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What To Do Before Tiling Over Vinyl Or Linoleum

01 October

You may be considering installing natural stone floor tiles, or man-made porcelain floor tiles, and wondering if it’s safe to install the tiles over your existing vinyl or linoleum floor. The short answer is its safe do so, as long as the flooring and substrate are sound and stable.

You need to assess the condition of the existing flooring, and the suitability of the substrate underneath, to ensure your project is a success. Failure to assess and prepare the surface correctly may result in the floor tiles cracking, coming loose, or the tile adhesive de-bonding from the substrate.

Identifying Your Flooring

Vinyl flooring comes in many guises and different formats. Top brands include Amtico, Kardean, and Polyflor, and is available in sheets, LVT (luxury vinyl tiles imitating natural stone tile finishes), and LVP (luxury vinyl planks imitating wood). The surface can be non-slip, have a PUR (polyurethane) coating, or a PU layer with a coating of varnish. Linoleum is linseed oil based flooring; the most well-known brand is Marmoleum. There is no technical reason why, assuming the existing flooring and substrate are sound and solid, that new floor tiles can't be fixed on top your vinyl or linoleum.

Vinyl and linoleum are non-porous therefore tile adhesive cannot easily bond to the surface. The solution is to apply an adhesion enhancer, such as Kerakoll Keragrip, which enables floor tile adhesive to adhere to the existing flooring. Keragrip can be used with all of the above-listed vinyl and linos. Easy to use, Keragrip is applied neat, direct from the container with a sponge roller. Apply a fine, uniform film, spreading in the same direction. Apply a second coat perpendicular to the first until the floor has been covered completely. A distinct red colour, Keragrip Eco enables the user to ensure coverage is complete and uniform.

Is Your Substrate Up To The Job?

The challenge of deciding to remove your existing flooring or tile over vinyl or linoleum is as much down to being confident your substrate is sound and can take the weight of the new floor tiles. Natural stone tiles weigh approximately 35kg per square meter, and porcelain floor tiles 25kg. The weight of the tile adhesive adds another 5kg per meter, so in total, the floor should be robust enough to a load bearing of up to 40kg.

However, if you’re unsure as to what lays beneath, we recommend removing old flooring and fitting a new substrate as the installation of new tiles will be easier, the overall finish will be better, and your tiler should be happy to guarantee their work. One scenario where it’s strongly advisable to replace the floor and substrate is in a bathroom where there is evidence of a leak, but no obvious detectable deterioration in the substrate. The leak may have been cured, but it’s likely the wood base will have been soaked, and although dry now, may not be stable enough to take the substantial weight of natural stone tiles.

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