Is your kitchen or bathroom floor shot? Have generations of clodhoppers carved a path between the fridge and the sink? Then you're a candidate for vinyl flooring. As a quick means to erase bad taste, eradicate gouges, and enhance decor, vinyl is especially useful in bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways.
With the right preparation, vinyl can go over most flooring materials—wood, concrete, and older vinyl. The only trick is making the template—a pattern used to cut the flooring. In the example we've shown in this chapter, the vinyl itself served as a template, but it's faster and easier to use a paper template. Stand by for details.
Step 1: Prepare for Your Floor
Vinyl comes in many grades, colors, and styles. In terms of installation, what matters is how it's bonded to the subfloor. Full-adhesive floors, like the one shown here, require mastic, or adhesive, on the whole subfloor. Perimeter bonding gets a few inches of mastic around the edges; the flooring then shrinks and tightens. Self-adhesive flooring has a protective backing that you remove to expose the gummy stuff.
To floor a bathroom right, remove the toilet; don't try to cut around it. Shut off the water supply, loosen the toilet-mounting bolts around the base, remove the toilet, and shove a rag into the drain to control odors. After the flooring is done, place a new seal into the drain and secure the toilet with new mounting bolts. This whole process is described in detail in How to Replace a Toilet.
Remove the base trim. If the baseboard is in good shape, leave it in place. If the baseboard needs replacement, remove it as well.
It would be nice if you could put vinyl over a junky floor, but vinyl is thin, and it's got to rest on a solid, flat, clean subfloor. These steps will prepare your subfloor for action:
Old vinyl must be securely stuck, with no loose spots, tears, wide seams, or cuts.
Check plywood for loose panels, wide joints, knots, nail holes, or other damage. Don't take chances with your subfloor—rescrew it. Drive 2" screws about every 8" in each joist. Don't let the heads stick up
Remove dirt, dust, and moisture from concrete or ceramic tile. Check for cracks, scaling, or other damage. Stone or ceramic tile must be tightly bonded.
A quarter inch of plywood makes a good underlayment to strengthen and level the subfloor, but any doors must clear the floor as they swing.
Avoid placing vinyl on floors that are constantly wet.
Trowel on floor leveling compound to raise dips in the subfloor.
Prime plywood, ceramic, or concrete with a product intended to prepare for vinyl.