SKILL LEVEL 2 [MODERATE] WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS AND A LITTLE RESEARCH, YOU CAN DO THE JOB
STICK TO IT
Installing Peel-and-stick Vinyl Flooring Requires Lots of Prep and Attention to Detail.
By Matt Weber
PUBLISHED JANUARY 7, 2020
The spacious nature of an open floor plan is all the rage in modern remodels, but these projects can come with a number of challenges, including how to cover the floor.
On a recent project, we had two major hurdles to overcome regarding the floor. The idea was to connect a dining room and kitchen by removing a partition wall between them. We discovered, however, that the wall represented the high point of the two adjoining floors, which sloped downhill in opposite directions from that dividing line. Complicating this scenario, one adjacent side of the dining room had no wall and was exposed to a living room, with the open edge of its floor elevated six inches above the living room carpet like a stage. The slope downward from the high point between the kitchen and dining room was significant—exceeding a 1-in. drop across 12 feet—meaning we couldn't level the floor because doing so would essentially "tilt" the exposed edge of that stage and look completely bonkers. On the kitchen end, the floor fell another inch or more, and to elevate the kitchen subfloor would cause noticable problems with the toe-kick reveal of the kitchen cabinets.
The homeowner wanted a hardwood pattern to cover the newly unified floor, but tongue-and-groove boards require a flat, even surface. We were dealing with a 30x12' subfloor that basically had a slight hill in the middle of it, and we needed a flooring product that would conform to that hill. To get a hardwood pattern, that left us with the choice of sheet flooring or adhesive vinyl tiles. We chose Style Selections peel-and-stick luxury vinyl planks from Lowe's Home Improvement Store.
I saw a lot of shaking heads and heard many grumbles from my contractor friends when discussing plans for this job. A lot of pro flooring installers shy away from
peel-and-stick flooring because inferior products of the past have failed and come unglued. I've experienced this myself. I recommend you select a quality product with a reputable brand name and backed by a warranty. Yet, even the best adhesive flooring can fail if improperly installed. The subfloor must be extensively prepped and maintained to ensure the strongest adhesive bond. Furthermore, the thin, flexible nature of the vinyl tile means that any slight imperfection in the subfloor can transfer through the tile, distorting its shape with dips or bumps that look unsightly and cause problems with adhesion. Here's how we took special care to get the job done.
From multiple washes of the floor to applying floor patch and primer, this project involved a whole lot of stoppage and waiting for the floor to dry. The work can be slow-going as a result, or you can speed things up with a floor dryer. On this project I used the mighty new DeWalt 600 Cfm Portable air mover. It's equipped with three speeds for drying carpet or flooring. It's versatile, lightweight and compact, which makes it a great solution for drying multiple surfaces. Learn more at altonindustries.com.
Rough cuts or edge damage in the vinyl flooring can catch a glare and appear lighter in color than the surrounding planks. A dark magic marker or stain pen can disguise these areas. Just wipe off the excess ink immediately to avoid adding extra color where you don’t want it.
Throughout this article I stress the need to carefully prep, clean, then re-clean the floor prior to sticking down a plank. Well, nobody's perfect. The problem shown in this photo was difficult to judge by touch because it was a shallow rise between seams in the subfloor. Nevertheless, the edge of one of the planks would not lay flat. In this case, I had to pull the plank up and discard it. I then took a belt sander and very carefully planed down the subfloor within the void. I then thoroughly cleaned the area of dust, re-primed it, let it dry, and reapplied a new plank. I got lucky, and the problem was fixed, but I included this sidebar to stress the importance of prepwork.