Step by Step Guide to Laying Vinyl Flooring
Sheet vinyl, which has largely replaced linoleum, is available in a range of colours and designs and is suitable for covering any floor that is dry, smooth and firm.
Sheet vinyl is unsuitable for solid floors that do not have a damp-proof membrane; before laying vinyl on a suspended timber floor, check that airbricks round the outside of the house are fully exposed and unblocked.
Improve cracked or uneven concrete floors by filling small holes with cement or plaster or by laying a self-smoothing screed. In the case of timber floors, fasten loose boards and, if necessary, level with a plane or sanding machine.
As an alternative to sanding, lay sheets of 4 mm resin-bonded, securing these with or with annular , spaced about 150 mm (6 in) apart, and staggering the sheets to avoid continuous joints. Leave 3 mm (1/8 in) expansion gaps between sheets.
Hardboard, which is cheaper than plywood, can be used instead if the underfloor ventilation is really efficient. Hardboard is absorbent and will bend to the shape of the boards beneath if it becomes damp. Condition it before use and lay it rough side up.
Sheet vinyl is in several widths, the more common being 2 m or 6 ft. Before choosing, decide which way the floor-covering is to run, avoiding joins at doorways. Store vinyl at room temperature for a day or so before laying.
For laying the vinyl you need a scriber, made by hammering a nail through a batten, 150 mm (6 in) from one end, so that the point protrudes 3 mm
Laying step by step
Cut from the roll a sheet of vinyl 25-50 mm (1-2 in) longer than the length of the room. Lay it parallel with, and about 125 mm (5 in) from, a side wall, with the ends riding up on each end wall.
Holding the scriber at right angles to the side wall, with one end pressing against the skirting, make a continuous scratch line close to the edge of the vinyl. Cut or pull off the surplus vinyl, then move the sheet to fit flush against the wall.
Lay subsequent lengths of vinyl to overlap the first by 25 mm, roughly trimming where necessary to fit the outline of bays, chimney breasts and other irregular shapes. The ends should again ride up an inch or two on each end wall.
Use a Stanley knife or sharp scissors to cut off the lengths of vinyl and also for subsequent trimming. Leave the vinyl to settle for a fortnight or so before trimming. It can be walked on during this time.
When the vinyl has settled, check that the scribed edges are flush with the skirting, moving the outside sheets if necessary. Using a straight-edge, cut through the mid point of the overlap between sheets, peel off the surplus and butt the sheets together.
Fix double-sided tape to the floor under each joint (the floor must be dust-free) to prevent the edges being kicked up.
All that remains is to trim the ends, which will now appear to have shrunk.
This is simple but involves several stages: first, make a pencil mark on one edge of the sheet at a convenient distance from the skirting — say, 250 mm (9 in).
Draw the sheet back from the wall so that it lies flat, with the excess riding up the other end wall. Then measure the same distance (250 mm) from your mark towards the end of the sheet, making a second mark at this point .
Adjust the sheet so that the nail on your scriber corresponds with this second mark, then scribe along the end, with the end of the scriber against the skirting board and the edge of the sheet flush with the adjacent sheet . Follow the same procedure for cutting round corners and angles.