Instructables

How to install Commercial Grade Resilient Tile

This Instructable shows you how to install Resilient tile, also known as "Vinyl Composition" or "Asphalt" tile, the type found in most commercial settings, like grocery stores. It's probably easier than you think!
 
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Step 1: Do the math and get supplies.

I measured the length and width of the kitchen, rounded down to the nearest foot since there are cabinets/countertops taking up floor space, and multiplied the two to get my square feet. The tiles are a square foot each, so I made sure to get a little more than my kitchen needed, which was 256. This way when you're learning to measure and cut tiles for corners and doorframes, you have spares. If you're like me, you'll need those spares! A gallon of adhesive says on it that it does up to 350 square feet, but I ended up using a gallon and a little less than half of another. Be prepared! Once you lay your adhesive, you may not be able to go back to the store if it is closed already, and it has a 6 hour working time.
Materials:
-Tile
-Adhesive
-Notched trowel
-Tile Roller (rental costs ~$15/day)
-Utility Knife
-Tape Measure
-Square
-Chalk line
-Wood filler
-Putty Knife
-Sandpaper
-Claw Hammer
-Mini Prybar (not pictured)
-Basic hand tools (pliers, adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, etc....)
Speaking of math, the tile is $30.60 for 45 tiles, and adhesive is about $20/gallon. For my room of 256 square feet, this added up to about $250, so that's one thing to consider. On the other hand, this is the most durable flooring you can possibly buy, unless you've had epoxy painted concrete or ceramic tile, which is way harder to lay and way more expensive. Someone told me they had this stuff last them 50 years, and it's still in perfect shape!
dgsmimi1 year ago
great job! thinking about putting black tiles down myself...glad to get a preview :)
dgsmimi1 year ago
Helpful hint: Pre-lay and cut the tiles before using adhesive, then you are not stressed about the adhesive drying before you lay/cut the tiles, be sure to mark where the cut tiles go before you take them up ;-)
toongoon5 years ago
Hey, I want to add my thanks for providing this helpful walkthrough. I installed a vct kitchen floor a few months ago, and the installation went great, with much thanks to your instructable. Would you mind telling me how cleaning has gone for you? I followed the manufacturer's recommendations, and covered the floor in five coats of acrylic polish, without buffing. However, now that some time has passed, the finish on the floor isn't looking so sharp. Have you had to buff? Or have you run into any maintenance obstacles? Thanks again for your post - it looks great!
Zombie Stomp (author)  toongoon5 years ago
Good job, especially on putting so many coats on. Did you strip it before putting on the first wax? My tile said to do so, but that is usually just to get the tile clean and it adds a little "tooth" to the surface of the tile so that the wax adheres a little better. When you decide to re-wax it, you will want to rent a little buffer and get a coarser stripping pad or two. Doing it this way saves a lot of scrubbing if you were to just use the stripper and scrub by hand, I did it that way and it sucked. Make sure to get a couple mop heads- one for the stripper and another to apply the wax. The dull appearance you see is just the dirt on the floors dulling the shine. You could probably buff it, but I don't have any advice to give in that department since I haven't done it. Your wax is still there though, it's just dull. If you mop it with a nice thick string mop, and strain it very well and dry-mop it, you should see the water beading up still. There are also matte finish waxes available so the dulling is less noticeable.
Thanks for the great advice. No, I didn't strip it, as the Armstrong instructions said it was ready to use, and stripping wasn't recommended on new tile. It sounds like you used actual floor wax rather than acrylic polish? How does the wax hold up? And how frequently do you have to apply it? I'm wondering if that would be a better way to go, and if so, it sounds like I should strip the current finish, and start over with wax. Any comments? Thanks again.
Zombie Stomp (author)  toongoon5 years ago
No, I was just calling the acrylic polish "wax". Clear acrylic is what you use on this stuff. The Armstrong instructions are right, it's just been so long since I used this stuff that I probably forgot that you don't have to strip it is you just wax it before it gets dirty or is walked all over. If a high-gloss is important to you, you could probably buff with a white buffing pad. You might do well with a high- speed buffer for that. I don't know how long it's been, but you could go ahead and strip/re-wax it, and get a compact household buffer and buff often enough that it doesn't dull to the level that it has. Good work!
That's great. Now, I know what to do next. Sounds like I was on the right track, and just needed some good reassurance. Thanks for the the help!
bvgott5 years ago
We put in commercial grade tile in our basement quite a few years ago. It needs a deep cleaning/stripping and waxing. Do you have any suggestions on products to use to do it ourselves?
DGCYS5 years ago
If you are not putting on a baseboard, When you go to caulk the edges take your sander and sand a tile or two. Collect this dust and mix it with the caulk to get a matching color on the edges.
BeckyMissy6 years ago
Good Job. Can the VCT tile be installed directly over painted concrete? Is the underlayment necessary? Thanks!
Hi Becky, the underlayment might be required if your floor surface is rough or if it has wide joints, say from a tongue and groove gap that's widened over time. Any depressions or bumps will eventually telegraph through the tile. If you have nice a nice solid plywood subfloor, you can use general purpose joint compound to spackle over the seams and screw heads. Make sure you sand well and vacuum all the dust.
Zombie Stomp (author)  BeckyMissy6 years ago
All you need is a clean, smooth surface. This will insure that you lay good, consistent beads of adhesive with your notched trowel. Cleanliness of the surface is important so that the notches in the trowel don't become clogged with globs of dirt caked adhesive. Concrete is the best to lay it on.
