Answers to Vinyl Floor and Tile Questions

A close-up image of a marble floor.

Q. I am considering using 12x12 vinyl tiles on the floor of a 3-season room. This room could experience below freezing temps during our balmy Minnesota winters. Can this be done, or will the freeze/thaw cycle kill the adhesive?

A. You may want to consider another type of flooring for that application. The adhesive is temporary at best, at room temperature.

Q. I am laying self-adhesive vinyl tiles to a treated chipboard floor but part of the floor is treated with some kind of oil or something (presumably to stop creaking). The tiles will not stick to this part of the floor. Is there any way I can clean off the oil?

A. If it at all sticks to the chipboard it won't for long. Cover it with a layer of 1/4-inch plywood then install tile. Patch all the seams and any nail heads or divots in the wood and sand smooth. Get yourself some thin spread adhesive and a 1/32-notch trowel and use that. The self stick tile is cheap and the glue is iffy at best, so use that for insurance and you won't have the problem of the tile not sticking to the new underlayment.

Q. I have some self-adhesive vinyl tile and I'm going to install it on a plywood floor. Do I need to prep the wood in anyway or just sweep it good and stick? What would I use to clean old linoleum before installing these tiles on top?

A. Vinyl tiles require a super smooth surface. If not, every imperfection will show. Seams in plywood should be sanded smooth. All nail heads and staples should be below surface. You can patch nail holes with quality wood filler or patching compound. Sand smooth. Vacuum all the dust. There should be no grease, oil, wax, or adhesive residue that may cause adhesion problems. Flexing at seams tends to cause tiles to crack. Problems with smoothness, flexing, and contamination can be overcome by installing a 1/4-inch plywood underlayment for vinyl floors. The new underlayment will give you a more professional job and is highly recommended.

When installing the new underlayment, stagger the seams of the ply panels, and leave a 1/32-inch gap between panels to allow for expansion. Leave a 1/8-inch gap along the walls. Staple every 5-6 inches in middle of boards and every three inches along edges. Sand seams to make sure they are smooth.

Vinyl tile can be laid over old vinyl flooring if it's in good condition. Old vinyl will have to be thoroughly cleaned and free of wax. A skim coat of embossing leveler applied with a trowel is required to cover embossing, dings, and dents. The surface will have to be super smooth for the vinyl tiles. Otherwise, the texture of the old vinyl will wear through the new tiles. For installation tips on this website, go to Vinyl Floors.

Q. When installing vinyl over older vinyl, what does one do about doorjambs? Cut with saw, take off, or what?

A. Use a Japanese draw saw. They are very thin and produce a great clean cut for small amounts of material removal.

Q. Can Armstrong Vinyl go over the concrete board or do I need to put another underlayment over it? Can we just nail or screw plywood into the concrete board?

A. Rip it out and replace it with a plywood underlayment. After a while, it will sound crunchy as you walk on it. You really need a plywood underlayment without the CBU panels.

Q. I had recently put in new flooring in my bathrooms. It was an easy task since I was able to use a single sheet of vinyl flooring and cut it to fit the bathroom floor. Now I would like to install new flooring in my kitchen but since the kitchen floor is a much larger area, I have to use two or more cut pieces of vinyl sheets. My question was how to I cut the sheets straight so that when installed there will be no gap between the pieces. Is there a trick to it?

A. There are two ways to do that, one is to use a straight edge and cut each piece on the same place on the pattern. The other is to line the patterns up with a straight edge and a new blade double cut both pieces together. Use the manufacturer recommended seam sealer.

Q. I have vinyl tiles in the kitchen of an old house we just bought, but do not like the color. The tiles are in good shape. Can one install vinyl tile over vinyl tile without placing something in between the two surfaces, or is it not a good idea?

A. It's not a good idea to lay new tile over old. What you'll get over time is the old pattern showing up through the new floor you install. Vinyl tiles over time sink into existing cracks and holes in the floor below and you'll end up with a shadow on the floor.

It's better to install a 1/4" underlay over the old floor, and seal the "screw holes" and cracks between the boards before you install the new floor. The better the prep work, the better the end result. This won't cost a whole lot more, but will end up in a much better finished product. Be sure to use lots and lots of screws. This will secure the underlay and eliminate squeaks.

Q. I am about to lay new linoleum over an old one. The old linoleum was still in good condition and extremely professionally put down, as all corners are glued and not one corner came up after I took off the baseboards. I can move my fridge and stove around with no problem whatsoever. My question is, should I glue my new linoleum to the old and should I get something that would de-grease or take off the wax the old linoleum has? I bought very good linoleum that has an extremely soft and bendable underlayment on it. I tried breaking it like the cheap stuff and this linoleum will not break. Someone told I have to remove the old wax so that this linoleum does not skid on the old one - is this true?

A. Make sure those soft back vinyls are glue down or tape down. If it's a sort of foam on the back, it's a tape down. Glue will melt the foam backing. Clean the floor with a cleaner/stripper, if your new vinyl is glue down, then go over the old with a leveling embosser and then glue your new vinyl down. If you have a floating tape down vinyl, there's no need for the embosser, but it's not a bad idea to use it anyway.

Q. My daughter is getting ready to lay vinyl tiles. They are the peel and stick. She laid quarter inch underlayment down. The man at the tool rental gave her half-inch staples with an air gun to put the underlayment down. She will be nailing into particleboard. I don't think these staples will hold the underlayment down. There will be just a quarter inch into the particleboard. What is your opinion?

A. Those are way too small. You want 1-inch staples. If you are using luan, staple every two inches around the perimeter and every four inches over the face of each sheet. Leave 1/8" gap between panels and fill the gaps with floor patch. Leave 1/4" around the perimeter, and when the floor patch is dry, prime the floor with floor primer so the tiles stick better. Don't use extra glue, but in place of primer, you can use vinyl tile glue skim coated over the floor and allowed to fully dry before setting your peel and stick tile.

Q. Vinyl or linoleum floor — how to tell what I have?

A. Many people use the terms vinyl and linoleum interchangeably. Vinyl is made from synthetic fibers. The main body is made of cardboard or vinyl that is covered with one sheet that contains the motif, another sheet for the finish followed by a protective coat of varying thickness. Linoleum is a 100% natural product. It contains linseed oil, cork powder, natural resins, color mineral pigments and other natural materials. As the linseed oxidizes over the years, linoleum gets harder. Linoleum is a much more durable product than vinyl and is ideal for high traffic areas.

Q. Can you clean and remove stains on vinyl, like smudge marks and dullness?

A. If a floor stripper and nonabrasive-scrubbing pad doesn't remove stains, chances are the stains are permanent. Mustard, ink, permanent marker, asphalt, shoe polish, and hair dye seem to head the list of permanent stains on vinyl. Yellowing and discoloration from rubber and vinyl-backed rugs tends to be permanent. Mold and mildew beneath vinyl near doorways is also permanent. Discoloration and stains from improper adhesive is permanent.

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