Our thoughts on Groutable Luxury Vinyl Tile

When we bought this house, the bathrooms were one of the major eye sores for us. This one had dated vinyl sheet flooring that was impossible to clean, an old and decrepit vanity, terrible lighting, and a toilet that just didn’t work. This is what it looked like before we moved in:

IMG_2459

Horrible, right? Despite all of this, we lived with it for an entire year because we wanted to invest in high-traffic areas first.

I finally decided to tackle this project alone one day while Tom was away on business. I was about 6 months pregnant, and hardcore nesting. Maybe it was the stress from exams, or the sleep deprivation from third trimester insomnia, but I just couldn’t live with it for one more second. So off to HomeDepot I went with Chloe in foot to pick out some flooring.

I was dead set on slate tile, but when I went to lift the box of tiles into my cart I realized there was no way I was going to be able to handle them on my own. Plus I would need to invest in a tile saw, and some heavy duty respiration gear to protect the tiny human inside me. So basically I had to either consider the other options or give up on the idea completely.

Cue “luxury vinyle tile.”

vinyl

Not as fancy as it sounds, but so incredibly easy to work with. This stuff was made with the DIYer in mind. All you need is an X-Acto knife and, if you choose to grout it, some spacers and a trowl. I wanted it to mimic real tile, so I chose to use grout. To this day, people have to bend down and feel it with their hands to believe it’s not real tile. And it took me less than four hours to install, including removing the toilet and vanity. Crazy, right?

To make life easier, I decided to install the new tile right on top of the old sheet vinyl. I prepped the room by removing all of the old baseboard, and the toilet. I still hadn’t commited to the idea of removing the old vanity, as we had a quartz sink top that I thought might work. However, when Tom got home and saw how much better the room looked, he convinced me that a new vanity was needed. (We will be doing a more in-depth post about how we chose the vanity and faucet, which were both from ikea).

Big difference, right?!

Now that I have ranted, let me walk you through the process of how to instal LVT over existing vinyl.

The Install

Step one: Cleaning

To begin, I did a very deep cleaning to remove any debris from the old floor. Having a perfectly clean surface is extremely important, so don’t skimp on this step. I used vinegar, dawn dish soap and water to remove any dirt, and then rinsed the floor three times. After this, I waited a full eight hours to ensure that the floor was completely dry.

Step two: Rough it up!
Vinyl flooring often has a layer of urethane over top of it to make it shiny, so the next step was to rough up the old floor just enough to allow the new layer of vinyl to adhere. I used an 80 grit sand paper block to scuff up the floors, and then gave the room a good vacuum to remove any dust. Then I wiped down the surface with a tack cloth to catch any remaining dust.

Step three: Laying the tile floor

Everyone online seems to have a different opinion on how to lay tile flooring. Some say to work from the middle of the room, in four quadrants. Where this room was so small though, I decided that it would make more since to line the tile up with the centre of the door rather than the centre of the room. I worked my way inwards from that first tile, using spacers to ensure everything stayed aligned. I peeled, laid, and stuck the tiles one by one, doing any cuts along the way. When we laid our porcelain tile on the main floor, we took a different approach in that we cut and laid out all of our tile ahead of time because we wanted to ensure that the mortar didn’t set while we were busy doing cuts. When working with Vinyl, each cut takes only a few moments, and there is no mortar to worry about, so things went very smoothly.

The flooring I used was a peel-and-stick grout-able vinyl tile by Style Selections (link here: https://www.lowes.ca/vinyl-flooring/style-selections-12-in-x-24-in-shanghai-mist-stone-finish-vinyl-tile_g1594004.html). It was incredibly easy to work with. The adhesive backing was strong, but I managed to peel the tile off and re-adjust when need be. After getting it in place, I rolled over the tiles with a rolling pin for about thirty seconds to ensure they were firmly in place.

Step four: Grouting the tiles

I again chose to make life easier by using a pre-mixed grout. This is the one I chose:

FusionProgrout

It is called Fusion Pro, and the colour I chose was Delorean Grey. This grout was somewhat sandy, so I don’t think it would have been the best choice if you were using a ceramic or glass tile, but it worked well with the vinyl. I began by using my rubber trowel to squeeze the grout into the gaps, but found that it wasn’t working as well as I wanted, so I tried my spackle knife instead and it worked much better. This is the one I use: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Wal-Board-Tools-4-in-Hammer-End-Joint-Knife-with-Comfort-Grip-Handle-22-034/100660214

spackleknife

Every five minutes I would stop and wipe up the excess grout with my grouting sponge, making sure not to use excessive amounts of water (which would lead to problems with the grout and could cause cracking). You don’t have to get every bit of grout, as it is fine to go back over the tiles with a cleaner after the grout is clean. This is the sponge I used: https://www.homedepot.com/p/QEP-7-1-2-in-x-5-1-2-in-x-1-7-8-in-Extra-Large-Grouting-Cleaning-and-Washing-Sponge-3-Pack-70005Q-3VP/203260188. I found it helpful to have two of these on hand, with two buckets of water. That way I could do my first pass with sponge number one, and then a second pass with sponge two (which was cleaner since it didn’t have to deal with as much gunk).

sponge

After the grouting, I waited a full 48 hours before re-installing the toilet and baseboards. as per the manufacturers instructions.

And there you have it! Easy peasy, and a year later we are still absolutely smitten over these tiles. They are soft and warm underfoot, extremely easy to clean, and completely fuss free. We even prefer them to our slate tiles on the main floor (gasp!) because they were just so easy to get perfect.

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