How to Install Vinyl Tile Squares

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Installing a new vinyl floor is a simple do-it-yourself project. You can install vinyl tile squares over any smooth, even surface without tearing up old flooring. There are two ways to install vinyl tile squares. Using self-adhesive tiles is quick and easy. Vinyl tile that is installed with separate mastic (adhesive) does tend to be more durable in the long term. The process of installing vinyl tile squares is the same either way, except for the application of the adhesive.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinyl tile
  • Vinyl floor adhesive
  • Patching compound
  • Wood putty
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Finishing nails
  • Pry bar or flat head screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Hacksaw
  • Small pair of pliers
  • Nail set or nail gun
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk line
  • Vinyl tile cutter
  • Small notch trowel
  • Straightedge
  • Utility knife
  • Floor roller
  • Safety glasses
  • Measure the room to determine how much tile you need. Use a measuring tape to find the length and width of the room and multiply them together to get the area in square feet. Do the same for closets and adjoining areas you plan to cover and add those areas in. Add 20 percent to allow for trimming and to keep a few tiles for future repairs.

  • Remove baseboards, if any. Slide a putty knife behind the baseboard (you'll probably have to tap it in with a hammer) and pull out. Do this gently to avoid damaging the baseboard. Now put a flathead screwdriver or small pry bar into the space you've made and work it down to the floor. Pull gently until the nails come loose. Move the pry bar down a few inches at a time and repeat until the baseboard is free. Remove nails with a small pair of pliers.

  • Finish getting the room ready by filling any cracks or holes with patching compound. Smooth the patches with a putty knife and allow the compound to dry for a couple of hours. Sand the area smooth if necessary.

  • Sweep and mop the room.

  • Measure the length of each wall and take half the distance to find the midpoint of each wall. Snap a chalk line between the midpoints of each pair of facing walls. The room's center is the intersection of the two chalk lines; this is your starting point. Lay out a line of tiles along the length of each chalk line (don't remove the adhesive backing). Adjust the lines of tiles so there is an equal gap between each end of the line of tiles and the walls. Snap new chalk lines to mark the adjusted lines. The intersection of the new chalk lines is your starting point.

  • Start at the center by peeling the backing off a tile and placing it so that two edges line up exactly with the chalk lines. Be especially careful with this first tile, since all the rest will "key off" it. Once it's properly positioned, press it down firmly so the tile adheres to the floor. Now lay the remaining tiles. As you put each in place, be sure the edges are up against the edges of previously laid tiles. Put the peeled off backing in a trash can as you go---the stuff is slick and you can slip and fall on it.

  • Install vinyl tile squares using a separate adhesive by first spreading the adhesive on a small area (about 2-by-2 feet is fine. Use a small notch trowel held at a 45-degree angle to spread the adhesive in an even layer. Use the same procedure as above to position the tiles.

  • Cut tiles to fit around the edges using a vinyl tile cutter or utility knife and straight edge. Measure to cut a tile square by first placing the tile (bottom up) on the tile closet to the wall where the cut piece will go. Slide the tile over until it touches the wall. Use a pencil and straight edge to mark the back of the tile tile. This mark will guide your cut. Install the cut pieces just as you do the whole tiles.

  • Use a floor roller, starting from the room center, to press the tiles firmly into place and force out any air bubbles. If you used adhesive, allow it to set overnight before replacing the baseboards. Replace baseboards in the reverse order that you removed them, putting them back in the same position. Use a nail gun or nail set to sink the finishing nails below the surface. Apply wood putty with a putty knife to fill the nail holes and allow the putty to dry. Then sand it smooth.

Tips & Warnings

  • If a door does not have enough clearance to move freely over the new tile, use a hacksaw to trim 1/8-inch or so from the bottom. Wear safety glasses and make sure the room is well-ventilated when using tile adhesive.

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