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Patching Sheet Flooring

Most sheet flooring is glued to the floor in a bed of adhesive. Some newer types of flooring, designed especially for do-it-yourself installation, require adhesive only at seams and edges. If the entire floor has been laid in adhesive, you usually can work a putty knife underneath and peel up the damaged piece. You may need to apply heat with an iron to loosen it. To make the patch less conspicuous, take time to carefully match its pattern to the surrounding area. To patch the newer types of flooring, cut out the damaged section and cement a patch as you would the seam of a new floor.

Though it is often referred to as “linoleum,” most sheet flooring today is made of vinyl with an embossed surface-printed pattern. This product can be durable but if it is deeply scratched or tom, it must be patched or replaced. (Genuine linoleum, which is making a comeback, has color that runs through its body. That means any scratches will conceal themselves.) A “no-wax” finish will eventually wear away. Rejuvenate the floor using acrylic finish or a product made specifically for no-wax floors.

1. Mark with a framing square. Use a framing square to mark and cut around the damaged area. Cut with a utility knife.

2. Trace the cutout. Lay the cutout on a piece of matching material so that the pattern lines up precisely. Use a pencil or felt-tipped pen to trace around it. Accuracy is essential for a good fit.

3. Cut with a square. Either leave the cutout in place and use it as a cutting guide or use a framing square to cut along the trace lines. Place a scrap of plywood under the patching material to prevent damaging the floor.

4. Scrape the underlayment. Clean the underlayment, making absolutely sure to remove all of the adhesive. Then test-fit the patch. If it is too large, sand the edges.

5. Apply adhesive to the new tile. If the area around the patch is not set in adhesive, lift up its edges and apply adhesive around the perimeter. Apply adhesive to the patch with a serrated spreader or a brush. Align one edge, matching the pattern, and lower the new section into place.

6. Weight down the patch. Wipe off adhesive that has oozed out from the edges, then weight down the patch evenly for at least 24 hours.

Floor Scrapers

■ Vinyl sheet flooring shows even the tiniest imperfection in the underlayment. Use the right tools to make the underlayment perfectly smooth.

■ To remove adhesive or flooring from a large area, buy or rent a floor scraper, which can be operated while standing up. It has removable blades that scrape much more efficiently than a putty knife.

■ Once most of the adhesive has been removed, sand the area. Alternatively, wipe with a solvent-soaked rag to clean up and smooth the adhesive.

Solving Other Sheet Flooring Problems

■ Scratches: Shallow scratches in wax or a no-wax finish may heal themselves. If you fill shallow scratches with floor wax or acrylic finish, they often seem to disappear. For deeper cuts compress the edges of the torn flooring by dragging a worn coin along—not across—them.

■ Tears: If the material has torn all the way through, lift the edges of the wound, scrape away any old adhesive, apply fresh adhesive, and stick the edges down again. For the repair to lie flat, you may need to sand one edge.

■ Blisters: If a blister develops in your flooring, flatten it by making a clean cut through its center. Alternating edges, press down on one edge of the cut, work adhesive underneath the other edge, and apply weight.

■ Holes: Filling small holes in vinyl flooring is a tougher assignment. The best and quickest way is to fill the void with a special seam-welding product offered by the manufacturer of the flooring. This product dissolves the vinyl, then sets up again to complete the repair.

■ Patches: Scrape flakes from a piece of scrap flooring and grind them into a powder. Mix the powder with clear lacquer or nail polish to make a putty-like paste. Work the paste into the hole, packing it well and mounding slightly to compensate for shrinkage. After the paste dries, sand the repair and wax according to the manufacturer’s directions.

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