Installing Self-stick Vinyl Tile

This story covers how to install self-stick vinyl tile.


Self-stick vinyl tile (also called peel-and-stick tile) is a do-it-yourselfer's dream material. It requires only basic skills, minimal time, and a few tools. It also requires a precise eye when setting the first tile and those in the first row adjoining it. How straight the remaining installation looks depends in large part on the accuracy of the first row. The steps shown here include the application of a primer. Some manufacturers don't recommend a primer. Others do, but only on porous surfaces such as plywood. Once the tile comes into contact with the floor, the adhesive is unforgiving; you won't be able to adjust the tile's position. If you misalign a tile, you'll probably have to pull it up and replace it. The tile will likely be damaged, but you might be able to find a place for it as a cut tile in a corner. The paper backings on self-stick tile are slippery underfoot. Place a wastebasket at your side as you lay the tiles. Don't remove the tile backing until you're ready to set the tile. Dispose of the backing immediately.


About 2 hours for an 8x10-foot floor

Long-handled roller, tape measure, heavy-duty scissors, putty knife, utility knife, chalk line, straightedge, square, seam roller

Laying tile accurately, cutting tile

Repair, clean, and lay out floor.

Primer, self-stick tile, cove molding

Step 1

Prime the subfloor, if necessary, with the product recommended by the manufacturer. Most primed surfaces benefit from two applications; the first one thinned and the second full strength. Both coats will go on easily with a long-handle roller.

Step 2

Snap chalk lines from the midpoints of opposite walls to locate the center of the room. Square the lines with a 3-4-5 triangle and dry-lay the tiles along each axis. Move the layout until you have even tiles at the edges, then resnap the lines.

Step 3

Arrange the tiles loosely along the layout lines with the arrows (grain) facing in the same or opposite directions (depending on the look you want). Starting at a corner of the tile and working slowly, peel away the paper backing. Don't pull fast; you might tear the backing, and a fresh edge is difficult to raise from the center of the tile. Set the corner of the tile at the intersection of the lines and press it down. Then roll it with a small roller.

Step 4

Using the layout configuration of your choice, continue setting the tiles, making sure each one butts squarely against its neighbors on two sides. Don't forget to maintain the arrows consistently. If you mistakenly lay a tile with the wrong orientation, warm the tile with a hair dryer to soften the adhesive and pry it up immediately with a wide putty knife. The tile is likely to be damaged.

Cutting Self-Stick Tile: Step 1

Mark the tile for cuts around obstructions but leave the backing on before cutting it. Using heavy-duty household scissors, cut the tile along the lines.

Cutting Self-Stick Tile: Step 2

Peel off the backing and dispose of it immediately. The backings are slick, and if you step on one you might fall.

Cutting Self-Stick Tile: Step 3

Position the tile carefully, placing the leading corner or edge against the neighboring tiles or the obstruction before you press it in place.

Installing Vinyl Cove Molding: Step 1

To fit an inside corner, score the back of the molding with a utility knife and cut a V-notch in the coved base. If you can't get the molding tightly in the corner, cut the material on your score marks. Cut and install all corners first, then cut and install straight runs to fit between them.

Installing Vinyl Cove Molding: Step 2

To fit an outside corner, warm the molding with a hair dryer before adhering it to the wall. You can increase the flexibility of the molding by paring away a thin layer from the back. Don't cut through the material.

Installing Vinyl Cove Molding: Step 3

Cut all butt joints using a square to guide the knife. After applying the adhesive, roll the molding with a J-roller and press the flange against the floor and wall with a piece of 1x scrap.

Comments (3)
Add your comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Register | Log In
One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!