How to Install Peel and Stick Vinyl Tile (That You Can Grout!)

Monday, July 2
By Ed



This incredible floor is Groutable Peel and Stick Tile

No Really.  It is.


Here's how we did it...






First off, this floor wasn't even part of our original bathroom renovation plans.  It actually started with a sink, then wallpaper and will finish with a modified medicine cabinet.  We did this floor because of the Renovation Snowball:  after the other stuff was done, the old floor looked more terrible than ever.

We started around 10pm on a Saturday with us tearing up the old vinyl floor.  Around midnight, as we were hauling the toilet off its anchor bolts and lowering it gingerly into the bathtub, I uttered G.O.B.'s famous words, "I've made a huge mistake...".


Why We Chose Groutable Peel and Stick Tiles:
  • No subfloor required.  If we did real tile, we would have the time and expense added for a beefed up subfloor.
  • Way cheaper.  Our $50 in supplies did the whole room
  • Easy.  A beginner DIYer can do this - the cuts are simple (no wet tile saw required) and if you mess up a tile - you're only down $1.50 or so.
  • Quick.  We did this whole job in an afternoon: no wait time for drying adhesives before grouting.
  • These tiles look remarkably realistic.  Not real, but pretty darn close.


Stuff you'll need:
  

  • Ugly old floor.
  • Groutable Peel-and-Stick Tile (make sure they say groutable, as plain peel-and-stick are too thin).   Be sure to get enough to cover the room plus 15% for waste.  We needed about 20 square feet and got by with 22 tiles.  
  • Grout, in the colour of your choice.  Our colour is Alabaster.  We bought premixed just to reduce the margin or error.   Did I mention we had never tiled a floor before?
  • 1/8 inch Tile Spacers.  We didn't use them very often, but they did provide some guidance
  • Grout float and sponge.
  • Utility knife, straight edge and surface to cut tile on.
  • Optional : an electric jigsaw.  If you have some funny cuts this will save the day.  We used ours around the toilet and door trim.

 

Steps:

1) Take up the old floor.



This was the most time consuming step.  Ours was very well adhered in place by the previous owner.  (My father-in-law, so I won't say anything disparaging...)  I slashed with a utility knife, scraped with a scraper and sanded with a palm sander.  
 
 
We still didn't get all the old glue and paper backing from the old floor off, but I figured if it held on this long, it would probably be OK for our cheap-o fake tile job too.  Most Important - the surface was flat. 

 

2)  Move the toilet.

I know you don't want to.  We didn't either.  But it's easier than you think and makes the whole job better and simpler. Moving the toilet helped with the wallpaper and painting behind the tank and it made tiling very easy around the toilet base. 
We aren't going to do a toilet removal tutorial, but here is the need-to-know: we had never done it before and hate plumbing.  We followed this tutorial from Mag Ruffman via HomeEnvy
 
You should also get anything else out of the way that will cause tile-headaches. 

 

3)  Get Peelin' and Stickin' 


  
When the floor is ready and obstacles out of the way, start peeling and sticking!  The groutable tile actually gives a good margin for error (as the grout fills in the spaces between), but if you have a large area to do, you may want to get out a pencil and straight edge and run a few quick guide lines for each row.

As it was for us, Robin just lined it up with the wall and worked across.  We used a staggered, brick style layout.  Robin was very careful to have the marble grain go in the same direction.  For the purpose of our tiny bathroom this seemed to give the room the appearance of width.
 
 
We did all the big tiles that didn't need fancy cuts first.  These tile are very easy to cut; basically score a line with a utility knife and snap'em.  It is very similar to cutting drywall - so if you can do that, you can do this.
 
 
Tough cuts we did at the end, with measuring, sketching the funny curves and angles and then cutting with a jigsaw.  I can't imagine how hard some of these cuts would have been if this was actual marble.  I would have ruined more dollars in marble than this whole room cost to do with fake-tile.
 

 

4) Grout it.  Grout it Real Good.


When things are all tiled, you can begin grouting instantly, as the peel-and-stick don't need overnight to set up.  We got the kids to jump around on them a bit to make sure they were stuck alright and then I got the grout stuff together.
 
  
I had never grouted before either, prior to this.  I figured it couldn't be as easy as the instructions on the package, but again I was pleasantly surprised.  Take the float, scoop up a softball size blob of grout and start working it into the grooves.  I alternated a pressing, swirling motion to move the grout around with 45-degree angle edge drags of the float to remove the excess. 
  
