How to fix loose vinyl tiles

Last Updated on September 1, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

Sometimes a vinyl tile pops loose. When it happens, it’s best to replace it with a new one. But if the tile is old enough, replacements may not be available. When that’s the case, here’s how to fix loose vinyl tiles.

First things first: if the tile is asbestos, just glue it back down, disturbing it as little as absolutely possible. That’s the safest thing to do.

If you’re putting down a new floor and a lot of tiles aren’t sticking, here’s some help with that.

Still with me here? OK. Assuming you have a loose tile in a relatively old floor, here’s how to fix it.

First, pull the tile up if it’s not completely free. If the tile doesn’t come up easily, use a heat gun to apply a bit of heat to loosen the remaining glue. Work a metal putty knife under the tile and pull up slowly and gently. Repeat until you’ve loosened the whole tile. Be sure to work gently, as you don’t want to damage the tile. If you don’t have a heat gun, you can use an iron.

Next, remove all of the failed adhesive. Put on some rubber gloves, then apply some mineral spirits to a cloth. Wipe the underside of the tile until it’s no longer sticky. Then go to the spot on the floor where the tile came up and repeat the process.

Next, brush a thin layer of VCT adhesive to the underside of the tile and another thin layer to the spot on the floor where the tile goes. Let the adhesive set up for at least an hour.

Press the two together, then roll it with a floor roller. Be sure to get it right, because the tile won’t want to come back up after you do. The grip with the VCT adhesive is much stronger than the adhesive that comes from the factory. If you do need to reposition the tile, apply heat with a heat gun or iron and pry very carefully. If you smell smoke, lay off the heat for a bit.

Using this method, it’s possible to fix loose vinyl tiles by salvaging the old ones. This saves the effort of trying to find new replacements, and saves the even bigger effort of having to replace the whole floor.

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