Vinyl Flooring

Choosing, Installing and Maintaining Flooring in Your Home

Vinyl can make comfortable flooring, which is easy to clean and can handle wet conditions. When it comes to replacing them it can be quite a difficult job. In using the services of a qualified person you could have a floor that looks great and can last for a very long time to come.

The thicker tiles are softer on the feet, but are more prone to scratches and cuts. If you expect a lot of traffic, rather go for a high quality tile that can handle high heels and broken glass.

Preparation for installing vinyl flooring

Usually you first have to remove old flooring, which could prove to be the toughest part of the whole project. Flooring installers use big blades that can easily lift the old vinyl. It will help to soften the adhesive below with water before you start. For that you can make cuts with a utility knife through the middle of each tile, pour water over it and leave it for a while.

Using a scraper, you can begin with a corner of the vinyl flooring and lift it and work your way across the whole floor. Try to remove the adhesive with the vinyl from the start. It is not a good idea to just leave it as is, because it can create very unsightly imprints on the new vinyl. It will also lead to rapid deterioration, as it gets exposed to heavy traffic.

Some vinyl that was used before the 1980's might contain asbestos, so extreme care should be taken in that regard. Just a few of these asbestos particles in your lungs could lead to asbestosis somewhere in future. If unsure, you can always have it analysed before you start working on it. When in doubt and you can't wait, you can use a respirator and maybe also use a vacuum cleaner or air purifier near the spot where you are working.

Heat can also be used to remove adhesive and a hairdryer might do the trick. Other means are hot water, steam, mineral spirits, an electrical heat gun, or a specialised chemical, which softens the adhesive so that it can be scraped off. You may consider installing over the old layer of vinyl, but it may be necessary to first create a new screed with self-levelling compound to prevent the pattern of the old tiles from transposing onto the new vinyl. This compound can also be used on a new concrete floor that is not perfectly level or smooth.

Check the floor for any holes or cracks before laying vinyl. These have to be filled up before starting. Take measurements of the whole area to determine how many tiles or how much vinyl you may need. Make sure there is no wax or build-up grime. Use wax remover and mop up and wash the floor again with clean water afterwards and make sure the floor is completely dry and free of dust and grit before continuing.

If laying sheets, choose a hot day if possible or heat up the room to ensure the vinyl doesn't become brittle. It's quicker to lay sheets and there are no joints where dirt and water can get in. There's also less chance of corners curling up and break, but it's more difficult to install than tiles.

Installing vinyl flooring

If you can't roll out the sheet onto a specific area, take careful measurements and double-check that they are correct and add 10mm to the edges to play safe. Draw the pattern on the sheet using a straight edge and a non-permanent marker on the front side of the sheet and cut with a sharp craft knife. Marking out a mirror image on the backside might lead to big errors if the room is not square. Roll out the sheet again, while carefully checking that no debris is sticking to the back. Test-fit it and then carefully trim the overlapping edges.

When it fits perfectly and you are sure the floor is free of grit and debris, roll up one half and spread adhesive with a notched trowel, in stages, along the vinyl, working outwards to the wall. Unroll the sheet while pressing hard on it with a roller, little by little, to prevent air being trapped. Walk on socks to feel for trapped bubbles underneath. When finished, you can continue with the other half. Watch for spilled adhesive and remove it with hot water before it dries. Regularly sweep the floor and mob at least once a month to keep it in good condition.

Modern vinyl tiles can be purchased with adhesive already applied. Al you have to do is to install them. When using vinyl tiles, before you start gluing, temporarily lay out some tiles on the area to see how it will fit in and where you will have to make alterations. Find the centre point of the room and snap a chalk line and begin from there.

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