Vinyl tile is an excellent way to add beauty and value to the home. Not every vinyl tile is created equal, however, and at times, you need to pay particular attention to what is under the vinyl floor so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Generally speaking, you can install vinyl tile directly over concrete, provided there are not any serious problems with the concrete floor. Any concrete floor used as a subfloor for vinyl tile must be clean, dry, and smooth. If there are any cracks or holes, they must be repaired first.
Many people choose vinyl tile because it is relatively easy to install. It can be done by most homeowners who have at least a little DIY sense in a relatively short amount of time and come out looking like a professional did it.
Like any DIY project you would do around the home, you need to pay particular attention to how you start the project because it will make a difference in the finished product. In the case of the vinyl tile floor, the subfloor is the most important thing to consider.
If you have a concrete floor in place, you can easily use it as a subfloor for vinyl tile. As long as there are not any imperfections in the concrete, you can install the tile and not worry about imperfections in the finished job. Fortunately, any imperfections can also be worked out so the existing concrete slab can be used properly.
Rather than installing another subfloor overtop of the concrete slab, you can install the vinyl tile directly on it. In doing so, you are limiting the change in elevation and making it easier to transition from one room to the next. It also saves you a lot of time and money on the overall project.
Should You Put Vinyl Tile On Concrete Floor?
For the most part, there is no reason to avoid putting vinyl tile on a concrete floor that is free of any serious imperfections. A concrete slab can make an excellent subfloor for vinyl tile, and is just as good as a wood subfloor.
As you will learn in this article, there are some things that must be done to the concrete so that you can install the vinyl tile successfully. This would include testing the concrete, cleaning it, leveling it, and reducing any low or high spots.
It can take some time to prepare the concrete floor so the vinyl tile can be installed properly. Once that happens, however, you can install the vinyl tile and you don’t need to be concerned about what may happen in the future. Although there may be problems at some point, there can be problems with any subfloor so the concrete floor is no different.
There are also some significant benefits to installing vinyl tile on concrete floor directly. Here are a few to consider.
A concrete slab is one of the strongest and longest lasting subfloors you could possibly have. Over time, you may have some problems with other subfloors, such as wood, due to moisture and other issues. A concrete slab may also have similar issues, but they are few and far between. As long as you prepare the floor properly in advance, concrete can be used as a subfloor for vinyl without concern.
If you have a concrete slab in place, the odds are you would not tear it up in order to install another subfloor. Most people who would consider putting down a secondary subfloor would install it over the concrete and that can add elevation to the room.
Although the amount of elevation is negligible if you are installing plywood, it can make a difference and the elevation differences add up, especially as you add additional layers of flooring.
Some types of flooring that can be used as subfloor, including existing hardwood, vinyl, or other flooring may also be used as a subfloor but they are not as stable as concrete. As the floor underneath the vinyl tile shifts and expands/contracts due to time and moisture, it can make the vinyl tile floor shift and separate.
Since concrete provides a very stable subfloor for the vinyl tile, you don’t have to worry about it shifting over time. Regardless of whether you are gluing down the vinyl or if it is a floating floor, it works well over concrete.
One of the big problems that occurs in many homes as a result of installing new floor is the transition from one room to another. Any elevation change or a shift from one type of flooring to another could be a problem and may even result in a tripping hazard or can detract from the beauty of the floor that was installed.
Since concrete is a very level and solid subfloor, it reduces any issues with transitions to other types of floors or from one room to another. If you are installing vinyl tile throughout the whole room, it will make a seamless installation. If you are transitioning to other types of floor, such as carpet or wood, you can use transition strips and minimize the change.
How To Put Vinyl Tile On Concrete Floor
Since a concrete slab it is a very effective subfloor for vinyl tile, the process of putting down the tile is rather straightforward. You can keep the following things in mind to ensure that the project goes as smoothly as possible.
The first step in the process is to prepare the concrete slab. This is often a multi-step process, so we discussed how to do it further down in this article. After the concrete slab has been prepared, however, it’s just a matter of putting the vinyl in place.
Measure the floor to ensure that you are not going to end up with a small sliver of flooring when you get to the further side of the room. This may take a little thinking, because not all rooms are square and there may be some odd jogs in the wall.
For a floating vinyl tile floor, you can begin on one side of the room and continue to follow the leading edge as you snap the floor in place. Make sure that you stagger the end joints for each of the vinyl tile strips, being cautious that you don’t follow any specific pattern. They should be randomized as much as possible.
Make sure you keep your joints tight as you move across the room. It is much easier to work with a joint as you are putting down a new piece rather than going back and trying to tighten things up when most or all of the floor has already been installed.
For a glue down floor, you would also start on one side of the room and work your way across. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for gluing down the floor and make sure you work with it to keep things tight and in place. Bear in mind that small errors will add up, so reduce them or eliminate them altogether.
Tools Used to Put Vinyl Tile On Concrete Floor
There are very few tools that will be necessary to install vinyl tile over concrete. In fact, most of the tools are available as a kit. Here are a few that you would want to have on hand to make the project run smoothly.
Don’t trust that the wall you are using to start the project is going to be perfectly straight. They never are. It is much better to work off of the chalk line so that you can keep the entire project going smoothly from beginning to end.
A good tape measure or preferably, two tape measures will be necessary for the job. Most people prefer to have a 25 foot tape measure and a 12 foot tape measure, depending upon the specific project that is being done.