Be sure to work extra grout into corners, around toilet flanges or anywhere else you have an odd gap.  It really covers a lot of mistakes.  I worked in sections, doing half the space with the float and grout and then using sponge and water to clean up the excess.  I had a lot of excess.

  

5)  Are you Sponge-worthy?

When workin' the sponge, have a full bucket of water handy and rinse regularly.  Be sure to get all the grout off the baseboards, bathtub, door, children or anything else your sloppy grout application has covered.  This is your only chance to get those areas spotless, however, your goal isn't to get the tiles themselves totally clean.  Get the big chunks, but expect a bit of grout haze on the tiles themselves.  Don't scrub them now, as you will end up taking grout out of the joints, which I'm pretty sure was the point of this when we started (although I actually lost track during renovation-delirium that sets in at about this point).
  
  
4 hours later, you can get the sponge out again and give the tiles a final clean-up.  You shouldn't use the room for at least 24 hours, so use some sort of Mission Impossible style apparatus to hang from the ceiling and clean the grout haze off the tile.  Seriously, I don't understand why companies put confusing instructions like this on packaging.  I ended up kneeling on two tiles and reaching as far as I could, then moving a bit and getting the rest.  If the room had been large, I likely would have left the whole thing till the next day to clean up.
  

6)  Put Your Toilet Back.  

The only cost to removing your toilet is one of these Wax Bowl Rings.  About $2.
 

  
Carefully remove the old wax ring.  It doesn't need to be perfect, but do your best.  Again, we followed this tutorial: here.  (We trusted this tutorial implicitly, mostly because someone involved in Road to Avonlea wouldn't dare lead us astray.)
 
Hey, Wax-Bowl-Ring People, was this really the only colour you could make your product?

  

7)  Stand back and admire your handy work. 

  
  
And be sure to tell everyone how much it cost you to do - it will: Blow. Their. Mind. 
  
When we started out on this project, I had serious reservations about how good Peel-and-Stick tile could look.  Basically they are synonymous with crappy, half-assed, make-do renovations that 20-somethings do before they know any better.   I really thought ours was going to look like a crappy, half-assed, make-do reno that 30-somethings do, even though they do know better.

We absolutely love it.

 

Cost Breakdown:

  1.  Peel & Stick Vinyl Tiles = $ 34
  2. Grout = $11
  3. Misc. supplies = $5
 Total Cost = $50!

 

Any questions? Leave them in the comments below and we'll help you out.

 

 

 

 

To see more of our Frugal Bathroom Reno, check out these previous posts:

  1. How to Install Paintable Beadboard Wallpaper
  2. Saving Money: Mixing Vintage and Discount Hardware
  3. Updating an Old Medicine Cabinet 
  4. Updating an Old Bathroom Vanity

 

  Linking up to:

Organize and Decorate Everything

52 comments:

  1. Looks amazing! Looks fabulous in the bathroom, but how do you think the tiles would look in a larger space such as a kitchen or laundry room? I'm thinking about using a groutable peel and stick in my kitchen but don't want it to look fake.

    Cara

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cara! I think they could look pretty good in a larger space. It really depends on the style chosen. A few designs were odd and would be a bit obviously fake over a large area. We actually have plans to do my mom's kitchen and hall with some groutable peel and stick. ~ Robin

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  2. Looks amazing! Looks fabulous in the bathroom, but how do you think the tiles would look in a larger space such as a kitchen or laundry room? I'm thinking about using a groutable peel and stick in my kitchen but don't want it to look fake.

    Cara

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  3. WOW! The floor looks wonderful! An amazing transformation on a budget, I love it! The new floor really compliments the room well. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  4. Can I ask the name of the tiles you used and where you got them? I think they'd be perfect for my kitchen. Looks beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kara! We got them from Home Depot. They are from Traffic Master, specifically Ceramica Pearl Grey. Visitors are pretty amazed with how they look (and they are actually warmer and less slippery than real marble would be.)

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  5. How is it holding up so far?

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    1. We've had them installed for 6 months now, and they are still perfect, David. Not a single complaint. We have had a few friends see them and decide to put them in their own homes.

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  6. I am using a similar product - I have excess adhesive along edges - how do I clean that and my hands?

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    Replies
    1. I wish I could help; the tile we used were peel-and-stick (like big stickers you place on the floor).

      If you're talking about grout - it should clean up with water and a tile sponge. We didn't have to mess around with tile adhesive - and wish you all the best with yours.

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    2. I had some tiles that had excess adhesive after I laid them and I just used some rubbing alcohol.

