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Laying Vinyl Tile the Right Way
Vinyl tile continues to be one of the best flooring options for kitchens and bathrooms. Ceramic tile is great, but the cost of having it installed by a professional can be extremely high. The answer is vinyl tile installed by you. You’ll save a lot of money that you can use for other home improvements you want to make.
Vinyl tile is a great choice for other reasons as well. There are some beautiful options in both style and color. There are so many different patterns and colors to choose from that you’ll want to take your time choosing what will add beauty to your kitchen or bathroom.
In addition, vinyl tiles are much better than linoleum for practical reasons. With linoleum flooring, one accident and the entire floor will be ruined because it is intact. When you buy vinyl tile, you buy extra squares. If the crash ruined one or two tiles, you’ll replace them.
In this article, I will help you learn how to install vinyl tile flooring yourself with confidence. I’m going to teach you the old school way of laying this beautiful floor covering. I call it old school because I learned from tilers who did it years before I started.
First we need to start with the basics. I don’t know what’s on the floor where you plan to put vinyl tile, so I’m going to show you what our prep goals are. We want to have a nice smooth surface to lay the vinyl tile on.
Some people will lay tile over existing tile. This may be fine, but it is not the preferred choice. To do this properly, you need to remove any subfloor until you have a smooth cement or wood surface.
If there are cracks and hollows or uneven surfaces, they need to be filled and smoothed out before we can begin installing your vinyl tile. On cement or wood surfaces, you can use cement to fill and smooth the surface. You can also install plywood over an existing subfloor to get the surface your vinyl tile needs. You putty all the joints after installing the plywood. You can also use Durok.
The goal, as I said before, is to get a smooth surface before you start laying the vinyl tile. Otherwise, your tile will crack wherever pressure is applied to the tile over existing uneven areas.
Now it’s time to buy the vinyl tile you need. There is self-adhesive vinyl tile that is very inexpensive. However, remember that you get what you pay for. The glue on these tiles is not very good and you will have to change them often. They’re also usually very thin, so they’re easy to damage.
The thicker the vinyl tile, the more expensive and durable it is. This is a rule of thumb. Choose vinyl tile that is about 1/8 inch thick or higher and you will have a floor that will last a long time. So choose your style and color wisely. She will be with you for a while.
Now the next tools you will need. You won’t need a tile cutter. This is not the old school method. Using a tile cutter is tedious and slow, and your edges will never be tight. You will need a good razor knife, a small butane torch, a trowel with teeth on one edge for applying the glue, some old rags and some mineral spirits.
Many experts advise you to always start from the center of the room when laying any tile. However, for kitchens and bathrooms, this is not always, or even often, the best method. It is much better to start with one wall and work your way towards the cabinets, because most of the tiles that need to be cut will be under the edge of the cabinets and not visible.
Starting along one wall, trowel the glue, making sure there are ridges, using the serrated edge of the trowel. Don’t go too far from the wall, as you will be laying the tiles there and you don’t have to reach for it.
Let the glue dry for about 15 minutes until it becomes very tacky. Place the first tile in the corner and continue laying the row, making sure the tiles are aligned. When you get to the end of the row, don’t worry about the remaining area where a whole tile won’t fit. We’ll take care of that last. However, remove the glue from this area so it doesn’t dry before we come back to it.
The glue you applied should have extended a bit further than the row of tiles itself, so now you have a row with a bit of glue waiting for the next row.
Now start from the beginning. Apply the glue a little more than the width of the row, let it dry, then lay another row of tiles, again making sure you line up the tiles with each other so that the lines are straight.
Once you’ve done the entire floor, except for the areas where a whole tile wouldn’t fit, let the floor dry until tomorrow. Don’t let anyone walk on the floor. It takes time for the glue to dry.
Now that the glue is dry, we’re ready to cut some of your vinyl tile. You should now be able to walk carefully on the tiles without moving them. Otherwise, you may have used too much glue and will have to wait longer until you are sure it is dry.
Now, let’s enter it. Skip to where your first line ended with a small amount of space. Apply some glue to this area and also to the floor along the wall where you are going to put the cut pieces of vinyl tile. Let it dry as before for 15 minutes.
Now take the full vinyl tile, matching it with the tile already on the floor below, angle it against the wall. Let me explain so you understand. You place the tile on the edge of the last tile in the row as if you were going to lay it, but just let it lean against the wall at any angle.
Now you will need a knife and a small butane torch. Please be careful with the small torch so you don’t burn anything. If you are not comfortable handling a small torch, this method is not for you.
Place the fingers of one hand on the top of the tile along the wall with slight downward pressure. Wave the torch flame back and forth across the center of the tile where you want it to be bent. Do not allow the flame to linger on the tile to melt it. Keep your distance so it just warms up.
As it heats up, the pressure of your fingers will begin to push the vinyl tile down, bending it into place. Once the tile is bent to the point where it is flat against the floor and the rest against the wall, place the torch, carefully pointing it away from anything and anyone, take a knife and cut along the curve right into the wall. Cuts like butter.
Now this tile fits perfectly on the contour of the wall. Also, because of the light pressure you applied when you pressed it, it pulled that whole row up so the vinyl tiles wouldn’t separate later. This is a floor that will last a long time and solves the problem of peeling tiles later.
Continue this same process for each row and wherever you need to cut the tile. Then clean it. You are now an old school vinyl tiler!
One last warning, as I said before, if you are not comfortable using a flame, you should use a tile cutter. It may not be as tight, but you can still do a good job with it without putting yourself in danger. This article was intended to convey an old school method that I have learned and used to lay many beautiful tile floors that have lasted for years. I hope that in passing this on to you, the old way will not be lost.
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