Almost all modern vinyl is designed for loose- laying. The only time this will need sticking down is if you have to join two sheets, or if an edge is likely to catch and lift–.3as in a door-way, for example.
In either case, this is easily done with heavy-duty double-sided tape.
Vinyl sheet which is designed to be stuck down all over is cut and trimmed in exactly the same way as loose-lay sheet. You then simply spread the manufacturer’s recommended adhesive before laying it in place.
Buying sheet vinyl
Most sheet vinyl is made in 2m, 3m and 4m widths. This means that you can usually cover a room without any seams, but you may find the wider sheets difficult to lay without having someone to help you.
If you cannot, cover the room without having seams, make sure they don’t occur in heavily used areas or near doorways, and try to avoid laying narrow strips as these will not lie flat properly.
If you have any doubts about the best width to buy, measure your room and draw a scale plan showing any alcoves, fireplaces, windows and doors. If you take this along to your local stockists they will advise you.
If you are laying a patterned sheet in more than one strip, remember to allow for pattern matching. And always allow at least 75mm all round for trimming, even if you are buying plain vinyl sheet.
PREPARING THE FLOOR
Without doubt, preparing the floor is the most important part of laying sheet vinyl. You simply can’t get a perfect finish on an uneven or badly prepared surface.
Concrete floors provide an ideal base, providing they are dry, clean and level, and Free from anything which could react with the surface of the vinyl such as grease or solvents.
The most common problem you are likely le encounter with solid floors is damp. Even if your floor looks dry, it is best to test for damp before laying the vinyl. To do this, tape a m wire of polyethylene onto the floor, making sure that the edges are well sealed, and leave it for a few days.
If the floor is badly pitted or generally uneven, you can rectify this by using a self-levelling compound. Pour it over the floor to a depth of about 4mm — following the maker’s instructions closely. Allow to harden fully.
You can fill larger holes with a mortar mix of three parts soft sand to one of Portland cement. Add just enough water to make the mix malleable and a little PVA adhesive to improve its adhesion.
Dab the holes with more dilute PVA before applying the mortar, then flatten it down with the end of a batten and remove any surplus with a straightedge.
If your floor surface is powdery, but other-wise sound, seal it with a latex-based sealer before you start to lay the vinyl sheet.
If you have a wooden floor, make sure it is free of polish, drops of plaster or paint, or any other dirt. Knock down any nails, fill any wide gaps and plane any uneven floorboards.
If the floor is very uneven, you can cover it with sheets of hardboard — this will also provide additional insulation.
Hardboard is most commonly sold in 2440mm X 1220mm sheets, but for this job, 1220mm x 610mm sheets are easier to handle. If you cannot buy it in this size, cut the large sheets into four.
The hardboard must be conditioned prior to use, otherwise it may buckle when laid. Do this by brushing the rough sides of the sheets with water and laying them flat, smooth sides together.
Leave them overnight or longer, so that the moisture is fully absorbed. When the hardboard dries out after being laid, it will shrink slightly and form a tight, level surface. Always lay the boards rough side up as this provides a key for any adhesive used later.
When laying the hardboard. Stagger the joints to reduce the likelihood of strain at any particular point, which could lead to cracks in the hardboard and wear in the vinyl. Avoid joints coinciding with those of the floor-boards below for the same reason. Use 25mm ring shank nails to nail the boards at 150mm intervals along the edges. If the room is not square, you will need to cut the boards to fit around the edges. Fill any gaps with small strips of hardboard trimmed to fit; if the gaps are very small use filler paste or glue mixed with sawdust.
Before you start laying the vinyl, leave the sheet loosely rolled in a warm room for about 48 hours; this enables it to acclimatize, making it easier to lay.
Immediately before laying. Reverse roll the vinyl to stop it curling and to allow you to unroll it pattern side up when you fit it. When you come to lay it out in the room, smooth it down with a soft broom.
Unlike linoleum, vinyl will not stretch with wear. But it is susceptible to temperature changes so it should not be butted too tightly up against the walls or it may buckle and lift.
You will find it easier to lay the vinyl if you start by aligning the pattern with the longest. Unobstructed wall. The exception to this is when either the doorway or a large fixture. Such as a bathtub. Is not square to the longest wall. In this case, the final effect will be better if the pattern on the vinyl lines up with the most visually prominent feature. Even if this means more complicated trimming.
