Flooring - Vinyl/Linoleum

Vinyl flooring and linoleum flooring are among the most popular floor coverings in homes today. They are durable, easy to maintain, and the first choice for kitchen flooring for just about everyone. If you have been thinking about replacing your old, worn vinyl flooring or linoleum flooring, or if you want to install new flooring in a room of your house, the good news is you can usually put down vinyl or linoleum flooring yourself, without having to hire a professional or contractor.

1. Not Just For Kitchens

Though kitchens are the first thing that come to mind when you think about vinyl flooring or linoleum flooring, there are other rooms for which this type of flooring is a great choice. Most bathrooms benefit from vinyl or linoleum, because this properly installed flooring is waterproof and allows for easy clean up of splashes, spills, and messes. However, you don't have to limit vinyl flooring and linoleum flooring to the kitchen and bathroom.

Children's playrooms are also great candidates for vinyl or linoleum flooring. Spills and messy play can easily be cleaned up after, and you can add an area rug or two for a cozy touch. Linoleum flooring and vinyl flooring are good choices for home offices, hallways, laundry rooms, and vestibules where there may be a lot of muddy, wet foot traffic from outside. You can install vinyl or linoleum flooring in just about any room of your house to great effect.

2. Types Of Vinyl And Linoleum Flooring

There are as many different types of linoleum flooring and vinyl flooring available as you can imagine. At a very basic level, vinyl and linoleum flooring material can be categorized into two different types: sheet and tile. Sheet linoleum and vinyl usually comes in rolls of either 6- or 12-foot widths, and may be pre-cut to a specific length or custom cut to your specifications. Vinyl and linoleum flooring tiles are pre formed to exact dimensions, usually 12- or 18-inch squares and a uniform thickness, in order to give your finished floor a seamless appearance. Whether you choose tile or sheet flooring depends on many variables, such as the shape and dimensions of the room you are installing your flooring in, and your skill level and tools you have available. In general, tile is easier to install than sheet flooring.

Additionally, there are different types of vinyl and linoleum available for flooring material. Vinyl flooring is usually available in two types: inlaid and printed. With printed vinyl flooring, the colors used for the pattern are printed onto the flooring sheets, much like the pages of a magazine or your home computer's printer. Inlaid vinyl flooring is manufactured with color embedded into the sheet, which makes the patterns and colors more durable. Of course, inlaid vinyl flooring is slightly more expensive than printed, but it does look better, longer. Both these types may come with or without pre-applied adhesive for installation.

The different types of linoleum flooring are generally categorized according to the thickness of the material and the backing used for the flooring sheet or tile. Thinner linoleum flooring, which is the least expensive, must be installed carefully to avoid chipping and cracking. Linoleum flooring is available in different thickness, with some being unlined, and some lined with a cork or rubber backing. Like vinyl, linoleum flooring may come with or without pre-applied adhesive. Most linoleum is manufactured with embedded color patterns that extend entirely through the material, the same as inlaid vinyl.

Finally, both vinyl flooring and linoleum flooring are available in a startling variety of colors and patterns. You can find just about any solid color vinyl or linoleum, or choose from dozens of the more popular patterned flooring found in vinyl and linoleum flooring materials, including classic and contemporary patterns, as well as the look of a stone or wood panel floor.

3. Choosing Your Flooring

There are three main factors to consider when you are choosing your vinyl or linoleum flooring purchase. These are price, durability, and ease of installation. In general, the price that you pay for vinyl flooring or linoleum flooring will reflect its worth in the long run. High-end vinyl and linoleum can last and remain in good shape for up to 30 years, while more inexpensive flooring, particularly vinyl, may have to be replaced after five years of use. If you are on a tight budget, or plan to frequently replace your flooring, it is a good idea to opt for the inexpensive vinyl flooring. Of course, you may also be able to find good deals on high quality vinyl or linoleum flooring, especially if you are buying in bulk.

In most cases, you can realize the same life expectancy and durability from linoleum flooring and inlaid vinyl flooring. Both types of flooring have the ability to remain in good shape for decades with proper care. For high-traffic areas of your home, linoleum or inlaid vinyl flooring are the best choices, especially if you will be moving heavy furniture such as refrigerators or washers and dryers across your flooring. Printed vinyl flooring is a good, inexpensive choice for areas with light traffic, or rooms that will be protected and accented with area rugs.

Finally, you should consider the ease of installation when choosing between linoleum flooring and vinyl flooring, particularly if you plan to install your new flooring yourself. In general, vinyl tile flooring is the easiest to install, while sheet linoleum is the most difficult. This is due to many factors, including that vinyl flooring usually comes with self-adhesive backing that allows you to simply press the sheets or tiles into place on your clean, prepared floor. Most linoleum flooring requires an applicative adhesive for installation.

4. Where To Find It

You can find vinyl flooring and linoleum flooring in a variety of places. Of course, there are many online businesses to browse, and you may be able to find a good deal when purchasing linoleum or vinyl flooring on the Internet. You can also find great selections and prices for vinyl flooring and linoleum flooring at your local home improvement store or flooring store. Many department stores and even some discount stores also carry flooring, most often self-adhesive vinyl tiles.

