Question

Sorry to say, but I have vinyl tiles on my finished basement floor. What is the healthiest way to deal with them?

Asked by Melanie Roman
Sandy Hook, CT

The tiles are about 10 years old and sit on concrete. Should I pull them up and replace with something like linoleum, or place something over them, like another flooring, to seal them?

Answer

Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

May 18, 2011

Dear Sandy,

Chances are, your 10-year-old vinyl tiles have already completed their offgassing process, so indoor air quality is not as much of a concern as it would be if the flooring were newer.

  • I am assuming that the vinyl tiles are glued down. Therefore, taking them up and removing all the glue that goes with them can be an arduous task.
  • Additionally, in the process you will likely damage the “seal” on the concrete slab below that prevents moisture from coming up through the slab (assuming the slab was sealed in the first place).

For these reasons, you may be better off installing new flooring over the vinyl tile.

Apply an underlayment

Depending on the quality of the original vinyl tile installation (any debris covered over which has left lumps under the tiles) and the condition of the existing vinyl tiles (peeling edges, etc.), you will most likely need to lay some type of underlayment, such as ¼” plywood, to overcome any imperfections before you apply a tile or sheet linoleum product on top.

I would recommend an FSC marine plywood to deal with moisture issues, since it is a basement.

Or, use a cork or rubber-backed flooring product

Alternatively, you could consider:

  • a cork tile/plank product,
  • a cork-backed product such as Marmoleum Click, or
  • a rubber-backed carpet tile, such as Flor, that "floats" over the existing floor.

When using a cork or rubber-backed product, you might be able to skip the added layer of underlayment if the imperfections are very, very minor, as these products may be able to “absorb” the imperfections.

Check the manufacturer’s installation guides and warranties regarding recommended installation as well as the potential need for a vapor barrier.

 

For more information:

Read "Is cork a good flooring choice for a basement? Will my cats damage the floor?" a Q&A answered by Mari Strain.

Tagged In: pvc safety, basement flooring, basement remodeling

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