How to install (and grout!) self-adhesive vinyl tile

1. Sweep thoroughly.

2. Clean your floor really well with soap and water.
3. Use a staple gun to secure the edges and any other chipped loose spots.
4. Apply an embossing leveler. Mix this up in very small batches. Work quickly to smear a thin layer over the floor. Let dry.
5. Determine the center of the room. You want to start laying the tile at the center and work out from there.
6. Place (BUT DON’T ADHERE!) tiles from the center to the edges to test it out. You want the last tiles at the edges to be about half a tile wide. Basically, it will be easier for you if you don’t have to cut tiny slivers off the tile to make it fit.
7. Readjust your center of the room to end up with the most whole tiles possible.

8. Snap a chalk line (or use the faint grid coming up from the old floor as we did) on the floor to serve as your guide for the center.

9. Carefully peel off the paper and stick down your first tile at the corner where the center is. Some of the tiles have arrows on the back of the paper. Make sure these are all pointing the same way. I don’t know why, but that’s just what the box says.
10. Continue peeling and sticking tiles to the floor, using spacers in between to keep a straight grid.
11. Every so often (say after laying 3 or 4 tiles) use a rolling pin to press all the tiles you just laid down onto the floor. Press hard.
12. Continue with whole tiles until you can’t anymore.
13. Ugh. You’re going to have to cut tiles to be the right shape now. For the really tricky cuts, we drew the “pattern” on the back of the tile and cut along that line. Make sure that you when you flip the tile over though, your shape won’t be backwards. We found that tin snips worked well. We also used a linoleum knife (pictured below), an X-acto knife, and a saw to varying degrees of success.
a linoleum knife
14. Next is grout. You’ll want to use a grout that is designed for vinyl tiles. We used one made by Armstrong, the same brand as the tiles. It is for sale at Lowe’s but NOT Home Depot. I know, I had to drive all the way to West St. Paul, which is not at ALL west of St. Paul, to get some.
15. Apply as with regular grout. Working with a small section at a time, smear grout into grout lines. Try not to get much grout on the tiles.
16. Use your grout float to wipe across the grout lines at an angle, smushing and smoothing the grout into the grout lines.
17. Use a damp grout sponge (basically a sponge with rounded corners so you don’t accidentally wipe out all the grout) to wipe away the extra grout. This might take awhile. It will take many clean buckets of water as your water quickly gets too dirty to be doing much good.

a grout sponge

18. Use the damp sponge to clean off as much grout as possible now before it dries any more. It will get harder if the grout has dried more.
19. Repeat for entire floor. After you’ve grouted all the tiles and the grout has dried (according to time on grout package), clean any remaining “grout haze” off the floor. I typically don’t have much to clean off here, because I really try to clean everything before it’s totally dry.
20. I’ve heard there is a product to seal the grout lines to keep them cleaner. We haven’t used this yet and didn’t need it for the vinyl tile in our bathroom. However, the grout lines in the kitchen are looking dirtier. I’m not sure if this grout sealer works on grout intended for vinyl tiles. If anyone knows, please comment!

Enjoy your new floor!
Update: We’ve now been enjoying our new floor for over a month. Everything is still working out well. I definitely need to look into whether I can use the grout sealer, because our grout lines are getting kind of dirty. I blame Margo.

2 Comments
  1. Anonymous
    August 2, 2009 | Reply
  2. August 2, 2009 | Reply

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