How to level a floor before installing vinyl floor tiles

Updated February 21, 2017

Vinyl floor tiles add a durable attractive surface for any room. They're easy to install and once placed last years with a minimum amount of maintenance. One issue you have to deal with though when installing vinyl tiles is the condition of the floor before the installation. Floors must be level for a smooth install, which can require a bit of pre-installation time and effort. After levelling however, the remaining installation process can be quick and easy, giving you great results in a short amount of time.

Wood subfloors

Clean the subfloor completely, removing any dirt or debris from the area.

Determine the severity of the uneven floor areas. Use a straight edge (a long metal bar with a flat edge) to determine high and low levels of the floor by dragging the edge along the floor's surface. Use a marker to mark the areas in need of levelling. The final goal is to have a surface that's level to within 4.5 mm (3/16 inch) over 3 m (10 feet).

Level the subfloor to a flat even surface. Use a sander, with 30 grit sandpaper, on the wooden subfloor to level high points in preparation for the vinyl floor tiles.

Use a self-levelling compound for large dips in the wood surface. Mix the compound, pouring it into the dip and spreading it to the surrounding surface using a trowel. The concrete-like compound should level itself, drying within 24 hours to allow for the tile installation.

Concrete subfloors

Rent a concrete grinder from a local equipment shop or home improvement warehouse to level concrete subfloors for vinyl floor tiles.

Grind down high spots on concrete floors to the level of the surrounding surface.

Use self-levelling compound on dips in concrete floors. Apply a latex primer to the floor with a brush or paint roller to work as a bonding agent between the concrete and the compound layer. Pour the levelling compound into the dips, and then level it to the surrounding surface with a trowel. Allow it to dry completely.

Remove any debris from the levelling process in order to install the vinyl floor tiles.


Wear a face mask and safety goggles during the levelling process for protection.


If the floor is not level prior to installation of vinyl floor tiles, the floor will make popping sounds when walking on it. The total lifespan of the floor will be shortened as well. Cover and frame off any drains when using the levelling compound, as compound will cause clogging.

Things You'll Need

  • Straight edge
  • Power sander
  • 30 grit sandpaper
  • Concrete grinder
  • Latex primer
  • Self-levelling compound
  • Trowel
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About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.