How to Lay 12 by 12 Vinyl Tiles in Odd Shaped Rooms

Paul Massey

Vinyl tile is one of the easiest flooring methods for a DIY installation. It is a durable option that's easy to maintain for a kitchen, bathroom, family room or other home space that gets heavy use or requires a floor surface impervious to stains and normal wear. When considering a vinyl tile installation in a room that is not a simple square or rectangle, determining the most effective and attractive layout is the starting point for the project.

  1. Verify the floor preparation. Ensure that the floor surface or underlayment layer is flat, with the heads of all nails or screws flush or below the surface and the seams between the individual sheets filled or sanded to make them smooth. Remove the existing baseboards in the room, if applicable, and set aside for reinstallation when you complete the vinyl flooring.

  2. Define the preliminary layout guideline on the floor. For "L" shaped rooms, mark the center point of the largest rectangle of the room at both sides. Measure the width of the end wall and mark the center, then transfer this measurement to the opposite wall by measuring from the common side wall. Standard practice is to align the tile with the longest wall in the room or the wall holding the entrance opening. Connect the center points using a chalk line to define a tile guideline for the room.

  3. Mark the preliminary layout guideline for the smaller rectangle of an "L" shaped room, if applicable. Mark the center point of the smaller rectangle of the room at both sides, measured from the common full-length wall. Connect the center points using a chalk line to establish intersecting chalk lines in both directions in the room. For a room with a diagonal wall, ignore the diagonal for now and measure from the primary right-angled walls for the base guidelines.

  4. Lay vinyl tiles on the floor side by side aligned with the chalked guidelines. Do not remove the paper backing from the tiles at this time. Begin with the longest center line at the end wall and place tiles along the line until a full tile will not fit at the end. Measure the remaining space between the last tile and the wall, then shift the entire row half the remaining distance to the wall. Mark the tile edge nearest the perpendicular chalked guideline and offset that guideline by this distance. This procedure centers the tile layout in one direction and positions equally sized cut tiles at both ends of the floor.

  5. Repeat Step 4 for the other chalked guideline. Lay tiles along the line, shift the row of tiles half the remaining distance to the end wall and offset the perpendicular guideline as needed. This completes the centering of the tile layout in both directions in the room.

  6. Begin installing the vinyl tiles at the intersecting point of the two chalked guidelines. Peel the backing paper from the vinyl tiles and place them down onto the floor surface, keeping the edge of the tile aligned with the chalked guideline. Press down firmly on the tile surface to adhere the tile to the floor and keep the edges of adjacent tiles tight to each other.

  7. Continue installing full-size vinyl tiles, working incrementally outward from the chalked guidelines until a full tile will no longer fit at the edges.

  8. Cut the edge tiles, as necessary, using a utility knife. Measure the remaining space between the floor tile and the wall face and mark the measurement on a tile. Use a hand square to extend the line across the tile's surface and then cut the line with a utility knife using the square as a straightedge. Remove the paper backing and install the cut tile piece in place.