Hot Topics: Preparing Subfloor for Vinyl Tile

mudroom with subfloor

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If your next project involved a poorly constructed floor, you better know the best way to move forward. Luckily, our forums are a great place for expert DIYers to help you figure it all out. In this case, a new homeowner tackles a mudroom with an unlevel floor. See what our forum users have for advice in order to properly install a new subfloor and new vinyl tiles.

Original Post: Preparing Subfloor for Vinyl Tile

MudaVenom Member

Hello everyone! Extremely new DIYer here!

We purchased our home in Dec 2014, and this was my first DIY I decided to tackle - a tiny mudroom that did not see much love in its life.

After two layers of nasty carpet and a layer of old peel and stick, I am left with this subfloor. As you can (hopefully) see, the room is very slanted/unlevel. I am hoping this will not be a concern, the entire house is pretty wonky. (House built in 1887, however, I am positive the mudroom is an addition - unsure of year built)

My main question is what is my next step in order to properly prepare this floor for vinyl tile? I purchased groutable peel and stick vinyl tile from Lowe's, and I do plan on grouting. My first thought was adding a thin sheet of plywood ontop of the existing subfloor, is this necessary? If so, how would I go about doing this with such an unlevel floor? I would prefer not to level the floor if at all possible, as the entire room is slanted and I feel this would cause the room to look worse than it already does. Is anything needed at all? Any input is greatly appreciated.

Below are some photos of the room. I have since removed the wood trim along the bottom.

kitchen door with exposed subfloor

unlevel subfloor in mudroom

Highlights from the Thread

czizzi Forum Topic Moderator

You need flat, not necessarily level. You will add 1/4" underlayment grade plywood (not luan) and skim the seams in advance of the tiles. Screw down the existing plywood now while it is open to eliminate squeaks.

MudaVenom Original Poster

Perfect, thank you! What do you mean exactly when you say to skim the seams? Thanks again.

czizzi Forum Topic Moderator

Nail holes and seams between plywood gets filled with a cement patching compound and smoothed out with a putty knife, so the whole floor is perfectly flat with no bumps, dips, nail holes, or seams to telescope through the vinyl.

stickshift Group Moderator

Vinyl is very good at showing you what's beneath it, so you want to make sure that's nothing but a perfectly flat floor.

cwbuff Member

Why not ceramic tile? A lot more durable and forgiving and just as easy to put down.

I used peel and stick once in a mud room - never again. I ripped it out after a couple of years.

MudaVenom Original Poster

I'm not sure the subfloor can handle the weight of ceramic, and honestly, I'm not a fan. My first thought was slate, but went with vinyl in the end as it's easier to install, lighter weight, and more forgiving with cuts/mistakes/repair. I'll be happy if the floor lasts 5 year

So, I sent my boyfriend to get the plywood and he ended up getting 3/16".Will this work just as well or is 1/4"necessary?

Come to think of it, the plywood has a reddish tone to it. Is this the luan you advised not to get?

czizzi Forum Topic Moderator

Most likely luan based on the color. UNDERLAYMENT GRADE plywood (those words will be on the product UPC sticker) is a more solid product and is not full of voids and other undesirables found in luan. Many lumber products cheat the ruler, so 1/4" product many times will measure 3/16".

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