Wherever you decide to shop for your flooring, be sure to pick up all the necessary tools you will need for the installation, as well. This will depend on many different factors, such as whether you will be removing old flooring before installing your new linoleum or vinyl flooring, and whether you already own any of the basic tools you will need for the job.

5. Removing Old Flooring

If you need to remove the old flooring in a room before installing your vinyl flooring or linoleum flooring, you may had a hard time, depending on how well the original flooring was installed. Often, the best alternative is to cover the old flooring with new flooring. Keep in mind that you will need a smooth, flat surface to install your linoleum or vinyl flooring, so if your old flooring is chipped, torn, or scratched, you can't install new flooring directly over it. However, you can nail ΒΌ" thick plywood or cement board over the old flooring to gain a new surface, and then use carpenter's mud to fill in the cracks between the boards.

To remove your old flooring, you will probably need to experiment a little with different methods. The easiest way is to cut through the flooring with a utility knife, and if you have a hardwood surface beneath, you should be able to simply tear off the old flooring in chunks and strips. Any leftover adhesive must also be removed. You can do this using either a razor blade or utility knife, or the simpler method of placing an old towel over the adhesive, pouring boiling water on it, and letting it set for several minutes.

If all else fails, you can try renting a floor stripper to remove your old vinyl or linoleum flooring. A floor stripper is a machine that uses steam to soften and loosen both the old vinyl or linoleum flooring and the adhesive beneath for easier removal. Remember, however, that easier does not mean faster, so expect the use of a floor stripper to be at least a full day's work.

6. Installation: Preparing The Area

When you are installing your linoleum flooring or vinyl flooring, you will need to have plenty of space to work. For sheet vinyl or linoleum flooring, you will likely have to empty the entire room before you begin. With tile flooring, you can usually get away with moving furniture and appliances to one side of the room, and then moving them back to the newly tiled side to complete the job.

The most important step in preparing the installation area is to make sure your floor is completely clean and dry before installing new flooring. If you used a floor stripper or boiling water to remove old flooring, you will need to wait until the wood is completely dry before starting your new flooring installation. If you have limited time to complete the installation, try using space heaters to dry out especially wet spots in the floor. Be sure to sweep or dry mop the floor after it is dry to remove any dust or debris that might have accumulated during the drying process, before you install your new flooring.

7. How To Install Sheet Flooring

Whether you are installing vinyl or linoleum sheet flooring, be sure to leave the new flooring material in the room where you plan to put it for a few days before installation. This gives the material time to adjust to the typical room temperature. If the vinyl or linoleum is too cold, it may crack while you are unrolling it.

The first step is to measure and cut your flooring. If you are doing a small room, and you will install a single piece, bring the vinyl or linoleum sheet flooring into a larger room in order to mark the dimensions of the smaller room on it. Use a measuring tape and a felt-tip marker to outline the dimensions of the room you will be installing the new flooring in and cut carefully. It is a good idea to follow the carpenter's general rule of thumb, which is "measure twice, cut once."

Wipe any remaining marker off your sheet flooring, roll it back up, and bring it into the room you will be installing. Unroll the flooring for a dry fit (making sure you have cut it to the proper size). Then, roll back half the sheet flooring to the center of the room. Apply a strip of adhesive on the floor in front of the rolled portion, about a foot wide and the entire length of the room. Roll the flooring forward, and press down along the adhesive to release any air bubbles. Repeat this process for the rolled half of the sheet, and then roll the other side and repeat the entire process to complete the floor. Be sure to clean up any adhesive that may have gotten onto the surface of the vinyl or linoleum flooring right away to avoid permanent marks.

8. How To Install Tile Flooring

As with sheet flooring, keep your vinyl or linoleum tiles in the room you will be installing them for a few days in order to achieve temperature acclimation. Once you have prepared the sub-floor and emptied half or all the room, you are ready to begin. You may want to apply a coat of water-resistant Portland cement over the sub-floor to create a smoother surface for your flooring tiles, especially if they are self-adhesive.
Measure and mark chalk lines on the floor surface to denote where the tiles will be laid. This should be a fairly straightforward grid process, as flooring tiles are either 12- or 18-inch squares. Cut any corner, angled, or permanent fixture tiles, and dry fit them first before you begin the adhesive process. Lay tiles one by one, and push each one firmly into place with a hand roller. If you are laying vinyl flooring or aluminum flooring in your bathroom, use a waterproof caulk to outline the edges of the flooring (the entire floor, not individual tiles) to prevent moisture from seeping under your flooring and causing the edges to peel or crack.

9. Care And Maintenance

Fortunately, care and maintenance for vinyl flooring and linoleum flooring are easy to observe. Simply sweep or dry mop when dusty or dirty, and use a wet mop with light detergent or cleaner for heavy spills or messes. If you applied a waterproof sealant to your vinyl or linoleum flooring, be sure to re-apply the sealant according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually every three to five years.
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