Installing vinyl flooring could be a do-it-yourself project

October 30, 2009|By PAT LOGAN / Creators Syndicate

Dear Pat: I have a playroom for my children. It has old carpeting, which needs to be replaced. I would like some type of durable non-carpet flooring that can take abuse. Will any commercial-type flooring work? - Ann G.

Dear Ann: Any of several commercial-type flooring materials should be able to take the abuse children can give it. Just think about the wear and tear on supermarket floors; they hold up quite well. Commercial-type flooring is more expensive because it is made with higher-quality components and is thicker.

Vinyl floor tiles are probably the best choice for your children's play room. These tiles are easy to install and extremely durable. They are also particularly well suited for areas such as laundry rooms or basements, where high moisture levels and spills occur.

Years ago, you may have found it difficult to find a good selection of colors or pattern of commercial-grade vinyl flooring. Over the past decade or so, durable vinyl tiles have become more popular for residential use, and manufacturers are now providing many colors and patterns suitable for homes.


Most vinyl tiles are available as 12-by-12-inch squares. One of the most attractive patterns is simulated marble. It is available in vibrant colors such as green, rose and almond. Simulated stone tiles, available in several colors and types of stone, create an attractive floor that does not show dirt.

The newest tile flooring is designed to simulate hardwood floor planks. These are usually about 3 inches wide, as are real hardwood planks. Natural grain patterns are used, so once it is installed, it has an authentic hardwood appearance.

True commercial-grade vinyl tiles are typically 1/8-inch thick. Thinner residential-grade tiles are available with an adhesive backing. If your primary concern is durability, select the thicker commercial-grade tiles.

It is only slightly more difficult to install the commercial-grade tiles than the adhesive-backer tiles. The tile manufacturers offer the adhesive for commercial-grade tiles. It is best to use the adhesive from the manufacturer of the tiles you are using to be sure it is compatible with the material.

If you cannot find commercial-grade vinyl flooring locally, contact the following suppliers: Amtico International, 800-268-4260; Armstrong, 800-233-3823; Congoleum, 800-274-3266; Forbo Flooring, 800-342-0604; and Tarkett, 800-367-8275.

As with installing any flooring material, it is imperative the base under it is smooth and clean. Tiny high points on the base result in excessively worn spots on the flooring above them. Lay a flashlight on the floor and shine the beam over the floor. Any high points will be apparent.

When vinyl tiles are produced, the edges are machined perfectly so the joints are nearly invisible after they are installed. You will have to cut some of the tiles yourself to make them fit the room. You can use a utility knife, but it is better to rent a tile cutter to make more accurate edge cuts.

Since most rooms are not square, align the tiles with the wall that is most viewed when you enter the room. This looks better. Once the adhesive is spread on the floor and the tiles are laid, most manufacturers recommend the tiles be seated down into the adhesive with a heavy roller. This is important for good adhesion to the floor and for flat, tight joints.

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