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    Laying vinyl floor tiles

    Summary: Learn how to lay vinyl floor tiles, calculate the number of tiles needed, prepare the floor, lay the tiles, cut vinyl floor tiles, cut an L-shaped tile for a corner and cut curves and irregular shapes.

    Vinyl is hardwearing and cleans easily making it an excellent floor covering for kitchens and bathrooms. Vinyl floor tiles are extremely popular and can either be self-adhesive or may need to have adhesive applied. Vinyl tiles vary in thickness and provide different benefits. Thinner tiles will feel harder underfoot but they are more hardwearing, while cushioned vinyl floor tiles are more comfortable to walk on and better insulated, but can be easily damaged.

    Measuring up

    When calculating the number of vinyl floor tiles you will need, multiply the length of the room by its width to get the area in square metres (or square feet). Dividing the area of your room by the surface area of one tile will give you the exact number of tiles needed to cover the floor. Always add on 10% to compensate for the wastage that will occur from trimming.


    Preparing the floor

    Before you begin laying the tiles ensure the floor's surface is suitable for vinyl tiles. If the floor has a rough surface you may need to put in a sub-floor over the main floor to create a flat surface on which to lay the tiles. If you have a concrete floor a self-levelling compound will have to be applied. A rough wooden floor will need to have a hardboard sub-floor fitted.  

    When satisfied with the surface of the floor, sweep and wash it thoroughly before you start laying the tiles, as even a small piece of debris will show through a tile, spoiling the overall finish. Let the floor dry before laying the tiles.


    Laying the tiles

    Do not make the mistake of laying the vinyl floor tiles directly against the nearest or longest wall. If the wall is not straight you will have to make adjustments the further across the room you go, which will become exaggerated and look unsightly.

    To find a starting point divide the floor into four equal sections by making a straight chalk line from the middle of one wall to the opposite wall and again in the other direction.

    • From the centre point, lay dry tiles along one of the chalk lines moving towards a wall. The purpose of this is to avoid having a whole tile finishing so close to the wall you will need to cut a very thin piece of tile to fill the gap.
    • Repeat this in all four directions until you have adjusted the gap between the last whole tile and all four walls. Mark this line all the way around the room.
    • If using self-adhesive tiles, peel off the paper backing and carefully position the first tile against your starting line.
    • Non self-adhesive tiles can either have the adhesive applied to the back of the tile or you can spread the adhesive on small areas of the floor before sticking the tiles in place. A grooved spreader is excellent for this purpose as it will prevent you from applying too much adhesive which may get onto the face of the tile.
    • As you lay the first row of tiles butt the edges of the tiles tightly together and ensure the tiles are flat against the floor. Apply even pressure to the tiles by using a kitchen rolling pin.
    • Having laid all the whole tiles you will need to cut tiles to fill in the gaps around the edge of the room and to fit around any objects.

    Carefully position the first tile against your starting line.


    Cutting vinyl floor tiles

    • Vinyl is easier to cut when it is warm so store the remaining tiles in a warm room for 24 hours. This will also allow the adhesive on the tiles you have laid to dry.
    • To fill in the gaps around the room it is best to measure each tile separately. The most accurate way of doing this is to place a dry tile on top of the fixed tile nearest to the wall.
    • Place another dry tile on top of the first dry tile and carefully push it forward to meet the wall.
    • Use the edge of the top tile to mark a straight pencil line on the face of the dry tile beneath it. This exposed area of tile, when cut will be an exact fit for the gap.
    • Take the tile with the pencil line mark and place it on a cutting board - do not cut the tile on the floor as you may damage it. To cut the tile, use a straight edge and a sharp craft knife.
    • Before sticking the cut piece of tile in place check that it fits. Then apply adhesive to its back (or peel off the backing paper) and stick it in position.

    Use the edge of the top tile to mark a straight pencil line on the face of the dry tile beneath it.


    Cutting an L-shaped tile for a corner

    • From the last whole tile nearest to the wall and closest to the corner repeat the process above using two dry tiles.
    • Without rotating the tiles slide them across to cover the last whole tile nearest to the corner on the adjacent wall. From this position repeat the marking out process.
    • The tile will now will have an L-shape clearly marked which you should cut out using a craft knife and a straight edge.
    • After checking that it fits in place, stick it to the floor.

    Without rotating the tiles slide them across to cover the last whole tile nearest to the corner on the adjacent wall and repeat the marking out process.

    Cutting curves and irregular shapes

    To cut vinyl tiles to fit around curved obstructions e.g. a sink pedestal, you need to make a template of the curved obstruction.

    • To do this, use a piece of card cut to the same dimensions as your tiles.
    • Make a series of cuts in the edge of the card that will butt against the obstruction.
    • Address one edge of the card to the edge of the tile nearest to the obstruction. With the flaps pressed against the obstruction carefully mark the outline of the curve onto the card.
    • Take the card and accurately cut along the pencil line. Place the template onto the floor tile and mark the curve onto its surface.
    • Cut along the guideline with a craft knife and remove the cut section.
    • To cut even more irregular shapes such as at the base of architrave, a tool called a profile gauge is ideal. Place the gauge where the tile's corner will go and push the plastic blades of the gauge flush against the base of the awkward object.
    • Place the gauge on a tile and carefully transfer the shape onto the tile using a pencil. Then carefully cut out the unwanted piece with a craft knife and stick the tile into position.

    With the flaps pressed against the obstruction carefully mark the outline of the curve onto the card.

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    Tools Needed
    • Craft knife
    • Cutting board
    • Metal rule
    • Profile gauge
    Materials Needed
    • Tiles (self-adhesive OR non self-adhesive)
    • Tile adhesive for non self-adhesive
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