Having a hardwood floor in the home is something that many homeowners dream of, but it certainly is not the only option. In some cases, the homeowner may want to consider the benefits of installing vinyl tile. That leads to the question; if you have a wood floor, can it successfully be used as a subfloor for vinyl tile?
Generally speaking, vinyl tile can be installed over a hardwood subfloor. There are even some reasons why a hardwood subfloor is one of the best choices for vinyl tile. As long as the subfloor is in good shape, it can stay in place with the vinyl tile being installed over it.
The practicality of using vinyl tile is well established. Hardwood, on the other hand, will need maintenance over time and there may be times when it needs to be refinished altogether. That is typically why people choose to use it as a subfloor rather than going through the time, mess, and expense of refinishing hardwood.
In addition, if the right type of vinyl tile is used, it can be installed over a hardwood subfloor without damaging the subfloor. At a future time, the vinyl tile can easily be removed and the hardwood floor can be re-exposed. With some elbow grease, the hardwood can then be brought back to its former beauty.
What Type of Vinyl Tile Can Be Installed over Hardwood?
Since a hardwood subfloor is one of the best options for any type of flooring, it can be used with any type of vinyl. That being said, there are reasons why you may want to be choosy when it comes to installing the right type of vinyl tile.
Floating Tile – There are many options for floating vinyl tile that can be a very beautiful and functional part of the home. Perhaps the most common option is a faux wood tile that snaps together in a tongue and groove fashion.
This type of floor can be put down easily by a weekend warrior or DIY enthusiast. The real benefit, however, of using floating tile is how easy it is to remove.
Although most people will not consider the removal of the floor when they install flooring, it is an important thing to consider in the case of vinyl tile over hardwood subfloor. Styles do come and go and if the trend is heading in the direction of hardwood flooring, removing the vinyl tile should be as easy as possible.
A floating vinyl tile can simply be removed by taking it out piece by piece. Since it is not attached to the hardwood subfloor, it is removed without damaging the floor underneath it.
Glue-Down Tile – This type of vinyl tile is a more permanent option compared to the floating vinyl tile floor. That being said, there are also reasons why it is beneficial to use vinyl tile that glues down rather than one that floats.
First of all, if you are working in any type of retail industry or a healthcare environment, then a glue-down option is the best choice. Since you are using an adhesive to attach the vinyl tile directly to the hardwood subfloor, it is not going to move or fluctuate in any way.
In addition, every piece of furniture and any fixtures that are left in place will not leave a noticeable indentation over time. In the case of floating vinyl tile, however, indentations are a possibility.
It is also important to choose the type of bonding when it comes to a glue-down vinyl tile. A hard set bonding is spread out on the floor and the vinyl is put on top. Pressure-sensitive bonding, on the other hand, is vinyl tile with the adhesive already on it (peel and stick). The vinyl tile is glued to the subfloor using pressure.
Pressure-sensitive vinyl tile is easier to remove. That is something you may want to keep in mind if the flooring is changed regularly.
Should You Put Vinyl Tile On Wood Floor?
There are many different types of subfloor, with some of them being preferred for vinyl tile. This would include concrete, ceramic, or PVC flooring. One of the primary types of subfloor, however, is wood.
If you already have a hardwood floor in place, then it would make an ideal subfloor for vinyl tile. The real key, however, is making sure that the hardwood floor is free of any defect.
Vinyl tile tends to mirror whatever is below it. If there are any dips or high points in the floor, as well as any damage to the subfloor, it is going to show up in the vinyl tile over time. Taking the time to prepare the floor is imperative for a good finished product.
We will discuss how to prepare the existing hardwood floor prior to installing vinyl tile in this article.
How To Put Vinyl Tile On Wood Floor
There are a number of types of vinyl tile, including some that are glued down in various ways. In this particular article, however, we are going to focus on the most common type of vinyl tile that is installed over a hardwood floor, a floating tile floor.
Floating vinyl tile is popular, especially in a home environment. It is easily installed, does not require many tools, and can typically be installed with a minimum amount of disruption to the home.
That being said, properly preparing the hardwood subfloor is of vital importance. Just like any other DIY project, taking an adequate amount of time and effort to prepare the project is going to make a big difference when it comes to the final product.
Most floating vinyl tile floors installed in the home are going to be plank style. Often, it is made to mimic the look of wood, although there are options that can look like stone as well.
The following are the basic steps used in order to prepare for an installation and to see it through to the end.
One important factor that is often overlooked is to gather the necessary tools prior to any home improvement project. This would include installing vinyl tile over hardwood.
The tools that are considered below are not part of an exhaustive list. There may be special tools that are needed, depending upon the type of floor being installed and the circumstances in your home.
Having these tools ready in advance allows you to work on the project without having to stop and start frequently to gather additional items. In some cases, you may have these tools on hand but in others, they can either be purchased or rented at a local hardware store.
Tools for Preparing the Hardwood Floor
Crowbar – The use of a crowbar or preferably, a WonderBar is important for preparing the hardwood floor. If the hardwood floor is already in good shape, it may not be necessary to remove any planks. Having a crowbar on hand can make it easy to remove any damaged planks without damaging the adjacent planks.
Levels – Having at least one but preferably two levels is important for a clean install of vinyl flooring. One of the most important factors we will cover in preparing the hardwood subfloor is ensuring it doesn’t have any high or low points.
You should have a 4-foot level or longer available for checking for those high or low points. A shorter level will not typically cover a large enough span to find some of those spots.
A short such as an 18-inch level will be beneficial to have on hand. It can also be used as a straight edge in some cases.
