Say you have a laundry room or a kitchen with vinyl tile for flooring, and you want to replace it because it’s old, out-of-date, and just plain unattractive at this point.
Maybe you’ve heard that epoxy flooring is a lot more durable, and you can get a custom design. However, perhaps you can’t – or don’t want to – pull up your old flooring. Can you put epoxy flooring over vinyl tile, or are you stuck?
Put simply, you can put epoxy flooring over vinyl tile, but only with certain conditions.
You’ll usually find epoxy flooring in commercial facilities like warehouses and factories. The epoxy is generally poured over bare concrete, giving the facility a highly durable, smooth floor that withstands the extreme stresses it handles.
You can put epoxy flooring down in your house and get the same durability and performance. However, unless you’re pouring over bare concrete, you probably have existing flooring with which to contend.
Epoxy needs surfaces with which it can bond. Otherwise, it will bubble, blister, and start peeling. Untouched vinyl (that is, vinyl you haven’t sanded or applied a bonding agent) isn’t one of them.
So to apply epoxy on vinyl tile, there are some steps you need to follow. It isn’t quite as easy as putting it on concrete, but it is possible.
How to Put Epoxy Flooring Over Vinyl Tile
Here’s what you need to do to install a new epoxy floor over old vinyl tile. Whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re bringing in a professional, these are the steps to follow.
First, check the condition of the tiles. If they are cracked in a number of places or too old and battered to fix, you may need to replace them altogether.
Otherwise, start by cleaning the tiles. Use a biodegradable degreaser to clean the entire vinyl surface, and then use a general heavy-duty vinyl cleaner to remove other surface contaminants.
After that, use a wax remover to take the finish off. These are essential steps because sanding can grind these contaminants into the tiles, creating a poor bonding surface.
When you do your final cleaning, be sure to use a scrub brush across your entire floor to ensure it’s as clean as possible.
Vinyl tiles do come with a strong adhesive, but they can come loose or sit unevenly on the floor for several reasons. Maybe the subfloor wasn’t clean in spots, or perhaps the floor has seen a lot of abuse, and some tiles have come loose.
Whatever the reasons, every tile must be glued down tightly to the subfloor, so there’s no movement under the epoxy.
The tool you choose to sand your floor with depends on how large the area is. For instance, if you’re putting epoxy down in a tiny bathroom, you can use an orbital hand sander and 50-grit sandpaper. If you’re doing your kitchen, garage, basement, or another large area, you might want to consider using a floor sander.
Be aware, though, that floor sanders are nothing like hand sanders or even belt sanders. If you’ve never used one before, consider calling a professional to do this if you don’t already have one installing your new floor.
Once you’ve ensured that your tiles are clean, securely glued down, and thoroughly sanded, you need to fill in any cracks, holes, and depressions of which you’re aware.
Your best bet for this part is to use epoxy concrete and epoxy putty. Start with epoxy putty if you have large, superficial cracks and gouges to fill. It’s thicker and designed to fill those kinds of spaces.
Epoxy concrete works for filling and sealing over hairline cracks, including the ones between your vinyl tiles.
You shouldn’t have to cover your entire floor with epoxy concrete, but you do need to coat it with a primer, especially if you already have a boldly patterned floor underneath. Even if you need more than one coat, primers are thick and opaque and can cover the existing colors well.
Epoxy primer is easy to apply – generally, all you need is a paint roller with a long handle and a tray. Be sure to allow each layer to dry and cure according to the instructions before applying another one.
From there, you might need to paint your floor using the colors and pattern you want, or you can paint it with a single base color that will go with a custom epoxy design.
For instance, if you’re redoing your bathroom floor and want a black, marble-like pattern, you’re probably going to want a black base coat underneath.
Flooring epoxy will adhere to matte latex paint, but you need to let it dry and cure thoroughly for at least 24 hours before pouring the epoxy. You should also sand it lightly but thoroughly before you pour.
Epoxy as used for flooring is generally a two-part mixture of hardener and resin. You can find online calculators to determine how much epoxy you need and how to measure it. Most epoxy mixtures will have a ratio of two parts hardener to one part resin, or a 1:1 ratio where you mix equal parts resin and hardener.
Home improvement stores sell buckets that help you measure the proper proportions before you mix.
You also want to be sure the ambient temperature in the area you’re pouring is between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so the epoxy will pour and set properly. Your ideal temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit though.
Use a drill with a mixing paddle to mix the epoxy, and make sure you do so thoroughly. Stick to mixing small quantities so you can take your time applying it.
You’ll want to use a spreading tool like a glide roller on a long handle to ensure even application, and a paintbrush for working along the edges of the floor to make sure they get full coverage.
Start at one end of the room and work your way across so you can reach all your edges as you work.
Use a blow torch across each area before moving to the next one to smooth out the texture and remove bubbles.
Epoxy flooring is beautiful, durable, and easy to clean and maintain, making it an excellent surface for kitchens, garages, and more. But can you put epoxy flooring over vinyl tile? Well as we’ve seen, you absolutely can, as long as you prepare the vinyl properly first.