How to Use Peel and Stick Floor Tile
Installing peel and stick tile the right way will make all the difference in your final project. Well-installed tile will look the best. If you want a polished, put-together look, you’ll want to put good effort into how you lay the vinyl sections.
Just as important, the installation process will also affect the lifespan of your flooring. If you want your floors to hold up well for years to come, then it’s important to be careful about how you put them down.
For starters, take a look at the basic steps of the process:
- Give the tiles at least two days to acclimate to the room where they’ll be installed.
- Prepare the current floor for the tiles.
- Measure the room and plan where each tile will go.
- As needed, cut or trim tiles to fit.
- Work from the center of the room toward the edges.
- Begin peeling the paper backing from a tile, then position it in place.
- As you press the tile against the floor, slowly peel away the rest of the backing.
- Repeat the process for the remaining tiles.
- Make any adjustments quickly before the adhesive has time to fully set.
It’s a good idea to hold onto extra tiles in case you need to replace a damaged one.
How to Prep Floor for Peel and Stick Tile
Making sure the floor is ready for your tiles is one of the best things you can do to ensure a good installation.
Take everything out of the room before beginning. While hauling out all of the furniture won’t be fun, you’ll appreciate the clean, clear surface once you’re in the midst of your project.
You’ll want the floor to be as level as possible. If there are nails sticking up, pound them flush with the floor. If there are any bumps or lumps, sand them down. Fill in any gaps or cracks, too.
Cleaning the floor is also important. Sweep up dirt and dust. Give the floor a good wash. If there are waxy or sticky spots, add a degreasing chemical or diluted ammonia to the washing process to cut through the grime. Rinse the floor thoroughly.
After cleaning, allow the floor to fully dry. That could require waiting an hour or more. If you try to install tiles on a damp surface, the adhesive won’t stick.
How to Cut Peel and Stick Tile
There’s a good chance that you’ll need to trim your tiles in order for them to fit properly in your space. You may need to cut down the pieces that sit along the edges of your room, and you might need to tile around immovable fixtures, too.
A razor is the best tool for most cutting jobs. You’ll need it to be as sharp as possible, so you might want to buy a brand-new blade before beginning.
First, measure carefully so that you’ll know where to cut the tile. It’s a good idea to double-check your work. You can also use a sheet of paper to create a template for tracing.
Once you’ve figured out exactly where the cut needs to go, mark the line on the tile with a pencil. With the tile facing up, use the razor to make score marks along the line. Once it’s sufficiently scored, you can break the tile in two.
Another option is to invest in a specialty tool. Vinyl tile cutters work like scissors. They are useful for straight-line cuts. You’ll have to stick with the razor method for curved areas, though.
Other tools that could come in handy for certain cuts include drills, jigsaws, hole saws and oscillating saws.
Can You Grout Peel and Stick Tile?
You can grout some types of peel and stick tile. If that’s something you’re interested in doing, you’ll need to look for a tile variety that’s labeled as groutable. Otherwise, you should skip the grouting step.
If the tile you choose is suitable for grouting, you may be able to use cement or epoxy grout for the job. You’ll probably want to pair it with a grout sealer, too. You can buy a sealer that you add to the grout mixture or one that you brush on at the end of the project.
Grouting your tile can have a few different benefits. For one thing, it could make your flooring look more upscale. Grout may also increase the durability of your peel and stick tiles; they’re less likely to peel up along the edges. Sealed grout may also improve how well your flooring resists moisture.
Keep in mind, though, that grout can add time and labor to your tiling project. Peel and stick flooring’s benefits include its ease of installation and its relative affordability. Adding grout could put a dent in both those benefits.
Where to Use It
Do you have a room in mind for your peel and stick tile project? Perhaps you’d like to place the tiles directly over another type of flooring. Before jumping into the work, it’s smart to make sure that you’re installing the tiles in the right spot and on the right surface.
Can You Install It on Cement Floor?
Yes, a cement floor is sometimes considered one of the best surfaces for peel and stick tiles.
Concrete and cement floors are usually quite strong and sturdy. They’re often nice and level, too. Plus, the tiles’ built-in adhesive typically adheres well to cement.
It’s a good idea to prime the cement before putting down tiles, though. The primer may improve how well the adhesive holds. It also serves as a moisture barrier to reduce mold growth.
The cement must be smooth and level before beginning. You can use a leveling compound to fill in any cracks. It should be applied to the expansion joints, too. If you leave the concrete with gaps or broken pieces, your tiles will quickly warp or crack.
One additional note: Don’t put tiles on brand-new cement. The concrete floor needs to cure for at least two months before taking the next step.
Can You Put Peel and Stick Tile over Linoleum?