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  7. That looks great. I also just did my bathroom with peel and stick (no grout) after 16 years. love it. does not look cheap. I only wished I had removed toilet. Didn't know how til I watched your clip. Now I can go back and redo that. Cathy

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    Replies
    1. Its a bit of a pain to remove the toilet, but way less hassle than we thought. :)

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  8. Did you remove your baseboards before applying the tiles?

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    Replies
    1. Nope. We left a small gap next to the baseboard and then filled it with grout. Not sure if that's the "correct" thing to do, but it worked and it was easier. No regrets there, Claudia. :)

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    2. Not taking off the baseboards is ok, but you should never grout the seams where tiles butt up against the walls or the tub. These joints should always be caulked to allow for flex and expansion which the rigid grout can't handle without cracking. It will look fine at first, but the grout is eventually going to crack along those joints.

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    3. That sounds about right. We haven't seen that show up on ours yet, but I can definitely imagine it happening. Thanks for the tip and we'll be sure and caulk those areas when they start to show age.
      Thanks for reading and posting.

      Delete
  9. This looks amazing. Did you have to seal the grout?

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    Replies
    1. We always read that it's recommended to seal the grout. We always mean to do it. But, as of today, we haven't quite gotten to it.

      Delete
  10. Great job. Did you have to remove the old flooring or can you just go over the existing tiles?

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    Replies
    1. Apparently you can put the new tiles over old ones, but that wouldn't be my first choice. If the old flooring is loose, or heaven forbid, there's a problem under it (mold or rot?) you are in trouble. We pulled ours up to be safe.

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  11. I am about to lay the self stick vinyl tiles in my kitchen. I purchased the Ceramica Groutable tiles from Home Depot. I do see that yes these tiles are thicker than your basic self stick tiles and yes they do have the beveled edge that makes them groutable. As recomended in the instructions I will be using the 1/8" spacers. My concern is the (depth) of the grout. While they are thicker they still are not as thick as ceramic tiles. It will be a rather thin layer of grout 1/8" wide. So how well does this thin layer of grout hold up ?

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure if ours were exactly the same as the ones you describe, but we got them at Home Depot and they are definitely not as thick as conventional ceramic tiles. Nonetheless, the grout seems to be holding up well (we are one year in now on our peel-and-stick grouting experiment).

      Admittedly, a kitchen will be a higher traffic room than a bathroom, but I don't see why it wouldn't work there too. Good luck and thanks for the question.

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    2. Hello...

      I put these peel and stick tiles in my kitchen and powder room 2 years ago and used the grout. My grout has held up just fine and those are two high-traffic areas of my home. I did seal the grout as well. I am currently putting the tiles down in my master bathroom and plan to grout those as well. :)

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    3. Thanks for sharing that - having just put them down one year ago we can't speak to the longevity of the tiles - especially in a high traffic area like a kitchen. Great info! :)

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  12. We just did our laundry room with press and stick groutable tile and it looks great. I'll admit I was skeptical when we started but it turned out fantastic. We would have done ceramic but I didn't want to deal with demo'ing the floor, installing a new subfloor and hardy backer and cutting door bottoms.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome. And you're right about all the extra steps that go into installing real ceramic. For the price/time investment, the peel and stick is tough to beat. Thanks for the comment,

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  13. We also used the ceramica tile in cool grey in the bathroom with 1/4 inch spacers and used grey simple grout. We used a leveling patch compound first because there was some unevenness to the floor after removing the old vinyl tiles. Looks beautiful and much warmer than real ceramic. Great Product! Very pleased!

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  14. I think when comparing with other flooring sticking the tiles is different some of them where use instant adhesive to stick immediately and other used slow adhesive.

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  15. I've laid grouted vinyl tile in multiple rooms now--love it so much more than carpet!! But my question is, what product do you use to clean the tile? my most recent product (from Menards) says not to clean with soap and water! I'm in the midst of grouting it (huge room), and I'm worried about getting the haze up when done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a year and a half removed from doing this project, but I'm 99% sure I just used warm water and the trusty sponge to clean the initial grout haze off. Since then, we've been cleaning with normal floor cleaning products when needed and the grout seems to have stayed in place (even around the tub, where soapy kids splash).

      I have heard that some grout does need a seal of some sort (I think the type that is used in showers where it frequently gets very wet/soapy may be one like this). Maybe that is what you have. I'll try and find our old grout container and see what we used.
      Thanks for the question.

