Resilient Flooring Repair

Resilient flooring is tough and relatively easy to fix. This Fix-It Guide on resilient flooring repair tells how resilient flooring works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a resilient flooring problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives instructions for how to remove stains from resilient flooring, how to re-glue a loose resilient flooring tile, how to remove a bubble from resilient flooring, how to repair a small hole or groove in resilient flooring, how to replace a single resilient floor tile, and how to patch a resilient sheet floor.

How Does Resilient Flooring Work?

Resilient Flooring Repair

Resilient flooring comes in both small pieces and in rolls.

Resilient flooring is a big family of finished flooring products that includes vinyl, polyurethane, linoleum, cork, and rubber materials. Resilient flooring comes in sheets of 6- to 12-feet wide and in small tiles, typically 12-inches square. Both types are laid in solvent- or water-base adhesive on concrete, plywood, or hardboard. Some tiles have the adhesive already applied to the back, called self-adhesive tiles. Resilient floors are easy to maintain, and they resist moisture and stains.

What Can Go Wrong with Resilient Flooring?

Stains do sometimes happen. Tile edges come loose and curl. Bubbles lift the tile. Holes and gouges appear. All will respond to resilient flooring repair.

Fix-It Tip

To avoid stains setting in your resilient flooring, wipe up all spills immediately. The worst stain is mustard, especially on lower grade resilient flooring that has a thin wear layer.

How Can I Identify a Resilient Flooring Problem?

  • If your resilient floor has a stain that detergent won’t banish, you can try several other products (see below).
  • If a tile has a loose edge, you can re-glue it (see below).
  • If a bubble pops up, you can flatten it (see below).
  • If a small hole or gouge appears, you can fill it (see below).
  • If a tile is damaged further, you can replace it (see below).
  • If a small spot of a resilient sheet floor is damaged, you can patch it (see below).

Fix-It Tip

Small holes in vinyl flooring can be patched with a seam-welding product offered by the flooring’s manufacturer or from flooring stores.

What Do I Need for Resilient Flooring Repair?

You can purchase replacement tile, materials, and tools at flooring stores and home centers. However, the best source of replacement tile is the partial box of extra tiles left from the installation–if you have them. The materials and tools you’ll need include these:

  • Replacement tile
  • Tile adhesive
  • Notched adhesive spreader
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Framing square
  • Towel
  • Tile filler or clear nail polish
  • Steel wool
  • Electric iron
  • Brush

What Are the Steps to Resilient Flooring Repair?

Before using any cleaner on resilient flooring, test it on an inconspicuous area. Try, in order, the following cleaners:

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Chlorine bleach (don’t use on cork)
  • Turpentine (don’t use on rubber)
  • Nail polish remover (don’t use on vinyl or rubber)
  • Lighter fluid (don’t use on vinyl)

Remove stains from a resilient floor:

  1. Apply the cleaner with a clean cloth and allow the surface to dry before continuing.
  2. Rinse with water and let the floor dry again.
  3. Apply polish or wax if recommended by the flooring manufacturer.

Re-glue a loose resilient flooring tile:

  1. Soften the adhesive under the tile by placing a clean towel under a warm electric iron on the tile surface.
  2. Carefully lift the loosened tile with a putty knife, then remove adhesive from under the tile.
  3. Use a notched spreader to apply a water-base adhesive under the tile.
  4. Press the tile down firmly and place a weight on the tile overnight.

Remove a bubble under resilient flooring:

  1. Soften the adhesive under the tile by placing a clean towel under a warm electric iron on the tile surface.
  2. Use a utility knife to carefully slit the bubble from one edge to the other.
  3. Use the utility knife’s blade to hold the slit open while you insert a syringe of water-base adhesive (see the adhesives section of the Stationary Things Fix-It Guide) under the tile. You can buy adhesive in syringes at most hardware stores.
  4. Press down firmly and place a weight on the tile overnight.

Repair a small hole or groove in a resilient floor:

  1. Use a utility knife to scrape the damaged flooring surface until you reach the layer under the wear layer.
  2. Apply a resilient tile filler product available from a flooring store. Alternately, you can use clear nail polish.
  3. Allow the area to dry and buff with fine-grade steel wool.
Resilient Flooring Repair

Cut the problem tile with a utility knife.

Replace a single resilient floor tile:

  1. Soften the adhesive under the tile by placing a clean towel under a warm electric iron on the tile surface.
  2. Carefully lift the loosened tile with a putty knife and lift the tile out. Alternately, you can cut the tile with a utility knife and remove it.
  3. Remove old adhesive with a putty knife, making sure the surface where the new tile will go is flat and clean.
  4. Test the size and location of the tile, trimming it as needed.
  5. Resilient Flooring Repair

    Remove the backing sheet on a self-adhesive tile.

    Apply new water-base adhesive using a notched adhesive spreader or brush, following instructions on the adhesive. If you are reinstalling a self-adhesive tile, remove the backing sheet.

  6. Heat the new tile by placing a clean towel under a warm electric iron on the tile surface.
  7. Carefully place the new tile into the prepared spot.
  8. Press down firmly and place a weight on the tile for 24 hours or as directed by the adhesive manufacturer. Some manufacturers suggest using a joint sealer between tiles.

Patch a resilient sheet floor:

  1. Mark and cut around the damaged flooring area using a framing square and a utility knife.
  2. Cut a new piece of flooring, using the old one as a guide. If the floor has a pattern, match it up exactly.
  3. Use a putty knife and solvent to remove old adhesive from the subfloor or underlayment where the patch will be installed.
  4. Test the size and location of the tile, trimming it as needed.
  5. Apply adhesive to the patch using a notched adhesive spreader.
  6. Place the patch in the prepared space.
  7. Press down firmly and place a weight on the tile for 24 hours or as directed by the adhesive manufacturer. As soon as possible, wipe away any excess adhesive.

Caution!

Don’t use abrasive scouring powders or pads on resilient flooring because they will damage the wear surface. If you are careful, you may be able to remove stubborn marks or stuck-on debris with a sharp knife.

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