So if your flooring looks like this:
And you would like something more like this:
But you don't have the time or budget for a major floor redo, one quick and inexpensive option is to use peel and stick vinyl tiles like we used for our bathroom makeover. These tiles have come a long way from what they used to be. There are many options to chose from in a wide variety of colors and styles. You can even buy ones that have grout lines to make them look more like a real tile floor. Here's some simple tips and tricks and the general how-tos on how to quickly and easily change your floor.
1. Measure your space.
This ties in with step #2. You need to make sure you buy the correct amount of tile for your space. Allow for at least 10% extra to account for mistakes and miscuts. Trust me, we had plenty of those. We purchased two boxes of 12x12 tiles and each box had 30 square feet. We have a lot of tile left over, but one box would not have been enough.
2. Choose your tile.
We purchased our tile from Home Depot. Most home improvement stores carry several different brands and sytles of vinyl tiles. Whether you want something that looks like tile, stone, or wood, you can usually buy individual tiles for around $1 each to take home and view in your room. I picked out our tile in the store without even bringing home a test tile first. I saw the mix of browns in the tile and knew it was the perfect choice to blend well with our dark brown vanity and soft tan walls. I believe the color is called "beige slate."
Make sure you look at the numbers on the box to buy all boxes from the same batch. The back of the box should tell you what numbers to look for. This ensures that the colors will all match. It is usually recommded by the manufacturer to put your tiles in the room they will be installed in for 48 hours to acclimate them.
3. Prepare your floors.
For our space, we were applying the tile directly over the existing vinyl floor. You can do this as long as the flooring isn't curling up or heavily damaged. It must be firmly attached to the subfloor. You want a smooth, level surface to apply the tiles.
Begin by removing the baseboards. You could skip this step if you wanted to just apply the tiles tight to the baseboard edges. However, that would mean a lot more cutting and making sure your cuts are more precise. We removed the baseboard, although we never manage to get all the pieces out fully intact. Our baseboards are so thin that they usually end up splitting.
Use an undercut saw to cut off the bottom of your door jambs. Do this by laying a piece of tile against the door jamb so you know the thickness to cut off. This allows you to easily slide the tile under the door jamb when installing the tile.
Next, if you are in a bathroom, remove any existing caulk around the edges of your flooring or where the flooring meets the tub or shower. I used a utility knife and a flat head screwdriver to scrape out all the caulk.
If you are working in a bathroom, remove the toliet. I lost the arguement with Mr. Delightful Dwelling on taking out the toliet. I should have been more insistant that we remove it first. It would have made the job much easier in the long run because cutting tile to fit around a toliet is a major pain.
The final step in preparing your floors is to get them very clean. Sweep up any debris and mop the floors throughly. You want a nice, clean surface so the adhesive will stick.
4. Find your starting place.
The best way is to measure each set of walls and find the exact center of the room to start at. Use a chalk line to snap a line between each set of walls to find the center point. Since we were working with such a small space, we laid out several rows of tiles to find out the best starting place. You want to find the best layout that will put all the cuts at the walls and the full tiles in the center of the room. You also want to try to minimize the number of cuts you will have to make. Even if you are in a large room, it would help to layout several rows to find the arragement that works the best. For us, we started at the doorway with the tiles centered left to right if you were standing in the doorway..
5. Lay them down.
Begin to lay down the first of your tiles. You want to place each tile tight against the previous one for a nice fit. If you have a flooring roller to further press the tiles down, that is a plus.
6. Make the cut.
Once you get all the full tiles in, it's time to start cutting. Measure very carefully to get as tight as a cut as possible. We had to cut every tile against our vanity at a slight angle because it wasn't straight. To cut an edge tile, first lay the tile to be cut directly on top of the last row of full tiles. Then place another full tile up against the wall so it overlaps the loose tile. Using the second loose tile as a template, mark the line to be cut on the first loose tile.
A utility knife and a straight edge are one way to cut your tiles. We started with this, but it was so hard to make a straight cut that I ended up pulling out my paper trimmer. The one I use for scrapbooking. Mr. Delightful doubted that it would work, but it actually worked very well. I was able to use the guide and the blade to score each tile and then snap it.
It also worked well for some of the tricky cuts like around the wall dividing the shower from the tub. It may be helpful to use sheets of paper to first make a template of how the tile needs to be cut to go around plumbing or other weird shaped obstacles. Like around the toliet your husband wouldn't let you take out and required a lot of trial and error to get tiles to fit around it.
7. Finishing Touches
Once you have all the tile in, it's time to finish up by reinstalling the baseboard using a nail gun or nail set to drive the finishing nails below the surface of the trim. Fill in and touch up any nail holes. I always paint my trim first before installing it, I think it is much easier. Apply caulk using these tips for a pretty caulk line. I applied caulk all around the top edge of the trim to give it a crisp finish against the walls (which aren't perfectly even) as well as a line at the bottom of the baseboard next to the floor. I think it gives it a cleaner and more finished look.
8. Stand back and admire your new floor!
If you are thinking of installing laminate instead of vinyl tiles, I have some tips on that to because we used it in our hall bathroom makeover. See the laminate tips here.