Vinyl flooring is a commonly used type of material in modern homes and even commercial properties. In this guide, you can find out what vinyl flooring and tiles are, as well as how to install them for a fresh new look in a room of your choice.

Table of contents:

What are vinyl flooring tiles?

A vinyl flooring tile’s life begins as a set of synthetic materials. These are manufactured together as a singular tile made of layers of the material to create a flooring surface. Typically a vinyl floor is applied to kitchens, bathrooms and playrooms.

There are also luxury vinyl tiles which are designed to replication traditional wooden, stone or ceramic types of flooring. As the name suggests, luxury vinyl tiles are more associated with luxury rather than strength and durability. However, they can offer the same benefits. Even if they aren’t as high-performing as standard vinyl flooring.

What are the benefits of vinyl tiles?

Vinyl flooring is used in areas commonly used for multiple reasons. Many of their benefits include the following:

VisualA variety of wood grains
Traditional and modern appearances
Can use different tiles to create unique patterns
LongevityMin 10 years
Max 20 years
High durability to scratches and dents
Water resistant
CleaningEasy to clean
CostLow cost

Types of luxury vinyl tiles (LVT)

One of the most amazing benefits of vinyl tiles is that they come in a vast array of wood grains, textures and effects. Anything from traditional porcelain-effect to metal-effect for a more modern appearance.

Here are just some of the tiling floor styles you can choose from:

  • Dark wood
  • Medium wood
  • Light wood
  • Marble effect
  • Slate effect
  • Stone effect
  • Tile effect
  • Herringbone

When it comes to the ways you install the tiles, the two types are as follows:

‘Click’: Similar to tongue and groove tiles which need no adhesive or fixings to install. A firm favourite if you’re a DIYer who’s looking for a cheap fitting solution. The no added cost is due to no need for fixings, but the initial purchase of materials can be costly.

‘Glue down’: Tiles that are, as told in the name, glued to a flat subfloor. Like chipboard or plywood! Using adhesive can make the process a little more complicated and more costly too when it comes to installation. However, the initial purchase can be cheaper, so you could save on materials.

What you will need

Items below are for both preparing your floor and installing the vinyl tiles:

  • Vinyl tiles
  • Adhesive (if vinyl tiles aren’t prepared already)
  • Vinyl cutting knife
  • Pencil
  • Plywood or hardwood
  • Screws
  • Primer
  • Paper or thin card the size of the vinyl tile
  • Chalk line
  • String

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How to prepare your floor

Your floor needs to be dry, level and without any existing damage. If it already is, then great! If not, you will need to do the following:

Step one: Remove any existing tiles to make sure you can start fresh. You can stick new ones firmly over old ones, however, it is generally advised to remove and begin anew to save the risk of uneven flooring during installation.

Step two: How you level the floor will depend on the surface.

For timber floors, screw down any loose boards. You can then cover these with hardboard (smooth side facing up) or plywood, securely fixing it in place with 25mm ring-shanked nails. Preferably at 15mm intervals to ensure it is secure.

For plywood, hardboard or any other porous surface such as concrete, you will need to seal this with a suitable primer before tiling.

Note: If your timber flooring has been treated with wood preservatives, do not use it as a subfloor. Regardless of whether it is overlaid, you will need to replace it.

Step three: If you have already replaced the floorboards, move to step four. If not, lay the first of planks parallel to the most prominent wall or room feature. From there, work your way across the room. When you reach the last row, this might be a little uneven as most rooms aren’t usually an accurate square. However, uneven flooring can be obscured by baseboards or show mouldings.

Step four: Work out how many tiles you need by doing the following sum to discover the M2:

Length x width=number of metres squared

You will need to then check on the pack what the tiles can cover and take into account the alcoves to be tiled as well.

Make sure to allow for wastage by purchasing that little bit extra. This will allow you to ensure full coverage and keep any tiles for repairs in the future. It is also wise to buy all the tiles needed at the same time, ensuring the batch number is the same to avoid the risk of colour variations that can happen between batches.

Tip: Store the tiles, before they are laid, in the room for at least 24 hours. This can allow them to adjust to the room’s natural temperature.

How to lay vinyl flooring

You’ve re-adjusted the floor and now you can begin to lay down the vinyl tiles. Here is your simple step-by-step guide.

Note: It is advised you get support with this to ensure accuracy. Especially during measurements.

Step by step

Step one: Measure horizontally along the bottom of each wall and mark the midpoints. Once you have done that, stretch your chalk line across the floor between the two marks. Snap this across the floor. Use this to help you work out the midpoint of the lines.

Step two: Tie at least one meter of string to a pencil and hold it firmly where the midpoint of the line has been placed, pulling it tight and drawing an arc on the line on either side. You may need help to do this from your supporter.

Step three: With help from your supporter, hold the end of the string on the point where one arc meets the line and pull tight. Draw arcs at an angle of at least 45° both sides of the centre line. Stretch the chalk line between these overlapping arcs, then snap a line across the floor. These lines will serve as the indicator for the centre of the room.

Step four: Using the corner of a tile placed on the midpoint, begin to test place the tiles moving towards one of the walls. Don’t stick them down just yet. If the tiles leave a narrow gap between the last tile and the wall, adjust the tile’s distance away from the wall by around half the tile’s width. You must also adjust the mark where you started the same width. Continue to do this, trying to avoid the risk of adding thin strips of tile to the end result.

To test tiles around an object, for example, toilets, use a piece of paper or a thin card the same size as a whole tile. Cut slits into the paper where the object would fit. Place this against the object and press the cut slits up against the pedestal, marking the bottom end of the cut slits with a pencil. This is where you will cut the slits off to leave an ideal template for the cut to be used on the actual tile.

Step five: Once the starting point has been set, use a straight edge and pencil to draw a line parallel to the closest side wall. Measure this carefully. With this starting point combine a square and straight edge, drawing another line at a 90° to the existing line. This should, roughly, be parallel with the walls.

Step five: Time to lay the vinyl tiles! For self-adhesive tiles, peel off the paper from the back of the tile to reveal the adhesive surface. For non-self-adhesive tiles, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step six: Set one corner of the first tile on the starting point, the point where the two lines join and align two edges of the tile with the lines. Make sure to press this down as firmly as possible. You can even use a rolling pin or similar roller to secure the edges down firmly.

Step seven: Add the second tile, placing the corner onto the starting point so it sits alongside the first tile on the other side of the line. Again, use your roller to secure it firmly in place.

Step eight: Set the next two tiles, laying each one with a corner on the starting mark. This should complete a square. Continue aligning tiles with the current once placed, laying whole tiles in one half of the room, then the other. Make sure to check now and then that there aren’t any gaps and that the lines are perfectly straight.

Step nine: You can now begin to cut tiles to fit around the edges that aren’t able to fit whole tiles in place. To do this, without removing the plastic backing or adding adhesive, place the tile to be cut on top of the last whole tile in the row. Then, place another whole tile on top and make sure that one of the edges is touching the wall.

Step ten: Using a marking tool that can be easily cleaned off, draw a line along the edge of the top tile on the tile to be cut below it. Then place the onto an offcut, positioning the straight edge along the marked line, and use a retractable knife to cut the tile as appropriate.

Note: As you check the size of the tile, do not remove the plastic cover on the back in case the size needs re-adjusting. You can then add the tile accordingly.

There you have it! Your newly fit vinyl flooring.

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