for self-stick tile.

3 TRIM THE TILES THAT MEET THE WALLS. Mark the cut so that the tile is flush to the wall or cabinet—don't leave an expansion gap. To cut a tile to size, place a cutoff against the wall. Place a loose tile directly over the last full tile. Place another tile against the wall or cabinet, over tile. Cut tile with a flooring knife.

4 AT OUTSIDE CORNERS, MARK THE TILE AS IN STEP 3, AND THEN USE A SQUARE TO DRAW A LINE AT THE MARK, outlining the final shape of the tile. Cut with a flooring knife and a straightedge. At inside corners, mark as in Step 3, putting the loose tile first against one wall and then against the other.

5 FORM A FIRM BOND BETWEEN THE TILE AND THE FLOOR BY ROLLING IT IN BOTH DIRECTIONS WITH A HAND ROLLER OR ROLLING PIN. Then install baseboard, quarter-round molding, or both to cover the gap at the edge of the floor.

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