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How to Grout Peel and Stick Tiles (a cheap and easy floor update: $50 and one afternoon of work!)

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by Ed

Our new, beautiful bathroom floor is Groutable Peel and Stick Vinyl Tiles!

No Really.  It is.  

You can grout vinyl tile – and our tutorial will help you figure it all out.

Here’s how we did it…

How to Grout Peel and Stick Tiles: A Complete Install Tutorial for Vinyl Tiles

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 medicine cabinet makeover

We did this floor because of the Renovation Snowball:  after the other stuff was done, the old floor looked more terrible than ever.

It started around 10 pm 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…”.

Reasons to Choose 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.

Are they actually durable?  Will they last?    Check out this post where we share how the peel and stick tile have held up after 4 years of use.

All set?  Let’s get started!  Here’s how to install peel and stick tile and then how to grout vinyl tile…

grout for vinyl tile


Stuff you’ll need:

  • Ugly old floor.
  • Groutable Peel-and-Stick Tile
    • Ours is Travertine Grey from Ceramica (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.

NEW! ⇒ If a Video Tutorial is more your style – scroll to the bottom – we’ve got a video there for you!

Step 1: Take up the old floor.

peel and stick vinyl tile prep for install
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.   

preparing to install peel and stick vinyl tile
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. 

Step 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 these steps.

You should also get anything else out of the way that will cause tile-headaches. 

Step 3: Get Peelin’ and Stickin’ 

peel and stick tile

When the floor is ready and obstacles out of the way, start peeling and sticking! 

The groutable peel and stick 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. This gave our tiny bathroom the appearance of width.

peel and stick floor tile

We did all the big tiles that didn’t need fancy cuts first. 

These tiles 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.

install peel and stick tile for floors

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.

how to grout peel and stick tile

Step 4: How to Grout Vinyl Tile

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.

grout vinyl tile

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.

Step 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).

grouting vinyl tile

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 the 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 until the next day to clean up.

Step 6: Put Your Toilet Back.

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

wax bowl ring

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.)

replace wax bowl ring
Hey, Wax Bowl Ring People – is this really the only colour you could make your product?!

Step 7:  Stand back and admire your handy work.

peel and stick vinyl tiles with grout

And be sure to tell everyone how much it cost you to do – it will: Blow. Their. Minds.

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!

NEW! Here’s a Video Tutorial of the project:

We’ve got an update!  How well do they last, you ask?

howwelldopeelandsticktilesgroutlast
Are peel and stick groutable vinyl tile actually durable?  

Check out this post where we share how ours have held up after 4 years of use.

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

Check out more of our Frugal Bathroom Reno:

1) How to Install Paintable Beadboard Wallpaper

Beadboard Wallpaper How to

2) Saving Money: Mixing Vintage and Discount Hardware

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3) Builder Basic to Beautiful: Medicine Cabinet Makeover

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4) Bathroom Vanity Makeover

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Here are all our DIY and affordable floor projects:

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Unknown

Saturday 23rd of February 2019

I can't see the link to the video! Would you mind sharing the link again?

cortney

Friday 4th of January 2019

How long did it take you to do this start to finish? hours?

Ed from Frugal Family Times

Friday 4th of January 2019

The whole project was one weekend's worth of work (allowing for dry times on grout, etc). Took out toilet and ripped up old floor Friday night. Tile and grout (2-3 hours) Saturday (early). Sealing grout and reinstall toilet on Sunday after everything had a chance to set up. Peel and Stick tile is very fast to do - the combination of being easy to cut and easy to glue down makes it quick.

Anonymous

Wednesday 14th of March 2018

My husband and I are new DIYers. My husband grew up in a family where they paid to have everything done professionally, so he's freaking out a bit. Any help and advice is greatly appreciated!!Our peel and stick groutable tiles claim they can be laid right on top of sheet vinyl. Do you still recommend pulling up the old sheet vinyl, or could we skip this step to save time (and mess)?I really love the look of grouted tiles, but I've never had grout before, and I'm a bit intimidated on how to keep it clean. These tiles are going in our laundry room/mudroom. We have a rug down right when you enter from the garage, but the littles tend to step off the rug before taking off their shoes. Should we skip grouting the tiles, or are they easy to clean? Like I said, I'd prefer to grout them, but only if I can keep them clean without tons of extra work. :)Thank you so much!

frugalfamilytimes

Wednesday 14th of March 2018

Hi! Great questions. As far as laying the tiles over vinyl - it wouldn’t be my first choice, sometimes vinyl isn’t adhered well in spots - I’d worry that your new tiles wouldn’t sit flat. As far as grout - these tiles looks so much better with grout it’s definitely worth the extra bit of work. Way to go trying a new project! This is a great one for DIY newbies! Best of luck. :)

Chelle and Wes

Wednesday 7th of March 2018

Looks great! What did you use for the transition piece?

frugalfamilytimes

Wednesday 7th of March 2018

Hi Chelle and Wes! We simply used the typical metal transition trim I think it’s called a seam binder. :)

Anonymous

Monday 8th of January 2018

We are trying to decide whether to use peel and stick vinyl tiles or groutable tiles? Is the finished look worth the extra step/work of grouting?