DIY vinyl floor installation: easy?
October 9, 2021 1:21 PM   Subscribe

I have to replace a laminate floor that I dumbly installed in a kitchen. Questions about installing vinyl or tile floor inside.

(1) Is vinyl the way to go? My theory is that I'll want to do a total kitchen remodel in five years and so it might be good to wait on the tile. And my sense is that installation is a little faster -- one work session instead of 2-3. But if I'm going to regret installing it then I can just pick some really flexible tile. I think my main question about flooring choice is, how high quality does it feel? And do you have recommendations about which vinyl floor to get?

(2) Supposing I go with vinyl, can I learn to install it by tomorrow and pull it off for a small (12x6) floor in about 4 hours tomorrow (not counting reinstalling the floor trim and the trip to Home Depot for supplies)? What is the best guide? I love highly detailed guides that cover all the details, like what kind of underlayment to use (does it need to be waterproof to protect the plywood?) how to fill the expansion gap at the edge of the room (or do I not need to), etc.? Can I buy a transition strip to bridge it with the living room floor (the same laminate since that's still fine)?

Thanks for any and all advice. I get all my best DIY advice from AskMe!
posted by slidell to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's wrong with the laminate tile? Was the decision to install it "dumb" or was the actual installation job "dumb".

Is the vinyl you're thinking about the stuff that looks like wood? I've installed tons of the engineered wood stuff, but none of the vinyl, but the vinyl stuff should be a bit easier to work with.

Ion my experience, the length of installation is directly related to the complexity of the room. If it's literally just a rectangle, it'll go quick. If you have to make a bunch of cuts for air registers, walls the stick out, etc., it'll take longer.

Buy at least 10% more than what you need.

The expansion gap would be covered with quarter-round moulding.

I think vinyl tile looks inherently cheap and dated, but it should last five years.
posted by jonathanhughes at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2021

Response by poster: This was the non-waterproof laminate that they sold back in 2012, so too many spills have caused it to swell up like cardboard at too many seams.
posted by slidell at 2:16 PM on October 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Two experiences:

1. I did my bathroom floor in porcelain tile, the kind that come pre-set in squares with the net backing. Stripped the old linoleum away, put down mortar, put down cement board, put a layer of red waterproofing compound, porcelain tile was laid in mortar over that, then grout. I did have to plane away a bit off the bottom of the bathroom door, since the height of the tile was slightly higher than the previous floor. You still have to consider the transition from floor to wall somehow (I replaced the wall tile in a separate phase of the project). I'm super happy with the results. It was a fairly decent amount of work. It took me a month or so, puttering away at it bit by bit on evenings and weekends. You might be more industrious than I am. Porcelain tile can vary a lot in cost, depending on what you get.

2. I did my kitchen floor several years earlier. I did vinyl linoleum tiles. Most of it was just peel-n-stick. Cutting them was a bit of work, but not too bad. I was lazy and didn't pull up the several-decades old linoleum tiles in place. If I remember right, I got the whole thing done on a Saturday afternoon.

"Real tile" is a lot more of a commitment, of course.

In a kitchen, consider that things dropped on porcelain tile might break more easily. (And, depending on the tile, the tile itself might crack if something really heavy falls on it.)
posted by gimonca at 3:16 PM on October 9, 2021

Vinyl is not recycle-able, is toxic to manufacture, toxic in landfill. I hate to see you buy it as a temporary measure. What about peel-n-stick cork tiles? Soft underfoot, warm on bare feet. way easy to cut.
posted by theora55 at 3:49 PM on October 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Not a fan of vinyl, both for the reasons theora55 mentions and because I don't find it easy to keep.
I love linoleum. It's natural, soft, easy to clean with natural soap, and recyclable. If you use linoleum tiles, you can do it tomorrow, easily. You should be able to find panels to fill in gaps at your local Home Depot store.
posted by mumimor at 4:06 PM on October 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, I'm very sympathetic to "no vinyl and that's final." How does linoleum do with water though?

I have tiled floors before and honestly, were it not for how much I hate wrangling and cutting concrete backer board (and the imagined pain of removal), I would be all over an excuse to do so again. So I could still be talked into tile, too.
posted by slidell at 6:08 PM on October 9, 2021

You might consider sheet vinyl flooring. I pulled up the crummy vinyl floor tiles in my kitchen 30 years ago and replaced with sheet vinyl over the cement slab. It looks as good today as it did when it was first installed. I did it all in a few days (1 prep, 1 install, 1 to clean up after the cement had cured). If I could do it (from detailed step-by-step instructions) on my first try, I'm sure anyone could.
posted by SPrintF at 7:14 PM on October 9, 2021

How does linoleum do with water though?

It's fine. Really the only reason to go vinyl is price.
posted by Mitheral at 9:49 PM on October 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Really the only reason to go vinyl is price.

... And maybe availability? I can't find anywhere open today in Oakland that has the click lock linoleum stuff in stock... Am I missing something?
posted by slidell at 9:02 AM on October 10, 2021

We have large vinyl tiles in our kitchen - they're like 24x12 and printed to look like white marble and I REALLY like them. They are soft and warm and easy to clean and were super easy to install. Ours had "attached" underlayment so we didn't use any on our plywood subfloor, and it's fine. they were click-lock, and we just covered the expansion gap with trim/baseboards at the edges, and used a normal transistion strip at the hallway.

we replaced lino, and I find the vinyl tiles to feel much higher quality. We stripped the old floor and installed the new one in one day, it's pretty easy! We just followed the instructions on the boxes!
posted by euphoria066 at 9:12 AM on October 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Point of clarification: when you say vinyl, are you referring to some kind of vinyl tiles? Or are you referring to "LVP" vinyl plank flooring, a la a snap together floating flooring system? We have the latter, and are very happy with it.
posted by bluloo at 5:38 PM on October 11, 2021

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