Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

March 10, 2011

How to Install Vinyl Sheet Flooring

The other day I watched a renovation program about a couple who won a weekend kitchen makeover and the pros installed the new flooring on top of ratty vinyl flooring.  The host said they were using the old flooring in lieu of installing a new vapor barrier.  I'm no pro, so the following is based on my limited experience and irrational bias: installing new flooring over existing vinyl grosses me out.

While I was thinking about vinyl flooring, I realized not a lot of people talk about it.  People tend to blog about installing marble or intricate tile.  So, here are my reasons for loving vinyl flooring in our bathroom and some installation tips that might make life easier, should you try this at home.

Why I heart our vinyl floors:
  • Super affordable
  • Super easy to install and fit
  • Super durable and kid friendly (ceramic tile & stone can chip - trust me)
  • Embarrassingly easy to clean, partly because there's no grout!
  • Ours is textured so its no-slip
  • All in all, a great choice for our bathroom

How to install:
Step 1:

Remove old flooring, but if the old flooring was glued down then wait to remove until you're ready to install.  My grandpa tried to remove the old flooring early in the game but the floor was sticky, so we halted removal until the tub and tiling was done and we were ready for flooring.  Tip: we tossed on some saw dust and then swept it away - it helped deal with the tackiness.

How to remove old vinyl flooring
The removal process

How to remove old vinyl flooring

Step 2:

Make sure the floor is level, even and clear of debris.  Any lumps and bumps will be felt through the flooring.  We found it easiest to install when the tub was in, but the other elements were not.  Be sure to remove your baseboards & toilet at least. 

How to remove old vinyl flooring
My grandpa, hard at work removing the old flooring
Step 3:
Dry fit and cut flooring to size - marking and cutting holes for the toilet drain, etc.

Step 4:

Working in sections, apply the contact cement (designed for vinyl flooring, talk to store rep from where you bought your flooring for a recommendation on the right kind) with a toothed trowel.  Wait as per instructions for adhesive to get tacky.

How to install vinyl flooring

How to install vinyl flooring

Step 5:

Lay down half your flooring and roll out bubbles, working from the middle out.

Step 6:

Repeat for other remaining section.  Roll out again - you want a nice smooth surface.

Step 7:

After waiting the appropriate dry time (as per manufacturer's instructions), you can install your baseboards and transitions. 

Good looking vinyl floor
All installed, with the baseboards, vanity & toilet in place

Make sure you get the right transition.  There are different kinds of transitions, for different applications.  We accidentally bought a reducer, when what we needed was a threshold.  Back to the store we went . . .

diagram of floor transition moldings

Choosing the right floor transition
Ah, the right transition . . .

So, that's how we installed our floors.  If you don't like vinyl, there is also more natural linoleum.  Linoleum is made from linseed oil & flax seeds and can last 50 yrs., while vinyl flooring is a petroleum oil product.  We chose vinyl because I picked a look I liked and it happened to be vinyl.  In my opinion, with vinyl or linoleum flooring, it is best not to pick something only because it is trendy or looks almost like something else.  Pick it because you like the pattern. 

P.S. Click here & here for more bathroom pictures.


  1. I like vinyl and linoleum too. My daughter and SIL debated over very mid-century industrial-looking linoleum and tile for their kitchen redo and finally chose the tile, and now they're kicking themselves. The linoleum would have lasted forever and would have been more true to the period. And their very expensive tile is already cracked.

    The only reason I can think of for laying new flooring over existing flooring is because of asbestos. I don't know about everywhere else, but in Texas you are prohibited from removing tile from houses old enough to have been built with tile containing asbestos, unless you have a licensed examiner check the existing tile.

  2. that looks great! if you ever need help taking up vinyl tiles, call my dogs. they are EXCELLENT at it. they'll find even the most seamless corner and pull it right up!

  3. Ah, see, now that vinyl looks GOOD! As opposed to the tacky stuff you usually see. Your's looks like real grey tiles or slate even. Gorgeous!

  4. Looks great - it works perfectly with the rest of the design elements!

  5. Great tutorial. I'm with you all the way. No more tile for me and no more grout. Your floors look great! What a cool Grandpa you have.

  6. The floors are beautiful. Oh and where did you get your shower curtain?

  7. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback! Ashly: the shower curtain in Marimekko! My post about tree bedding withdrawal also features the Marimekko bedding and dress in the same print.

  8. I'd love to have your tile...and borrow your grandpa for a few weeks. :)

  9. You know what Dana? My grandpa would totally go to another country to help someone with their house. Anything to get out of his own house! Lol.


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