Laying a floor of vinyl tiles

Vinyl is justifiably one of the most popular materials to use today. It may be used in bathrooms, kitchens, living-rooms, halls or even on stairways. Its wear strength is quite remarkable provided that the surface to which it is glued is free from projections.

You can buy vinyl in large rolls or in small tiles. For the beginner tiles are probably easiest and certainly much lighter for women to handle. Provided the floor has been carefully cleaned and levelled there is no particular difficulty in doing the lob. Indeed a large floor can be done in a day or so.

There are two main groups of vinyl tiles. Those which require a separate glue and those which have a self-adhesive backing. We show Dunlop Selflay tiles which need a separate adhesive, but the general method is similar for both kinds.

The self-adhesive sorts have an advantage in that no separate gluing is needed and they are therefore less messy to handle. They are usually sold with two tiles back-to-back on a protective paper. In cold weather it becomes difficult to separate these without one of the tiles breaking. If this does happen you can still use the tiles by carefully butting the cracked sections together. The joint will be all but invisible.

However it is better to avoid this by separating the tiles whilst exposing them to the direct heat of a radiator. Stand a few double tiles about the radiator to be warming up while you work.

All vinyl becomes much more flexible when it is warmed, and you will be surprised at the difference in flexibility. It enables the tiles to be moulded to fit easily to each other.

When using a separate adhesive there is one very important point to remember. This is that the surplus adhesive which squeezes up at the joints must be removed before it dries. If this is neglected a great deal of work will be created. It is worthwhile to have an assistant following along while the gluing is being done to wipe away any trace of glue from the vinyl surface.

If, however, you find by accident that adhesive has been allowed to dry on you can remove this by heavy scrubbing with water and, in the case of very stubborn marks, by the use of very fine wire wool.

It goes without saying that the floor to which you stick vinyl, whether it be concrete, wood or hardboard sheeting, must be perfectly clean and free from grease or dust. If you attempt to glue anything to a dirty surface the glue will only stick to this dust or grease, not to the wood or concrete beneath. Before long you will find that the tiles are peeling away.

All vinyl floor tiles are made with astonishing accuracy and can be fitted edge-to-edge without a crack showing. At the same time they do benefit by being covered after layout with a wax polish which will fill the very minute and almost invisible cracks which still in fact exist.

1 Before attempting to lay any tiles, spread them out dry to test the appearance of different designs. Although some ideas can be developed by sketches on paper, it is surprisingly hard to visualize the final effect without seeing the tiles actually in place. Also, this exercise acts as a warning, showing just how difficult it may be, to lay out a complicated pattern without mistakes!

2 Simple, bold designs are often the best, as this large-squared design in two colours.

3 Always start laying from the exact centre of the floor, so that any cutting of the tiles is done evenly all round the edges of the room. This gives a more professional look. Also, few walls are dead straight, and to start a pattern against one may have unpleasant results as the floor is crossed. Pin one end of a string to the floor, exactly halfway along the wall.

4 Stretch the string across the room and pin it in the centre of the opposite wall, drawing it taut. Rub a stick of chalk along the string.

5 Draw up the taut string an inch or two in the air, then release it smartly.

6 The chalked string will flick the floor, marking on it a dead straight line across the room. Make a similar line across the floor the other way too.

7 The first tiles are laid against these guidelines and since they must be accurately aligned, great care should be taken. This means that it is better to glue each tile individually, using an old but clean paint brush for the job.

8 Spread the glue evenly by drawing a serrated edge spreader (usually supplied with the adhesive) across the wet glue.

9 Lay the tile dowrrdirectly against the chalk line.

10 Roll it down firmly, using a domestic rolling pin.

11 At once wipe off any adhesive that may have squeezed out from underneath the tile. At all times it is helpful to have an assistant working behind the tile layer, cleaning off surplus adhesive before it starts to dry.

12 Lay lines of tiles across the room in both directions. Take great care to align these well and all the rest of the work will be easy.

13 Now the rest of the tiles can be laid in batches, applying the glue to the floor, not to the tile. Spread an area big enough to accept six or seven tiles. Lay these (carefully butting the edges together) and continue till the edges of the room are reached.

14 In most cases a gap narrower than a tile will remain around the edge. Lay a whole tile close against the wall or skirting board. Place a ruler along the very edge of the completed tiles and pencil a line along the overlap of the loose tile.

15 Trim the tile along the line with ordinary scissors and glue the piece in place

16 Finally, though not essential, it does improve the finish of the job to fasten a length of quarter-round timber beading along the edges, against the skirting. This is especially useful if hardboard flooring has been laid beneath the tiles.

Immediately after laying, remove any surplus adhesive still remaining on the surface. After leaving to dry for a day or two the vinyl can be finally polished and you have a floor that will give many years of trouble-free service.

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