Luxury vinyl flooring is hands down one of the trendiest and chicest flooring options, and you are not too late to hop on the trend. Luxury vinyl tiles and planks are excellent flooring choices for new homes. But what if you already have a floor covering?
Don’t worry. LVT is still an option for you.
LVT is a great option for renovation projects because you can install LVT over tiles and other floors. You can install LVT over ceramic and porcelain tiles, concrete, laminate, vinyl, hardwood, engineered wood and even stone flooring. It is a permanent installation and also fairly easy to do.
So, how to install LVT over tiles and other floors? How to prepare your floors for installing LVT? Let’s discuss.
Can You Install LVT Over Tiles or Other Floors?
Generally, vinyl floorings are glued-down over plywood underlayment. However, depending on the floor condition, you can install LVT over tiles and other existing floors. In this installation, the existing floor covering works similarly to a subfloor.
We recommend skipping the underlayment if you purchase good quality LVT flooring with better thickness. Otherwise, it will unnecessarily raise the level of your floor and create hassles around built-in vanities, heat registers, baseboards, doors and other areas.
With proper substrates, you can install LVT over –
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles
- Concrete flooring
- Laminate flooring
- Engineered hardwood flooring
- Hardwood flooring
- Stone flooring
What is Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)?
Although first introduced in the market as commercial flooring, luxury vinyl tiles, or LVT quickly gained popularity in home use. Luxury vinyl comes in both tiles and plank forms. The most significant advantages of LVT are it is low-maintenance, affordable, highly durable, and elegantly designed — all at the same time.
Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) were first developed in the 1970s as a way to improve the realism of sheet vinyl. It gained popularity in the 2000s when the glue-down construction, aka “dryback”, emerged as a low-cost alternative to laminate, hardwood and carpet. Luxury vinyl is typically made of four main layers of PVC vinyl. The manufacturing process of LVT has been perfected over the years, and various compounds are mixed with the PVC to improve its durability.
5 Criteria for Installing LVT Over Other Floors
Before installing LVT over other floors, you must ensure they fulfill a particular set of prerequisites. Although there is nothing inherent about the existing floor covering that makes it unfit for installing luxury vinyl planks and tiles over it, it needs to possess all the attributes of a proper substrate.
Vinyl is thin and flexible. Therefore, if the subfloor or the existing floor is not entirely smooth, it will transfer to the vinyl, or it can even telegraph. Large holes under vinyl can form craters or even puncture the vinyl over time. This is why plywood or MDF board sheets are used as underlayment in luxury vinyl installations. The large sheet underlayment strengthens and smoothens the subfloor. Fewer seams also make the installation easier.
When assessing and prepping your existing floor for LVT installation, pay attention to the following –
Solid subfloor and floor covering
Reflooring is a great time to assess your subfloor for cracks and damages. Remove the floor covering in a concealed area to assess the condition of your subflooring closely. Before putting in any new floor, ensure your current subfloor, floor covering, and underlayment (if any) are in sturdy condition.
If there are any loose or broken tiles or floor pieces, remove them and use liquid cement or mortar to patch that area. Make sure the entire floor is even and level before installing LVT.
Surface embossing on tile, laminate and vinyl makes the flooring look more natural and textured. However, this is not the desired quality for installing luxury vinyl. While this isn’t an issue in thicker vinyl, you might face complications installing vinyl with a thickness less than 3.5mm over the embossing. The embossing can transfer to the surface of the new flooring. In the glue-down installation, pronounced embossing can leave gaps and weaken the installation.
Dry and cured floor
Whether installing LVT over subfloor or existing floor, you need to ensure it is completely dry. Otherwise, trapped moisture under vinyl planks and tiles can create mold and mildew. If you put vinyl over newly poured concrete, ensure it is cured and dry before installation.
Floor with less or tight seam
Ideally, seamless substrates are best for installing LVT, which is why large boards are often used. However, if your existing floor covering is hardwood or tiles, it might have hundreds of seams within a room. Any wide gap between seams should be sealed with liquid cement or mortar. Consider regrouting the tiles to get a tighter seam and avoid deep joints.
Floor height and thickness
Floor height becomes an issue when installing floors over existing flooring. The increased height means you will not be able to open doors or built-in cabinets. It can also create issues with baseboards, heat registers, or thresholds.
This is another reason vinyl is preferred for remodeling over other flooring choices. The sheet-like thinness adds little to no height, which is not likely to get in the way of fixtures. However, suppose your existing floor height does not leave any room for installing an additional layer of flooring. In that case, we recommend removing the flooring and installing the luxury vinyl directly over the subfloor.
How to Install LVT Over Tiles or Other Existing Floors: 8 Simple Steps
- Luxury vinyl tiles or planks
- Utility knife
- Measuring tape
- Underlayment (optional)
- Notched trowel
- 100-lb roller (optional)
- Rubber float
- T molding or carpet door bar
Step 1: Install underlayment
Lay out the underlayment and tape the seams. You can skip this step if your existing floor is in good shape and install the luxury vinyl directly over the floor. However, underlayment is not an alternative to prepping the floor. You still need to fill in severe dips and holes before installing the underlayment.
Step 2: Determine the pattern
In this step, you need to mark your starting point and determine the direction the planks or tiles are going to go. It’s preferable to start from the middle of a room in the case of tiles. But for planks, start along a wall with a large window or a mirror. Balance is key to creating a good layout. No room is perfect, so get ready to make compromises when creating a layout.
Step 3: Apply the adhesive or vinyl tile glue
If you are using floating luxury vinyl planks, skip this step as you don’t need to glue them down.
Spread a light layer of adhesive all over the floor using a notched trowel. Cover every inch of the floor but don’t leave excess. Start from a corner of the room and glue your way out. Use glue recommended by the LVT manufacturer and follow the instructions.
Step 4: Lay the luxury vinyl planks or tiles
Start laying the tile or the plank from your marked point. If you are gluing the vinyl down, slide the flooring under jambs or casing trims. Otherwise, the piece will get stuck to the glue if you try laying it flat and sliding it under. You can also use tile spacers to get even spacing.
Step 5: Cut vinyl in the required size
You will need to cut the vinyl as you reach walls and doorways. You can cut vinyl planks and tiles using a utility knife, which makes the installation super easy. You also don’t need to run back and forth to a saw every time you need to make a cut. You can use an upside-down tile and a piece of cardboard as your cutting station. If you are using interlocking luxury vinyl planks, you will need to remove the tongue once you reach the last row.
Step 6: Set the vinyl using a roller (optional)
Even though this step is optional, professionals recommend it as it permanently sets the tile in place. Use a 100-lb roller from at least two directions on each tile to set them in place.
Step 7: Install a T molding or carpet bar
There are many ways to transition from one flooring material to another. The simplest method is to install a T molding or a carpet door bar in the area of transition.
Step 8: Grout the tiles
If you are using groutable vinyl tiles, grout the seams using a grout recommended by the manufacturer. Use the narrow end of a rubber float to apply the grout into the joints. Scrape off the excess in a 45-degree motion.
And voila! Enjoy your new flooring!
So, are you thinking about installing LVT over tiles or other existing floors? What’s your biggest concern about LVT over tiles and other floors? Comment below and let us know.