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Install Sheet or Tile Vinyl Flooring as a Do it Yourselfer?

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Q: "I want to install vinyl flooring in my bathroom (8"x10") on a do it yourself basis. Which should I use - sheet or tile vinyl?" - JK, Ashland, OR

A: Sheet and vinyl flooring have different properties, and thus their own set of pros and cons. But adding the "DIY" factor changes things..."

Sheet and tile vinyl flooring are one of your best bathroom flooring options. Sheet vinyl flooring is just like a vinyl version of carpeting: it is available in wide rolls of six or twelve feet. For rooms wider than these sizes, sections of sheet vinyl are fused together. In fact, expert sheet vinyl installers are often so good at fusing the seams that it is not immediately apparent (carpeting is fused togther, as well).

The size and seamless quality of sheet vinyl is its chief advantage. With any type of flooring, it is desirable to limit the number of seams--at least from the perspective of repelling moisture. With sheet vinyl flooring, your kitchen or bathroom might end up with no seams, or at most one seam, to contend with. Another great thing about sheet vinyl flooring is that it helps bridge and cover up imperfections in the underlayment. It can even be laid over existing sheet or tile vinyl flooring.

DIY Disadvantages of Sheet Vinyl Flooring

However, the main disadvantage of sheet vinyl is that it really does require an expert's hand.
  • First, the large sections of vinyl are unwieldy to handle, especially by one person.
  • Second, sizing out the sheet vinyl requires templating with builder's paper. It is not possible to just start laying down sheet vinyl. It requires much planning.
  • Third, all sheet vinyl requires the application of adhesives. You will not have the self-adhesive option which tile vinyl flooring offers.

Tile Vinyl Flooring for the Do it Yourselfer

Tile vinyl flooring typically comes in 12"x12" sizes and can cost as little as $.50 to $.75 per square foot. Virtually any type of surface can be replicated with vinyl tile--stone, wood, tile, etc.--but most vinyl tile gives itself away upon close examination.

The best feature for the DIY home renovator is the tile vinyl is easy to handle. The squares can be cut and manipulated with ease. Also, some tile vinyl has a self-adhesive backing, obviating the need for smelly adhesives.

But sheet vinyl flooring works only on absolutely flat, "stickable" surfaces. Ironically, for many homeowners, if the surface was flat and clean in the first place, they probably would have no need to be installing new flooring. So, tile vinyl flooring is not a panacea. Many home remodelers have gone the tile vinyl route out of ease...and then found themselves putting down 1/4" plywood underlayment to provide a better surface for the tile to stick.

So, tile vinyl flooring is best for the do it yourselfer, but be careful not to assume that it will take eliminate all of your flooring woes.
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