You have your vinyl tile pattern chosen and you are ready to lay them out on your concrete floor. Now you have the task of preparation of concrete for vinyl. First you need to determine how much tile you would need. This is done by simple length times width area calculation.
Measure any alcove section separately and at a 10 percent bump to the figure to allow for cutting and screw ups. Since most vinyl tiles come in a 12” by 12” square the calculation should be easy.
For example, a basement floor that is 20 feet by 30 feet will have a square footage area of 600 square feet. Add the ten percent bump to that and you get 660 tiles needed.
When purchasing your tiles make sure you get boxes with the same run production numbers. This avoids any shading issues between productions of the tiles.
Preparing a Floor That Is Bare
Next, you need to clean up that nasty concrete floor and get it ready to lay your tiles out. With any luck there is just a bare concrete floor and nothing else. Since this floor will be underneath the tiles it is now called your sub-floor. A concrete sub-floor you must first check to see if it is below ground level grade.
Vinyl tiles can not be installed below grade with out using a basement floor proofer first. A proofer allows the installation of peel and stick tiles and has a penetrating copolymer resin for sealing basement floors.
After you have established grade it is time to clean your sub-floor thoroughly. Make sure it is free from paint, dirt, grease and other materials prior to laying your first tile.
It is also good to do a basement moisture test. This test is done by taping down a thin plastic film about 18 inches by 18 inches and leaving for 24 hours.
If you notice moistening film or darkening concrete, do not install your tiles. Take the necessary steps to remove the moisture from the basement or reconsider using stick on tiles.
If you have no moisture and your floor is clean the next thing to do is use a professional leveling compound and sand away any high spots. Now you will need to use a floor primer on your concrete. Never install stick on tiles on a floor that has not been primed.
Finally, after all of this is done, you will need to store your tiles at room temperature or at least 65 degrees prior to installation for 48 hours. Do this by removing the tiles from their boxes and storing them in small piles. Once you have jumped through all of these hoops you are ready to lay down your first tile.
Sometime there is already tile on a concrete floor. No worries just use an automatic tool called an electric tile knife/scraper. This will make removal much easier.
One important note on old tiles more than 20 years old: If the adhesive underneath is black it is most likely called Cut Back Adhesive. This is extremely toxic and flammable and makes the adhesive on the back of your new tile difficult to stick.
If you find this black adhesive, stop installation immediately. Call your local hardware store to find out about removal of Cut Back Adhesive. They will be more than happy to recommend someone who removes the Cut Back or sell you products that will do it for you.
photo by Concrete Forms -CreativeCommons Attribution