How to Level a Floor Before Installing Vinyl Floor Tiles

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Vinyl floor tiles add a durable attractive surface for any room. They're easy to install and once placed last years with a minimum amount of maintenance. One issue you have to deal with though when installing vinyl tiles is the condition of the floor before the installation. Floors must be level for a smooth install, which can require a bit of pre-installation time and effort. After leveling however, the remaining installation process can be quick and easy, giving you great results in a short amount of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Straight edge
  • Power sander
  • 30 grit sandpaper
  • Concrete grinder
  • Latex primer
  • Self-leveling compound
  • Trowel

Wood Subfloors

  • Clean the subfloor completely, removing any dirt or debris from the area.

  • Determine the severity of the uneven floor areas. Use a straight edge (a long metal bar with a flat edge) to determine high and low levels of the floor by dragging the edge along the floor's surface. Use a marker to mark the areas in need of leveling. The final goal is to have a surface that's level to within 3/16 of an inch over 10 feet.

  • Level the subfloor to a flat even surface. Use a sander, with 30 grit sandpaper, on the wooden subfloor to level high points in preparation for the vinyl floor tiles.

  • Use a self-leveling compound for large dips in the wood surface. Mix the compound, pouring it into the dip and spreading it to the surrounding surface using a trowel. The concrete-like compound should level itself, drying within 24 hours to allow for the tile installation.

Concrete Subfloors

  • Rent a concrete grinder from a local equipment shop or home improvement warehouse to level concrete subfloors for vinyl floor tiles.

  • Grind down high spots on concrete floors to the level of the surrounding surface.

  • Use self-leveling compound on dips in concrete floors. Apply a latex primer to the floor with a brush or paint roller to work as a bonding agent between the concrete and the compound layer. Pour the leveling compound into the dips, and then level it to the surrounding surface with a trowel. Allow it to dry completely.

  • Remove any debris from the leveling process in order to install the vinyl floor tiles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a face mask and safety goggles during the leveling process for protection.
  • If the floor is not level prior to installation of vinyl floor tiles, the floor will make popping sounds when walking on it. The total lifespan of the floor will be shortened as well. Cover and frame off any drains when using the leveling compound, as compound will cause clogging.

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