Vinyl Flooring: Can it Really be Installed Anywhere?

By Brooks Jamieson

Out of all the different segments in the floor covering industry today, vinyl has proven to be the most popular and for good reason. It’s strong, resilient, easy to maintain, offered in a vast array of finishes, budget-friendly and incredibly versatile.

But can it really be installed anywhere?

In most cases it can and on top of virtually anything. But it’s not always recommended. This is especially true if durable, beautiful flooring that will stand the test of time is desired.

Installing Over Existing Flooring
The benefit of installing new vinyl floors overtop existing flooring is that it saves prep time — installers can skip the demolition stage and get right to floor laying.

If the existing flooring is affixed to the subfloor and is in good condition with no broken or worn parts, the new vinyl floor may be installed over top. But before doing so, consider how the flooring will be installed based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Will it be glued or nailed down? Or floating?

If using glue, find out the types of surfaces the glue is designed to adhere to. Certain adhesives are not recommended to go over sheet vinyl.

Installers should also determine if there is more than one layer of existing flooring. If it is a nail-down installation, fasteners must penetrate a proper subfloor by at least five-eighths-of-an-inch.

Another consideration is the height of the flooring.

Will there be enough clearance for doors to open and close properly if another layer of flooring is added? Will appliances lay flush with countertops?

Removing Old Flooring
By laying on top of existing flooring, installers are overlooking (figuratively and literally) arguably the most important factor to having long-lasting, problem-free flooring — the subfloor. The subfloor is the foundation of any good flooring installation. It can consist of plywood, the preferred and most common material used for subfloors; concrete, generally used on floors at or below ground level; or diagonal wood planking (shiplap), which is most often found in older homes.

If the subfloor needs some repairs, the existing flooring will need to be removed. Remember, the new floors will only be as sound as the one before it. The more flooring layers added, the greater number of issues that may arise. The most common problem encountered is squeaks.

Before removing existing flooring, determine if it’s safe to do so. Older floors were manufactured using asbestos. Special precautions need to be taken when removing this type of flooring. It’s best to consult a qualified technician to determine if asbestos is present or not.

Another consideration is warranty. Some manufacturers will void the warranty if their product is installed over existing flooring. Installers should check with their flooring expert if unsure if this applies to their situation.

Brooks Jamieson is a social media/administrative assistant with Canada Nufloors Group Inc., a 100 per cent member-owned Canadian cooperative of Nufloors flooring stores. Currently, there are 25 locations across Canada. Brooks can be reached at [email protected].

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