How to Prepare a Floor for Vinyl

Vinyl tile and sheet flooring change the look of a room for a lower price than hardwood or ceramic. Homeowners who choose to install their vinyl flooring need to prepare the surface on which it will be laid. Ideally, lay the flooring in a room before adding furniture, otherwise you must remove everything to another part of the building. Having an assistant makes laying the vinyl and preparing the floor easier.

  1. Look at the current flooring in the room. Check for level concrete, vinyl or plywood without cracks, chips or uneven areas. Do not add any additional flooring or base over these surfaces before laying your vinyl tile or sheeting.

  2. Remove warped and bent vinyl tiles or flooring to expose the subfloor, if desired. Aim a hair dryer on medium heat at the vinyl to loosen the adhesive with hot air. Pull the tiles or sheeting up (see Warning).

  3. Apply an embossing leveler with a trowel over uneven vinyl tiles or sheeting that cannot be removed.

  4. Nail 1/4 inch plywood boards to the flooring for surfaces that cannot be evened with the embossing leveler. Take into account the thickness of the plywood; it will raise the flooring level 1/4 inch higher than the vinyl alone.

  5. Scrub the subfloor with floor cleaner and a mop to remove residue or existing adhesive from old vinyl. Dry thoroughly with towels.

  6. With the paint roller, apply primer onto concrete or plywood surfaces to increase the ability of the adhesive to stick to the subfloor.

  7. Store the vinyl tiles or flooring in the room where you will lay them for at least 48 hours prior to installation to allow the vinyl to acclimate to the ambient humidity and temperature.


  • Do not attempt to remove tiles or flooring from rooms built prior to the 1990s without getting the flooring and glue tested for asbestos. If in doubt, do not disturb the existing floor, but lay the new vinyl over the old.
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