Self stick vinyl tile in a basement

Last Updated on October 22, 2022 by Dave Farquhar

Someone asked me if you can use self stick vinyl tile in a basement. The answer, usually, is yes.

Vinyl can be ideal for basements because it is inexpensive and water resistant.

The caveat

Self stick vinyl tile in a basement
In this basement, we installed inexpensive vinyl tile and used 1×4 boards we painted white. It won’t win awards, but it’s functional and clean.

The caveat with self-stick vinyl in basements is that the floor has to be dry and in good condition. If the floor has holes in it, you’ll have to fill them in and level them before you put down the tile. If the floor seeps water, you will need to correct that before laying tile. Seeping water causes the corners to curl up and eventually the whole tile will come loose. You can repair loose tiles but it’s better to prevent it in the first place. Otherwise you’ll be doing it a lot.

How to install

For a long-lasting installation, start with a clean floor. Sweep, mop, and repeat if necessary. Once the floor is clean and dry, apply a thin coat of VCT adhesive to the floor. Yes, you read that right–don’t rely solely on the adhesive on the tiles themselves. Once the adhesive dries to the point that it’s translucent but still tacky, you can put tiles on it. Heating the tiles up a bit before putting them down can improve their grab further.

What I like to do is lay down enough adhesive for a row of tile in the middle of the room, let that set up, then put down more adhesive for a second row going in the opposite direction. Then I work each side of the room, alternating between laying tile and putting down adhesive. Frequently by the time I’m done laying a row of tile and putting down another batch of adhesive, the adhesive on the other side is ready.

When I double up on the adhesive like that, my floors stay put for years. I have self stick vinyl I installed five years ago that still look like new.

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