Yes, if your linoleum floor is in good condition, you can put peel and stick tiles right on top of it. Make sure that your current flooring meets the following conditions:
- No cracks or other damage
- No peeling or curling around the edges
- Firmly affixed to the subfloor below
You may be able to fix small imperfections with a bit of leveling compound.
Before applying stick-down tiles to your linoleum, give the linoleum a thorough cleaning, removing any dust, dirt or buildup. Make sure that the floor is fully dry before adhering the tiles.
Can You Put Vinyl Over Wood Paneling?
Most experts would caution you against putting tile over wood paneling. The panels might not be strong or rigid enough to support the weight of your new tiles. If the wood panels start to shift or bend, the tile adhesive will come undone.
Also, wood paneling is often smooth and glossy. It might not have enough gripping power for the tile adhesive to bond well.
If possible, take the time to remove the old wood paneling before putting up your new tiles. You’re more likely to achieve a strong, long-lasting design that way.
If tiling over the panels is your only option, take some steps to improve the long-term outcome of your project. One of the best options is to install a layer of backer board over the panels. The tiles can go on top of that. If backer board isn’t an option, treat the panels with a coat of wall covering primer instead.
Can You Put Peel and Stick Tile over Tile?
You can place peel and stick tile over other tiles, but you may need to do some prep work first. If the grout lines are lower than the tops of the tiles, the vinyl peel and stick will eventually warp or crack along those lines.
Filling the depressions with additional grout will take care of the issue. Once the grout lines are flush with the existing tiles — and the grout has had time to cure — you can place the peel and stick tiles on top.
This approach should work whether your existing tiles are ceramic, porcelain or natural stone.
Can Peel and Stick Tile Be Used in Shower?
As a general rule, you’re probably best off not using peel and stick tile in your shower.
The top of your tiles may be waterproof. Even still, water could find its way through the gaps between the tiles. It would then reach the adhesive, which could start to lose its grip. The moisture might also damage your subfloor.
Some peel and stick varieties do advertise that they’re suitable for shower use. In that case, you may want to try it. Just know that those tiles may not last as long as another type of shower flooring.
To somewhat improve how well your tiles hold up, apply a layer of sealant over the top. You may want to pat them dry with a towel after each shower. Regularly running the exhaust fan might help, too.
Peel and stick floor tile is convenient, but it won’t last forever. Eventually, you’ll need to replace the tiles. When the time comes, how should you go about it?
How to Remove Peel and Stick Tile from Concrete Floor
Over time, peel and stick tile may become quite firmly stuck to the floor. That’s great when you want it there, but it can make peeling up old tile a challenge. With effort, though, you can make it happen.
You’re going to want heat on your side for this process. A hairdryer is a simple tool that will do the trick well. A heat gun is a stronger alternative that you may need for seriously stuck-down tiles, but it does increase the risk of damaging the subfloor or the surrounding area.
Other supplies to gather include a scraper or a taping knife, a pry bar, a utility knife, and a rubber mallet.
If you can get the tiles off in full pieces, you’ll make your job easier. Broken bits take a lot more elbow grease to remove.
The first piece can be the trickiest, though, so you may want to slice it into a few sections. Use a utility knife to cut it from corner to corner. You’ll need to press hard and make several passes.
The heat from the hairdryer is helpful for melting the glue that’s holding down the tiles. Focusing on one tile at a time, blow hot air toward the floor. Position the hairdryer about 1 inch from the surface while moving it back and forth over the tile.
After about 10 minutes, the tile should start to curl away from the floor. Slide a scraper into the gap. Slowly pry the tile away from the floor.
Once you’ve removed each piece of the first tile, you probably won’t have to cut the subsequent ones. Just apply heat and pry up the tiles, one at a time. For some, you may want to use the pry bar, which you can tap with the rubber mallet for extra power.
Some home professionals recommend an alternate method: dry ice. If you stick a block of dry ice on a tile, it should pop away from the floor. You may find that this approach leaves behind more adhesive, though.
How to Remove Peel and Stick Tile Glue from Subfloor
Once you’ve taken up the tiles, there will probably be adhesive that remains. Before you put down new flooring, you’ll need to get that old glue up, too.
Commercial adhesive removers can be a lifesaver for this project. Use a paintbrush to spread it across the glue. (If you don’t have access to adhesive remover, you can try warm water instead.)
Follow the manufacturer’s directions about how long to let the remover sit. Once enough time has passed, use a metal scraper to lift the softened glue from the floor. Continue until you’ve taken care of all the adhesive residue.
Afterward, be sure to wash the floor with clean water before moving on with your home renovation project.
By now, you should be feeling pretty confident about putting peel and stick tile in your home. You know how to install it, where to place it, and how to take it back up when it’s time for a change. An all-new flooring look could be just around the corner.