Q: We have a small second bathroom and the flooring is ugly 1980s linoleum. We aren’t yet able to remodel. Is it ever possible to paint over the linoleum with some sort of heavy-duty floor paint? It gets low use, and it would be a temporary fix. Any thoughts?
A: We’d discourage you from painting, but give it a try if you want. Realize though that when, not if, the paint fails, you’ll be stuck with installing a new floor.
If you go with new vinyl, you’ll be removing everything to the subfloor, then installing a new underlayment and vinyl. If you choose tile, it’ll be easier but more expensive.
If you insist on painting, use an epoxy porch-and-deck paint. Give the floor a good cleaning followed by quick sanding to give tooth to the surface. Then have at it.
We think a better choice for an interim fix is to lay inexpensive vinyl yourself. It’s not that difficult, and with inexpensive goods, you don’t have much at risk.
The first step is to choose the vinyl and buy the tools you’ll need to install it.
Vinyl flooring is sold in 6- and 12-foot-wide sheets or in 1-foot squares. Avoid the squares; they tend to curl and collect dirt at the seams.
Inexpensive sheets are thin, which is good and bad. They’re easy to work with, but they mar easily in heavy traffic areas. Because you’re working in a small second bathroom that gets little use, the low-price spread will work fine for a time.
Tools needed are a utility knife with several blades, a notched trowel, a metal straight edge (an 8-inch drywall knife works) and a gallon of vinyl flooring adhesive.
Follow these installation steps:
1. Clean the floor: Give it a good vacuuming first, then a good wiping down with an ammonia solution to get rid of any grease.
2. Make a template: We use 15-pound roofing felt for this. It’s sturdy enough to hold its shape, but pliable enough to work. Felt comes in 3-foot-wide rolls. Measure the width of the room and cut the paper a little long. Lay the first sheet on the floor and set it in place with masking tape. Carefully trim the paper with a sharp utility knife so that it matches the contours of the walls and the commode. Add another sheet and tape the second sheet to the first. Repeat the trimming process. When the template is complete carefully remove it from the floor.
3. Cut the vinyl: Because you’re dealing with a small bath, 6-foot-wide goods should provide an almost seamless floor. Roll the vinyl out on a floor (a garage floor works) and tape the template to the vinyl. Pay attention to the pattern. If the pattern has squares, make sure they align parallel with a wall. Cut the vinyl with a sharp utility knife. Cut a little wider than the template. It’s easy to trim, but you can’t put it back if you cut it short. Make a cut behind the toilet to allow placement.
4. Position the vinyl on the floor: Once it’s in place, roll half of it back and trowel vinyl adhesive on the floor. Make sure to apply a uniform coat of glue. No glops allowed. Gently roll the sheet onto the adhesive, smoothing it with your hands as it lies down. Use a J-roller to smooth the surface. (Rent the J-roller at the home center where you purchase the goods.) Next, lift the remaining half of the flooring trowel on adhesive, smooth and roll.
5. Trim the edges: Use the sharp utility knife and go slowly. Use a metal straightedge where the flooring meets straight wall runs. Smooth the edges as you go. You’ll need to free-hand it around the commode.
6. Caulk: Apply caulk around the edges and around the commode and you’re done.
If you take your time and follow these steps, you’ll end up with at least a passable job that will be longer lasting and much better looking than a couple of coats of paint.
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