Install Commercial Floor Tile

Lead Image
  • 5-20 hours
  • Beginner
  • 500-5,000
What You'll Need
Scrap wood

Q. Does anyone have any instructions or opinions commercial tile? I'm planning on 1/4 plywood over a very old linoleum floor that has only two "bad" spots - one from old coal stove "foot" other 4"'x4" area that looks like it cracked.

A. Directions for tile installation are usually found on the back of the box. Vinyl composition tile (VCT) requires a very smooth surface for installation because tile will show every imperfection. Check to see if you will need to undercut your door jambs so tile can slide beneath. You will want to undercut to accommodate the thickness of tile plus new underlayment if installing over wood subfloor. You will need to remove shoe mold from baseboards. If you plan on reusing it, number the pieces so you will know where they go back. Remove transition strips in doorways.

If installing over a wood subfloor, you should install 1/4" plywood underlayment for vinyl floors. Staple it rough side down. Nail or staple every 5-6 inches in the middle of the boards and every three inches on edges. Remember if you choose not to install new underlayment, tiles will show every flaw. If installing over concrete, it will need to be very smooth, clean, and dry. A leveling compound may be necessary if it is not flat and smooth.

Stagger seams of underlayment and leave a 1/4" expansion gap between boards. Set all nails or staples below surface of wood. Sand all seams between boards to make them smooth. Vacuum all dust from boards.

Mark the center of the room. Mark the center along walls. Snap a chalk line across the width and length of the room. Where the chalk line crosses in the middle of the room, check with framing square to make sure the marks are square. Then, test fit tiles. It's best if you don't end up with less than half a tile along walls. You can adjust your reference point if necessary.

Nail a scrap piece of wood to make sure your first row of tiles will be straight. Use 1/16" notched trowel to apply adhesive. (Read and follow manufacturer's instructions.) Don't spread more adhesive than you can cover with tiles in 15 minutes. Wear gloves to keep adhesive off hands. Make sure the area is well ventilated. The first tile is placed in the center of the floor in line with the marks on the floor. Lay tile down the length of the room. Align tile carefully and wipe away adhesive if it oozes out. Check for arrows on back of tile and make sure they all point in the same direction.

Once all the tiles are laid, go back and install edge tiles. These will probably need to be cut. Lay a tile on top the last full tile near the wall. Line up edges and pattern lines very carefully. Place a tile against the wall and let it overlap the loose tile you placed on top of the installed tile. Use a pencil to mark along edge of overlapping tile. This is where you will cut with a utility knife. It may take several times to cut through tile. Place cut tile in position in adhesive. Continue along edge of room making your cuts and installing edge tiles. Then, the floor is best rolled with a 100 lb roller to make sure tiles are well adhered to floor. Reinstall shoe mold or install new. Reinstall transition pieces in doorways.

Note: Tile and adhesive should acclimate for at least 24 hours in room where it is going to be installed before installation.

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