Resilient vinyl tile is a popular choice of flooring for remodeled rooms. Serviceable and handsome, it is also relatively easy to install. The same tile-laying system with only slight variations serves for another common variety of tiles, generally known as parquet. It consists of square blocks of prefinished hardwood, sometimes with an interlocking tongue-and-groove feature.
Ordering Tile and Adhesive:
Write down the dimensions of the room, so that your dealer can compute the amount of tile required. Buy enough extra tile to run the length of the long wall.
Both vinyl and parquet tiles come in self-sticking versions, with adhesive on the underside beneath the backing paper. However, this layer of glue is thin. You can achieve a better bond laying either these tiles or nonstick dry tiles in adhesive applied to the underlayment. Ask your dealer for the correct adhesive.
Because wood absorbs moisture, let parquet blocks stand in the room for 3 days to adjust to humidity levels before they are laid; otherwise, they may buckle after installation.
Planning the Pattern:
Lay the tile in a triangular pattern over a quarter of the floor at a time; this method helps ensure straight rows and snug fits. Locate the starting point for vinyl-tile triangles in a position that avoids your having to cut narrow strips for borders. In planning a parquet pattern, place whole blocks through doorways or heavy-traffic areas; this is necessary because the glue will stand up best under constant stress if beneath a full-size block.
Because of their complex shapes, door jambs pose special problems. As shown earlier, there are two solutions: Either cut tiles to fit around the trim, or undercut the casing and doorstop with a special saw, allowing tiles to slip underneath. If you choose the second option, use the saw ahead of time, before applying any adhesive, and sweep up the sawdust.
A Neat, Safe Border:
In some cases, the room next to a newly finished floor has carpeting that projects into the threshold between rooms. Remove a narrow strip of padding under the edge of the carpet, then fold the carpet under itself and tack it down with carpet tacks. If the carpet does not project into the threshold — or if the adjacent flooring is resilient tile — install a metal strip called a transitional threshold.
Saw (10 to 14 points per inch)
Wear rubber gloves when you spread adhesive. Kneepads make any tile-laying job more comfortable.
A Dry Run to Set the Pattern
1. Lining up the tiles
• Tie a chalk line between nails set near the floor in the exact middle of opposite walls of the room.
• Place a tile near the center of the room with its edge against the line.
• From this starting point, lay a row of dry tiles to the wall, making them perpendicular to the line.
• If the last tile in the row leaves space to the wall of 2 inches or more, proceed to Step 2. If there is less than a 2-inch space, move the entire row so that it is half a tile width from the wail, then move the chalk line so that it runs along the edge of the first tile in the row.
2. Marking the first line
Press down on the chalk line in the middle of the room. Snap one side of it and then the other so that a line of chalk is deposited.
3. A perpendicular line
• Place the second row of dry tiles perpendicular to the first, with the row’s edge against the chalked line (solid line).
• If the last tile in the new row leaves space to the wall of fewer than 2 inches, slide both the new row and the first row away from that wall until the last tile is half a tile width from the wall.
• Snap a second chalked line (dashed line) along the edge of the first row.
• Remove all the tiles.
If you plan to undercut the doorjamb, do so now, before applying the adhesive and tiles.
Placing the flies
1. Starting the triangle
• To lay dry tiles on an adhesive bed, spread the adhesive over a quarter of the room at a time with a notched trowel (photo), starting at the walls and working toward the room’s center; do not cover the chalked lines.
• Begin laying tiles at the intersection of the chalked lines in the middle of the room.
If you wish to apply adhesive-backed tiles to a dry floor, strip the backing paper off the undersides and lay the tiles directly onto the underlayment. Lay the tiles in the same way, beginning at the chalked-line intersection.
2. Setting tiles
When laying tiles on an adhesive bed, but each new tile against an edge of one already laid and drop the new tile in place. Sliding it into position would force adhesive up and onto the tile’s surface.
Continue the triangular pattern and fill as much of the remaining space as you can with whole tiles. Finish the job with partial tiles as shown below and opposite.
Custom Cuts for Borders
Cutting tiles for borders
• Place a loose tile squarely over the fixed tile closest to the border.
• Hold a second loose tile over it inch from the wall.
• Using the second tile’s edge as a guide, score the first tile with a utility knife.
• Snap the scored tile. One-piece will just fit into the border area.
Cutting tile for corners
• Place a tile squarely over the last fixed tile on the left side of the corner.
• Hold a second tile over the first 1/8 inch from the border.
• Using the second tile’s edge as a guide, mark the first with a pencil.
• Again using an overlying tile as your guide, make a second pencil line.
• Cut the marked tile along the pencil lines and fit it into the corner.
• Next, move the first tile, without turning it, to a position squarely over the fixed tile closest to the right side of the border.
Fitting tile to irregular areas
This is done in much the same way as shaping tiles for borders.
• Move the top tile along the irregular length of the wall—in this case, an ornate doorjamb—so that each of its corners fits successive surfaces. With each change of position, mark the underlying tile.
• If there is a curved area, bend a piece of wire—wire solder is ideal—to transfer the curve to the tile being fitted (far right).
• Connect the various marks, cut through the tile with a utility knife, and fit it into position.
• Adjust if necessary by trimming with the utility knife.
PRO TIP: Cutting the Trim as Well as the Tile
You can simplify the time-consuming process of measuring and fitting around a doorjamb by cutting through the casing and stops with a flush-cutting dovetail saw, Rest a spare tile on the floor, then slide the saw back and forth on the tile to cut through the trim. Cut enough of the tile to fit it around the remaining jamb, and slide the tile under the trim.
Shortcut to a Hardwood Floor
1. Marking the chalked lines
• Begin a row of loose blocks in the center of a doorway, with the first block set completely through the threshold.
• Lay blocks to the middle of the room.
• In the case of a room with only one door, mark a chalked line perpendicular to the row, using the edge of the last block as your guide. Lay a second row along that line. Then snap a chalked line perpendicular to the first one, alongside the edge of the first row that is closest to the center of the room.
• If there is another doorway in an adjoining wall, lay the second row of blocks from the center of, and through, the threshold to the middle of the room.
• Shift the rows so the last block in one row aligns with the last block in the other.
• Snap chalked lines along one side of each row.
• Remove the blocks.
2. Laying the blocks
• Spread a layer of mastic inch thick over a quarter of the room, using a notched trowel designed for mastic.
• Lay wood blocks in a triangular pattern, as described in Step 2 above. With tongue-and-groove woodblock, press the squares together, then place a block of wood at each edge and tap it gently with a mallet to ensure a tight fit.
Fit blocks at borders and around doorways using the techniques described above. Cut along the lines with a saw that has between 10 and 14 points per inch.