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Can You Put Peel and Stick Tile Over Concrete?

Peel and stick tiles are an affordable way of making your floors durable and classy at the same time. These tiles are one of the easiest to install yourself, but it’s hard to know whether your current floor will be suitable. This article will therefore explain whether concrete is a suitable surface to install adhesive tiles.

Concrete is one of the preferred surfaces for peel and stick tiles. It provides a suitably flat surface, and the tiles will stick well if the concrete has been prepared correctly. This includes removing dirt and debris, plugging holes and cracks, levelling the concrete and priming the surface.

Peel and stick tile floor installation

There are a number of reasons why concrete is suitable for adhesive tiles, but there are also things that you will need to watch out for when you install them. I will discuss these things below, as well as provide a step-by-step guide on preparing the concrete and installing the peel and stick tiles.

Can You Put Peel and Stick Tile Over Concrete?

Man thinking with images of questions marks floating around him

Peel and stick tiles are most commonly vinyl-based tiles that have an adhesive base. This removes the need for laying grout and the tiles themselves are much cheaper and quicker to install than normal tiles.

They are made of a number of layers; the adhesive layer on the bottom, the vinyl body, a print layer, a clear vinyl wear layer and a scratch-resistant urethane layer on top. You can also get gel, metal, glass or stone ties with a peel and stick base, but these are usually more expensive and less common for flooring.

Concrete is an ideal surface for peel and stick tiles because it is flat and does not have any gaps like you would find between floorboards. However, there are a few things to consider if laying peel and stick tiles over concrete.

Is the Concrete Truly Flat?

One thing that you will need to check before you consider laying the tiles is whether the concrete has any dips. I will explain more about this process further down, but it is best if a self-levelling compound is poured and set over the existing concrete slab to ensure the surface is completely flat and level.

Concrete is Porous

One thing that may make the tiles less adhesive to concrete is its porous nature. To overcome this issue, a primer can be spread across the surface of the concrete to make the adhesions stronger.

Porosity also allows moisture to seep through the concrete, which may lead to mould issues in the future. The primer used should also work well as a moisture barrier.

The Concrete Will Need to be Cleaned

You also cannot stick tiles to concrete that has dirt, dust or debris. These loose particles will stick to the adhesive backing of the tile and act as a barrier between the tile and the concrete, resulting in lifted areas in the floor. For this reason, the concrete should be vacuumed and preferably scrubbed clean before laying peel and stick tiles.

If you have removed another floor covering from the concrete, you will also need to make sure that you have cleared it of any remaining materials from the previous floor.

For example, there may be adhesive material stuck to the concrete from a previous peel and stick floor, or there may be nails embedded in the concrete from a wooden floor.

Cracks or Holes in the Concrete

Another thing to consider is cracks or holes in your concrete. This can happen over time in an older home or when the floor has been replaced several times.

These gaps should be filled using a cement mix and levelled with the concrete surface. Once this has cured, the self-levelling compound will even out the rest of the surface.

Newly Laid Concrete

Newly laid concrete needs time to set. This is important so that the concrete is strong and dry. As a general rule, you should allow newly-laid concrete to cure for at least 60 days before laying a peel and stick floor covering.

How Important is the Preparation?

As you can see, peel and stick floors have a lot of preparation involved. In theory, you could still lay your peel and stick tiles on a concrete slab that has not been cleaned, levelled or primed.

However, the resulting floor covering will be suboptimal. It is likely to have dips, areas of lifting and won’t last as long as if you take the time to properly prepare the concrete.

Should You Put Peel and Stick Tile Over Concrete?

Concrete floor inside house

The most important thing for a subfloor to be suitable for laying peel and stick tiles is that it is smooth and clean. As I mentioned earlier, this is very much achievable with concrete. Although there are other suitable materials to lay the tiles over, such as plywood, concrete is actually one of the best options.

You can still apply peel and stick to other types of subfloors, such as floorboards, but there tends to be more preparation involved to waterproof, level and clean the surface.

When do I Need to Consider Self-Levelling Compound?

Self-levelling compound is a quick way of creating a flat surface for the peel and stick tiles, but it may not always be necessary. If you have a concrete floor that is completely smooth and flat, as determined using a spirit-level, you could get away with applying the tiles directly onto the concrete slab.

However, you will need to make sure that you still apply a primer to make the surface water-resistance and therefore prevent mould infiltration.

How Much Time and Effort is Required?

If you’re considering whether or not you should install peel and stick tiles over your concrete slab, just know that this is one of the quickest and easiest methods of laying your own floor covering.

The preparation seems extensive, but this is similar for all floor coverings. The preparation for a wooden subfloor also requires caulking to seal every joint between the floor boards, which can be more time consuming.

Overall, the longest process in laying peel and stick tiles is waiting for the concrete to cure. For new concrete, as I mentioned earlier, this will take at least 2 months. Self-levelling compound generally only takes six hours to set. Depending on the size of the room, you could have the tiles in place within a day.

How to Put Peel and Stick Tile Over Concrete

Tile floor installation

Materials Required

Below are all the materials required for the entire process of laying peel and stick tiles on your concrete floor. Some steps may not apply to you, and therefore there may be materials that you don’t require.

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cement mix (only for any cracks/holes)
  • Electric cement mixer and bucket(s)
  • Spirit-level
  • Self-levelling compound (if needed)
  • Primer
  • Floor roller
  • Utility knife
  • Ruler
  • Adhesive tiles

Preparing the Concrete

Step 1: Remove any previous floor coverings, including any adhesive materials or nails embedded in the concrete. Remove the quarter-rounds.

Step 2: Vacuum all dirt, dust and debris from the concrete surface.

Step 3: Fill in any cracks or holes in the concrete with cement mix.

Step 4: Use the spirit-level to find any uneven surfaces and whether the surface is flat.

Step 5: Mix self-levelling compound and spread over every surface of the concrete. Wait around six hours for the concrete to set. If there is only one small raised area, use a sander to grind this concrete down instead.

Step 6: Apply primer to newly-levelled concrete surface using the floor roller.

Laying the Adhesive Tiles

Step 1: Use the ruler to determine the centre of the room and draw a cross. Rule lines along the floor to keep the tiles straight as you lay them.

Step 2: Peel away removable backing from the tile and place it in line with the cross in the centre of the room.

Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on April 28, 2021.

Step 3: Continue laying tiles in a row until you are as close to the wall as you can get.

Step 4: Measure the distance from the last tile to the wall. Measure this on a new tile. Use the ruler and utility knife to slice through the tile (you may have to slice both sides and then snap the excess tile off).

Step 5: Repeat this for all tiles abutting the wall.

What to do if You Make a Mistake

Everybody makes mistakes. The good thing is the adhesive backing on the tiles takes about an hour to become too strong to easily remove. For this reason, you should be able to lift a tile you have just laid in the wrong spot so you can shift it into a better position.

Sometimes, even after extensive preparation, the tiles still don’t stick in some places. Make sure you give the tiles a full hour to stick properly before you assume they haven’t stuck well. If they are still lifting, you can use tile glue to stick it down.

Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on April 28, 2021.

Keep in mind that sometimes large temperature variations can affect the adhesive properties of the tiles. Try to keep your tiles inside your home at room temperature while in storage.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on April 28, 2021.

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