Peel and stick tiles certainly offer attractive pricing. But you may be wondering, does peel and stick tile last? That’s a wise question to ask, because a floor that costs 38 cents per square foot isn’t much of a bargain if you have to replace it a lot.
I’m a landlord, so I use a lot of peel and stick tile. You might be glad to know that I see a lot of old peel and stick tile too.
The downsides of cheap peel and stick tile
The cheapest of the cheap peel and stick tile does tend to be thinner than the stuff that costs at least 50 cents per square foot. Thinner tiles do wear out faster and are more prone to chip on the edges. You can still get five years out of the cheap stuff in a high-traffic area. But if you want longevity, buy a more expensive tile. Costlier vinyl peel and stick tile lasts longer than the cheaper tile.
Be sure to compare the thickness. The cheapest peel and stick tile at Menards tends to be a little bit better quality than the cheapest at Lowe’s or Home Depot, in my experience. Check and see what your local store has, but it may be worth checking out the competition nearby as well.
But if you just want something to get you by until you can afford something better, and you think you’ll be sick of it after five years anyway, the cheap tile will be OK. And I’ve used the cheap thin stuff in places like laundry rooms with no problems whatsoever.
Prep work matters
For a long lasting floor, you need a smooth surface. Vacuum the area thoroughly with a Shop-Vac or similar vacuum cleaner, and make sure you need to prime the floor with extra adhesive and roll it. Doing these two things keeps the corners from curling up. The biggest problem with cheap tile is usually the adhesive. Using extra takes care of that problem.
As long as the adhesive sticks and you don’t have anything protruding through the tile, all you have to worry about is the durability of the vinyl itself.
I also recommend you keep some spares. If you can afford to, buy an extra box. That way you can replace single tiles if any of them fail. It’s a little more money up front, but replacing individual tiles is much quicker and easier than replacing a whole floor. When I’ve tried to go back and buy tiles several years after the fact, I usually can’t get a match anymore.
Use gentle cleaners
Harsh cleaners cause vinyl tile to dry out and become brittle sooner. Use gentle cleaners like vinegar on them to help them retain their oils and maintain the pliability they need to adjust to the environment around them. Ammonia cleans fast, but it’s hard on the tiles.
Keep the area around them dry
If you install any kind of peel and stick tile in a damp basement, it will fail because the moisture will cause the adhesive to let go. Run a dehumidifier in the basement to keep it dry, and address any seepage issues you might have. Routine spills won’t cause an issue, but prolonged exposure to moisture for days at a time can.
Running a dehumidifer has the side effect of keeping your house more comfortable in the spring and summer and causes your air conditioner to not have to work as hard, which can save you energy. It’s a win-win for both you and your floor.
How long does peel and stick tile last?
In some cases, I’ve seen high quality peel and stick tile last 25-30 years. At that age, the vinyl tends to get brittle and become more prone to cracking and chipping. So it’s difficult to get much longer than that. But I think a quarter century is a pretty good run for something that costs 50 cents per square foot.
I’ve also seen vinyl tile outlast costlier stone or ceramic tile, especially when the costlier tile wasn’t installed by a professional. If you plan to install it yourself, and you don’t install floors for a living, you might very well get better results with peel and stick tile.
I’ve had the best luck with Armstrong tile. You can find Armstrong tile under other names too. It’s not a bad idea to buy an example of several inexpensive tiles from the various stores around you and peel off the back. If you see Armstrong’s name on the underside of the tile, you found a bargain, and it will only cost you a few dollars to find out.