Most vinyl tile flooring can be cut with the utility knife. Make sure that you use a high-quality knife and change blades frequently.
In some cases, you will need to have a power saw to cut the vinyl tile. That is only typically true if the tile is thicker. Many vinyl tiles are made to be scored and snapped.
Having a quality square will serve multiple purposes. It will help you to keep things lined up properly but it will also provide a convenient straight edge if you are scoring the floor with the utility knife.
Pick up an installation kit when you buy the floor. It will include a number of tools that can be used, including an enhanced pull bar, tapping block, and spacers.
This is not a tool that you will likely use on many other projects but it is very important to have for installing vinyl tile flooring. It provides what you need to get a solid strike when using the pull bar or to gently tap some of the pieces in place.
Depending on the size of your project, you may need to pick up some extra spacers. These extra spacers will help you to stay an appropriate distance away from the wall to allow for expansion once the floor is installed.
Quality kneepads are going to help save your knees and your back. Even a small project can leave you hurting for a few days, so prepare in advance by having this necessary tool on hand.
How To Prep Concrete Floor For Vinyl Tile
The most important part of installing vinyl tile on a concrete floor is preparing the concrete floor in advance. Taking time to prepare the surface properly makes for a very clean, efficient, and beautiful installation.
The steps for preparing a concrete subfloor are the same, regardless of whether you are installing self-adhesive vinyl or a tongue and groove floating floor.
Visually inspect the floor – Inspecting the floor is going to take place in a number of ways but a visual inspection can often pick up on some of the issues that need to be corrected before the vinyl tile is installed.
Check the moisture content – One of the biggest problems with a concrete subfloor is the moisture content. You can test the relative humidity using a probe or pinless meter. If the concrete is under 12%, you should acclimate the vinyl tile for 10 days before installing. If the subfloor is over 12% moisture, it should be dried before the installation takes place. You should still acclimate the vinyl tile before installing it.
Clean the subfloor – cleaning the subfloor before installing vinyl tile is very important to ensure that there aren’t any problems that would show up at some point in the future. It is important to thoroughly sweep the floor and remove any dirt that may be loose but that it is also important to clean the concrete more thoroughly.
If you are dealing with a relatively small area of concrete, you can typically get away with scrubbing it by hand. It isn’t typically necessary to use any type of harsh chemical, just scrubbing it with water will pull any dirt to the surface where it can be wiped away.
If you are cleaning a larger concrete slab, you may want to rent a side-by-side scrubber as that will make the job a lot easier. The process is typically the same, you clean it with water and then wipe away the water from the surface.
The reason why you would wipe the water from the surface rather than just allowing it to dry is because any dirt that is pulled out of pockets in the concrete could either settle back in or would then be on top of the concrete, resulting in issues if the floor would be installed. It is of particular concern for a peel and stick type of floor but it can also cause problems with a floating vinyl tile floor.
How To Level Concrete Floor For Vinyl Tile
One of the most important things to consider when installing vinyl tile over concrete is how level the concrete is. Checking the concrete in advance may take some time, but it is going to make a difference. After identifying the high and low spots, you can then grind them down or fill them in as is necessary.
Make sure the floor is level – it is not out of the ordinary for high and low spots to exist in a concrete slab. Some of them may not be easily recognizable but they will lead to problems if they are not corrected before a vinyl tile floor is installed.
There are a number of options available for checking the floor for high and low points but perhaps one of the easiest options for most homeowners is to use a large straight edge. As you run the straight edge back and forth across the floor, you will be able to detect the high and low points. You may have to run the straight edge across the floor multiple times in different directions so you don’t miss anything.
Addressing high spots – If you find any high spots on the floor, they should be leveled before you address any low spots. There are a number of options available but for most small jobs, an angle grinder with a diamond grinding wheel will do the job.
If you don’t have an angle grinder and grinding wheel available, you can typically rent them from your local hardware store. Most home jobs will be able to be done in a day, so you will limit the rental cost.
When you begin grinding the concrete, you will create a lot of dust. It is best if you use an angle grinder with an attached vacuum to the amount of but you should also wear an appropriate face covering. Silica dust, which is the type of dust that comes from grinding concrete is extremely dangerous and can cause problems over time.
Use a self-leveling compound – Any low spots on the floor can easily be addressed by using a self-leveling compound. There are a number of options on the market but they all work somewhat the same. The concrete leveling compound is spread across the floor, creating a very thin layer on the level parts of the floor but any low spots are filled in seamlessly.
One of the benefits of you does not take a lot of time to cure. It is important to look at the instructions for the specific type of leveling compound you choose but in some cases, you could be installing a new floor within a few hours after putting the leveling compound down.
How To Remove Vinyl Tile From Concrete Floors
Removing a vinyl tile floor from a concrete subfloor is a fairly straightforward process. If it is a floating tile floor, you would simply remove the planks in the reverse order that they were put down and discard them. If the planks were glued down, additional work is necessary to remove them properly.
Four glued down vinyl planks, you would need to cut into a portion of the floor in an area where you can get a putty knife underneath the vinyl tile. You can then use a hairdryer on a high setting or carefully use a heat gun to warm up the adhesive under the floor and peel it back.
After the planks have been removed, you can remove any additional glue from the floor using a commercial glue remover and then sanding the floor with a side-by-side scrubber using a sanding pad.