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  16. We are thinking about using the Cermica Gray tile for our kitchen. I thought you had to lay either luan or skimcoat. Does the tile say you do not?

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  17. I'm no expert, but I think a level surface is pretty crucial, but the floor we were covering was not too bad. Also, the peel-and-stick tile are vinyl, so there is a bit more margin for error than with actual ceramic tile.
    Thanks for the question and good luck.

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  18. Hi, did you have to use tile spacers? If not, how'd you keep them spaced just rite?

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    1. Yup, we did - they are visible in this image from our install above:
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_WuAdQfl-u8/T_IPMr5u85I/AAAAAAAAA6Y/XISMbgxhhTs/s1600/Bathroom_Floor_Cut_Tiles.JPG
      Tough to see due to mediocre lighting, but there.

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  19. Your site is great!! You have helped me finally make my decision to purchase vinyl peel and stick groutable tile. I can't even count the trips to Home Depot and Lowes and the endless research on the www. I stumbled on to your site and It was the exact confirmation I needed to push me to my decision. I am currently ripping up a 200 sq. ft. kitchen of two layers of flooring. #1 is vinyl sheeting put down in the early '80's and the other is a layer of peel and stick put down in 2000. I am almost finished with the demo and really needed to get off the dime and decide. Well you two cinched it for me. I can't thank you enough. I will let you know how it all works out. I will make one more trip to HD and purchase all that I need and I have noted all hints and tips from your sight and will use them all. Thank you again. Pat in Florida

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  20. Anyone know why you can't grout any peel & stick vinyl tile. Is it just the beveled edges that differentiate groutable from non-groutable vinyl tiles? The thickness of both types look to be the same. We used groutable vinyl tile in our master bath and it looks great, but now we can't find the right color groutable vinyl tile for another bathroom. I'm thinking about using regular (Armstrong) peel & stick vinyl tile to see how it works out. Any warnings in advance?? Jerry in SC.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure it would work well, Jerry. The tiles made for grouting are quite a bit thicker and allow some depth between the tiles for the grout. Regular peel and stick would t have this space and it could mean thin grout that would chip and break easily. The grout able tiles are a bit more expensive - but having to rip the floor out and do it over would be so much more costly!

      Maybe try it out with a few tiles on a piece of plywood first?

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  21. Update fm Pat in Florida: My groutable tile job turned out great. It was approx. 176 sq. ft. Just finished grouting and I have a slight bit of grout haze when the light hits it just right. I will call Halstead to ask if I can use a haze cleaner on this ceramica. The hardest part for me was the cutting. I killed my utility knife blades so I switched to a sabre saw. That made things go much faster and so much easier on my arthritic hands. Glad it is done but very pleased with the results. I hope it holds up. Thanks for the platform.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the update, Pat! Didn't read anything about using a saw in the installation instructions. I'm pretty sure you can use shears/snips to cut the tile though. Not sure if that would be too much for the hands or not...but just thought I'd add that for others who may not have other tools available. May be easier than a utility knife...then again...I guess it just depends. Thanks again, Pat!

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  22. The floor looks great! Is that the TrafficMaster Ceramica Pearl Grey? How does it look now?

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    Replies
    1. That's the ones - and they still look as good today as they did when we installed them. :)

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  23. We just installed the TrafficMaster Ceramica Exodus on our kitchen floor. We waited almost 24 hours to re-wipe the grout haze off the vinyl, however, it's not coming off. I called the manufacturer. The woman suggested we strip the tiles with Allure Single-Step cleaner. We did and it still has a grout haze. Apparently, this product doesn't work. How long did you wait to re-wipe the tiles after you grouted? And did you find it difficult to remove the haze? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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  24. We have the exact same problem. I was actually scraping with a straight edge dull razor and it was working until I put 3 slices in 3 different vinyl tiles and decided to stop using that procedure. This is so frustrating. People have wrote suggesting 1/4 cup ammonia to 1 gallon of water or using Windex. I haven't tried it yet. I'm going to try both of these suggestions tonight. I'll let you know if it works on not.

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  25. Man you guys are a good looking couple....... good job on the floor

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  26. I used these same tiles in my bathroom and now my grout is cracking. Any ideas why this is happening? It has been a year since our install and I did not remove the baseboards but butted the tiles against the wall. I filled in any imperfections with grout and now feel that was a mistake as I'm reading walls should have silicone to make sure things can expand and contract without cracking the grout.

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  27. What is the name of those tile and where can I find them. They look beautiful..

    ReplyDelete

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