Vinyl Floor Tiles Won't Stick

Written by sarabeth asaff
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Vinyl floor tiles are a durable floor covering that can be adhered in a number of ways. You can install the tiles with adhesive and grout like hard tiles, or you can lay them with peel-and-stick backing. Both options are suitable for do-it-yourself homeowners with moderate experience.

While vinyl tiles are moderately simple to install, there may be occasions when a tile does not remain stuck to the substrate. Taking pains to avoid this can result in a long-lasting floor tile installation.

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Substrate Has Not Been Prepped

Vinyl tiles, particularly those with peel-and-stick backing, need a perfectly smooth, flat surface with which to adhere. A substrate that has dirt, dust or other debris will keep the tiles from adhering properly by not giving adequate contact between the tile and the substrate. Sweep, then damp-mop all substrates before laying the tiles to ensure adequate adhesion.

Prep plywood substrates by applying an adhesive primer to the plywood. This will level the floor, fill in any gaps and give the vinyl tile a surface to adhere to.

Likewise, old vinyl or linoleum tiles acting as the substrate must be stripped of wax before you can install the new tiles on top.

Inadquate Pressure

Part of the bonding process of the vinyl tiles to their substrate requires significant pressure on the tops of the tiles. You achieve this through rolling the tiles. While you can use a rolling pin for light traffic or wall applications, it does not provide enough pressure for floor tiles that are undergoing heavy traffic. For these areas, you'll need a floor roller.

Rent a floor roller from your local home improvement store. Roll it across the surface of the tiles multiple times. It will exert enough pressure to bond the tiles to their substrate.

Temperature Differences

If the vinyl tiles were stored outside in a garage or another unheated area, then brought inside and installed on a warmer, room-temperature substrate, the tiles may not stick. The soft floor tiles must be brought to the same temperature as the substrate to allow for proper bonding of the adhesive.

Bring the tiles into the room where they will be installed 48 to 72 hours in advance of installation. Alternatively, bring the tiles in 24 hours beforehand and raise the temperature of the room to 23.9 degrees C. Keep the room at this temperature throughout installation, then allow the floor to cool at once. The contraction of the cooling tiles will tighten the bond.

Excess Moisture

If the vinyl tiles are being installed over concrete or in a basement, there may be too much moisture in the substrate to allow the adhesive to dry properly. The result is tiles that come up easily, instead of bonding and growing stronger with time.

If the concrete floor is new, give it time to cure; go by the recommended manufacturer's curing time for the type of concrete used. If the floor is damp because it is at ground level, either seal it with a product used with vinyl tiles to inhibit moisture or run a dehumidifier for 24 hours to dry out the floor. Then install the tiles.

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