Moisture is the main problem to tackle when preparing a basement floor for painting or tiling. The following Q&A about prepping a basement for vinyl tile flooring installation sheds light on how to prevent tile damage from moisture and debris. One of our in-house experts provided answers to a reader question about this common procedure.
Q: I plan to install self-stick vinyl tile on a basement floor. I do not believe I have a basement moisture problem, but I plan to tape two square feet of plastic down. If the floor is clean and dry, is there any other prep that would be necessary? I have read something about a primer that can be used on concrete. Is this a necessary step?
A: Primer will not be necessary, but you will want to back up the glue with some clear spread adhesive, as self-stick tiles do not stick that well. Since this is a peel and stick tile and not a dry back, use a paint roller to apply the adhesive. If it were dry back tile, then the recommended 1/16-inch-x-1/16-inch trowel should be used.
You must allow the adhesive to dry for eight hours so that the tiles do not slew out of place. Plus, it is easier to work and what seems dry will soon grab the tile. Unless you are applying over existing tile, the self-stick by itself is not substantial. There are arrows going the same direction on back of tiles to keep pattern uniformed.
If you notice that on a couple of tile squares back, a gap has mysteriously appeared , apply constant leaning pressure and gradually close the gap. It takes patience, but you will be glad not to have to look at an open joint. If you do need to lift a square later for repositioning, use a heat gun or hair dryer, but do not over-heat.
The slightest debris can be like a boulder when it gets under the tile. You can sweep or vacuum the floor and still discover that some small debris was left and gets under the tile. Change the vacuum hose to blow, start in the furthest corner and progressively blow toward the exit. It is the only way to avoid boulders under the tiles.
When making trim fitting, be aware that trim slivers and crumbs of tile can fall into work area and be like boulders under tile. High grade vinyl tiles have nice looking, durable and easy-care surface. Vinyl squares can be repaired or replaced. Stow several squares for repairs.
In-laid vinyl requires much skill to fit around edges. Even well fitted wall edges need shoe molding; otherwise, they will later curl upward. In-laid vinyls typically have a soft backing and are easily torn when moving appliances or furniture, and patching will look terrible.