How you trim the sheet vinyl to fit the room exactly depends a great., deal on how square it is, and on how straight the walls are. The professionals lay vinyl like carpet. Pressing it into the edges and trimming it to fit. This works fine for amateurs too, but only when the room is a regular shape and has even wall surfaces. A much more accurate and safer method of trimming the edges is to scribe them carefully. And if the room is a small one with a lot of fiddly obstructions, you may find it much easier to make a paper pattern.
In the first case it is worth measuring where large obstructions — such as a fireplace —occur and marking them on the sheet. You can then trim the vinyl roughly to fit. Leaving a 75mm margin for waste.
For the final trim you press hard into the edge of the vinyl with a metal straightedge —a metal spirit level is ideal — and cut along this with a trimming knife. At corners. You need to ease the vinyl first by slitting the waste into them. The same applies on more complicated shapes like door jambs. Though in this case a series of slits will help you trim the sheet more accurately.
On small. Round obstructions like pipes. Slit the vinyl to the centre of where the pipe will pass through it then make a circle of small cuts out from this point. You can then force the vinyl around the pipe and trim the flaps.
Use a variation on this technique to deal with a large obstruction. Such as a lavatory pan or basin pedestal. By a process of measurement. Find out where the obstruction will pass through the sheet and mark the centre point of the hole on the sheet itself. Slit down to this from the sheet edge and then cut a hole at least 75mm smaller all round than the obstruction itself.
Cut further slits right around the hole — again taking care not to exceed the dimensions of the obstruction —then press the sheet into position. You will find that the sheet follows the contours of the obstruction. Producing flaps of waste vinyl which you can trim off neatly — but carefully — with your trimming knife.
If you need more than one sheet to cover your room, you will have to join them. Try to avoid doing this where an edge might catch, such as in a doorway. If you are using a plain vinyl, you can just butt the edges together. But if you are using a patterned vinyl you will have to match the pattern on both sheets where they join.
Do this by overlapping the sheets, aligning the pattern carefully; make sure that both sheets lie in the same direction. Then cut through both layers using a trim-ming knife and straightedge. This will give a perfectly matched butt joint. Roll the vinyl back and lay a strip of double-sided tape along the seam line on the floor.
Remove the backing and press the vinyl onto the tape.
Scribing the sheet to fit is more accurate than simply cutting it freehand. Although it can be used in most situations, it really comes into its own when you have to fit the vinyl along an edge that isn’t straight.
The basic principle is to use a block of wood to hold a marker pen (such as a felt-tip) at a fixed distance away from the wall. When you run the block along the wall, the line the pen traces mimics the outline of the wall to show up even the smallest irregularity.
The advantage of this is that you can lay the sheet flat on the floor, slightly away from the wall, and trace a cutting line onto the edge. This will follow the shape of the wall precisely. You can then do the cutting on the flat surface of the floor, rather than in the awkward angle where it meets the wall. Use a trimming knife, with a straightedge as a guide on straight sections. Once cut, slide the sheet over to fit snugly against the wall.
The only complication arises when you have already cut and fitted one or more edges. The basic scribing method involves moving the whole sheet backwards and forwards, which would disturb fitted edges.
In this case, to move the edge away from the wall without disturbing the sheet’s actual position, you will have to fold it.
But before yon do this, mark the sheet so you know how much needs to be trimmed off. The accurate wily to do this is to measure out a fixed Instance from the wall, and mark this onto the sheet. Then measure the same distance hack on the sheet and make a mark.
Now form an upward fold near the edge, so that you can pull it away from the wall without moving the whole sheet. Make sure that you keep the edge straight and do not twist it at all. Pull it back until you can set your scribing block against the wall with the pen on the mark you made on the sheet. You can then scribe and cut as before.
If you are using the scribing method to fit a whole room, it is easier if you trim the two longest walls opposite each other first. This leaves the position of the sheet firmly fixed while you trim the two ends.
If you take care with marking and cutting the vinyl, you should have a perfect fit. But if you make a mistake in marking, or if the knife slips accidentally, you may end up with an unwanted gap.
It is not normally practical to patch vinyl with a thin strip, so if the gap is noticeable, cover it with quadrant moulding pinned to the skirting board. On tiled walls, use quadrant tiles.