Laying sheet vinyl

Large rolls of sheet vinyl can be laid just as easily as the small tiles. Of course the pieces are much larger and heavier to handle but the basic operations are the same.

First we must shape the vinyl pieces to fit the floor area including making the proper shapes around any projections. This part is not always straightforward because of the odd shapes that projections may take and also because measurements may appear difficult. There are however, fairly simple ways in which these jobs can be speeded up.

The cutting can be done either with scissors or with a suitable knife, this being a matter for personal preference.

Once the sheets have been cut to shape the floor surface is spread with adhesive and the large sheets applied to it. Usually this is done by starting at one end of the strip and slowly gluing and pressing it down across the room. This method eliminates the risk of air being trapped underneath.

As with all solid surfacing, it is vital that the floor on which it is laid is perfectly free from damp. Tests to make sure about this should be done before tackling the job.

Four hands are obviously better than two when dealing with large sheets of vinyl. The weight is quite considerable and there are difficulties when you try to move the strips about the glued surface to make it butt tightly up against the wall or skirting. Also, it is common for small traces of adhesive to get onto the surface of the vinyl. These must be removed at once before they dry. An assistant following on with a sponge can deal with this too.

The ideal floor on which to lay sheet vinyl is certainly the smooth surface given by hardboarding. However, if plank flooring is in good condition and properly flat, it can give a good result too.

Though the floor must be clean and should have been washed if necessary, it is important that it be allowed to dry thoroughly before any adhesive is spread on it. Otherwise the vinyl will almost certainly refuse to stick down and there will be endless difficulties in the future.

Most sheet flooring alters slightly in size after it is laid. Vinyl shrinks quite noticeably. For this reason, try to have the strips, toughly cut to length, spread out in the room or a few days beforehand. Alternatively, make the fitting a little oversize, trimming accurately and finally gluing a week later.

There is no strict necessity to fasten vinyl down with glue. The sheets will rest quite well on their own weight. An underlay of loil-backed building paper, laid foil downwards, helps in this case.

One final word about colour schemes. It is probably unwise to apply such a long lasting and hardwearing surface as sheet vinyl except in colours and patterns that can stand many years of service. For example, if you lay a bright red vinyl sheet in, say, a kitchen, your decorative schemes will be dominated by the red for many years. On the other hand, if you choose a neutral shade, greys, whites or patterns of these with only minor splashes of other colours, then changes can easily be made in the overall colour scheme without trouble. Neutrals like this will blend with almost any colour. Large striking patterns are also difficult to blend into future changes in your decorations.

Some people like the designs that imitate natural textured stone or brick surfaces. These give the same difficulty for future changes but because the eye tends to accept such materials without noting the colour so profoundly, they are perhaps less trouble than the others. There is, so far as we know, no accepted and easy method of removing vinyl that has been well glued down, so it does pay to give considerable thought to the pattern you choose before going ahead with the job.

1 Vinyl is sold in rolls up to 6 feet wide. The edges are beautifully straight, so side to side butting is easy and practically invisible. The only difficulties arise in shaping the strip ends to the shape of the room. Push the roll first against the longest straight wall.

2 Now cut off the roll end roughly to shape. Leave three inches overlap on to any projection. Leave the job now for several days to let the vinyl shrink.

3 To finish your shape accurately you need a ball-point pen and a block of wood roughly nine inches long. Butt one end of the block against the projection and mark the vinyl and the floor at the other end.

4 Make sure the mark contrasts with the colour of the vinyl.

5 Now, pull the whole strip back, till the two marks are exactly the length of your block apart.

6 Again butt the block end against the projection and your marker pen at its other find. Draw the block along the projection, !narking as you go.

7 Where part of the projection is parallel the length of the strip, use the block a ruler to mark these lines.

8 The result will be an exact outline of the projection. The block’s length away from lie wall.

9 Cut along just outside your marked line (so allowing a little margin for final trimming) …

10 . . . and slide the strip back till your original marks again coincide. The end should now fit snugly against the wall.

Edge-to-edge butting is easy, but the last strip will usually need trimming lengthways too. You can shape its long edge as shown above, leaving it overlapped onto the previous strip.

Run a pen line down its other edge and cut away the surplus from the strip beneath.

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