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LGrey 02-15-2009 05:29 PM

Vinyl Tile Over Hardwood
Hello Everyone -

I have had an unexpected problem pop up.

We had to replace some piping in our upstairs bathroom and because of this the old vinyl tiles got screwed up and they have been trying to pop-up for a few years now.

The house is 100+ years old and the floors are pine tongue & groove. Back in the 70's (or perhaps earlier) vinyl tiles were glued to tar paper that had been glued to the wood floor.

Okay, we are not able to start the bathroom re-mod until about this time next year. We are wanting to put vinyl, self sticking tile back on the floor. The floor is not in the best condition and when we go to re-do the bathroom it will be removed.

So, I'm trying to find out the best, and easiest, way to install the vinyl tiles. I have read that you can glue tar paper back down and just stick the tiles on. However, I have also read that this is a "no-no". Yet again I have read that the tar paper thing is done for showroom floors.

This is only a temporary solution that needs to last a year, at most two, before it is torn out.

Any suggestions?

If the tar paper is an option, what type of glue? I read you use spray adhesive, but that doesn't seem stron enough to glue the tar paper to the wood floor.

Do you have to use additional adhesive on the vinyl tiles?

If it helps, here is a link to my house blog showing the floor.

Thanks for the help.

Nestor_Kelebay 02-16-2009 10:34 AM


Those aren't vinyl tiles glued down to tarpaper. (There's no such thing so far as I know.)

Those are "linoleum tiles", so named because they're constructed the same way as paper backed linoleum. Just like linoleum, these tiles have a vinyl wear layer applied over a paper backing. Unlike linoleum, however, the paper backing is impregnated with asphalt. That keeps the paper from absorbing water and swelling up if water gets spilled on the floor.

To remove that old asphalt impregnated paper, you'll either need to use a flooring razor scraper or a heat gun and a sharp tool, or both. Look in your yellow pages under "bee keeping equipment" and see if you can find any place in your area that sells a "bee keeper's bar". They're very common in hardware stores, and are sold as "pry bars" but they're just not easy to describe. Use that and a heat gun to soften the old asphalt impregnated paper and scrape it off the floor. Home Depot sells flooring razor scrapers as "wallpaper scrapers". You'll need one of these to get MOST of the paper off. That paper is a good insulator and so it's best to shave most of the paper off with the "wallpaper scraper" and then use a heat gun and bee keeper's bar to get the remainder off.

Also, try cleaning the floor with water and an old sponge. The adhesive on that floor looks like it could be Linogrip 55. This was a "paste" used in the 1950's and 60's for sticking down linoleum tiles. The difference between a paste and an adhesive is that pastes will have a water base, and they will re-emulsify in water after they've dried. So, it's similar to the difference between cement and mud. Mix both with water and allow them to fully dry. Now, if you get them both wet, the concrete will remain concrete, whereas the dirt will revert back to mud. If that glue on the floor is Linogrip 55, you should be able to clean it off the wood underlayment with water.

Once you get the old flooring and glue off, you can float the floor with a floor leveler and put down new Peel & Stick tiles.

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