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Can You Lay Linoleum Over Concrete

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I’ve been looking at the different flooring options to use on my concrete floor, and I’m interested in whether you can use linoleum over concrete. I looked around at what experienced renovators and flooring contractors have recommended, and here’s what I found.

Generally, you can lay linoleum over concrete. The main factor to watch out for is that the concrete is flat, level, and clean. Any imperfections in the concrete will eventually show through and will be visible through the linoleum. However, other than that concrete is a good subfloor for linoleum.

Modern linoleum flooring

Linoleum is a very inexpensive flooring option that is very durable and has a simple but tidy appearance. In this article, I’ll explain whether it’s a good idea to lay linoleum over concrete, and exactly how to do it step by step.

Should You Lay Linoleum Over Concrete

Male with laptop on lap thinking

Certain kinds of flooring material such as hardwood need a cork or foam underlayment so that they are more comfortable to walk on, and you may be wondering whether concrete makes the best subfloor for linoleum.

As a whole, installing linoleum over concrete is a good idea. Sometimes, the concrete can be rough or cracked, and you need to do some preparatory work to make it level and smooth. But, other than that there aren’t any known drawbacks to installing linoleum over concrete.

Interestingly, concrete makes a great subfloor because it isn’t prone to creaking or swelling like wood is. However, it isn’t as comfortable to walk on as wood because it doesn’t have any give to it.

For that reason, you can put a layer of plywood on top of your concrete to make it more comfortable to walk on. A good thickness for a sheet of plywood over the concrete is a ¼ of an inch (6 mm). There are also certain kinds of linoleum that have felt on the underside which gives it more cushion.

The main thing to watch out for is getting a really flat surface by preparing the concrete and plywood thoroughly. And that’s the topic of the next section…

How To Install Linoleum Over Concrete

Linoleum glue floor installation

Now that you’re aware that you can lay linoleum over concrete, and that it’s a good flooring material to use on concrete, how exactly do you install linoleum over concrete?

You first need to fill in any cracks and holes in the concrete surface, and ensure it’s level, and clean. After that you measure the room, and cut the linoleum sheet to fit. Then you cut the linoleum more precisely around the furnishings and walls. Finally, you secure it to the concrete.

Certain brands and types of linoleum can be attached to the concrete in different ways. Some you need to glue down, whereas, others are secured to the concrete using double sided tape.

To know what method to use to stick your linoleum to the concrete you should use, you should look at the manufacturer’s instructions. The good news is the instructions are typically very thorough and detailed. Before that though, here’s the tools you’ll need to install it.

Tools Needed

  • Measuring tape
  • Linoleum – obviously!
  • Bubble level
  • Utility Knife
  • Vinyl cutter
  • Levelling compound – not always needed (more detail on this later)
  • Vinyl glue or double sided tape – refer to the linoleum manufacturer’s instructions
  • Broom and vacuum
  • Spray-on adhesive – not always needed (more detail on this later)
  • Filler

Preparing the concrete

Once you install your linoleum over your concrete it’s impossible to get to the concrete underneath without tearing up and damaging the linoleum. Therefore, any dirt and dust that’s sitting on the top of the concrete will be there for a VERY long time.

It will also show through on the surface of your linoleum. Over time the linoleum will be pressed into the underlying floor very hard by people walking on top of it.

To get it the concrete flat, and smooth can require more or less work depending on what condition it’s in. Start by clearing away any debris, and rubbish and give the area a quick once over with a vacuum.

Remove any screws, staples, or nails using your hammer. And use a scraper to remove any tape, plaster, or anything that’s stuck to the surface of your concrete.

If there are bits of concrete sticking out you can shatter them using a hammer, and then fill in any holes or cracks using a filler. Also, if there are any cracks, fill them in using some filler, wait for it to dry, and then sand it off flat.

Finally, check that the floor is level by using a bubble level. Take some time to check the entire concrete floor in the room using your bubble level. If it’s considerably off, then you should use a self leveling compound.

Self leveling compounds are a dry powder that you mix with liquid until it turns into a runny mixture. You then pour and spread it out over the concrete. It will spread out and make itself level before it dries.

Measure the room, and lay out the linoleum

Next, you need to cut the linoleum so it’s easy to trim once it’s in the room. To do that start by drawing a floor plan on a piece of paper with the lengths of each of the walls. Include all areas you’re going to lay the linoleum such as closets.

Then cut your linoleum to fit your room but leave 3 inches (7.5 cm) extra on all of the edges. That will give you enough linoleum so that you can cut the edges perfectly to fit once it’s all laid out. Lift the linoleum into your room, and lay it out roughly where it will go.

Cut the linoleum to fit

After that, you need to use a specific technique to cut the edges of your linoleum to fit. The good news is, it’s not difficult when you know how.

After that you need to trim the linoleum all around the perimeter of the room. For long walls use your vinyl cutter. But, for shorter parts such as around the back of the door you can use your utility knife and a metal ruler. Or, if you have a steady hand, you can do it free hand.

Once that’s all done the linoleum will be a perfect fit, but you still need to secure it to the concrete.

Attach the linoleum to the concrete

The final step is to stick the linoleum to the concrete using either glue or tape. What you use depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Glue is applied to the entire underside of the linoleum. And to do so, you fold the linoleum back on itself and then apply the glue to the concrete directly.

You then place the linoleum on the wet glue and press it firmly into place. The other main method that manufacturers recommend to use to stick their linoleum to concrete is double sided tape along all the edges. However, concrete typically has pores in it, and as a result the tape can’t stick well to it.

Because of that a spray on adhesive can be used along the edge where you’re going to put the tape. It provides a tacky and sticky surface for the tape, and makes it stick well. As a final step, if you’re installing the linoleum in a room that gets wet such as a bathroom or a kitchen you should apply caulk.

Use a caulk gun and apply a line of caulk along the perimeter of the room. As well as, around the bottom of any furnishings where they meet with the linoleum. Then smooth it out using a caulk tool, or a wet finger.

After that, you’re all done! Well, that covers everything you need to know about laying linoleum over concrete.

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