How to Install Vinyl Tile

Materials and Tools Needed

  • Tape Measure
  • Chalk Line
  • Pencil
  • Pad of Paper
  • Undercut Saw
  • Vinyl Tile
  • Vinyl Adhesive
  • Broom (ideally a dust broom)
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Drywall Knife
  • Leveling Compound
  • Sandpaper (100-grit)
  • Floor Roller
  • Calculator
  • Framing Square
  • Electric Heat Gun (softens tiles to make cutting easier)
  • Vinyl Tile Cutter

Prepare The Area

Step 1: Remove existing flooring. Vinyl tile can be installed over some existing floor types like vinyl or concrete, but you have to make sure it is completely flat, level and free of any cracks or leaks. To be safe, it’s best to start fresh.

Step 2: Remove all shoe molding along the edges of the room by prying them off with a hammer and screw driver.

Step 3: Install ¼ inch plywood underlayment using 1 ¼ inch ring-shank underlayment nails. Other types of nails can cause discoloration of the vinyl so be sure to buy the correct nails.

Step 4: Use an approved leveling compound on any seems in the plywood underlayment by spreading it with a 6-inch drywall knife. Once it dries use 100-grit sandpaper to smooth down the seams so they are level with the rest of the underlayment. NOTE: any uneven surfaces will show through on the vinyl tile, which not only looks bad but also causes uneven wearing.

Step 5: If needed trim the door openings (the jamb and casing) so that tiles can fit underneath. The easiest way to do this is to place an upside-down tile right next to the opening. Then place an undercut saw on top of the tile and carefully cut through the door opening. You have now trimmed the opening to the exact height of the tile without having to measure anything!

Separate The Room Into Quadrants

Step 1: Measure the width of the room in two different places and find the center points of each.

Step 2: Using those two center points snap a chalk line across the entire floor and find the center point of the chalk line.

Step 3: Grab a framing square and line it up against the chalk line at the center point. Mark a line on the tongue of your square perpendicular to your chalk line. Now do the same thing on the other side of your chalk line.

Step 4: Using those two newly created lines, snap a chalk line. You now have a room divided into quadrants for easier working. This will help make sure you lay your vinyl tiles as straight as possible.

Laying The Tiles

Step 1: Make sure your underlayment is still clean. It might be best to give it another sweep to get rid of any accumulated dust. Be careful not to sweep away your chalk lines.

Step 2: Lay your vinyl tiles in one quadrant at a time. Begin at the center point by placing your first tile in the center corner of the quadrant.

Step 3: Work your way out along the lines of the quadrant to the wall. Then start your next rows from the center creating a step pattern as you go.

Step 4: Once you complete one quadrant, move to the next until you complete all 4.

Laying Self-adhesive Vinyl Tiles

Step 1: The easiest type of vinyl tile to install (it doesn’t always last as long) only requires you to peel the backing off the tile before laying it down.

Step 2: Press the tile firmly to the floor.

Laying Glue-down Vinyl Tile

Step 1: A number of different tile adhesives are available, depending on the type of tile you are installing and where you are installing it. Talk to your flooring professional to make sure you purchase the correct one. Different types of adhesives have different directions so pay close attention to the instructions that come with your product. In most cases, the adhesive is applied to the subfloor using a notched trowel. Make sure you are using the correct size trowel. Applying too much or too little adhesive can cause your installation to fail. Follow the adhesive manufacturer instructions regarding open time (the amount of time to wait before placing the tile in the adhesive).

Step 2: Press the tile firmly to the floor.

Fitting Partial Tiles Along The Wall

When you get close to the walls you will notice there may not be enough space for a full tile. This is expected.

Step 1: Place a full vinyl tile directly on top of an installed tile closest to the wall. Be sure that it lines up perfectly and completely covers the tile underneath.

Step 2: Take another tile and put it on top of the previous tile. Line up the sides but push it flush against the wall.

Step 3: Mark a line on the middle tile where the top two tiles overlap. This is where you will cut the middle tile to make it fit in the gap between the wall and your already installed tiles.

Step 4: The easiest and most efficient way to cut vinyl tile is to rent/buy a vinyl tile cutter. It looks and works a lot like a paper cutter. Place the tile underneath, line it up and press down on the handle.

Finishing Up

Step 1: After you finish laying the tile you should roll it with a 100-pound floor roller to fully set in the adhesive.

Step 2: Put your shoe molding back up or replace it with new molding if you wish.

Step 3: To allow the adhesive to fully take hold wait 5-7 days before washing your brand new vinyl tile flooring.