Sander – There are a variety of types of sanders that can be used, depending upon the amount of sanding that needs to be done. In some cases, a handheld belt sander will suffice. In other cases, it may be necessary to sand down a larger portion with a floor sander. Either can be rented at a local hardware store if necessary.
Tools for Installing Vinyl Tile
Chalk Line – This is an underrated tool when it comes to the installation of vinyl tile. Typically, you would start on one side of the room and work your way to the other side. Rather than trusting the wall to be straight, which it rarely ever is, you can use a chalk line to start the job right.
Measuring Tapes – Make sure that you have a few measuring tapes on hand for the job. Use a 25-foot measuring tape to measure the room and determine the width of the first plank. Shorter measuring tapes, such as a 12-foot measuring tape can be used to measure individual planks for cutting and proper fit.
Power Saw – In some cases, it may be necessary to use a power saw to cut the vinyl tile. See the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the best way to cut the title.
Utility Knife – A good utility knife is important for a wide variety of uses. In some cases, the vinyl tile may be scored and cut in that way. Anytime you use a utility knife, make sure that you cut properly and safely and keep the blade sharp. Dispose of used blades appropriately.
Flooring Spacers – Rather than trying to estimate how much space you need on the edge of the room you can use flooring spacers. It takes the guesswork out of the equation and ensures you have just enough space so that the floor can move and expand without exposing the edge from under the baseboard.
Installation Kit – The installation kit is typically purchased separately from the vinyl tile. Some of the items that may be included in the kit are a tapping block, spacers, pull bar, and a mallet.
Rubber Mallet – Although this may be included in an installation kit in some cases, that is not always going to be true. Make sure that you’re using a quality, weighted rubber Mallet rather than a hammer. It reduces the possibility of damaging the floor as you are installing it.
Doorjamb Saw – This tool is either available as a hand saw or a power saw. For most homeowners, the use of a handsaw dovetail cut door jam saw is all that is necessary since you will likely only be making a few cuts. It allows you to install the vinyl tile under the doorjamb and frame.
How To Prep Wood Floor For Vinyl Tile
One of the most important parts of any project is preparing for it. Unfortunately, this is often one of the most rushed and overlooked parts of a project. It is especially important when you are preparing for the installation of vinyl tile over a hardwood floor.
Even if the hardwood floor that will become the subfloor is relatively free of defects, it is important to check it carefully and correct any issues prior to the time that the vinyl tile is installed. This will help remove the possibility of any irregularities in the subfloor showing up through the vinyl.
In most cases, it would not be necessary to completely sand the wood floor. At some point in the future, you may even want to remove the vinyl tile and refinish the subfloor. If at all possible, leave the hardwood floor intact and just work on the smaller issues that may exist.
The first thing to do is to make sure that the floor is both smooth and even. In some cases, it may just be a few bumps or perhaps a low or high spot that needs to be corrected.
In other cases, you may need to replace damaged planks or perhaps fix spots where a squeaky floor exists. Remember, if there are any issues with the hardwood floor, including creaks and squeaks, they are likely to be as much of a problem after you install the vinyl tile.
If it is necessary to replace a plank, you will first need to remove the old one. This might include cutting along the side of the plank if it is a tongue and groove floor. You can use a crowbar to pull the old plank out of place and put a new one in its place.
If the problem is a squeaky hardwood floor, this is typically an issue with loose planks or even loose subflooring. In some cases, you may be able to use carpenter glue to repair the problem. It is easier if you have access to a crawlspace or the area under the floor so you can fix it from below. Just look for the offending gap and fill it. You can also use a small screw from under the floor to attach the plank firmly to the joists.
How To Level Wood Floor For Vinyl Tile
One of the biggest problems with using an existing hardwood floor for a new vinyl tile floor are any high and low points. If these are not fixed in advance, it will result in problems with the vinyl tile floor.
High Points and Bumps – Any high point in the hardwood floor can be fixed by sanding the floor prior to installing the vinyl title. Typically, a portable belt sander or floor sander can be used for this project.
After you sand the floor down to the appropriate level, it is vitally important that you clean the entire area thoroughly. As you will quickly learn, sanding a hardwood floor can get messy so you would want to remove any sawdust prior to installing the vinyl tile.
Low Points – It is more difficult to fix a low point in the hardwood floor, especially if you are trying to save it for possible later use.
One option is to use a self-leveling underlayment. These underlayments are cement-based, so they are going to introduce water to the area and it can cause the wood to swell.
In some cases, it may be possible to eventually remove the self-leveling underlayment if you decide to use the hardwood floor again. If you don’t plan on using it in the future, then the underlayment is certainly the best option for fixing any low points. You might even consider floating the entire room to get a solid level surface for the subfloor.
How To Remove Vinyl Tile From Wood Floors
One of the benefits of using vinyl tile is the fact that it is easily removed. A floating vinyl tile floor is interlocked from one tile to the other but it is not attached to the floor underneath.
Removing the vinyl tile floor from a hardwood subfloor is as easy as finding the leading edge and beginning to remove the tiles one by one. It may be necessary to remove some of the baseboard in order to get at the first edge, but you can typically pull the vinyl tile floor out from underneath the baseboard on the final edge.
If the floor is glued down, it is going to take a lot more elbow grease to remove. It also depends on the type of glue that was used or if you had a pressure-based adhesive. In this case, you can typically scrape up the old tile, but you need to be cautious not to damage the subfloor or additional work will be necessary before a new floor is installed.
Vinyl tile is a beautiful and easy-to-install option that can enhance to looks of any home. If you are fortunate enough to have an existing hardwood floor in place, the amount of work to install the floor is reduced substantially. With a little work and a lot of patience, you can be enjoying your new vinyl floor in no time.