Can you put peel and stick tile over ceramic tile? You certainly can, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. Do it without prep time, and you’ll end up with a floor that looks bad and doesn’t last as long as it could. Prep carefully though, and no one will ever know.
Here’s how to put peel and stick tile over ceramic tile and not regret the results. I’ve seen it done the wrong way, and I’ve done it both the right way and the wrong way myself.
The problem with peel and stick tile over ceramic tile
The problem with peel and stick tile over ceramic tile is unevenness. The ceramic tiles have a bit of a curved edge, and the grout lays lower than the tiles themselves. Peel and stick vinyl tile likes to snuggle down into those curves, which means they won’t lay flat. It also means they won’t occupy exactly the 12×12 square space they’re supposed to occupy, so you end up with gaps.
But if you need to improve the look of a room with a tired ceramic tile floor, and especially if it’s a secondary room like a second bathroom or a utility room like a laundry room, there’s no harm in putting peel and stick vinyl tile over the existing tile to update it a bit.
Choosing your peel and stick tile
If you prep properly, you shouldn’t have much trouble, but sometimes, no matter how well you do things, you end up with a gap. I strongly recommend choosing a design that you can match with a color of caulk available at the store. That means black, white, or tan edges. That way if you end up with a gap somewhere, you have options for dealing with it.
How to prep for peel and stick tile over ceramic tile
If you want to put vinyl peel and stick tile over ceramic tile and get good results, you have to do something about those grout lines. I recommend Henry Patch N Level, which you can buy pre-mixed.
Start in the inside of the room, and scoop out a bunch of the leveling compound and smooth it over the grout lines with a trowel or putty knife and let it dry. Work your way out toward the door. If some of the tiles are broken, you can even use the leveling compound to fill in the breaks. I prefer to fill in loose and broken bits rather than try to reattach them. The compound takes about two hours to dry.
Remember, the smoother you get it, the nicer the floor will end up.
Leveling out the grout lines is extra work and extra expense. It’s up to you to decide whether you’d rather level out grout lines, or bust out the ceramic floor and start over.
Once the floor leveler is completely dry, vacuum the floor thoroughly to remove any debris and get ready for the next step.
Getting the surface ready
Vinyl peel and stick tile sticks fairly well to ceramic tile, but I still like to prime it beforehand. I always put extra adhesive down on the floor as a primer and let it set up. The peel and stick tiles stick much better and last much longer if I do this. It also lets me get by with a cheaper grade of tile if I want.
A professional would snap a chalk line across the center of the room in both directions and work from the center of the room outward to the corners. I find this gives the best results, but you can do an acceptable job if you start in one corner and work out. Just don’t work both sides intending to meet in the middle. You never do meet quite right in the middle.
From your starting point, brush a thin layer of VCT adhesive down on the floor using a large, cheap paintbrush. Paint from one end of the room to the other, not going any further out than you can reach.
If you’re working from a corner, paint along another wall, making an L shape. Leave some unpainted space in front of the door so you can leave without stepping onto adhesive. Let the adhesive set up, which usually takes at least an hour. It’s ready when it feels tacky, but not wet.
If you’re working from the center, paint in a cross shape, about one tile’s worth on either side of each line. Take care not to paint yourself into a corner.
Laying the new vinyl
Once the adhesive sets up, lay your first tile square against your corner or against the chalk line, then proceed to the next one. Be sure to cinch the peel and stick tile down with a floor roller so it doesn’t pop back up. If any of the tile gives you grief, try warming it up to make it stick better. And if you do end up with any gaps, here’s how to fill them.
When you get to the door jamb and other tricky areas, here’s how to cut vinyl tile around obstacles.
And that should cover everything you’ll run into if you lay vinyl peel and stick tile over ceramic tile. I wish you the best on your project.