Thanks so much for your reply. Armstrong recommends that paint be removed from the concrete, prior to installation of VC tiles. It is a painted concrete floor that we would be installing over. Do you recommmend another brand of tile? Again, Thank you!
Zombie Stomp (author)  BeckyMissy6 years ago
I have never laid tile over painted concrete. I laid it over concrete that had the ragged remains of tar paper that they had laid down using asphaltic adhesives, and they also laid their tile with asphaltic adhesive. Having to fully remove all that paint sounds like it's a little much. There should be a solution for you to not have to do that. I think that every case is different, I think they say that to protect themselves from those possibly trying to lay tile on top of high quality, high gloss floor paint, which could separate from the adhesive. I personally think if it's a nice porous surface, it should work fine. If that means you have to sand the paint using a buffer or floor sander of some sort, so be it. But if you have flaky floor paint that would be a reason to remove it all. You want to basically avoid your adhesive layer becoming separated from temperature changes leading to expansion and contraction or crappy floor paint.
Thanks!
I would have to remove the paint from about 2,000 sf !
Thanks for the instructable. I found enough Armstrong resilient tile in the attic of our shop to do half of our basement floor. We have 6 different colours of tiles in various amounts of each so we're using a spreadsheet program to experiment with different layout options. Your tips have been very helpful. I'll post some pics when we're finished.
Zombie Stomp (author)  goodfishfive6 years ago
I look forward to seeing that! I like the colorful jobs, and the fact that you're taking that much time to lay out the pattern makes it sound like there will be no ugly color combinations! Thanks for the compliments, I'm really glad to make this project seem attainable to anyone who found it interesting but was afraid to try.
ogeezer6 years ago
Its pleasing to see a professional job done by a Do-It-Yourself enthusiast, who knows the best laid flooring tile is started in center of the room, and laid outward from there. Not only does this allow for speedy installation, it permits the perimeter border to be uniformly sized.
dog_poker6 years ago
Very nice. I just bought the same color tile today at the depot. I also bought white, will do a checkerboard pattern in my basement. Thanks for the help, the Armstrong guide is pitiful. Good idea about the knee pads, I will have to dig mine up from my attic renovation.
toprope7 years ago
Especially in large areas, you might consider using a paint roller to apply the glue. It takes less than most people think. If it is done in a heated area it will seal very well in a short time. If unheated it will have to wait until summer.
Zombie Stomp (author)  toprope7 years ago
The adhesive must be applied with the notched trowel and then dry until tacky. The ridges of adhesive are tacky on the outside and when the tile presses down they ooze just the right amount of unhardened adhesive, giving it the perfect tack. The fact that the ridges of adhesive stick up from the subfloor helps to adhere the tile to the countour of the floor that you can't see. This is how I see it, anyway. It makes sense that they designed it to work that way, and since they don't say you may roll it on in the instructions, I doubt it would work at all- unless you have done it with good lasting results. Then I'm wrong.
Yes I have, with good results. It was a camp dormitory concrete floor about 30'x25'. Used square foot vinyl tiles.
Looks great... makes me want to try this on my floor.
christy7 years ago
Zombie Stomp - I think i used the exact same floor as you have. It looks like a charcoal gray color - we put it in our kitchen and both bathrooms. The only thing that was really hard about it was going around door frames, etc. Also, be sure to put on a couple coats of that liquid wax (it's made specifically for this type of floor) to make it nice and shiny and give it some more liquid resistance.
Zombie Stomp (author)  christy7 years ago
Yeah, I've stripped and waxed many square feet of asphalt tile floor. It's kind of fun too. I'm going to wait until I get the stripper/buffer machine from my boss when I do the floors at my day and night job, so I can strip my floor too, for maximum adhesion, plus to get the tile adhesive off where some got slopped on top. I'll get around to it...
nobody7 years ago
Using a respirator would've been a good idea. Asbestos is a bitch.
Zombie Stomp (author)  nobody7 years ago
Check your data first- Asbestos is not only a bitch, but it is also illegal to put in new tiles. On the box, is specifically states not to sand, beadblast, scrape, or otherwise mess with old tile or cement, as they may contain asbestos. When removing asbestos, which is about the only thing you're allowed to do with it anyway, one must seal off the room airtight, and wear white airtight suits. So believe me, I'm informed about the topic of asbestos.
jthome737 years ago
Dude, Bro., That was fu - - uh, effin awesome! Very, very, very nice job. Both the tile job and the instructable are fantastic. I am quite impressed, dude. I have one more thing for you to add to your last page of instructions. It should go somethin' like this: "If your older brother used to be a carpenter and he still has a bunch of carpenters tools and such just layin' around, ask him if he might have oh, say, TWO PAIRS OF KNEE PADS YOU COULD BORROW!" Keep up the kick-ass work, bud. Love, Jesse
christy7 years ago
After doing this in three rooms after we moved into our house, I wanted to add a tip for cutting the tiles. If you use a blow dryer on it's highest setting and point it right at where you are wanting to cut, it softens the tiles up a bit so they are less brittle. Have fun!
Zombie Stomp (author)  christy7 years ago
I didn't use a hair dryer, but maybe it would have kept a lot of those corner tiles from snapping on me. Do you have some pictures of your newly tiled rooms? I was wanting to go with a classic black/acrobat green checker pattern, but one housemate hates checked patterns, so we both love Black, so I went for that. This is my first instructable. Thanks for commenting.
ehmbee7 years ago
Nice-I was thinking what to do in my kitchen renovation, and your shade of tiles might just be perfect! There's old, vintage resilient tile in there now and it's true-it lasts FOREVER. My stuff is over 50 years old and, were it not for moving some peninsulas around, would be good for another 50.